Teachers trying to make a living in Dublin are being crushed by low wages and the rising cost of living.
With just a week to go before the back-to-school rush, principals are finding it ‘almost impossible’ to find teachers to work in the capital.
Yesterday, there were 378 classroom vacancies in Irish secondary schools and, when Special Needs Assistants (SNA) are included, that figure rose above 410.
This morning, the Director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) Paul Crone told Newstalk that schools are at “crisis point” ahead of the new school term.
“We have schools opening next week and I haven’t come across a single school that has said to me they have a full cohort of teachers ready for the opening up next week,” he said.
Around half the vacancies are in Dublin as teachers flee the capital in search of a lower cost of living.
Reporting for The Hard Shoulder this evening, reporter Barry Whyte spoke to a host of different teachers about the struggles of trying to make a living in the capital.
Monaghan native Kelli McArdle and her partner have been living and teaching in Dublin for six years now, and things are getting more difficult all the time.
They are teaching in the Tallaght area but are living in Dublin 5 and are struggling to justify a daily commute that can take up to an hour and a half each way.
“It’s an absolute joke at the minute,” she said. “The amount of money that goes into diesel a week.
"We’re just spending stupid money on diesel and that is on top of our rent. Our rent isn’t even that ridiculous. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, it is ridiculous money, but it is on the lower bracket of what’s out there.
“If you had told me five years ago, this is what you’ll be paying for a one-bedroom granny flat, I would have been saying ah here, are you serious.”
She said they are trying to save for the future but find it impossible with bills stacking up.
“It’s just a draining situation and we’ve both been sitting here saying, what are we doing?” she said.
“We’re scrimping and saving every last cent and it is just becoming tighter and tighter and we have had that conversation going, is Ireland the place we need to be at the minute?
“Because right now it is a country where we’re not benefitting at all. We’re actually losing out massively so are we better off moving to another country and living a proper life there and seeing if Ireland can sort itself out?
“Because at the minute it is just not the place we grew up to want to live in. Every cent we have is accounted for and that is not a life we should be living.”
Mairéad said she came back to Ireland in 2019 after working as a teacher in Dubai for four years.
She said she came home when a Government delegation travelled to Dubai to plead with teachers to return.
Now, she’s considering leaving teaching altogether because she’s struggling to make ends meet.
“I simply cannot afford to live in Dublin,” she said. “I’m having to use my Dubai savings to cover any extra expenses like travel, health emergencies and things like that. I haven’t managed to save anything since coming back and my savings have dwindled.
“Basically, I’m operating at a loss.
"I’ll never afford anything within commuting distance of my job and it’s also so disheartening that my employer is refusing to pay me my fair salary. So yes, I do massively regret coming home.
“I’ll definitely be leaving teaching. I’m currently retraining for something else but if that doesn’t work out, I’ll go abroad to teach again at the end of this school year.”
Triona from Offaly has been living in Kildare and working in Dublin since 2018.
“After a year, I became permanent in my school and I could not be happier with where I work; I absolutely love my job and my school but unfortunately, I’m beginning to look at other options because continuing to live in Kildare - not even Dublin - is not feasible.
“It’s a terrifying decision to have to make. One friend has moved home to Clare and still hasn’t secured a full year position after three years of trying and I’m seeing my other friends go to Australia because, even if we move home, we still can’t afford to buy a home and there are no properties for rent.
“I’m a lot luckier than others as I have a rental property sorted, but the cost of living is crushing a lot of teachers and as much as it would absolutely break my heart to leave a workplace that I love, I’m running out of options, like many other teachers in my position.”
You can listen back to Barry's full report here: