Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (415)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

415. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of teachers not being replaced by substitute teachers due to the difficulty in employing substitute teachers (details supplied); and the prevalence of same in English language schools and Gaelscoileanna. [14135/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I am attaching for the information of the Deputy data from the Department’s on-line claims system (OLCS) on the numbers of substitutable days and the number of days for which a substitute claim was received by the Department for these days, for the school year 2017/18. This is the most recent set of data available. The Deputy should note that the OLCS is designed to enable schools to record all absences (substitutable and non-substitutable) for all staff members paid directly on the Department’s payroll and to make claims for substitution. Accordingly, data on absences in ETB schools is not available. In addition separate data is not available in relation to English medium schools and Gaelscoileanna.

As the Deputy will be aware, management bodies and schools have, in recent years, reported difficulties in recruiting teachers. At primary level this relates mainly to the recruitment of substitute teachers.

In response to these difficulties, the Teacher Supply Steering Group was established in March 2018 and the Group is chaired by the Secretary General of my Department.

The Steering Group is leading on the identification of the issues, the development of a programme of actions on teacher supply and the oversight of its implementation. It is considering the issues that impact on teacher supply under four policy headings: initial teacher education policy, provision, funding and support; data/research requirements; policies and arrangements for schools and teachers that impact on teacher mobility/supply; promotion of the teaching profession.

On 8th November 2018, I published the Action Plan for Teacher Supply, which contains twenty-two actions under the four policy headings.

A number of specific measures are being taken to increase the pool of available substitute teachers. These include:

- For the 2018/19 school year, the restrictions on the number of days that teachers on career break may be employed were suspended.

- Retiring teachers were given information that in order to remain eligible for employment in a state funded teaching post for a period of more than five consecutive days, they must maintain registration with the Teaching Council.

- My Department is currently undertaking an analysis of the potential for a primary school substitute teacher supply panel scheme.

- The development of an online substitute teacher recruitment portal is being explored.

- My Department is considering the removal of the restriction on job-sharing teachers undertaking substitute work.

Other actions include:

- In December 2018 my Department launched a national campaign to promote the teaching profession across a number of platforms including radio and digital media. The campaign is supported by a new website providing information about teaching as a career (www.gov.ie/teachingtransforms).

- Following engagement with the HEA, HEIs have put in place new post primary initial teacher education (ITE) undergraduate programmes to commence in 2019 in a number of priority subject areas, including mathematics, modern foreign languages and Irish. More new undergraduate ITE programmes are also planned to commence in 2020.

- The HEA is to engage with HEIs to explore the development of programmes to upskill existing teachers in targeted subject areas and to examine potential for flexible ITE programmes.

- The Teaching Council is undertaking a review of the implementation of the guidelines for student teacher school placements.

- In the current academic year, an additional €1m has been allocated to the Student Assistance Fund for Professional Master of Education (PME) students, increasing the overall fund to €10.1m.

- The Teaching Council is developing more streamlined processes for the registration of teachers qualified in jurisdictions outside the State.

- My Department published Circular 0015/2019 with details of a new teacher sharing scheme for post-primary schools, commencing in the 2019/20 school year.

In addition, following from the implementation of the Policy on Gaeltacht Education:

- An Irish-medium Masters in Education for primary and post-primary teachers, including principals, commenced in September 2018 in Mary Immaculate College.

- Marino Institute of Education will, from 2019, provide a 4-year Irish-medium B Ed for primary teachers.

The Steering Group and the various working groups reporting to it continue to meet on a regular basis and I hope to be in a position to announce further measures to support teacher supply over the coming months.

Substitutable days where no substitute cover was claimed, 2017/18

Primary

School year

Substitutable days (excl. weekends & closures)

Number of days where a substitute claim was received

Number of substitutable days where no substitution cover claimed including days where a substitute teacher was not required

1/9/2017 – 30/6/2018

750,359

647,137

92,299 (12.30%)

Post Primary Schools (Community and Voluntary Secondary Schools)

School Year

Substitutable days (excl. weekends & closures)

Number of days where a substitute claim was received

Number of substitutable days where no substitution cover claimed including days where a substitute teacher was not required

1/9/2017– 01/6/2018

261,461

235,853

25,608(9.79%)

This information has been extracted from the Online Claims System (OLCS), which is designed to enable schools to record all absences (substitutable and non-substitutable) for all staff members paid directly on the Department’s payroll and to make claims for substitution.

There are a number of absence types on the OLCS which are identified as substitutable for payroll purposes, but for which, in certain cases, no substitute is required to be recruited or where the school is not entitled to recruit a sub teacher. For this reason the number of substitutable absences where no substitution cover is claimed is overstated. Such absence types include:

- Teacher Professional Development: In some cases schools close for teacher CPD. Such absences are recorded as substitutable, but in the case of whole school closure, no substitute is employed.

- Force Majeure/Illness in Family: The first day of this leave is not substitutable.

- Self-Certified (Uncertified) Sick Leave: For payroll purposes this leave is recorded as substitutable. However, it is in only substitutable in smaller primary schools for multiple absences of teachers on the same day. For other school types, self-certified sick leave absences are non-substitutable.

- Visiting Teachers: Visiting teachers must have their leave recorded on OLCS but, due to the nature of their posts, they may not always be replaced by a substitute.

- Principal Release Time: This leave is recorded as substitutable but in certain cases, where schools have clustered, these absences are covered by teachers appointed to Principal Release Time Posts. In such cases no substitute is required.

- Supervision and Substitution - Some substitutable absences in post-primary schools are covered by teachers whom have signed up for the Supervision and Substitution Scheme. Accordingly, claims will not be submitted for some absences.