The teacher recruitment and retention crisis in Irish secondary schools has seen 18% of students having to drop subjects, according to a new study.
The survey, carried out in over 100 schools by the Principals’ and Deputy Principals’ Association of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), finds that finds that 45% of schools have been forced to restrict access to certain subjects.
The union is warning that the teacher recruitment and retention crisis is worsening and is calling for immediate action to ensure there are enough teachers available to offer students the full breadth of subjects.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, TUI General Secretary Michael Gillespie said teaching needs to be made more attractive as a profession.
“We have got to start bringing the teachers we have abroad back home,” he said.
“We have been consistently saying that the way to bring them home is to offer them permanent full-time jobs in a cost-of-living crisis.
“Schools need the option of giving full-time jobs. This will reduce the size of workload issue which has also been shown as an issue that is making teaching unattractive.”
Recruitment and retention
According to the survey, 89% of schools have experienced teacher recruitment difficulties in the last six months.
Retention also remains a major issue for second-level schools, according to the survey, with 61% having trouble holding on to their current teaching staff.
Some subjects are proving more difficult than others to find teachers for.
Maths is said to be the most difficult subject to fill, followed by Construction Studies/Woodwork in second, then Irish, Biology, and Home Economics.
Meanwhile, 93% of the schools said the Government is not doing enough to solve the worsening crisis.
Just 1% of schools said they believed that enough was being done, while 6% said they didn’t know.
Dublin was found to be the worst-hit location in Ireland when it comes to teacher shortages due to the housing crisis and the high cost of living there.
Mr Gillespie said he does not believe a ‘Dublin Allowance’ is the answer to the crisis in the capital, warning that paying teachers more would just see rents rising further – something he said has happened in the UK, where teachers in London are paid an extra allowance.
He also said the crisis can now be seen all along the East Coast and is “spreading into the Midlands”.
Teachers taking career breaks has also negatively impacted schools, according to Mr Gillespie.
He said that many schools are now refusing applications from teachers who wish to take career breaks and teach in places like Dubai or Australia for a few years.
Instead, teachers are now told they will need to resign to do so, as a means of trying to keep them in the country.
Reporting from Robert Kindregan.