Path to becoming a teacher less equitable
Sir, – The various teacher conferences this week have all highlighted the lack of equity of pay and conditions faced by our younger teachers. The National Competitiveness Council is also highlighting the need to continue to invest in education if we are to attract further foreign direct investment.
However, the actual path to becoming a teacher has in recent years become more challenging and less equitable.
For second-level teachers, the one-year higher diploma (HDip) course has been revised to being a master’s degree.
Unlike most other master’s degrees, which are completed in one year, the professional master of education (PME) requires two years of postgraduate study, and typically costs €12,000 in total fees.
The withdrawal of the Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi) grant support from all postgraduate courses means that students who benefited from a Susi grant for their primary degree find that to qualify as a secondary teacher they are only eligible for a contribution of €2,000 towards fees, and will not receive any maintenance grant whatsoever, apart for a very small number of grants for those in very disadvantaged circumstances.
Most graduates wanting to become teachers will have to work hard and save harder for a couple of years in order to take a place on a PME course.
Inevitably, new entrants to the profession are unlikely to be from less advantaged backgrounds, in direct contradiction to the need to attract greater socioeconomic diversity among entrants to the profession.
Your editorial of April 17th highlights the need to attract the brightest and the best to teaching, to contribute to inspiring students and developing our society. It is sad that, in current circumstances, it is the better-off who have a better chance of entering the profession. – Yours, etc,