To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to address the current and potential teacher shortages in STEM subjects; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Over 5,000 additional teachers have been successfully recruited in the last two years. We are recruiting more new teachers than at any other point in the history of the state. The numbers of graduates from initial teacher education programmes have remained broadly constant. In 2018 it is estimated that approximately 1,870 primary and 1,523 post primary teachers will graduate.
In November 2017 I launched a STEM Policy Statement and Implementation Plan, which aims to make Ireland the best in Europe in STEM by 2026. This Policy Statement focusses on the many strengths in STEM education in Ireland while providing a roadmap to address the areas for development.
Some schools have reported shortages in recruiting teachers in specific subjects at post primary level, including in STEM, and as part of the implementation of the Policy I am determined to deliver increased teacher supply in key priority areas. At post primary level, we are considering the introduction of subject quotas in ITE programmes. We are also considering the introduction of “top up” or conversion courses to upskill teachers. I have announced my intention to double the number of places on undergraduate initial teacher education.
I will shortly be announcing the establishment of a Teacher Supply Steering Group to develop a strategy for teacher supply. As part of its remit, the Group will consult with key stakeholders.
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.