Teachers’ qualifications don’t match subjects taught - survey

Department review finds large number teach classes without the relevant credentials

A survey by the Department of Education into how staff are deployed in secondary schools has identified a mismatch between teachers’ formal qualifications and the subjects they teach.

The study, prepared for a Teaching Council investigation into future staffing needs, found that a high proportion of teachers in a sample of 70 schools were timetabled for subjects like computer studies and civic, social and political education (CSPE).

This was despite the fact that there were very few teachers on a national basis qualified to teach these subjects.

The survey also showed that more teachers were timetabled for religious education (RE) than almost any other subject.


Only four subjects had more teachers deployed to them: maths, English, Irish and CSPE.


The department said no link could be made between the deployment of a teacher and the teacher’s qualifications from an analysis of information available but “for illustrative purposes” it drew attention to the number of teachers nationally who were qualified to teach individual subjects.

This showed that English had the highest number of qualified teachers (8,015), followed by history (6,628), maths (5,443) and geography (5,426).

In contrast, just 824 teachers were qualified to teach CSPE (1.2 per cent), and 578 to teach computer studies (0.8 per cent).

Some 3,437 were qualified to teach RE, which was ahead of all the science subjects with the exception of biology.

In the sample, representing about 10 per cent of the post-primary sector, 2,807 teachers were deployed to 5,560 subjects, indicating that on average teachers took more than one subject.

Some 579 were timetabled for maths, 555 for English, 467 for Irish, 404 for CSPE and 382 for RE.


A much higher proportion of teachers were deployed to RE in both the community and comprehensive sector and the religious-run and voluntary sector compared with Education and Training Board (ETB) schools.

In the latter, more teachers were deployed to biology and Junior Cert science combined than to RE, whereas the reverse applied in the other schools.

The study did not examine how much instruction time was devoted to each subject.

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times and writer of the Unthinkable philosophy column