In the past two years I have successfully hired 5,000 extra teachers. We are hiring more teachers than at any other time in the State's history. As the Deputy has indicated, issues have arisen. The provisions of the career break scheme are set out in chapter eight, Terms and Conditions of Employment for Registered Teachers in Recognised Primary and Post Primary Schools, which is published on my Department’s website. A career break is period of special leave and the main objectives of this scheme is for employers, wherever possible, to facilitate applicants in the areas of personal development, voluntary service overseas, to accompany a spouse or partner on a diplomatic or military posting, for education, public representation, child care or dependent care, and self-employment.
In response to reported difficulties by schools with regard to recruiting substitute teachers, my Department issued notification on 26 January that it was suspending the restrictions regarding substitution limits for those on a career break for the current school year. Prior to this decision the limits were 90 days in primary schools and 300 hours in post-primary schools. The notification also reminded employers that “in considering applications for career breaks, the welfare and educational needs of the pupils shall take precedence over all other considerations and accordingly, must take account of the availability of appropriate qualified replacement teachers". I understand from representations received that suspending the restrictions as outlined will provide immediate assistance to some schools finding it difficult to recruit qualified substitute teachers.