Quinn says priority is to jobless teachers

Fri, Mar 8, 2013, 00:00

We are continuing to press the matter with the schools’ boards of management and the unions . . . in some cases the school may be located in a place without a young teacher wishing to take up the hours

A Department of Education circular requires schools to give priority to the unemployed over those on pensions when hiring substitute teachers, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has told the Dáil.

He said of the 55,666 teachers paid by his department, only 153, 0.27 per cent, were also in receipt of a pension.

Mr Quinn said feedback from schools indicated that the reasons retired teachers were recruited included the number and pattern of hours available, the paucity of appropriately qualified and registered teachers in certain areas and the short notice. “We are continuing to press the matter with the schools’ boards of management and the unions,” he said.

Sinn Féin spokesman Jonathan O’Brien said that while 153 teachers was a small number relative to the overall figure, it was unacceptable given the number of newly qualified teachers struggling to find work.

“It is up to the schools to employ the teachers, but when the department issues a circular instructing that priority must be given to newly qualified teachers, that needs to be done.”

Mr Quinn said there were texting services for securing relief teachers at short notice when there were vacancies. “However, in some cases, the school may be located in a place without a young teacher wishing to take up the hours and they may be very limited anyway.”

Action on bullying

Replying to Fianna Fáil spokesman Charlie McConalogue, the Minister said he had allocated €500,000 to enable implementation of the plan to combat bullying to be progressed this year.

This would complement other programmes to help teachers and school management deal with bullying in schools.

Mr McConalogue said that while he welcomed the publication of guidelines for mental health promotion and suicide prevention, as well as the action plan for bullying, the Minister had removed €32 million specifically dedicated for guidance counsellors. They had a key role in liaising with students with difficulties relating to mental health or bullying.

Mr Quinn said the skill required might not necessarily rest with the guidance counsellor in the school. He said there was a more integrated and holistic way of approaching the issue and mobilising existing resources in a new way.