Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 20 Jun 1974

Vol. 273 No. 9

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Speech and Drama Teachers.


asked the Minister for Education the plans he has for the recognition of teachers of speech, drama and oral communication in primary, secondary, including vocational, schools and in third level educational institutions.


asked the Minister for Education the plans he has for structuring a course to be approved by the NCEA for the training of teachers of speech, drama and oral communication.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 32 and 33 together.

I recently received a deputation from the Society of Teachers of Speech, Drama and Oral Communication in Ireland to whom I explained the position in relation to the requirements for admission to the register of secondary school teachers and for the award of the qualification of national school teachers. A qualification in speech and drama only would not be sufficient for such purposes.

In these circumstances I have not initiated the structuring of a course of the type referred to.

Would the Minister consider it desirable that such a course should be structured?

Mr. R. Burke

Speech and drama are regarded as an integral part of language teaching and the syllabus for English and the rules and programmes make reference to such aspects of the teaching of languages as articulation, precision, coherency and powers of expression, exercises in debates and discussions, improvised drama, and so on. The modern movement is towards the rationalisation of subjects rather than the fragmentation and in the light of this I am not persuaded that it is necessary at this stage to have this subject on the curriculum.

Would the Minister state that all these points related to speech education which he has mentioned in his reply can be covered adequately by the teacher of English, in the light of his own experience, when he has a largish class and is following a fairly exhaustive course?

Mr. R. Burke

I believe that teachers can do and are doing this. To say otherwise would be to suggest that the teachers of Ireland are not carrying out the programme for secondary schools as outlined in the regulations for secondary schools.

That is a ridiculous insinuation of course and the Minister knows it is ridiculous. Would the Minister not agree, seeing that through the development of the media there is greater emphasis on oral expression, some help should be given to these teachers by way of a proper professional in the school?

Mr. R. Burke

If one were to assume that speech and drama were to be regarded as an approved subject the teacher of such a subject would require to hold a qualification for recognition as a national teacher or for registration as a secondary teacher, and in order to be acceptable for registration the qualification would have to be obtained following a full-time three-year course at advanced level in a specialist college to which the minimum entrance standard would be the leaving certificate. The course would need to include subjects appropriate to teacher training including the history, philosophy and psychology of education, general and special teaching methods for secondary level, together with appropriate supervised teaching practice of about 100 hours. So far as the Department are aware, there is no institution in this country offering such a course in speech and drama. Traditionally the registration council, in relation to the registration of teachers of specific subjects, accept only the advanced level qualification of a specialist training college in Britain and do not accept main level qualifications obtainable in that country.

Would the Minister agree that those requirements which he has read out are exactly what these people are asking from the Minister?

Mr. R. Burke

But they are not what they are offering to the Minister.

Would the Minister accept that because of the fact that these aspects of the language do not appear in questions which arise in examinations the obligation on the teacher to deal with oral expression is very often neglected?

Mr. R. Burke

I am not prepared to answer that question in a way which would imply that I am criticising the ability and the qualifications of teachers of English or any other subject. I think that successful teachers employ these methods, pay attention to these aspects of the curriculum and I have no reason to think that they do not.

I am afraid that we will have to pass on to the Order of Business.

As there are only two questions remaining perhaps we should deal with them.

Would the Minister accept that my question is not at all critical of the teachers but of the system which exists?

Mr. R. Burke


Would the Minister——

I have given Deputy Wilson a lot of latitude on this matter.

One final supplementary?

Is the Minister not aware that when secondary teachers were being first registered those who were successfully teaching their subjects for a number of years were registered without the requisite professional, university qualification and would the Minister not find enough consideration in his heart to register the people who are already teaching these subjects pending the structuring of a proper course to qualify?

Mr. R. Burke

Deputy Wilson, as a former President of the Association of Secondary Teachers, should know that the Minister in fact does not exercise control over that statutory body. The matter, in fact, should go before the registration council and it is not for the Minister to tell that council how it should operate.

It has been suggested to me that we might deal with the two remaining questions on the Order Paper. Have I the permission of the House to do so?