Recruiting and retaining teachers

 

Sir, – The Principals and Deputy Principals’ Association (PDA) represents the relevant members of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland. At our recent annual conference, grave concerns were raised by members about both the recruitment and retention of teachers in their schools.

Very worryingly, problems were consistent both across the country and across a broad range of subjects including, but not limited to, mathematics, science, modern languages, Irish and home economics.

To qualify as a teacher now takes up to six years in unpaid study. By the time they qualify, entrants to teaching have usually already accrued large debts. This prohibitive cost of becoming a qualified teacher coupled with the discriminatory, reduced rate of pay is making teaching an unattractive choice for prospective candidates, who are now looking at other employments or teaching in other jurisdictions.

It is far from unusual for a school to have no applications for certain advertised teaching posts.

To make matters worse, promotional post structures in schools have been decimated in recent years, which has further reduced the attractiveness of the profession and makes retention of teachers more difficult.

We are deeply unimpressed by the piecemeal, short-term “solutions” that have been suggested to date. The Government must act definitively to address this problem before it becomes a full-blown crisis by restoring a system of pay equality. – Yours etc,

STEPHEN GOULDING,

President,

The Principals

and Deputy Principals’

Association,

c/o Teachers’ Union

of Ireland,

Orwell Road,

Rathgar, Dublin 6.

Sir, – The Minister for Education is wrong to link the shortage in substitute teachers to the growing economy (“Bruton says shortage of substitute teachers is due to strong economy”, News, January 10th). If that were so, where was the massive shortage pre-crisis in 2006/2007, when we had the fastest-growing economy in the western world? The Minister repeatedly fails to acknowledge, let alone address, that in his time in office more qualified teachers have opted for careers abroad than ever before. I have not heard the Minister apologise for the catastrophic mistake made in casualising the teaching profession. It must also be stated that the lack of affordable accommodation, especially in our urban centres, has contributed to this crisis. There is the further issue of the existence of two pay scales currently in operation at post-primary level dependent upon entering the profession pre- or post-2011.

This is discrimination quite often affecting the newest and youngest entrants to teaching.

I have no faith in Mr Bruton possessing the vision, courage and ability necessary to put right years of damage. – Yours, etc,

STEPHEN O’HARA,

Ballincollig, Co Cork.