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 and at post primary to the recruitment of teachers of particular subjects such as STEM, modern foreign languages, Irish and Home Economics.
In response to these difficulties, the Teacher Supply Steering Group, which is chaired by the Secretary General of my Department, was established in March 2018.
The Steering Group is considering the issues that relate to 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; and promotion of the teaching profession. It is supported in its work by the Teacher Supply Implementation Group and a number of working groups that are looking at specific policy areas. In undertaking its task, the Steering Group is cognisant of the requirement that all persons wishing to teach in recognised schools must meet the professional registration standards and criteria set by the Teaching Council, which is the professional regulatory body for the teaching profession.
The Steering Group is overseeing the Action Plan for Teacher Supply, which I published in November 2018. Several of the actions are aimed at supporting Irish teachers who are considering returning to Ireland to take up teaching positions, including:
- The commencement of a new teacher sharing scheme for post-primary schools in the 2019/20 school year, as set out in my Department’s Circular 0015/2019. This scheme will support young teachers in obtaining full time employment and enhance curricular choices in post primary schools.
- The development of an online teacher recruitment portal is being explored.
- The use of digital technology by schools to facilitate interviewing applicants, for teaching posts, is also being explored, particularly in the case of qualified applicants resident outside the State.
- The Teaching Council is developing more streamlined processes for the registration of teachers, including those originally from Ireland, who qualified in jurisdictions outside the State.
- In December 2018, a national campaign to promote the teaching profession was launched across a number of platforms, including radio and digital media, supported by a new dedicated webpage www.gov.ie/teachingtransforms. This website provides useful information about teaching as a career in Ireland.
With regard to salary on return from teaching abroad, the position is that qualified teachers who work in schools outside the State may, on appointment to a teaching post in a recognised school in the Republic of Ireland, qualify for the award of incremental credit for the purposes of progression on the incremental salary scale under the terms of the schemes as outlined in my Department’s circulars 10/01, 29/07 and 29/10.
The Deputy may wish to note that I intend to visit the United Arab Emirates in the coming months to meet with Irish teachers working there to ascertain how they can be best supported to return to Ireland to work as teachers here. I have been working closely with the Irish Ambassador to the UAE and his staff to arrange to meet as many Irish teachers in the area as possible so as to hear their concerns.