Additional investment has allowed the successful recruitment of over 5,000 additional teachers in the last two years. Since 2012/2013, there are 8,900 more teachers in our schools. No other part of the public service has seen this sort of growth, which is testament to the Government’s commitment to, and the importance of education in, fulfilling our national ambitions.
The numbers of graduates from initial teacher education (ITE) programmes have also remained broadly constant. Over 8,000 primary and 7,800 second level teachers have graduated in the last five years and in 2018 it is estimated that approximately 1,870 primary and 1,523 post primary teachers will graduate.
However, I fully acknowledge the concerns that have been expressed about teacher supply.
Last month, I announced the suspension of restrictions on substitution limits for career breaks. Schools have also been reminded that, in considering career break applications, the needs of pupils should take precedence and they must take account of the availability of appropriate qualified replacement teachers.
At post primary level, I have announced my intention to double the number of places on undergraduate courses for second level teachers, as well as a range of other policy interventions.
I intend shortly to establish a Teacher Supply Steering Group to develop a strategy for teacher supply. As part of its remit, the Group will consult with key stakeholders and will consider all options to achieve the increases in teacher supply needed to address shortages of substitute teachers at primary level and shortages of teachers of certain subjects at post primary level.
I will also ask the Teaching Council to review subject criteria and processes for assessing out of state qualifications and to engage more with graduate fairs, and final year students.