Filling posts in primary schools
Sir, – As the professional group of principals representing 35 primary schools in the Dublin 15 area, we would like to highlight a current crisis facing our schools and impacting on the education of our pupils.
We have grave concerns about the unprecedented lack of teachers available to fill posts, both long-term and short-term.
This is having a serious impact on the day-to-day running of our schools, the safety of the children in our care and the quality of teaching and learning.
Long-term posts remain vacant, in addition to fixed-term contracts, maternity leave positions, parental leave, extended sick leave.
It is impossible to fill substitutable short-term positions, and certified sick leave, required continuing professional development (CPD), ante-natal appointments and classes, paternity leave and bereavement leave.
We are already struggling to manage the wide range of non-substitutable teacher leave on a daily basis along with enabling staff to facilitate the many programmes we feel required to provide in our schools.
We have collated the figures for the month of September 2017 alone and they make for disturbing reading – the number of school days when substitute teachers were not available to cover absences in Dublin 15 during September 2017 was 546.
As a result, classes are divided and children are being sent to other available classrooms, often at short notice, resulting in disruption and overcrowding in those classrooms.
The education of all concerned is significantly compromised on these occasions.
Often, special education teachers are required to suspend their support timetables to teach mainstream classes, thereby depriving the most vulnerable children of their vital supports.
This situation is not sustainable and appears to be deteriorating rapidly, eg no applications for currently advertised positions and unfilled substitution days increasing in all schools in October.
We welcome the addition of 1,300 new teaching posts announced in Budget 2018.
However, if the current crisis continues, there may be no teachers to fill these new positions. – Yours, etc,