List of ‘sticking plaster’ measures will do little to address teacher recruitment and retention crisis in Irish schools

By piofficer, Thursday, 8th November 2018 | 0 comments

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has described the Teacher Supply Action Plan (published today) as a list of ‘sticking plaster’ measures that ignore the root causes behind the recruitment and retention crisis in Irish schools.

Comments from TUI President Seamus Lahart:

‘It is extremely regrettable that the Teacher Supply Action Plan, published today by the Department of Education and Skills, does not address the root causes of the current crisis in Irish schools. These are an ongoing system of pay inequality where two colleagues are paid from different scales for carrying out the same work, continuing casualisation of the profession and an absence of promotional opportunities.

Any merit that the proposals may have is greatly diluted by the failure to supplement them with substantive measures that tackle the real issues. This means that the action plan is little more than a list of ‘sticking plaster’ measures. Alone, these will not go anywhere near far enough to tackle the day-to-day problems of recruitment and retention in Irish schools.

The recent measure on post-January 2011 salary scales accepted by TUI members in a ballot represents further movement, but of itself it will not resolve the issue of pay inequality.

Because the discrimination is most significant in the initial years of employment as a teacher, the crisis of teacher recruitment and retention will remain and almost certainly worsen in the coming years. With better employment options available elsewhere, graduates will vote with their feet and schools will continue to struggle -  and fail -  to recruit and retain suitably qualified teachers across a range of subjects.

There has been a fall of over 50% in the numbers applying for places on the PME postgraduate teacher education courses between 2011 and 2018. This catastrophic drop coincided with withdrawal of the HDip/PME allowance and abolition of incremental recognition for the period of per-service, unpaid training.

As we have stated on numerous occasions, recruitment problems are evident both across the country and across a broad range of subjects including, but not limited to, Modern Languages, Mathematics, Science, Irish, Home Economics and the technologies.

In the wake of its ballot result, TUI has sought a meeting with the Minister for Education and Skills to discuss the resolution of the outstanding ‘new entrant’ salary issues.’

What remains to be achieved in terms of pay inequality for second level teachers?

  • 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