Schools struggling to hire qualified Irish teachers

Students may be denied chance to study languages, warn school managers

Minister for Education Richard Bruton said his department had hired more than 5,000 extra teachers in the last two years. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Minister for Education Richard Bruton said his department had hired more than 5,000 extra teachers in the last two years. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

One in five teaching positions in Irish at second level is being filled by teachers without any qualification to teach the language, according to a school management body.

The Association of Community and Comprehensive Secondary Schools will tell an Oireachtas committee on Tuesday that many schools are struggling to hire qualified teachers across subjects that traditionally had a strong supply of teachers.

It said schools had indicated they will soon consider dropping some languages or restricting the number of students studying French, Spanish and German due to teacher shortages.

The association, which represents 96 secondary schools, said the most acute shortages were in Irish where there were “simply not enough applicants to fill vacancies”.

This is a very worrying trend if we consider the centrality of these subjects for a wide range of career choices

Its survey found that up to 20 per cent of those hired on year-long contracts to teach Irish did not have a qualification in the language.

It said Gaeltacht schools and schools teaching through Irish were also struggling to recruit teachers to teach subjects through the language.

Challenge

In home economics, the association said the challenge was even greater, with up to 25 per cent of year-long teaching contracts filled by unqualified teachers.

In the case of physics, chemistry and maths, shortages were less acute but as few as one or two candidates attended interviews in some Dublin schools.

“This is a very worrying trend if we consider the centrality of these subjects for a wide range of career choices,” the association said.

Accessing qualified teachers for shorter-term substitution cover is “neigh impossible”, it added.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton has acknowledged there were “pinch points” in some subjects.

However, he said his department had hired more than 5,000 extra teachers in the last two years, and there was no problem with overall teacher supply.

He has increased numbers of teacher-training places in key subjects, including Irish, along with measures to boost the supply of retired teachers.