'99% of schools experiencing recruitment difficulties' - survey confirms crisis in Irish schools

By piofficer, Wednesday, 23rd January 2019 | 0 comments

A new survey of second level principals and deputy principals confirms a widespread crisis in the recruitment and retention of teachers.


The survey of 150 schools was carried out among members of the Principals and Deputy Principals’ Association (PDA) of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) in November and December 2018.


The TUI is calling for an acceleration of the process of pay equalisation for those who commenced employment since 2011.


In the survey:

  • 99% of respondents identified their school as experiencing teacher recruitment difficulties while 58% identified their school as experiencing teacher retention difficulties in the previous twelve months

 

  • 75% of respondents said there had been a situation where there were no applications for a position in the previous twelve months, while 54% said their school had unfilled vacancies

 

  • 91% believe that recruitment and retention difficulties have impacted negatively on the service to students

 

  • Irish, Maths, French, Home Economics, Spanish and Physics were among the subject areas which in which the most severe recruitment/retention difficulties were experienced

 

Speaking today, TUI President Seamus Lahart said:


‘As a result of the pay discrimination inflicted on those who commenced employment after 2011, the teaching profession can no longer compete with employment options in the private sector.


These alarming findings outline the clear damage that has been inflicted on the profession and the education system, with schools experiencing severe difficulties in both the recruitment and retention of teachers. The findings are consistent with the fall of over 50 percent in the numbers applying for places on the Professional Master of Education (PME) postgraduate teacher education courses between 2011 and 2018.

Progress has been made on reversing the cuts to pay of new and recent entrants to the profession. However, there can be no such thing as partial equality. 

 

With changing demographics requiring an additional 2,000 second level teachers in the system in the next six years, these problems will greatly worsen unless the right actions are taken.

 

An ending of this blatant discrimination is required if the education system is not to continue lose out to other jurisdictions and other forms of employment.’

 

PDA President Stephen Goulding said:

‘We remain completely unimpressed by the piecemeal, ‘sticking plaster’ measures so far put forward as solutions to this crisis by the Department of Education and Skills.


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.


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’.

 

 

Note to editor:

What remains to be achieved in campaign for pay equality?

  • Elimination of the remaining differences in the early points of scale
     
  • Restoration of the HDip/PME allowance (formerly payable to holders of the Professional Master of Education (PME) qualification
     
  • Restoration of commencement on point 3 of scale in recognition of six-year (primary degree and PME) training period

 

 

TUI PDA Survey findings

The online survey was completed in late November/early December 2018 by 150 second level Principals and Deputy Principals who are members of the Principals and Deputy Principals’ Association (PDA) of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI).

 

Has your school experienced teacher recruitment difficulties over the last twelve months?

99% of respondents said ‘Yes’, 1% of respondents said ‘No’.

Has your school experienced teacher retention difficulties over the last twelve months?

58% of respondents said ‘Yes’, 42% of respondents said ‘No’.

Subject areas in which most severe recruitment/retention difficulties were experienced – ranked from 1 to 10.

1.         Irish

2.         Mathematics

3.         French

4.         Home Economics

5.         Spanish

6.         Physics

7.         Construction Studies/Woodwork

8.         German

9.         Chemistry

10.       Engineering/Metalwork

 

In the past twelve months, has there been a situation where no teacher applied for an advertised teaching post in your school?

75% of respondents said ‘Yes’, 25% said ‘No’.

 

Does your school currently have unfilled vacancies due to recruitment and retention difficulties?

54% of respondents said ‘Yes’, 46% said ‘No’.

 

 

What do you think is the primary cause of teacher recruitment and retention difficulties? (Respondents were asked to rank from five choices – results set out below)

1.         More attractive options for new graduates in other employments

2.         Discriminatory pay rates affecting new and recent entrants to teaching

3.         The unavailability of contracts of full hours upon appointment

4.         A specific factor not listed (Some examples set out at end of the findings) **

5.         Accommodation costs in the vicinity of the school

 

 

Do you agree with the following statement?: 'Teacher recruitment and retention difficulties have had a negative effect on the service offered to students in my school.'

91% of respondents agreed with the statement

 

Do you agree with the following statement: 'My school has been unable to offer some subjects as a result of teacher recruitment and retention issues.'

37% of respondents agreed with the statement

 

Do you agree with the following statement: 'Some subjects in my school are being taught by teachers not qualified in the subject as a result of teacher recruitment and retention difficulties.'

66% of respondents agreed with the statement

Do you agree with the following statement: 'As a result of teacher recruitment and retention issues, my school groups students from different year groups in the same class.'

18% of respondents agreed with the statement

Do you believe that the Department of Education and Skills appreciates the extent of teacher recruitment and retention difficulties being experienced by schools?

86% of respondents said ‘No’

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