Teacher training changes lead to dismay

Move prevents students applying to begin in September despite past reassurances

Students planning to enter a post-graduate training programme for primary school teaching have complained that recent changes to the course structure are preventing them applying to start this September despite previous reassurances.

Those enrolled in a year-long Irish language course to obtain the requisite Leaving Certificate honours grade this summer say they will now have to wait a full year to begin the teaching course.

Daragh Garde (30), said he contacted St Patrick’s College in Drumcondra last September to ensure that by sitting his Irish exam this year, he would be eligible to apply for the Masters in teaching programme in 2014.

While advised he would be, recent changes to the course have brought the application date forward to July - a month before Leaving Cert results are issued.


“They have changed the goal posts on us and they have completely ruined my plans. We are six weeks away from doing the Leaving Cert; it’s completely crazy,” he said.

Mr Garde said he was one of up to 30 other students taking Irish at Ashfield College in Templeogue who had hoped to enter the course in September but would now have to wait.

Intensive programme
St Patrick's College explained that along with other Colleges of Education it was introducing a

Professional Master of Education programme that would extend the original 18 month course to two years, meaning its next start date is September rather than February.

The intensive two-year programme is open to applicants with an honours bachelor’s degree or those who expect to have successfully completed final examinations before July 4th. This deadline was necessary in order to allow time for processes such as Garda vetting, school and Gaeltacht placement, said the college.

“Confirmation of Leaving Certificate results in mid-August would be too late, for example, to have students placed in schools in September.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education explained it had advised individual colleges to adopt a two-year transition period to cushion any potential impact on students but that the mechanics of the change-over was a matter for each individual institution.

St Patrick’s registrar Dr Pádraig Ó Duibhir said that while incorrect advice may have been inadvertently given to people inquiring about the time frame last year, anyone approaching the college recently would have been informed of the changes.

“I appreciate that it’s regrettable; the only explanation I can offer is that it was difficult to anticipate all contingencies a year ahead of time,” he said.

It is unclear how many students have been discommoded or how other individual teacher-training colleges are dealing with the matter. The new course structure was publicly advertised last week.

Course costing €10,000
Those students who have found themselves cut out of the 2014 applications

are hoping for a reprieve.

Mr Garde said he had previously worked in environmental science in China and was reliant on his savings to support him for the teaching course which will cost at least €10,000.

“I like the idea of working with kids but now the plan has been shattered,” he said.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times