Shortage of Teachers: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Thomas Byrne on Wednesday, 25 January 2018:
That Dáil Éireann, recognising the importance of teachers and valuing the contribution that the profession has made to Irish society —
accepts that:
— a real crisis exists whereby demand for substitute teachers vastly exceeds supply both at primary and second-level schools;
— there are major challenges in Irish second-level schools in securing the right teachers, with the right subject combinations, to ensure that all pupils can study the subjects of their choosing;
— pay inequality has contributed to a teacher recruitment and retention crisis that will continue to have severe repercussions for the school system unless it is urgently tackled;
— during this crisis, hundreds of Irish teachers are working abroad on a temporary basis;
— the report of the Teaching Council entitled ‘Striking the Balance - Teacher Supply in Ireland: Technical Working Group Report’, while completed in December 2015, was not published for some 18 months until the matter was raised a number of times in the Dáil; and
— the Minister for Education and Skills has been slow to address this issue and was mistaken in his view expressed in May 2017, that his Department ‘does not have evidence of a general shortage of primary teachers, including for substitute teachers’, and that his Department was mistaken in the view expressed in January 2018, whereby it stated that ‘there is no overall problem with teacher supply’;
acknowledges that:
— problems of teacher supply and supply of substitutes are widespread across Ireland;
— many unqualified persons are supervising children where no substitute teacher can be found;
— all relevant education partners find extreme difficulties recruiting teachers with Gaeilge, and teachers of foreign languages, and as a result schools are reported to be considering dropping language provision, and that fears have been expressed for the future of our national language;
— teachers of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects are in extremely short supply with numbers training to be such collapsing;
— overall applications to become second-level teachers have dropped precipitously, from almost 3,000 in 2011 to just over 1,000 in 2017, with only 600 applications this year as of 9th January, 2018, with an extended closing date;
— the cost to become a teacher by obtaining a Postgraduate Masters in Education (PME) is increasingly expensive and it can cost up to €15,000 to complete a PME;
— there is no organization of PMEs by the Department whatsoever in terms of subjects and taking up to six years to study to be a second-level teacher is considered unnecessary;
— special schools, special education, children with special educational needs and children in schools serving disadvantaged communities are suffering disproportionately from this crisis;
— the number of teacher retirements is significantly way ahead of Department of Education and Skills forecasts;
— the Minister’s proposal to recruit homemakers on to Springboard courses to enable them to become teachers has not been acted on and neither has any other proposal of the Minister; and
— the education partners have been vocal during this crisis and have come forward with numerous ideas and solutions;
and calls on the Government to:
— agree a roadmap with teaching unions on how full pay equality will be achieved and in conjunction with that organize a recruitment and advertising campaign aimed at bringing home young Irish teachers temporarily working abroad;
— establish substitute supply panels again at primary level;
— consider, on a temporary basis, allowing teachers who job share to substitute during their days off in their own schools;
— further expand, on a temporary basis, the opportunity for teachers on career break to act as substitutes;
— make it easier for retired teachers to act as substitutes in the short-term, but ensure that this in no way interferes with the normal teaching labour market;
— reconsider the need for a second year in PME programmes;
— rapidly expand undergraduate programmes of initial teacher education to qualify people to be second-level teachers;
— ensure that teachers based in Northern Ireland can register to teach in the Republic of Ireland in an efficient, economic and fair way;
— ensure that teachers qualified abroad are facilitated into the Irish education system in a reasonable way;
— expedite the work started following the publication of the 2015 Teaching Council Report; and
— establish a body within the Department of Education and Skills working with education partners tasked with coordinating policy matters concerning teacher supply.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“recognises the vital role that the teaching profession plays in Irish society;
welcomes this Government’s ongoing commitment to providing for an adequate supply of teachers to meet the needs of schools;
notes that:
— as part of the Government’s plan to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe by 2026, the Government has prioritised investment in education with total investment in education increasing by €1 billion in the last two years;
— the additional investment which the government is making in education has allowed 5,000 additional teachers to be successfully recruited in the past two years, with the total number of teachers increasing from 61,380 in 2015-2016 to 66,454 in 2017-2018;
