Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Ceisteanna (89)

Alan Kelly


89. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on sharing teachers across schools in view of the fact that a shortage of substitute cover and that pupils across many schools are being left without qualified teachers in Irish, science, foreign languages and maths due to a supply shortage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47490/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Earlier this year I introduced a new scheme to allow post-primary schools to share teachers in priority subjects. The “Scheme to Share Teachers between Recognised Post-Primary Schools” is intended to ease recruitment pressures in specific subject areas such as STEM, modern foreign languages, Irish, and home economics. I would strongly encourage Principals and boards of management to take the opportunity provided by this scheme to work with a neighbouring school by sharing a teacher to ensure availability of these subject specialisms. Details of the scheme are set out in Circular 0015/2019, which is available on my Department's website.

The teacher sharing initiative is one of a range of actions contained in the Action Plan for Teacher Supply. Other actions in the plan include:

- My Department launched the “Teaching Transforms” campaign (digital, radio and video) to promote the teaching profession, supported by a new dedicated webpage.

- Following engagement with the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the higher education institutions (HEIs) have put in place new initial teacher education (ITE) undergraduate programmes in 2019 in a number of priority subject areas, including mathematics, modern foreign languages, Irish and Computer Science. More new undergraduate ITE programmes are also planned to commence in September 2020.

- The HEA is engaging with the HEIs to explore the development of programmes to upskill existing teachers in targeted post primary subject areas.

- The Teaching Council has reviewed the implementation of student teacher school placement guidelines and a report on this is expected before the end of 2019 

- Stakeholder consultative forums and focus groups for teachers, principals, parents, student teachers and school students have been held with further forums and focus groups planned over the coming school year to inform ongoing policy to address teacher supply challenges.

- An online teacher recruitment portal to match available teachers with short term substitute vacancies in primary and post primary schools is being developed. Final testing is ongoing and it is intended that this portal will be operational shortly.   

The Steering Group on Teacher Supply, chaired by the Secretary General of my Department, is overseeing the implementation of the Plan. The Steering Group continues to meet on a regular basis and I hope to make further announcements in this area the near future.