The teacher recruitment and retention crisis in Irish second level schools is worsening, according to the findings of a new survey carried out in over 100 schools by the Principals’ and Deputy Principals’ Association of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI).
TUI is calling for immediate action to ensure that schools can continue to put teachers in front of classes and that students have access to the full breadth of subjects. Secure jobs of full hours and career progression opportunities are essential to tackle the crisis.
The survey of principals and deputy principals in 104 second level schools was carried out in September and October this year and represents a strong sample of the sector’s approximately 730 schools.
Key findings include:
- 77% of schools advertised positions in the previous six months for which no teacher applied; 64% have unfilled vacancies due to recruitment and retention difficult
- 89% of schools experienced teacher recruitment difficulties in the previous six months; 61% of schools experienced teacher retention difficulties in the previous six months
- Just 1% believe that enough is being done at Government level to tackle the crisis; 90% believe more could be done to tackle bureaucratic/incremental credit barriers preventing Irish teachers living in other jurisdictions from returning home
Commenting on the findings, TUI President David Waters said:
‘Despite being consistently warned about this crisis and its impact on the service to students, the Government still refuses to acknowledge the severity of the problem, let alone act decisively on it. To make matters more worrying, some of the key indicators have worsened since last year.
Schools are displaying remarkable innovation in dealing with these challenges, but there is simply no more flexibility left to give. Sticking plasters measures are seen as such by those in school communities, and principals feel abandoned by Government on this issue.
Clearly, the impact of the accommodation crisis is exacerbating the problem, particularly in situations where teachers have contracts of less than full hours.
Worryingly, the cost of pursuing the two-year PME with no guarantee of a job of full hours afterwards is making teaching an unaffordable profession for too many in Irish society. At the very least, new entrants to the profession must have a job of full hours and access to the career progression options that existed before the last recession.
Posts of responsibility must be restored to pre-cutback levels. These provide pastoral support to students, administrative support to overburdened principals and the critical career progression opportunities that greatly help to retain teachers in the profession.’
Principals’ and Deputy Principals’ Association President Adrian Power said:
‘The most damning finding in this survey shows that just 1% of respondents believe enough is being done at Government level to tackle this crisis. The continuing inaction is utterly unacceptable.
The worsening of this situation is also creating additional work for already overtasked principals in schools – a significant number report losing teachers subsequent to the setting of the year’s timetable, while many others report situations where teachers accept a position only to later reject it. We understand why teachers are forced to do this given that they might be offered more hours in a school elsewhere, but it is extremely time-consuming and stressful for principals. Schools need larger teaching allocations that would allow them to offer full hours rather than just fractions of jobs.
We must recognise that our excellently qualified graduates are highly sought after in other employments and as teachers in other jurisdictions. In this regard, offering them enhanced career structures through more middle management opportunities would also greatly assist principals and deputy principals who are struggling with burnout from an ever-expanding list of duties.’
Online survey of principals and deputy principals in 104 second level schools was carried out between 22nd September and 18th October this year and represents a strong sample of the sector’s approximately 730 schools.
Has your school experienced teacher recruitment difficulties over the last six months?
89% stated that they have experienced teacher recruitment difficulties
Has your school experienced teacher retention difficulties over the last six months?
61% stated that they have experienced teacher retention difficulties
Have you had a situation in the last six months where a teacher accepted a position only to later reject it for a position elsewhere?
64% stated that this situation had arisen for them
Has your school lost teachers subsequent to the setting of the year’s timetable?
47% stated that they had lost teachers subsequent to the setting of the year’s timetable, 53% stated that they had not
If your school has experienced recruitment/retention difficulties, please specify the subject area(s). Subjects should be rated '1' for the most difficult to employ a teacher in, '2' for the second most difficult to employ a teacher in etc. Fill in as many subjects as are relevant to your situation.
The ten subjects most difficult to employ teachers in in ranked order were:
2. Construction Studies/Woodwork
5. Home Economics
10. Agricultural Science
Has your school been forced to drop any subjects due to the teacher recruitment and retention crisis?
18% stated ‘Yes’, that they were forced to drop subjects. 82% stated ‘No’, that they weren’t forced to drop subjects
Has your school been forced to restrict/limit student access to any subjects due to the teacher recruitment and retention crisis?
45% stated ‘Yes’, 55% stated ‘No’.
In the past six months, has there been a situation where no teacher applied for an advertised teaching post in your school?
77% stated ‘Yes’, that they have had a situation where no teacher applied for an advertised post
Does your school currently have unfilled vacancies due to recruitment and retention difficulties?
64% responded ‘Yes’, that they have unfilled vacancies due to recruitment and retention difficulties
Do you believe that enough is being done at Government/Department of Education level to tackle recruitment/retention issues in second level schools?
93% answered ‘No’. 1% said they believed enough was being done, 6% said they did not know.
Do you believe more could be done to address barriers that might be discouraging Irish teachers who live in other jurisdictions returning to teach in Ireland? (e.g. Addressing bureaucratic impediments/delays, recognising incremental credit)
90% answered ‘Yes’, that they believed more could be done to address these issues.