Teaching work should go to newly qualified, says union

 

SCHOOLS ARE employing more than 400 retired teachers for substitute work despite high unemployment among newly qualified graduates, according to figures from the Department of Education.

Figures show that 302 retired teachers were employed for substitute work at primary level, 74 retired teachers are working as substitutes at secondary level, and 19 retired teachers are working in the voluntary secondary and community and comprehensive sectors.

The Irish National Teachers Organisation, the union which represents primary school teachers, has called on schools to prioritise unwaged teachers for substitute work.

It also called for Minister for Education Mary Coughlan to establish panels on a regional basis to match unemployed teachers with work.

“The Minister must go back to the drawing board and provide that unwaged teachers be given preference over non-teachers and indeed retired teachers for any available substitute work,” union president Jim Higgins said.

The union said one Dublin school had a list of 76 fully qualified teachers seeking substitute work, compiled from teachers who dropped off their CVs, while another Dublin school reported making nearly 20 calls last Sunday to try and source a trained teacher to fill a vacancy in the school yesterday.

The union said just 8 per cent of substitute work was being done by retired teachers and that retired teachers were themselves supportive of the union’s position.

Fine Gael education spokesman Fergus O’Dowd said the onus was on Ms Coughlan to free up all casual and substitute teaching hours for unemployed teachers.

“This should be a no-brainer. Employing newly qualified teachers instead of retired teachers gets them off the dole and into the classroom.

“It’s good for teachers, good for schools and good for the taxpayer.”

Employing retired teachers may have made sense when there was full employment but could not be justified with thousands of young teachers going straight from college to the dole queue, Mr O’Dowd said.

“Many of our young graduates will have to emigrate to England, New Zealand or Australia in order to gain teaching experience.

“We need those graduates in our system. Every hour of work, be it on a permanent or casual basis in a school, must be ring-fenced for those teachers who are currently looking for work.”