Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 3 July 2024

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills

Key Issues for the Teaching Council: Discussion

5:30 pm

Photo of Mairead FarrellMairead Farrell (Galway West, Sinn Fein)
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On behalf of the committee, cuirim fáilte roimh na fhínne atá againn anseo anocht. On behalf of the committee, I welcome from the Teaching Council: Dr. Lynn Ramsey, director; Ms Phil Fox, deputy director; Ms Bríd Murphy, head of initial teacher education and induction; and Ms Siobhán Healy, head of registration.

The officials are here today to brief us on the following key issues: recognition of international qualifications; the requirements to teach in a restricted setting; cost of registration for foreign teachers; the need for legislative change to allow technological universities offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses in teacher training recognised by the Teaching Council; provision of teacher conversion courses for PhD holders and masters graduates to fast-track their entry into the teaching profession; and delays in registration of teachers returning from abroad.

I will invite Dr. Ramsey to make a brief opening statement. That will be followed by questions from the members. Given the time constraints, each member has a five-minute slot to ask questions. The committee will publish the opening statement on its website following the meeting.

Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.

Witnesses are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice that they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable or otherwise engage in speech that might be regarded as damaging to the good name of the person or entity. Therefore, if witnesses' statements are potentially defamatory in relation to an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative that they comply with any such direction.

I ask Dr. Ramsey to begin. She has five minutes.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

I wish a good evening to the Acting Chair and the members of the committee. I thank them for their invitation to speak with them. I am the director of the Teaching Council and I am accompanied today by my colleagues, Ms Phil Fox, who is our deputy director; Ms Siobhán Healy, who is our head of registration; and Ms Bríd Murphy, who is our head of initial teacher education and induction. The committee has asked us to address a number of matters and I will provide a summary overview at this point. We will welcome the committee's questions for our further discussion.

The Teaching Council is the regulator of the teaching profession in Ireland. Our role is to protect the public by promoting and regulating professional standards in teaching. Serving the public interest is central to our work, which includes the statutory registration of teachers, ensuring they meet and uphold high standards. We regulate the competence and conduct of the profession, including fitness to teach processes. These are just some of the ways we ensure the protection and care of children, young people and vulnerable learners in the education system. It is important to note that we operate under the Teaching Council Acts 2001-2015.

In respect of registration processes and the recognition of qualifications for aspiring teachers, we ensure that all teachers entering the profession in Ireland meet required standards. We have a high-quality and trusted teaching profession in Ireland. As the regulator of the teaching profession, we set the standards for programmes of initial teacher education within the State. The standards for primary and post-primary teaching are outlined in Céim: Standards for Initial Teacher Education. When a person completes an accredited programme of initial teacher education, they may apply for registration as a primary, post-primary or further education teacher.

Our responsibilities also include acting as a competent authority for recognising qualifications from outside of the Republic of Ireland. Under EU Directive 2005/36/EC, as amended, we assess and recognise professional qualifications to support the mobility of professionals across EU countries. We also apply the EU directive to non-EU and non-EEA applicants ensuring equality and consistency of the process for all applications.

Teachers qualified outside of Ireland must apply for recognition of their qualifications. This involves providing evidence of their educational background, including transcripts, vetting information and an official letter confirming their status as a fully qualified teacher from their home country's relevant authority. These measures ensure that applicants meet the required high standards to practise in Ireland.

The average processing time for applicants from outside the Republic of Ireland in 2023 was eight weeks. There are no backlogs or delays in the processing of any category of applications, including all applications currently being processed.

In line with Teaching Council legislation, if a teacher’s registration lapses, they must make a full application if they would like to rejoin the register. With this in mind, we have developed a tailored registration process to support teachers in applying to return to the register. This includes the provision of detailed guidance on how to apply to return to the register and the documentation required. A dedicated team has been put in place to manage the processing of these applications, including a specific email address for teachers’ queries. Applications under this tailored process are being processed in four weeks.

In 2023, the Department of Education published the initial teacher education policy statement This document outlines a comprehensive framework for the future of teacher education. It reaffirms the principles and vision for centres of excellence-led initial teacher education, whereby mergers or alliances of higher education institutions take place to allow high-quality teacher education to be facilitated within that centre of excellence, as set out by the Sahlberg report.

The initial teacher education policy statement outlines that technological universities will be in a position to provide subject expertise to initial teacher education and any plans for entirely new initial teacher education provision must be led by a centre of excellence.

As a regulator, we will continue to play an essential role in this regard. By aligning with the national policy position and teacher workforce planning priorities, we will continue to ensure that initial teacher education graduates enter the profession well prepared and ready to make a positive impact for learners throughout Ireland. I thank the Acting Chair and members of the committee, and we welcome our further discussion.

Photo of Rónán MullenRónán Mullen (Independent)
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Cuirim fáilte roimh na finnéithe. Míle buíochas as teacht isteach. I thank the Cathaoirleach Gníomhach and my colleagues for allowing me to go first because I have to go to a meeting at 6.15 p.m. I apologise in advance that I will not be around for the full proceedings.