— the total number of teachers increased from 57,549 in 2012-2013 to 66,454 in 2017-2018 with the creation of over 8,900 new teaching positions;
— the Department of Education and Skills are now creating more new teaching positions than at any other period in the history of the State;
— in the past five years the number of graduates from initial teacher education programmes has remained constant with over 8,000 primary school teachers graduating from initial teacher education, and over 7,800 second-level teachers;
— an estimated 1,870 primary teachers and 1,523 post-primary teachers will graduate from initial teacher education programmes in 2018, which is in line with graduate levels in recent years;
— differential pay scales were introduced by the then Government in 2010, in response to the financial crisis;
— the Government is committed to achieving the right balance between addressing the legitimate expectations of public service workers for increases in their pay, while ensuring that the Government continues to exercise a prudent approach to the overall management of our public finances;
— the Minister for Education and Skills and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform entered into an agreement with the teaching unions which resulted in newly qualified teachers receiving pay increases of 15% to 22%, the second moiety of which was paid on 1 January 2018, and that the starting pay for a newly qualified teacher straight out of college is now €35,958; and
— under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 (the Agreement), the starting salary for a teacher straight out of college will be over €37,600 from October 2020;
recognises that the teacher unions have outstanding pay demands that this agreement does not meet in full - however it does represent significant progress, and does not close the door to the trade union movement seeking to advance the issue further;
further notes:
— the commitment in the new pay agreement to consider the issue of newly qualified pay within 12 months of the commencement of the Agreement and the commitment in the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 to provide a report to the Oireachtas on this issue in March 2018, which will provide detailed cost estimates for pay restoration;
— that the equalisation of pay scales would mean that a newly qualified second-level teacher straight out of college would have a starting salary of €43,900 from October 2020, and that a primary school teacher straight out of college would have a starting salary of €41,500;
— that the full year cost of new entrant pay equalisation in the education and training sector would be in the order of €130 million and would be over €200 million across the public service;
— that if the Department of Education and Skills spent €130 million more in pay in 2018 it would mean that there would be less funding available to hire more new teachers, to hire new special needs assistants (SNAs), to invest in tackling educational disadvantage or to promote curriculum reform;
— the vital role that leadership plays in schools, and recognises the 2,600 extra promotional opportunities created in schools in the past year;
— that the number of teachers retiring from the profession has remained constant in the last three years, and that a similar number of retirements are expected in 2018 as in 2017;
— that the creation of over 1,000 net new teaching positions each year in primary schools in the last number of years have provided strong employment opportunities for primary school teachers graduating from initial teacher education programmes, and that as a result, some schools have reported a difficulty in hiring substitute teachers; and
— that, notwithstanding the fact that some 2,850 extra second-level teachers have been recruited in the last two years, that some second-level schools have reported some difficulties in recruiting teachers in certain subject areas;
acknowledges that the Minister for Education and Skills has taken a number of steps already to enhance the availability of retired teachers and teachers on career break for substitution purposes;
notes that the Minister for Education and Skills has received and considered the advice of the Teaching Council;
acknowledges that the Minister is considering a range of new policy interventions to deal with teacher supply and substitution issues in schools, and that a programme of action will be announced shortly; and
welcomes the undertaking of the Minister to consult and engage with partners in advancing initiatives.
- (Minister for Education and Skills)

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to the motion on shortage of teachers. On Wednesday, 24 January 2018, on the question that amendment No. 1 to the motion be agreed to, a division was claimed and in accordance with Standing Order 70(2), that division must be taken now.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 47; Níl, 78; Staon, 0.

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Níl

  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Curran, John.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Michael Moynihan and John Lahart.
Amendment declared lost.
Motion agreed to.
Sitting suspended at 1.50 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.