Ukrainian teachers to be fast-tracked through registration system

Move aims to ensure schools can cope with expected influx of children

Ukrainian teachers will be fast-tracked through the registration process to allow them to teach in Irish classrooms.

The move is aimed at ensuring schools are ready to meet the needs of an expected influx of Ukrainian families fleeing the war-torn country over the coming weeks and months.

Government ministers say they expect between 80,000 and 100,000 Ukrainian nationals may end up moving here. About a third are likely to be children.

Minister for Education Norma Foley said there will be need to draw on the expertise of Ukrainian teachers and those with expertise in the Ukrainian language to help students integrate into Irish classrooms.


A spokesman for the Department of Education said: "The Teaching Council is working closely with the Department to assist and prioritise the registration of any Ukrainian nationals who arrive in Ireland and who are teachers.

In addition, Ms Foley has pledged that supports for children learning English will be expanded in schools.

However, a group representing English language support teachers said the system has been struggling to meet the needs of students whose mother tongue is not English, even before the arrival of Ukrainian students.

Investment needed

Philip McCarthy, a spokesman for the 1,000-member English Language Support Teachers’ Association of Ireland, said the number of these teachers has decreased and supports have reduced in recent years

He said far greater levels of investment will be needed to boost teacher numbers and provide professional training if schools are to meet the needs of students arriving into Ireland.

“There are pledges to welcome students and put our arms around them, but the reality is we don’t have the resources in places to do that. We need to do more than hoping they will absorb the language in school,” Mr McCarthy said.

"We haven't had the required supports in place for children arriving from Syria, for example. The risk is that we fail to meet children's needs and end up giving them work which is intended for much younger children, even though they would be well capable of more with the right support," he said.

He said targeted support will be needed, especially for older students with limited English.

While children can absorb the social language quickly, he said it can take years to boost academic standards.

Ms Foley said work is underway in identifying the likely scale of English language support that may be needed.

“We will absolutely put in place all the resources we need to. This is a time of emergency and challenge. Any humanitarian support this country can offer the Ukrainian people will be given,” she said.

Separately, schools with spare capacity are being identified by the Department of Education.

Most schools with spare capacity tend be located outside major urban centres.

Government ministers have signalled there will be a focus on directing families to these parts of the country, on the basis that there may be less pressure on education and housing.

Ms Foley has pledged that school transport services will be available to Ukrainian students, in the same basis that it is available to children in Ireland.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent