Department utterly failing to tackle teacher recruitment and retention crisis – TUI sets out roadmap to boost attractiveness of profession 

By piofficer, Wednesday, 30th November 2022 | 0 comments

Following a consultative forum on teacher supply today, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has said that it has little faith in the Department of Education’s commitment to tackling the teacher recruitment and retention crisis.  

The union has set out a range of measures that would tackle the current problems being experienced in schools around the country.  

Speaking today, TUI General Secretary Michael Gillespie said: 

“Regrettably, judging by today’s consultative forum on teacher supply, any measures that emerge from the Department of Education will, yet again, be depressingly cosmetic and regrettably small-scale in nature and will do little or nothing to tackle the recruitment and retention crisis in Irish schools.   

This crisis is real. Findings of a survey carried out by the Principals and Deputy Principals’ Association of TUI released just last month showed that 91% of schools experienced teacher recruitment difficulties in the previous six months, while 61% of schools experienced teacher retention difficulties in the previous six months.  

Announcing limited measures yet again in relation to career breaks, job-sharing and the taking of additional hours will do nothing to tackle the significant problems being experienced in schools around the country.   

It is regrettable but utterly unsurprising that teachers have invested more than the Department of Education in trying to resolve the crisis of teacher recruitment and retention. All teachers sacrificed a 1% pay rise on 1st February 2022 to reinstate of the value of the PME allowance for colleagues who entered the profession after 2012. However, the Department has yet again failed to offer anything beyond the likelihood of some small, cosmetic measures that will, in all reality, have little positive effect.  

If the Department is serious about tackling this crisis, there are clear, concrete measures that it can take, some of which do not even have a cost implication:  

  1. Give second-level teachers permanent wholetime jobs from when they commence their careers. A survey of our membership earlier this year showed that 65% of teachers appointed after 2011 did not get a contract of full hours upon initial appointment.
  2. Restore posts of responsibility. These ensure the smooth running of schools while providing promotional opportunities for teachers which will help boost retention. Unilaterally cut by Government in 2009, they have never been fully restored. Over half of second-level teachers once held a post but this proportion has now fallen to around a quarter.
  3. Ensure that TUI has a place on the Department’s Teacher Supply Steering Group, which has representatives of all types except – bizarrely – for the actual practitioners who know the day-to-day reality in schools
  4. Deal with ever-expanding workload, bureaucracy and large class sizes or the attraction of teaching will fall further. The nature of teachers’ work continues to drift from actual teaching.
  5. Reduce the qualifying time to be a teacher. Too many cannot afford to undertake a four-year degree followed by a two-year PME. “ 

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