Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Questions (123)

Carol Nolan


123. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the actions he is continuing to pursue in order to address the issue regarding ongoing difficulties in recruiting teachers at primary and second-level schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46760/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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 level to the recruitment of teachers of particular subjects (STEM, modern foreign languages, Irish and Home Economics, in particular). 

The Steering Group on Teacher Supply, chaired by the Secretary General of my Department, is overseeing the implementation of the Teacher Supply Action Plan, which I launched in November 2018.

Some of the actions in the plan include:

- My Department launched the “Teaching Transforms” campaign (digital, radio and video) to promote the teaching profession, supported by a new dedicated webpage.

- Following engagement with the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the higher education institutions (HEIs) have put in place new initial teacher education (ITE) undergraduate programmes 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 engaging with the HEIs to explore the development of programmes to upskill existing teachers in targeted post primary subject areas.

- The Teaching Council  has reviewed the implementation of student teacher school placement guidelines and a report on this is expected before the end of 2019.

- Stakeholder consultative forums and focus groups for teachers, principals, parents, student teachers and school students have been held with further forums and focus groups planned over the coming school year.

- An online teacher recruitment portal to match available teachers with short term substitute vacancies in primary and post primary schools is being developed. It is intended that this portal will be operational in the near future.     

- Substitute teacher supply panels for primary schools are operating on a pilot basis for 2019/20 in 6 locations that have been identified as having a significant challenge in recruiting substitute teachers (two panels in Dublin and one each in Kildare, Meath, Cork and Galway).

- My Department published Circular 0015/2019 with details of a new teacher sharing scheme for post-primary schools. The scheme is intended to enhance curricular choice in schools and support young teachers in obtaining full time employment.

The Steering Group continue to meet on a regular basis and I hope to make further announcements in the near future.