Quinn order on qualified teachers


SCHOOLS HAVE been instructed to prioritise the hiring of qualified teachers over unqualified and retired teachers from September.

“Extremely limited circumstances” in which schools can employ unqualified teachers were outlined in a circular issued by Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn yesterday.

A school can employ an unqualified teacher only “where a school would have to close or send students home otherwise”, Mr Quinn said in a statement.

The Minister directed all schools to employ “only appropriately qualified registered teachers” and give them priority over unregistered and retired teachers.

Schools will have to keep a list of qualified teachers who are available at short notice for substitute teaching work.

If schools cannot find an unemployed teacher, they can then employ a retired teacher or a teacher qualified in a different sector for a limited period.

Only after these options are exhausted can a school employ an unregistered teacher and for a maximum for five days in a row.

Principals will have to report to the board of management when retired or unregistered teachers are employed.

The aim of the move was to protect education standards, Mr Quinn said.

It would also give opportunities to newly qualified unemployed teachers to gain experience, he said.

The move was criticised by the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation. Last month the primary teachers’ union voted not to work with unqualified teachers from September.

The union said the Minister’s directions had “legitimised” and “copper-fastened” the hiring of unqualified teachers.

The proposals “lacked substance” and would not make it easier for schools to find qualified teachers nor for unemployed teachers to find work, Into general secretary Sheila Nunan said.

“It does nothing but impose additional, needless and ultimately useless paperwork on principal teachers,” she said.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland said it was a “step in the right direction”.

However, both the ASTI and the INTO were concerned that section 30 of the Teaching Council Act, ensuring schools only employ qualified registered teachers, was not yet enacted.

According to Department of Education, during the first half of the school year some 1,600 primary schools employed an unqualified teacher and some 1,200 retired teachers were employed as substitute teachers.