My first question may seem a hard one but I do not intend it to be a hostile one. I have spoken to school principals lately and they say there is a fairly widespread perception among them that there is not enough flexibility from the Teaching Council having regard to the teaching crisis that is out there, that is, the crisis in getting teachers in front of classes. One school principal in a DEIS school has been without a woodwork teacher for a long period and it is causing all sorts of panic and so on. I will offer two examples of where they see the rubber hitting the road with regard to the Teaching Council. One was the example of a student who had a qualification from Britain and wanted to do their teacher training induction in Ireland. I gather that is not allowed, the perception being that they need to have either done the teacher training induction in Britain, or wherever else they might have got the degree, and cannot match it up. That is an example of somebody who, in the assessment of a principal teacher, might be a very talented person with roots an Ireland. That person might be an Irish person who has obtained a degree or teaching qualification abroad. It would seem like the appropriate thing to draw them into the education system and fill a full-time post in due course by allowing them to do their induction in Ireland. I am not saying there is no argument against allowing that but I wonder in the light of the crisis whether the Teaching Council is being flexible enough.

The other example given to me was of a person who was very well qualified in another area of endeavour but was attracted to teaching. That person came into teaching without a teaching qualification but is doing brilliantly in the school and in the principal's estimation is performing far in excess of teachers who have teaching qualifications. This person will now have to do an intensive two-year professional master of education programme during which they will have to study, for example, the history of the education system in Ireland, which, particularly in a DEIS school, might not be what they need most in order to do their job.

I understand there have to be standards and I know the Teaching Council is the regulator. However, those principals feel there is a "Computer says no" attitude. They feel the Teaching Council is not responsive and people are unable to get answers quickly. I know the witnesses have a hard job but I am wondering if they are having regard to the crisis in getting teachers. Is the requirement of a two-year qualification now a problem? It is putting a cost on people and perhaps the wrong people are going into the profession because some of the right people cannot afford the outlay for two years of education when one year might have been seen as sufficient.

There is a lot in what I have asked. I do not mean to be hostile but my questions reflect the real-life concerns I am hearing from teaching professionals.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

I thank the Senator. I will start and I will bring in my colleagues to respond to certain details the Senator has described. The teaching crisis is something we are live to and of which we are mindful. At the highest level, there are procedural pieces we have adjusted to take account of the teaching supply crisis. We have taken account of changes to our regulation. We have also done large pieces on the communications side. I might start with some of those processes, the regulation piece and the communications piece before we get into the specifics of the three examples about which the Senator talked.

In terms of adjustments to our processes and procedures, we have brought in the new route 5 to bring student teachers from undergraduate curriculums into the teaching profession, as appropriate, once they are in years three or four.

Those students may, if they choose, apply to come onto the register if they are in appropriate programmes. We also introduced a time-bound regulation, which is close to the area the Senator was talking about and which during the Covid period allowed teachers who had completed an appropriate qualification outside Ireland to come to Ireland to do their induction at that point. That regulation closed in February of this year. The council is now at an advanced stage of reviewing whether an additional regulation amendment could be developed, consistent with the teaching supply demographic data. That would allow us a two-year time-bound piece. That is at an advanced stage of planning.

We also introduced a bespoke process for qualified teachers from Ukraine who came here under the EU protection directive. That is a separate process just for those teachers. We did an extensive review of our qualification assessment processes - a two stage review Ms Murphy can take the committee through in more detail - which reduced timelines for the review of teachers who qualified outside of the Republic of Ireland.

We have a streamlined process, which works very efficiently to bring newly qualified teachers, NQTs, straight onto the register. That process works seamlessly. We have taken another range of measures - for example, bringing on NQTs and allowing them to undertake their induction on supply panels. That takes place in the context of primary programmes or principal supply panels in the case of primary.

In terms of specific subjects, we prioritise the accreditation of programmes which are in short supply, such as home economics. We also did a review of subject requirements. There is quite a range of processes and practical pieces.

On the communications side, we did a whole review of our website with a view to improving the clarity of communications. We worked with the National Adult Literacy Agency to improve the clarity of what is required for teachers who want to come onto the register and so on. There are a number of different aspects there.

In terms of the specific points the Senator raised and the induction piece he spoke about of a teacher who qualified outside of Ireland, the initial Covid piece is closed, as it was a time-bound piece. As I mentioned, the council is now at an advanced stage of developing a new regulation that would be aligned to the teaching supply demographics.

Photo of Rónán MullenRónán Mullen (Independent)
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Should the old system apply until the council has something in place because there is a blockage now?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

I appreciate that and the Senator will appreciate that we have to work within the parameters of the legislation. We are all the time mindful of the need to protect standards in the public interest, but also balance the need for teaching supply. That piece of legislation was time bound. There is a new piece of EU legislation, which is an EU directive on a proportionality assessment which requires us to undertake a very staged and detailed review of any new legislation that is coming in, or amendments to our legislation. We are constrained by the requirements of that proportionality assessment in that particular case.

