The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has said that Budget 2024 must provide the required resources to tackle the teacher recruitment and retention crisis in second level by increasing teaching allocations to schools allowing schools to recruit teachers on a full-time basis and fully restoring posts of responsibility.
The Union has also said that in advance of this, the Department of Education must immediately announce that it will allow schools to employ teachers on a permanent basis after the traditional cut-off point of the end of October and that it should do everything in its power to ensure that Irish teachers living in other jurisdictions who wish to return home do not face bureaucratic delays in registration.
TUI has said described as ‘bizarre and unacceptable’ that there is no teacher union representation on the Department’s Teacher Supply Steering Group.
Speaking today, TUI President Liz Farrell said:
‘Schools are struggling with a very real, severe teacher recruitment and retention crisis, so the time for sticking plaster measures has long since passed. It is now time for a completely new approach to teacher recruitment so that Ireland can compete for graduates, who are increasingly looking at international options. We have consistently raised these issues with the Department over the years but to date they have failed to implement the effective measures required.’
‘In second level schools, a shortage of teachers results in a narrowing of the range of subject options available to students, who, due to retention issues, may be taught by a succession of teachers over the course of their studies.’
‘If the Government is serious about tackling this crisis in the medium term, the appropriate, targeted resourcing must be made available in Budget 2024.’
Measures identified by TUI include:
• Increasing teaching allocations to schools to allow more full-time, permanent jobs
• Boosting retention by restoring career structures cut during recession
• Halving duration of two-year PME required to become a second level teachers
• Eliminating red tape that hinders Irish teachers working overseas in returning to take up positions in Ireland
Recruitment – full-time, permanent jobs required
‘While the accommodation emergency applies to all of society and must be tackled on a national level, there are some effective separate measures that would immediately ease the recruitment and retention crisis in schools. In the first instance, contracts of full hours must be offered to second level teachers upon initial appointment.’
‘A survey of teachers carried out by TUI earlier this year showed that of those recently appointed, less than a third of teachers (31%) appointed received a full-time contract, and just over one in ten teachers (13%) were offered permanent positions. This culture of precarious work is driving both potential and serving teachers away from the profession.’
‘In addition, the Department must do everything in its power to ensure that Irish teachers living in other jurisdictions who wish to return home do not face bureaucratic delays in registration, and nor should they have to spend years seeking incremental credit for their overseas service.’
Retention – career structures must be restored
‘If we are to retain teachers within the system, the profession must remain attractive in terms of career structures. In the last recession, cutbacks greatly reduced the numbers of assistant principal positions. These posts help to ensure the smooth running of schools and also provide a pastoral support system for vulnerable students. In addition to eroding career options, the fall in post numbers has hampered the capacity of schools to react quickly to crisis situations affecting students while greatly adding to the work of already overburdened principals and deputy principals. These posts must be restored to pre-cutback levels, allowing schools to focus on the pastoral needs of students instead of the continuing focus on bureaucracy.’
Representation – bizarre and unacceptable omission of teacher representatives
‘It remains a bizarre and unacceptable position that here is no teacher union representation on the Department’s Teacher Supply Steering Group, which has representatives of all types except for the actual practitioners who know the day-to-day reality in schools. We are ready and willing to assist in this regard.’