Tuesday, 2 March 2004

Questions (179, 180)

Phil Hogan

Question:

259 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Education and Science if and when a resource teacher will be provided for a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6681/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

My Department allocates resource teaching support and special needs assistant support to second level schools and vocational education committees to cater for students with special educational needs. Applications for such support are made to my Department by the relevant school authority or VEC. Each application is considered on the basis of the assessed needs of the pupil(s) involved and the nature and level of the support provided is determined on the advice of the psychological service.

Ballyhale vocational school comes within the jurisdiction of County Kilkenny VEC which has been allocated a total of 2.57 wholetime teacher equivalent posts and 1.48 wholetime equivalent special needs assistant posts to cater for students with special needs attending the school. A further application for additional resources for special needs students attending Ballyhale vocational school has been received by my Department from County Kilkenny VEC. This application has been referred to the psychological service for consideration. My Department will notify County Kilkenny VEC of the decision as quickly as possible.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

260 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department has plans to encourage more males to enter into the primary teaching profession, in view of the fact that only 10% of primary teachers are male at the moment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6682/04]

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There have been many improvements in the pay and conditions of service of primary teachers in recent years. As a result, primary teaching is an attractive career option for school leavers and graduates alike. This is borne out by the number of applicants applying each year for entry to the BEd courses in the colleges of education and to the recognised courses for graduates for the purposes of qualification as a primary teacher.

I am concerned about the position of imbalance between male and female applicants for the primary teaching profession. My Department commissioned a research study on the issue of take-up of primary teacher training by males and females. The report on the study, which was completed in 2002, showed that the pool of males with the necessary qualifications is smaller than the equivalent pool of females. In addition, many third level course choices seemed to be gender stereotyped and significantly more girls were attracted to teaching of all kinds. The authors concluded that it may be difficult for any society to bring about an early reversal of the feminisation trends in teaching.

Arrangements are being made for the establishment of the Teaching Council. The council will provide an important and influential forum for presenting the views of the profession on all aspects of the teaching career from initial recruitment to in-career professional development. The responsibilities of teachers in promoting teaching as a profession and in recruiting the next generation of teachers form an important role for the Teaching Council. Any proposal to attract more males to the primary teaching profession must take account of the requirements of current equality legislation.