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 to the recruitment of teachers of particular subjects such as STEM, modern foreign languages, Irish and Home Economics.
In response to these difficulties, the Teacher Supply Steering Group, which is chaired by the Secretary General of my Department, was established in March 2018.
The Steering Group is considering the issues that relate to teacher supply under four policy headings: initial teacher education policy, provision, funding and support; data/research requirements; policies and arrangements for schools and teachers that impact on teacher mobility/supply; and promotion of the teaching profession.
The Steering Group oversees the implementation of the Action Plan for Teacher Supply, which I published in November 2018. Several of the actions are aimed at supporting Irish teachers who are considering returning to Ireland to take up teaching positions, including:
- The commencement of a new teacher sharing scheme for post-primary schools in the 2019/20 school year, as set out in my Department’s Circular 0015/2019. This scheme will support young teachers in obtaining full time employment and enhance curricular choices in post primary schools.
- An online teacher recruitment portal is being developed which will facilitate the recruitment of short term substitute teachers by primary and post primary schools. It is intended that the portal will be in place for the coming school year.
- The use of digital technology by schools to facilitate interviewing applicants, for teaching posts, is also being explored, particularly in the case of qualified applicants resident outside the State.
- The Teaching Council is developing more streamlined processes for the registration of teachers, including those originally from Ireland, who qualified in jurisdictions outside the State.
- In December 2018, a national campaign to promote the teaching profession was launched across a number of platforms, including radio and digital media, supported by a new dedicated webpage www.gov.ie/teachingtransforms. This website provides useful information about teaching as a career in Ireland.
The Deputy is referring also to my recent Education Trade Mission to the UAE.
While in the UAE, I engaged with 450 Irish teachers at two meetings in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. These meetings gave me the opportunity to hear the challenges facing these teachers and also gave them a chance to offer practical solutions to some issues.
The meetings allowed me in my role as Minister to meet with these teachers and discuss first hand with them the challenges they face in returning to Ireland and to consider ways that we can work together, to support them, when and if they decide to return to work in Ireland.
To facilitate this, teachers volunteered to form a group to liaise on the identified issues with the embassy and my Department. Arrangements are being made for the first meeting of this group in the Autumn.
I want to thank the Irish ambassador and his staff in the Embassy, the local Irish groups, including the GAA, and the Irish living in the UAE for the work they did to make this visit a success.