Photo of Rónán MullenRónán Mullen (Independent)
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The other example I gave was of somebody who might have to bump along on the bottom point of the scale because they do not have a formal teaching qualification. What are the options for them? Would they have to sign up for a two year programme that would take them out of the workforce? Is that really necessary? Is there not an emergency response needed here? The council has to regulate but too much regulation has people tearing their hair out.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

This is about that balance between the appropriate standards. We are very proud of the quality of our teaching profession in Ireland and we have gone through an extensive period of consultation - I think it was 12 rounds of consultation - to develop those standards for initial teacher programme education. Any teacher brought onto the register should meet those standards.

Photo of Mairead FarrellMairead Farrell (Galway West, Sinn Fein)
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The Senator’s time has run out and I have given him a number of extra minutes. I am aware he is under time pressure but I am happy to bring members in for a second round.

Photo of Rónán MullenRónán Mullen (Independent)
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I thank Dr. Ramsey for her answers and the Acting Chair for her indulgence.

Photo of Mairead FarrellMairead Farrell (Galway West, Sinn Fein)
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It is good when members want to have a lively discussion, but I am aware of the other members.

Photo of Rónán MullenRónán Mullen (Independent)
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I have no doubt that my questions overlap with colleagues’ questions, so if Dr. Ramsey wants to add anything in the course of her answers to other members, I will check the transcript carefully if I do not get back.

Photo of Mairead FarrellMairead Farrell (Galway West, Sinn Fein)
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I am the next speaker. One of my questions, and something I am quite interested in, relates to those people who have PhD qualifications and have considered going into second level teaching. One woman who has been in contact with me has a PhD in English literature. Her dream is to go on to third level and become a lecturer, but obviously it can be quite challenging to get a job in that sector. She considered teaching in a secondary school setting. She had some debt as a result of doing the PhD and owed significant moneys. She did not feel it was within her capacity to take another two years to study to become a secondary school teacher. It is my understanding that this is something that comes up. It is an interesting point. Is anything being looked at with regard to people like that who have been teaching in an educational setting and who are very well trained in the particular subject matter they have studied, be it mathematics or physics? Has some kind of conversion course, which is shorter, been looked at? Is that something that is done internationally that we could learn from?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

That is a really interesting question and I thank the Acting Chair for it. The standards that we work to are the standards within that national policy piece and the Céim standards that we have identified. We have not had a programme like that which the Acting Chair is describing in the kind of conversion space presented to us within the context of that piece. While it might be tempting to say there is somebody in a cognate discipline, when we look at that comparison maybe compared to the qualifications required within the initial teacher education requirements, we might find there are quite a number of pieces missing in terms of not just subject discipline, but also the pedagogy part that underpins that and all the high standards. I will ask Ms Murphy to talk generally about the initial teacher education standards and what that might look at.

Ms Bríd Murphy:

It goes back to the national policy perspective and the Sahlberg report and the recommendations that came out of that. It also goes back to the literacy and numeracy strategy which recommended the elongation of primary and post-primary courses at that stage. That was looking to a quality point of view. That vision has been reaffirmed in the Department of Education’s 2023 policy statement. The programmes are built on the pillars of the foundational studies of education, extended school placement, professional studies and core elements, including inclusive education, global citizenship education, digital skills, creativity and professional relationships that teachers build with parents and with other members of the school community. It is quite involved and quite complex. The profession of teaching is getting more complex as years go on. As the director mentioned, there might be a lot missing or something that somebody has not experienced yet.

Photo of Mairead FarrellMairead Farrell (Galway West, Sinn Fein)
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That is where the conversation is at. My sister is a teacher and my mother was a lecturer for years. I am surrounded by teachers. If we are looking at trying to encourage more people to go into secondary school teaching, particularly people with a real passion for their subject and strong background, it is about looking at innovative ways to get more people to go down that route and maybe they will spark an interest in students in relation to that particular subject. What the witnesses are saying is that that has not been looked at and there is no international equivalence in respect of what that might look like. If it is not the case, that is okay. I am just asking the question.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

One of the areas that is helpful in this context is the work that has been done nationally towards the recognition of prior learning. That is not within our purview as the regulator but there are certain areas within which the higher educational institutions in Ireland may, as part of their pre-emptive assessment, look to the recognition of prior learning. That national project, funded under the human capital initiative, is something that all of the HEIs are a party to.

Photo of Mairead FarrellMairead Farrell (Galway West, Sinn Fein)
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I am conscious of time but I would be interested in hearing about those people who have qualified abroad, what challenges they faced and what they have fed back. I would also be interesting in hearing about those who, after qualifying here, worked abroad for some time and the challenges they faced. That may not be something the council is aware of, but for those who are trying to get their qualifications recognised, it would be useful.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

We can certainly talk to that. We have 123,500 teachers on our register and every year we register approximately 9,000 new teachers.

Of that, roughly 600 are applications from teachers who are qualified outside Ireland.

