An Foras Pátrúnachta call for action to ease crisis in teacher shortage
“This is a crisis that needs to be addressed urgently.”
The largest patron body of Gaelscoileanna in Ireland, AN FORAS PÁTRÚNACHTA, calls for action to ease problems caused by teacher shortage
14th November 2017
The largest patron body of Gaelscoileanna in Ireland, An Foras Pátrúnachta, says there is a need for urgent action to help schools deal with problems arising from the shortage of teachers available for substitution or permanent positions.
Caoimhín Ó hEaghra, General Secretary of An Foras Pátrúnachta, says “this is definitely causing a lot of stress amongst our member Principals, and ultimately the school children are losing out. It is a crisis that needs to be addressed urgently and we are exploring ways of doing that.”
The shortages appear to be linked to the volume of young teachers who are taking career breaks or emigrating to work in the Middle East, where salaries can range from €2,000 – €5,500 per month tax-free.
Mr. Ó hEaghra welcomed the Minister for Education’s efforts to ease some of this pressure on recruitment by relaxing work restrictions for retiring teachers along with increasing employment limits for teachers on career breaks. However, he called on the Government to address pay inequality and to recognise the valuable work of Irish teachers, here at home.
One school under the patronage of An Foras Pátrúnachta, Gaelscoil Éadan Doire, in County Offaly, has been greatly affected this year by the shortage of teachers.
“It’s been a nightmare”
It’s Principal, Póla Ní Chinnsealaigh, has described the situation as “a nightmare”.
“I feel exhausted, but mainly I feel sorry for the children who’ve had to deal with a variety of different substitute teachers and particularly the children with special education needs as more often than not it’s the special education needs teacher that is required to fill the gap and then their pupils are left without their teacher”, she added.
Principal Ní Chinnsealaigh says it has been difficult to hire substitute teachers for some time now, but notes the problem has been more acute this year. They have also found it extremely difficult to fill permanent teaching positions with the numbers of job applicants decreasing significantly year on year. In Gaelscoil Éadan Doire, there were 2 permanent positions available since September, with no one applying for one position over the first month. “It’s taken us two and a half months to fill the positions, and we are delighted that we have finally filled them but in that time we’ve been under awful pressure”, Principal Ní Chinnsealaigh admits, “ I’ve had to step into the breach at times, and as a Teaching Principal with my own full-time teaching responsibilities that has been very difficult”. She said that the Text-a-Sub system, which used to be reliable, was not this year.
Póla Ní Chinnsealaigh appeals to the authorities to do something about the situation. “I don’t blame the teachers for taking off and going to Abu Dhabi or Dubai where they can earn more money, but we need to start bringing some of them back! We need to do something as it has never been this bad,” she says.