In late December, in response to the acute staffing and substitution challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Teaching Council approved the enactment of amendments to its 2016 Registration Regulations in order to allow for the registration of student teachers on concurrent programmes of accredited Initial Teacher Education who have completed two years of those programmes.
The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) welcomed this initiative but opposed two unreasonable and illogical conditions that were applied to it by the Teaching Council.
These student teachers – who are assisting the education system at a time of acute need – are required to pay to the Teaching Council the full registration charge of €95. This is unreasonable and illogical. Having been asked to help put out the fire they are being asked to pay for the water, the hose and the helmet. Schools need their service but the Teaching Council does not need their money. If, to satisfy technical niceties, a charge has to apply, it should be minimal, nominal.
Notwithstanding and following registration, the fact is that these student teachers are, and remain, students until they attain fully qualified status upon completion of their course of studies. It is, therefore, unreasonable and illogical that they are to be held fully to the same standards as apply to fully qualified and registered teachers - including Evidence of Character, Investigation, and Disciplinary procedures. These student teachers are in either the third or fourth year of their accredited accredited programme/s in teacher education. Completion of such a programme is required for full registration as a qualified teacher; at which point full application of the regulatory standards is both reasonable and logical. Premature application of the regulatory standards implies a greater level of risk for student teachers who are undergoing but have not yet completed their initial professional training.
Recognising the unfairness of the Teaching Council’s position, the Executive Committee of the TUI has decided that it will provide full support, advice and representation to student teachers who are Student members of the TUI should they, in providing invaluable emergency assistance to schools, be the subject of complaints or allegations to the Teaching Council. The TUI deeply appreciates the contribution of these student teachers, does not apply a membership charge to them and is proud to stand in solidarity with them.