Ask Brian: Should I be paid for my teaching placement?
School principals are interpreting the relevant legislation in different ways
QUESTION: I am currently doing a professional master’s in education (PME), the new two-year second-level teaching qualification. Some of my classmates are receiving payment for taking classes in their placement schools. Some school principals, however, claim not to be allowed to do so any more. What is the correct position?
ANSWER: Since early 2014, all teachers in publicly funded schools are required to be registered with the Teaching Council except in the most urgent and exceptional cases. (The details are set out in section 30 of the Teaching Council Acts 2001-2012).
When school principals find themselves with an absent teacher on any given day, under official rules they must first of all use all the qualified teachers within the school who are available under the substitution and supervision arrangements.
If, having exhausted that resource, they still have teaching hours to be covered and they have no access to qualified registered teachers who are not retired, the school may employ a retired registered teacher.
If none is available, it may move on to employ a “registered teacher who is not appropriately qualified”, giving preference wherever possible to one who is not retired. Finally, if no registered teacher can be found, it may for very limited periods of time employ an “unregistered person”.
So, what is your status as a PME student registered with the teaching council?
Under section 30 of the Teaching Council Acts, a teacher is required to be registered with the council in order to be paid from State funds.
Currently, applications for registration are considered under the Teaching Council regulations 2009, which provide for registration in primary, postprimary, further education, Montessori and other categories.
The council admits teachers on to its register based on qualifications. In the further-education sector, an individual may apply without a relevant teacher education qualification but holding an undergraduate degree.
Such individuals are registered with the condition of attaining a relevant teacher education qualification within three years of being admitted on to the register.
Students undertaking the PME – who already have an undergraduate degree – are eligible for registration under the further education route.
If you register under this route, you become a registered teacher as yet unqualified.
Principals who cannot source a registered qualified teacher may allocate those teaching hours to such a student and they will be paid by the Department of Education.
The only impediment to them doing so would be a policy decision by any of the school management bodies to instruct schools under their jurisdiction not to use such students doing placements in their schools for paid substitution purposes. I am not aware that any such instructions have been issued.
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