Trainee teachers may get bursaries to help ease classroom ‘crisis’
Move under consideration to boost supply of Irish, science and home economics teachers
A Department of Education working group has been meeting to examine ways of boosting teacher supply in a number of subjects. Photograph: David Sleator
Bursaries for trainee teachers in subjects where there is an undersupply are being examined as part of a package of measures to tackle a “crisis” in classroom staff shortages.
Many secondary schools are struggling to find qualified teachers for key subjects such as Irish, science, maths, languages and home economics, according to principals.
A Department of Education working group has been meeting over recent months to examine ways of boosting teacher supply in these areas.
A plan to cushion the €10,000 to €15,000 cost of the two-year professional master’s in education – which has replaced the old HDip – is one area under examination.
The cost of the qualification is considered to be a major barrier to students opting for teaching.
While there is a good supply of teachers in areas such as English, history and geography, officials believe incentives are needed to attract graduates in areas such as science and languages.
Many science graduates, for example, are being hired straight out of college on good starting salaries and are less likely to opt for teaching.
However, such a move is likely to prove controversial with teachers’ unions who say public policies should not favour one group of teachers over others.
Other moves under consideration by the working group are understood to include:
* Fast-tracking the registration of teachers who have qualified abroad. Such teachers often face long delays or bureaucratic hurdles in securing registration from the Teaching Council;
* Removing work restrictions from job-sharing teachers. At present, such teachers are not permitted to work as substitutes;
* A campaign to promote the profession at careers fairs and on social media, along with the potential use of teacher “ambassadors”;
* A programme to convert primary teachers to secondary teachers, in light of demographic changes over the coming years.