Schools need more teachers

 

Sir, – Not for the first time, Prof Judith Harford and Dr Brian Fleming have hit the nail on the head, this time in relation to the adverse effects that school closure has had on students, particularly the most disadvantaged (Letters, September 10th).

In pointing to some of the strategies that might be used to help compensate for the educational deficits that have occurred they recognise that, crucially, additional resources will be required.

This is all the more true for another group of vulnerable students who must not be forgotten – those who cannot return to school because they are at very high risk from contracting Covid-19.

We miss them and our schools are not complete without them.

Unfortunately, the Department of Education’s response thus far in providing for these students leaves a lot to be desired.

The supports outlined in recently published guidance on the continuity of schooling for these students rest on the availability of teachers who themselves are in the very high-risk category, the involvement of Education Centres in compiling lists of these teachers, other teachers in schools volunteering to help, and so taking from the school’s, almost depleted, existing support structures.

This is not an adequate response and our students deserve better. Some fresh thinking and immediate action is required. These students need teachers.

Some weeks ago, Dr Fleming pointed out that there are currently something of the order of 500 teachers working on secondment to the Department of Education and its various agencies and more in the Department of Education and Skills Inspectorate (Letters, July 29th).

While they are no doubt doing important work, there would certainly be a lot of agreement with Dr Fleming’s suggestion that these fully qualified teachers should be made available to schools. His suggestion merits much further consideration. We owe it to our students for the continuity of their learning. The full return to school for all means that no one can be left behind. – Yours, etc,

JOHN McHUGH,

Deputy Principal,

Loreto Secondary School,

Bray,

Co Wicklow.