University quotas to tackle teacher shortage in secondary schools

More training places for students who wish to teach subjects lacking qualified educators

 

Many universities are to be given quotas on the number of secondary teachers to be trained in key subjects for the first time to help ease a staffing “crisis” in classrooms.

The move is likely to reduce the number of students who wish to teach in subjects where there is an oversupply of teachers, such as English, history and geography.

On the other hand, more training places will be set aside for students who wish to teach subjects where there are acute shortages of qualified teachers, such as physics, maths, Irish and European languages.

The subject quotas are to be introduced for National University of Ireland post- graduate teacher education programmes, the main route into secondary teaching. This will affect programmes at UCD, UCC, NUI Galway and Maynooth University.

A new minimum requirement of an honours degree (or a 2:2) will also be required for all of its programmes.

Entry requirements

Other colleges, such as DCU – a major provider of teaching graduates – says it is keeping entry requirements for its postgraduate programmes under review.

Hibernian, a private provider of teacher training, is unaffected.

Mary Fleming, director of teacher education at NUI Galway, said the changes will help ensure our teacher education system is better able to respond to the needs of schools.

“It is a big deal,” she said. “It means we have much more certainty over the number of graduates in subject areas and can work much more closely with schools.”

The quotas will be based on information from the Department of Education’s steering group on teacher supply.

School management bodies say a “crisis” in the supply of teachers in key subjects is undermining the quality of education for students.

They say many students do not have qualified teachers for subjects such as science, maths and Irish.

Dr Anne Looney of DCU said she was not convinced that turning potential students away from teaching on the basis of having the “wrong” subject was the best approach.