Richard Bruton defends pay rates for newly qualified teachers

FF’s Thomas Byrne says two-tier pay system is causing ‘massive flight’ of teachers

Fianna Fáil education spokesman Thomas Byrne: The issue was not about pay but pay scales, he said. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Fianna Fáil education spokesman Thomas Byrne: The issue was not about pay but pay scales, he said. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Newly qualified teachers are on competitive pay rates, Minister for Education Richard Bruton has said, responding to criticism in the Dáil of the two-tier pay system in education.

He said under the Lansdowne Agreement, there had been increases of 15 per cent and 22 per cent for graduate teachers, closing 75 per cent of the gap in the scale.

He told the Dáil that from January next year, a newly qualified teacher, straight out of college, would be recruited at €35,600 annually.

“That is competitive for a newly qualified graduate,’’ he added.

The Minister was replying in the Dáil to Fianna Fáil education spokesman Thomas Byrne, who said there was a “massive flight’’ of young Irish teachers to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and to other countries.

It was taking place, he added, against a background where teachers, particularly at second level, but also at primary level, were required to be more qualified than ever.

He said approximately 11,000 teachers had qualified since 2011 and were on pay scales lower than those of their colleagues who qualified prior to that year.

Demographic pressures

Over the next 12 months, demographic pressures meant another 5,000 teachers would enter this cohort, he added.

“If the Government, led by the Fine Gael party, sticks to its commitment under the confidence-and-supply agreement to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio, that number will rise even higher,’’ Mr Byrne added.

He said there had been a “a bit of devilment’’ at times on the Government’s side, with claims that somebody with more years’ experience got more pay.

The issue was not about pay but pay scales, he said.

“It is having a hugely detrimental effect on morale in our schools and it is massively contributing to the teacher shortage, an issue about which I have already suggested the Minister is not doing enough,’’ Mr Byrne added.

Mr Bruton said it had been agreed in pay negotiations that the issues of new entrant pay, and those areas in the public service with difficulty in recruiting, would be discussed through a process in the agreement.

He said money had not been set aside in the agreement at this point for either of those issues, nor had a deadline been set for the conclusion of such discussions.