Why there is a teacher shortage
Sir, – I cannot understand why Minister for Education Joe McHugh feels the need to hear from teachers who are living or training abroad and who are showing no intention of returning to Ireland (Abroad, April 15th).
Everyone in the education system knows the reasons. They are as follows:
1) In 2005 a newly qualified full-time post primary teacher in 2005 was paid €37,809 annually (including supervision payment). In 2019 a similar teacher is paid €36,318. Pay inequality carries on in 2019 while few teachers ever receive a full-time job initially, making the job impossible to do due to poor remuneration.
2. In Ireland the Teaching Council requires graduates to undergo two years of teacher training, requiring costs of at least €12,000 to €15,000 for the trainee teacher. Compare that to the UK which is currently offering up to €35,000 tax free for students to train as a maths or chemistry teacher.
3. All of the austerity measures placed on teachers since 2008 have either remained in place or have been made permanent. Croke Park hours continue to be unpaid and the public sector pension levy was made permanent by Fine Gael on January 1st, 2019.
4. In addition to poorly resourced schools, dramatically increasing workloads have led to fatigue and burnout among teachers not long in the system. It is very difficult to carry out the demands of officialdom in environments with 20-year-old computers and printers that don’t work, while changes to Junior Cycle have changed workloads significantly for the worse.
5. There is virtually no career path in teaching in Ireland relative to the opportunities offered by other countries.
6. An absurd inspection system which requires endless documentation and such terms as “drive-by” inspections are hardly going to endear people to any job.
7. The media, including The Irish Times, have played their part in undermining the role of teaching with articles like “The Secret Teacher”, which seem more designed to mock and criticise teaching as a role than to inform the public.
To conclude, we are not serious about funding schools or teachers properly in Ireland. There are also plans to further increase the workloads of teaching, and austerity measures are now for life it seems.
For as long as this continues to be the case then the shortages will only get worse. – Yours, etc,