I talked about the clarifications on the website and on our portal. We have digital facing, really clear language explanations of what it is those teachers would need to present us in order for us to assess their qualifications.

We are required, under the directive, to assess within 12 weeks. Two years' ago, we were assessing within 11 weeks. We have gone through a significant review process and we do the reviews now within eight weeks.

Photo of Mairead FarrellMairead Farrell (Galway West, Sinn Fein)
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That is some change. That is interesting.

I am caught for time but I might come back on another question about the Irish language. I will move on to the next member. I call an Teachta Jim O'Callaghan.

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Acting Chair.

I thank the guests for coming before the committee and welcome them. I will ask Dr. Ramsey about what she was saying there. Did she say approximately 600 teachers from outside Ireland apply for registration each year?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

That is the average, yes.

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
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Would many of them be from the EU or does Dr. Ramsey know the breakdown?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

There is a range. Ms Murphy probably has the figures to hand. They are predominantly from the UK and then there is a range of other countries that they are from.

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
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In terms of the UK, which is now out of the EU, do we still apply the scheme under the directive?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

Yes. I thank the Deputy for raising that. We apply the same processes globally. On our approach, where we comply with that directive requirement of 12 weeks, we are now offering eight weeks and this year we are up to seven weeks in terms of the review. We apply the same processes for anyone who applies, regardless of the country from which he or she is applying.

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
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The Teaching Council assesses their qualifications to ensure the qualifications are sufficient to be recognised here. It does not do any assessment of them as whether they are good enough to be teachers in Ireland. That does not come into it.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

We do a holistic assessment. We look at their qualification. We look at their teaching experience. We also require evidence of character in terms of vetting compliance, etc. There is the qualifications assessment, and we can talk the Deputy through the whole process behind that, and then there is the registration requirements which include the vetting requirements.

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
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I am not asking Dr. Ramsey to go into detail. Generally, what is the percentage of applicants who the council would not recognise?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

It is very low, in fact. Ms Murphy has the figures for that and she might talk to them.

Ms Bríd Murphy:

Eligibility is determined by the recognition status in another country. As the director mentioned, we work within the EU directive, which is applied globally. Once a teacher comes to us showing evidence of being a recognised teacher, which means he or she is fully qualified, has completed an induction where that is a statutory requirement and has a teaching qualification, and can supply the other documentation around character and conduct, he or she will be brought through the assessment process at that stage. Approximately 600 a year would come through the process. In 2023, we had 619 who were assessed and registered. Every year, there would be approximately 30 to 35 who do not pass that first stage of assessment where eligibility cannot be determined and where there is insufficient documentation to pass. They do not pass the first part of that.

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
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In general, are they mainly Irish people coming back from the UK who qualified in the UK or are they from a variety of backgrounds?

Ms Bríd Murphy:

It is an absolute mixture, to be honest. While the majority of applications would be from the UK, we would get applications from India, Spain, America and Australia.

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
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Is there a language requirement? Does somebody need to have proficiency in the English language in order to teach here?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

They do, yes. There is a standard in terms of IELTS. We describe that on both the website and the portal. Candidates are very well aware of that.

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
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I do not know whether the following was mentioned in our request to the council. I am conscious that the Teaching Council recently commenced its disciplinary committee and the hearings. Will Dr. Ramsey give an assessment as to how that is going? I am aware the hearings are in public. Is it an issue of concern that teachers' names can be put into the public domain in respect of allegations against them in circumstances where they are not found to be in breach of discipline?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

We are eight years into the fitness to teach processes. As the Deputy says, that is relatively new in the lifespan of the Teaching Council. We are moving to commission a look-back at the fitness to teach processes to get a sense of what we are learning and what insights we can gain from them.

The fitness-to-teach processes are robust. There are clear guidelines and regulations surrounding what we do, how we do it and why we do it. Obviously, we have to investigate every complaint that comes to us but we assess whether a threshold is achieved in terms of seriousness.

Ms Fox might want to comment more generally on the fitness-to-teach processes.

Ms Phil Fox:

The director covered most of it there.

We are regulating for risk in the public interest, as the director set out. Our fitness-to-teach processes are clearly set out within our legislation and within our supporting documentation.

I note the Deputy referred specifically to the naming of the teacher. There are circumstances where it is not in the public interest to refer to a teacher's name and in that instance, they are not held in public. We have a low number, relatively speaking, of inquiries where it has been held in public and not anonymised. There is probably a distinction there where the panel might direct there be reporting restrictions to perhaps protect the identity of a minor. Obviously, we are the Teaching Council and a lot of our work would centre on teachers' work in classrooms with young children, children, minors or vulnerable persons. In that instance, to protect the identity of somebody involved in a particular circumstance, we may not identify a teacher, a gender, a geographic location or whatever the circumstances might be or, similarly, if there are circumstances that pertain particularly to an individual registrant in relation to health for various reasons, we might anonymise an inquiry or hold it in private if that was deemed necessary.

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
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It appears to be a two-phased process. The council has an investigative phase which is a filtering process.

Ms Phil Fox:

That is right.

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
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Does the council only respond to complaints or can the council investigate without a complaint being made by an individual?

Ms Phil Fox:

It is a two-phased process. We have our investigating committee. It is a screening committee or, as the Deputy described it, a filtering committee. If our investigating committee is minded that the complaint is sufficiently serious, it will refer it on to the disciplinary committee, which will then form a panel from the disciplinary committee, and conduct a hearing.

On how the information finds itself before the investigating committee, our legislation sets out that any person can make a complaint once the teacher is registered with us but there are other channels that information would come our way. For example, information may come to us via the Garda, a member of the public or through the section 37 regulations where an employer would furnish information to us in certain circumstances but may not wish to make a complaint. Once the regulator becomes aware of it, we act appropriately. Our executive committee may wish to become the complainant on behalf of council in those circumstances.

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
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Finally, is there a threshold over which it would not even reach an investigative phase? Is there a procedure for the council to reject complaints which are frivolous or vexatious?

Ms Phil Fox:

There is a phase that is called the director's review stage. The director may refuse a complaint on grounds of it being frivolous, vexatious, an abuse of process or made in bad faith.

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Teaching Council for coming in and thank the Acting Chair.

Photo of Mairead FarrellMairead Farrell (Galway West, Sinn Fein)
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The next speaker is an Teachta Clarke.

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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I thank the witnesses from the Teaching Council for coming in this afternoon. They are most welcome and their time is appreciated.

I have some very specific questions but I will start off with a comment. Hands down, the biggest question that I get asked is from those who want to do their induction here but have done their degree in Britain. Without a shadow of a doubt, it makes up the vast majority of queries. Dr. Ramsey touched on the Covid amendment regulation. How many teachers came through that process?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

Ms Murphy will give the Deputy the figure. It is a small enough number in the grand scheme but, obviously, an important number in the context of teaching supply. I might pass over to Ms Murphy for the exact figures.

Ms Bríd Murphy:

We would register between 6,000 and 7,000 teachers per year, with 600 usually coming from outside of the Republic. In 2020, there were 85 teachers registered through the Covid amendment regulation; in 2021, 86; and between 2023 and 2024, 168.

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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Dr. Ramsey mentioned a review of that process. Can she speak a bit more to that?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

When that amendment regulation was introduced, it was time bound. The justification for the amendment was the challenges that schools were having in terms of finding teachers during Covid. The Deputy will understand all of that piece.

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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I do not think we will ever forget.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

That was the time bound piece for that regulation. If we want to amend our regulations in any way now, there is a new EU directive called the proportionality assessment. That requires us to do a staged process in order to consult and then to refer back. The Minister has the authority there. The Minister will have to delegate it to us. We have had to take some time to step through what that process will look like. We are learning what that would look like.

The council is at an advanced stage in moving to that consultation phase for a new regulation that will allow a teacher qualified outside of Ireland who had not completed induction to come to Ireland to complete it. The legal basis for that is grounded in the teaching supply requirements, linked to the demographic projections of the Department of Education. We are at an advanced stage of that planning.

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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What is the timeline?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

We are hoping to work towards December, but this is the first time we, or either of these bodies, have gone out on consultation.

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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I accept that. Dr. Ramsey stated that 123,500 are on the register. How many of them are not teaching? Does the council keep data such as that?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

We have certain data on our register, but we do not have employment data at that level of granularity. We have been working on the register with the Department, however, to get a better understanding of that. It is at a developing stage.

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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Will the council consider, as part of the renewal process and the payment of fees, asking whether teachers are currently in a teaching position?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

That is a very interesting question and we have been considering that. In our recent organisational reviews, we are developing our capacity to be able to do that kind of analysis. We have sought and received sanction for a number of posts, including someone who could do that type of data analysis and research for us. There is a certain level of data we uniquely hold in the register and we would like to be able to do more research on that. There are also other items we do not currently capture. We are considering all of that.

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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On the same theme, if a post-primary teacher has qualified for certain subjects and then adds another subject, does the council keep track of that as well?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

Yes, we do. We record those additional subjects.

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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Dr. Ramsey mentioned home economics as an area of need when it comes to teachers. Are there any other areas the council is noticing emerging as an area of teacher need?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

We are alive to what is going on in the landscape. From what we understand from the data the Department shares, there are various priority areas in different parts of the country. We have recently accredited a very interesting programme that is a combination of DCU working together with Athlone TUS in technology and home economics, with DCU providing the pedagogy. That is responding to an identified need of shortages in both home economics and technology.

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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On that issue, Dr. Ramsey mentioned Athlone TUS, which is in my constituency and is a very impressive institute. The proposal is that a centre of excellence is required to allow the TUs to deliver initial teacher education and postgraduate education in one specific TU, with shared staff and resources. What engagements does the council have on this? One issue that frequently arises for me and I imagine for every public representative relates to the fact the TU might be just down the road for some people and they ask why they have to go to Dublin or Limerick. They wonder why it is not available in the regions.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

Our statement referred to the development of the initial teacher education policy that the Department reiterated in 2023 and the Sahlberg reports that led to that. That was all centred around the creation of those centres of excellence, consolidating expertise and reflecting the strengths that exist within Ireland. Of the 53 programmes we have recently accredited during the Céim cycle, 11 involve technological universities. That is reflective of the strengths both that those technological universities can provide and that the centres of excellence lead in terms of established pedagogy and research.

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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A course was removed as a recognised course to register as a teacher under route 4. It relates to Montessori education. Will Dr. Ramsey speak to that?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

That course was the sole course recognised under route 4. It was part of the grandparenting aspect that happened when the Teaching Council was set up. The stepdown of that course had been well flagged in legislation but it happened in parallel with all the developments in the evolving Céim standards and, in particular, among the seven pillars within Céim, the pillar relating to inclusive education. It is about understanding that inclusive education would imbue all aspects of undergraduate and postgraduate, or PME, teacher education. All teachers in Ireland are now equipped, under these new provisions, to lead in diverse settings and diverse groups of learners, and those two developments happened in parallel.

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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I see an emerging trend of a desire being expressed by people who may already have a career path, that is, those who are not directly out of school, going in through the traditional route to education. One issue I recently came across, which goes somewhat towards that recognition of prior learning, is that some professional institutes have not aligned with QQI in having their professional programme placed on the framework. Therefore, anybody who holds that qualification cannot say their qualification is the equivalent of a level 7, a level 8 or whatever the case may be. There is a barrier, then, to them going onto the council website and going through the courses that are there. These are people who would be recognised if they were part of another institute in the same field as having multiple potential areas where they could teach. Is that an issue the council has come across?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

From our perspective as a regulator, we are working within the agreed national framework. While there might be other prospectives out there at the moment, we are working within the national policy.

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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Has the council had any engagement with the higher education institutes about issues such as this?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

Is the Deputy referring to private providers?

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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No, I mean colleges where somebody had passed professional examinations.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

Ms Healy has engaged on that, so I might pass over to her.

Ms Siobhán Healy:

The Deputy is referring to professional bodies, and accounting bodies in particular. There were graduates from these programmes who were looking to apply but, as the Deputy correctly outlined, there is an issue because they were not aligned with the NFQ. We had engagement, therefore, with QQI and so on to try to figure out what the situation was. Our understanding is that when QQI was being established and during the transfer from HETAC, which previously awarded levels, there was a legislative issue in that QQI did not have the basis to accredit these programmes, but my understanding is that that has been resolved, so that issue will move on.

Deputy Paul Kehoe took the Chair.

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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It remains, however, at the discretion of the professional body to align its qualifications with QQI. My understanding is there is nothing graduates can do because they cannot align their qualification to QQI. It is the professional body that needs to do that.

Ms Siobhán Healy:

Yes, the professional bodies will do that, but my understanding is there is now communication between the professional bodies and QQI in respect of that alignment, which will work through for the graduates.

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Fianna Fail)
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I apologise for having missed some of the meeting but I had another committee meeting at the same time. I thank the witnesses for attending. A lot of the comments I receive from people regarding the Teaching Council come from people who have left teaching for a period, some having worked abroad in teaching and others not necessarily in teaching, along with some who have left teaching, gone on to pursue other careers such as journalism and sought to go back teaching. Due to issues relating to time with reregistering, they have missed out on getting places. Those are the areas I am most concerned about. What is the average turnaround time for reregistration of teachers who have qualified but are returning from abroad, those who have been pursuing other careers and are seeking to teach once again, and those with qualifications from abroad who are coming back to teach? There are three elements there.

On that, somebody contacted me to say they had completed their academic qualifications abroad but we were trying to get clarity about the fact that during Covid, apparently, those who had qualified abroad could come back without the prerequisite of having done their practical teaching placement and could do it in Ireland.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we tried to get clarity on whether those who qualified abroad could come back without the prerequisite of having done their practical teaching placement and could do it in Ireland. Is that still the case or has the council reverted to pre-Covid-19 pandemic regulations?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

We treat the Senator's first and second categories of people in the same way. They are teachers who were previously on the register, lapsed from it for whatever reason and are now seeking to rejoin it. As of the end of January of this year, we have a tailored process for those teachers who wish to rejoin the register. Ms Healy will talk through the details of that, but in essence we now have a four-week turnaround time for teachers in that category.

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Fianna Fail)
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That is good. That is definitely much better than it was.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

Ms Healy can take the committee through that.

The other category the Senator described is teachers who qualified outside the Republic of Ireland and are seeking to join the register. Approximately 600 teachers in that category apply every year. We are bound by the EU directive with respect to those teachers. We do the processing within 12 weeks. We apply that universally, regardless of whether they qualified in the EU or a non-EEA country. We apply it in a global way. We have done two stages of reviews for those teachers. Prior to our reviews we were averaging 11 weeks for the turnaround from assessment to registration. Last year, we processed them in an average of eight weeks and this year we are currently at seven weeks according to the review.

