Staff shortages in Dublin schools have become a “massive problem”, a school principal has said, fuelled by the capital’s ever worsening housing crisis.
Ahead of tomorrow’s budget, the Government has briefed that it will announce funding to reduce the pupil teacher ratio from 24 pupils per teacher to 23 pupils per teacher.
It is a policy that Eoin Daly, Principal of St Malachy's Mixed National School in Finglas, believes the Department for Education could struggle to deliver:
“It’s always a good thing when we’re investing money in our education system,” he told The Hard Shoulder.
“But my concern would be that many schools are not able to staff their current cohort in schools because of teacher shortages - particularly in the big cities where rental accommodation is scarce.”
Last month, figures released by Daft.ie revealed that rents were an average of 12.6% higher than the same time in 2021.
As a result, many new teachers have fled the most expensive areas of the capital - leaving schools struggling to recruit:
“From the experience of talking to other principals in the locality, many of them have vacancies for fixed term positions - so that would be for the full year, which was normally quite a prized position to get and even for permanent jobs,” Mr Daly added.
“They just can’t fill the positions at the moment; they could be down one, two, three teachers.
“Invariably, that affects the special education cohort in the school because obviously you’re going to staff your main classrooms first and make sure there’s a teacher within all the classes.
“So it’s becoming a massive problem - particularly in Dublin where there’s a lot of young teachers just can’t afford the rent or aren’t willing to pay the rent they’re being asked.”
For Mr Daly, there are two things the Government needs to do urgently to rectify the situation:
“We need to train more teachers,” he urged.
“But we also need to make sure that they’re going to be able to have a good quality of life in the area that they’re living in.
“So I’ve heard of principals who are actively trying to seek accommodation for teachers that are willing to take up positions… Some teachers are travelling huge distances, an hour, an hour and a half would be common place, for most schools in an urban setting and I’m sure it’s the same for schools in rural communities as well.
“That’s a huge problem.”
Main image: Students in a lesson at school.