Number of teachers on a career break up a third in five years

INTO says some teachers making the move overseas to save for house deposit

More than 200 teachers are set to travel to the United Arab Emirates  next month after finding work through an overseas recruitment company. Photograph: Getty Images

More than 200 teachers are set to travel to the United Arab Emirates next month after finding work through an overseas recruitment company. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The number of primary and secondary school teachers on a career break has increased by a third over the last five years, according to the Department of Education.

There were 2,090 teachers on a career break during the last academic year in comparison to 1,535 in 2012/13.

During the 2016/17 academic year, 1,348 female primary school teachers were on a career break, as well as 373 female secondary school teachers, 245 male primary teachers and 124 male post-primary teachers.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) said overseas recruitment was a factor, with some making the move to save for a deposit on a house.

“It is no coincidence that since pay reductions were imposed, most significantly on new entrant teachers, that there was an increase in the numbers on career breaks,” a spokesman for the INTO said.

“In recent years there has been enormous recruitment of Irish teachers to work abroad, in particular in the UK and Middle East ...higher salaries and professional contracts are the main attractions.

“Rocketing house prices and deposit requirements are leading to many teachers looking at tax-free overseas salaries as a way of getting a foothold on the property ladder.”

Applications

More than 200 teachers, at both primary and secondary level, are set to travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next month after finding work through overseas recruitment company Teach & Explore.

Garrett O’Dowd, co-founder of the company, said applications for positions in schools in countries such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, China and South Korea are continuing to increase annually. “In previous years we had a lot of applications from teachers who weren’t permanent; now they are mostly taking career-breaks.”

The Department of Education’s career break scheme for teachers gives them the option to avail of a leave of absence from school, without pay, for a minimum of one year. The maximum duration of any one absence on career break is five years, while the overall maximum absence in the course of a teaching career is 10 years.

The department said reasons for availing of the scheme included personal development, voluntary service overseas, education, childcare, accompanying a partner or spouse on an overseas posting and self-employment.

Board of management

“As the applications are dealt with by the board of management of the school in which the teacher is employed, this department is not made aware of the reasons for which the career break is applied,” a spokeswoman for the Department of Education said.

“The ratio between male and female teachers taking a career break is broadly in line with the employment ratio generally in relation to teachers employed in primary schools.”

The figures are compiled from payrolls operated by the Department of Education and Skills, and therefore exclude teachers employed in Education and Training Boards.