I will hand over to Ms Healy who will talk through the reregistration process.

Ms Siobhán Healy:

Teachers who lapse from the register for any reason are welcome to apply to return to it when they wish. Under our legislation, as the director said, if teachers lapse off the register for any reason, they must make a full application to come back onto it. However, although they have to make a full application, we want to try to make the process as smooth as possible so we developed a tailored process which commenced at the end of January. We give detailed guidance on what the process looks like. We name the documentation people need to submit with the new application and the documentation we have on file that they do not need to resubmit. We detail exactly what is needed. We have also set up a dedicated team to deal with these applications and we have a dedicated inbox and phone line for queries. Anyone who is looking to return to the register will get all the necessary guidance and be guided through the process. As the director said, the current average processing time for those applications is four weeks.

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Fianna Fail)
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Great. I thank Ms Healy.

Will Dr. Ramsey respond to the question about Covid-19?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

The regulation amendment the Senator mentioned related to induction. She is correct that during the Covid-19 pandemic we had a time-bound regulation which allowed teachers who had qualified outside the Republic of Ireland but had not completed their induction to do so in Ireland. That was to help with the teacher supply situation, which was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. That regulation finished in February of this year, but the council is now at an advanced stage of planning to see whether we can introduce a new regulation which would provide opportunities for teachers who qualified outside Ireland to return to do their induction here. The justification for that is grounded in the teacher supply demographics. We are at an advanced stage of planning. As we said to colleagues, we need to go through a proportionality assessment under a new EU directive as part of that process, but we are at an advanced stage of planning for that.

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Fianna Fail)
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The council probably will not have that in place for September.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

We will not have it for September. There are a number of stages we are now legally required to go through.

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Fianna Fail)
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That is fine.

Due to the lack of teachers in specific areas, has any consideration been given, insofar as the Teaching Council is concerned, to reducing the two-year professional graduate diploma in education course, especially for the subject areas where we have a shortage of teachers?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

The current policy context in which we work is set out in the initial teacher education policy statement, which talks about all the requirements for those programmes of initial teacher education. We have just accredited 53 such programmes in the second cycle of Céim. They include concurrent and consecutive programmes. Those programmes were developed in response to all the consultations which took place and the 12 requirements of the literacy and numeracy strategy. It is a reflection of the complexity of the demands of teaching. We have moved from what was a higher diploma, in the case of the consecutive piece, to a masters. When we look at the content, rather than think about the duration, we see it is all required because of the complexity of the needs of teaching, where there are often complex groups of learners in classes and it is grounded in priority requirements such as inclusive education.

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Fianna Fail)
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We have recruitment and retention challenges, especially in Dublin and the commuter belt area. Much of that is down to the cost of accommodation and so forth. We see teachers going abroad. Do the witnesses have any views or suggestions on what the committee could look at and make suggestions on to encourage recruitment and retention, particularly around the large urban areas?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

We are very alive to the requirements of teacher supply. Earlier in the discussion, we talked about what we have been doing as a regulator to review and refine our processes and improve the clarity of our communications. There is an interesting role for understanding data on teacher supply in that context, which is probably instructive for the committee.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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I thank the Teaching Council. Any time I have made a query on behalf of a teacher coming back from abroad, it has always been helpful. I might not always get the answer I want, but normally the Teaching Council is able to speed up the process if at all possible.

When a qualified teacher goes to the Middle East or Australia, they normally go for two to five years. Many go for up to ten years to make money, so they can get a mortgage to build a house when they come home. When they come home they look to reregister. What checks does the Teaching Council do? Does it do any background checks with their former employers if they taught in the Middle East?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

Does the question relate to reregistration for teachers who were already on the register?

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Yes and some who have never been on it, depending on the case.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

Uniquely among regulatory bodies in Ireland, we have responsibility for vetting and we work with the Garda national vetting bureau. Ms Healy might take the committee through the stages of that as it would be helpful.

Ms Siobhán Healy:

As part of the registration process, we ensure that teachers meet our qualification requirements and provide evidence of character standards. When teachers return to the register, whether or not they have been on it before, we check their qualifications to make sure they are in line and any applicants who have resided outside Ireland for 12 months or more must provide police clearance from the country in which they resided. Yes, we look for criminal checks as well as looking at the qualifications.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Do many fail that part of the test, having been abroad? Has the Teaching Council come across many cases?

Ms Siobhán Healy:

Perhaps overall is the best way to respond on vetting. When we receive disclosures, "nil" means there are no criminal convictions and "trace" means that something has turned up in the check. For all the teachers we register, approximately 3% come back with a trace disclosure. We have a council panel that considers those and there are thresholds with respect to how they are viewed.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Is that for both primary and secondary teachers?

Ms Siobhán Healy:

Yes, that is for all teachers who apply to be on the register.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Has the Teaching Council any proposals for how the teaching profession could be more representative of Irish society? Irish society has totally changed in the past 20 years with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, including LGBTQ members, socioeconomic status, Traveller background and so on.

