Additional investment has allowed the successful recruitment of over 5,000 additional teachers in the last two years. Since 2012/2013, there are 8,900 more teachers in our schools. No other part of the public service has seen this sort of growth, which is testament to the Government’s commitment to education and its importance in fulfilling our national ambitions.
The numbers of graduates from initial teacher education (ITE) programmes have also remained broadly constant. Over 8,000 primary and 7,800 second level teachers have graduated in the last five years and in 2018 it is estimated that approximately 1,870 primary and 1,523 post primary teachers will graduate.
However, primary schools in particular have reported difficulty in recruiting substitute teachers to cover for short term or temporary absences and I fully acknowledge the concerns that have been expressed about teacher supply,
I have already announced a number of measures to increase the pool of teachers available to schools, in particular to fill short term vacancies, including informing all teachers retiring in 2017 that in order to remain eligible for employment in a state funded teaching post for a period of more than five consecutive days or to supervise the State examinations, a teacher must maintain his/her registration with the Teaching Council.
I have also recently announced the temporary suspension of the limits for employment for a teacher on career break. Schools have also been reminded that, in considering career break applications, the needs of pupils should take precedence and they must take account of the availability of appropriate qualified replacement teachers.
The Deputy should note that 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.
In 2018 I will also ask the Teaching Council to review subject criteria and processes for assessing overseas qualifications and to engage more with graduate fairs and final year students.