40,000 taught by teachers who are not qualified


Up to 40,000 primary pupils are being taught every day by teachers without recognised primary teaching qualifications, a new survey has found.

The survey found that up to 10 per cent of teachers either had second-level qualifications or no teaching qualifications at all. The survey by the INTO was conducted among 1,400 primary schools around the State.

The survey gathered information from schools and discovered that 8 per cent of teachers either had no primary qualification or held a second-level H.Dip. When substitute teachers were added to the figures, it meant about 10 per cent of teachers were not properly qualified, said a spokesman.

The problem is most acute in disadvantaged primary schools. The number of unqualified primary teachers has grown in recent years because schools cannot get enough teachers.

Second-level teachers are trained to teach pupils between 12 and 18 years of age, whereas primary teachers are trained to work with children between four and 12. The training given to both groups is significantly different in several areas, sources said yesterday.

The general secretary of the INTO, Mr John Carr, said it was a "national disgrace" that the most basic and valuable resource of all - a fully qualified and properly trained teacher - was denied to so many children.

"Responsibility for this sorry state of affairs lies firmly with government who have failed over many years to ensure that the colleges of education produce enough graduates to meet the needs of primary schools. Successive governments have turned a deaf ear to our warnings that this situation would arise. They also failed to respond to well thought-out and realistic calls for other ways to remedy teacher shortages."

The INTO survey includes a county-by-county breakdown of the problem. This shows that Dublin suffers from the highest rate of unqualified teachers and the problem is understood to be particularly bad in inner city and west Dublin.

Mr Carr said the Government needed to do more to tackle the problem. "Can you imagine a government that would allow first aid enthusiasts to replace trained nurses in accident and emergency wards? Can you imagine a government that would seek to substitute trained gardaí on the beat with enthusiastic bouncers from the local pub?"

The INTO has outlined several measures it wants to see implemented:

An immediate increased intake into the colleges of education, particularly the smaller ones;

A graduate course to begin next February;

An accelerated graduate course for qualified post-primary teachers;

A modular course for graduates which could be offered by distance learning at weekends or during the summer;

Conversion courses for three-year trained Montessori teachers;

Continuing recruitment of teachers from Northern Ireland and abroad on a provisional recognition basis;

The provision of accelerated Irish qualifications for Northern Ireland-trained teachers, including free tuition on Gaeltacht courses.