50,000 school days worked by unqualified teachers, says INTO


MORE THAN 50,000 school days were worked by “teachers” with no qualifications and more than 20 untrained staff were employed in schools in the first six months of this year, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation revealed last night.

Fine Gael expressed alarm over the figures. Education spokesman Fergus O’Dowd said unqualified teachers were being recruited even though thousands of qualified graduates could not obtain positions.

The figures emerged as the Dáil yesterday introduced legislation for the continued employment of unqualified people in place of teachers. The Education Amendment Bill, introduced by the Government will allow Minister for Education Mary Coughlan to sanction the employment of non-teachers as substitute teachers in certain circumstances.

INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan described the proposed legislation as a calculated insult to teachers and said parents should be outraged that a Minister was proposing to legislate for persons with no qualifications to teach children.

Ms Nunan said problems with finding trained teachers to cover absences in schools were a thing of the past. “There are now hundreds of unemployed, fully qualified teachers to be recruited for this work.” The Bill also proposes that a person who is removed or suspended from the register of teachers may be employed by a school and paid by the State. Ms Nunan said this was unacceptable and showed the flawed nature of the Bill. “This means that someone who has been struck off for unprofessional conduct can re-enter through the back door.”

The legislation will put the INTO on a collision course with the Government. In 2007 the union said that from 2013 no teacher would work alongside persons without teaching qualification.

Meanwhile, Impact has criticised the scale of Government plans to close Vocational Education Committees around the country and demanded full consultation on the move. The Cabinet decided on Tuesday to cut the number of VECs from 33 to 16.

Impact said the planned reduction was more extensive than proposed in the McCarthy report last year which called for the number of VECs to be cut to 22.