Teaching attracting high achievers despite jobs difficulty

Diversity still poses challenge with few men or disadvnataged people becoming teachers

There is no solid evidence that specific selection mechanisms produce the “best” teachers, the report states. Photograph: Getty Images

There is no solid evidence that specific selection mechanisms produce the “best” teachers, the report states. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The teaching profession is drawing accomplished people despite difficulties in getting jobs, new research shows.

A report by the ESRI and the Teaching Council provides new information on the profiles of entrants to undergraduate and postgraduate teacher education courses.

Diversity remains a challenge with relatively few men or people from disadvantaged backgrounds entering the profession, the report states.

Overall, there is a high demand for places in teacher education programmes in Ireland resulting in strong competition for places on both primary and post-primary programmes.

Significant numbers of entrants to primary teaching courses secured 500 or more Leaving Cert points.

Despite difficulties in accessing teaching jobs, the number of CAO applicants who have listed teaching courses as their first preference has remained relatively stable in recent years.

There is no firm evidence that particular selection mechanisms produce the “best” teachers, the report states.

Winter of Discontent

However, countries that have greater demand for teacher education places have higher-achieving entrants.

In response to potential concerns about teacher quality, there have been proposals to change the entry criteria used for selecting student teachers in Ireland.

School leavers

At primary level, this proposal would involve higher grade requirements in maths, Irish and English.

The report indicates that without sufficient notice to applicants, this would dramatically reduce the number of school leavers eligible for entry to teaching courses.

It would particularly reduce entry rates among more disadvantaged groups, it notes.

Research also shows students who enter primary teaching courses are more likely to be socially advantaged than those on other higher education courses.

They are less likely to have attended a disadvantaged school, to be in receipt of a higher education grant, to be non-Irish or to have entered through an alternative route.

The profile of students taking post-primary undergraduate teaching courses is a little more diverse.

However, those from non-Irish backgrounds and those who had attended disadvantaged schools are under-represented among the intake.

The report was commissioned by the Teaching Council to inform its advice to the Minister regarding the minimum requirements for entry to programmes of initial teacher education.

The report, Entry to Programmes of Initial Teacher Education, is by Dr Merike Darmody and Prof Emer Smyth.

Dr Merike Darmody said there was a need to consider entry routes that recognise the current lack of diversity in the teaching profession in Ireland.

This approach, she said, could include the promotion of teaching as a career path among members of communities that are traditionally under-represented in teaching.