Second level principals are warning that teacher recruitment and retention issues will worsen due to a significant spike in student numbers over the next six years.
They are calling for a roadmap that outlines when full pay equality for new and recent entrants to the profession will be delivered so that the profession can remain attractive to the best graduates.
Over 100 principals and deputy principals from around the country are meeting in Enfield, Co Meath at the annual conference of the Principals and Deputy Principals’ Association (PDA) of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI).
Speaking at the association’s annual conference, PDA President, Stephen Goulding said:
‘An imminent spike in student numbers will pose significant challenges to the education system. Already, schools regularly advertise posts that often fail to attract suitably qualified applicants, and in some cases, there may not be any applications at all for posts in particular subject areas.
With student numbers at second level projected to grow from 364,000 to over 400,000 between 2018 and 2024, around 2,000 additional teachers will be needed to maintain the current pupil-teacher ratio.
However, leaving aside the recruitment drive required as a result of these demographic changes, schools are already experiencing severe difficulties in the recruitment and retention of teachers across the full breadth of subjects.
There has been a fall of over 50% in the numbers applying for places on the PME postgraduate teacher education courses between 2011 and 2018.
There is no doubt that teacher recruitment and retention problems inflict severe damage on the education system. Students miss out on subject choices and experience a fractured service as a result of having several different teachers in particular subject areas.
There can be no greater investment in our education system than making the teaching profession attractive to the best and brightest graduates now and in the years ahead.
Currently, a teacher trains for six years, incurring significant debt and commencing employment at an average age of 26, only to be paid at a different rate for doing the same job as an existing colleague. Continuation of this regime will undoubtedly deter graduates from pursuing the profession, to the detriment of teaching and to the benefit of other forms of employment.’
Roadmap on pay equality needed to keep profession attractive
‘Progress has been made on reversing the cuts to pay of new and recent entrants to the profession, most recently with the removal of two points from salary scale which will allow recent entrants to progress up the scale quicker.
However, a roadmap and timeframe that outlines the resolution of this process is urgently required if the education system is not to lose out to other jurisdictions and other forms of employment.’