Has much thought been put into how social changes in Ireland have happened over the last ten years? There has been a total change in this time. Teachers in the past, particularly at primary level, but also those at second level, would not come out in respect of their sexuality because they were afraid. As will be well known, doing so was frowned upon by many boards of management, etc. Thankfully, this situation has completely changed in recent years. Has much thought been put into this aspect and the changes that have occurred socially and in the dynamics in this regard in recent years?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

I thank the Cathaoirleach. The particular question he posed is a very interesting one and one we are very much live to. We have a focus in our current strategic plan that is concerned with diversifying the teaching profession in Ireland. We are at a good stage in terms of commencing our work. We have gone for a tender process and we have commissioned an external company that is very experienced in this area to work with us. In so doing, we are mindful of the work that has been done and is already in the system, such as the Higher Education Authority data, for example, that profiles all these different demographic characteristics the Cathaoirleach was talking about in terms of the undergraduate teaching population. We are also mindful of the work that the HEIs have done in terms of Athena Swan and under the programme for access to higher education, PATH, 1. Our deputy director, Ms Phil Fox, is leading for us on that work on equality, diversity and inclusion for the Teaching Council. I ask her to talk the committee through where we are now with this undertaking.

Ms Phil Fox:

In the second quarter of this year, we went out to tender for an EDI strategy. As Dr. Ramsey said, we have appointed a very experienced organisation to work with us. Part of the work we want it to conduct with us and for us is research and analysis to identify the gaps in data that exist and fill some of them in for us in relation to the challenges in work culture and external policy development. We have embarked on a consultative process, an iterative process, with internal and external stakeholders. After a 35-week framework period, the result will be an initial three-year action plan. Built into that action plan will be tracking and monitoring of the actions on an iterative basis. We have, therefore, commenced the work and we are very much looking forward to seeing what that data might reveal for us.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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In all that research and work that is going to be done, will the Teaching Council be consulting the stakeholders like the INTO, the ASTI, the TUI and the representatives of the teacher unions?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

Yes.

Ms Phil Fox:

Yes.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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What sort of input will these stakeholders have into this work?

Ms Phil Fox:

We have set out in our tender document that we want to have focus groups, internal and external, with stakeholder members, including teacher members, managerial bodies, HEIs and other organisations that would have a vested interest and be relevant to the work we do. We also wish to conduct some quantitative analysis and work and have a survey conducted within that 35-week timeframe, have it analysed and feed the results into our action plan and policy document.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Concerning the way schools have divested in recent times and lay people are now chairs and boards of management are being encouraged in this regard, I am not sure what way to frame this question but hopefully the witnesses will understand the gist of where I am coming from when I say there would have been an issue in the past when teachers would have said they were members of the LBGTQ community. Is this still an issue or do teachers and staff now have more confidence to come out and say they are very proud to be a member of the LBGTQ community? In the context of any research and work done with stakeholders and teacher unions, has it been found that this is as big an issue now as it was years ago? As we all know, this was a major issue. Many teachers contacted me when I was first elected to this House in 2002 and all along after that. In the last five years, though, this situation has changed. It is an issue in some schools, but it has changed for the better.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

As the deputy director explained, we are at the data gathering stage. One of the things we must do when we do this type of work is to come to issues with open minds and hearts and to really listen.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Yes.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

This is one of the strengths of the way we do our engagement to see what the issues are and what we are hearing from the consultation in this regard. We will, therefore, be very interested in coming back to the committee and sharing the results of this work with it if this would be helpful.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Do representatives of the Teaching Council attend the conferences of the teacher unions?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

We do.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Does it hold workshops, operate stands or are its representatives just there in person? Does it have a specific stand where teachers can approach its representatives and interact? What is the normal attendance the Teaching Council would have at the conferences of the teacher unions?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

We used to always have a stand but that changed during Covid. It is one of the things we have been discussing. The deputy director and I also have engagements. Twice a year, we sit down with each of the teacher unions to discuss any matters they wish to discuss with us. We have, therefore, that engagement at the conferences of the teacher unions, meetings with the unions twice a year and then a kind of open engagement with a wide range of stakeholders.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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I encourage the Teaching Council to have a stand at the conferences of the teacher unions because the feedback received from teachers can differ a great deal from that heard from their representatives. When teachers are at their conferences, they feel more open. They are there themselves and able to express themselves. It is just an idea.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

I thank the Cathaoirleach very much.

Ms Phil Fox:

I thank the Cathaoirleach.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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From my background in politics for the last 22 years, I have always found it to be far better to deal with the organ grinders on occasions such as these because it is possible to learn an awful lot more. The teachers give much better feedback. I have nothing against the union heads, or anything like that, if they happen to be watching, but I do believe that the teachers, or the members of any organisation, are able to give far better feedback than what might be possible from any union head or representative.

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

I thank the Cathaoirleach. That is a very helpful suggestion.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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I call Deputy Nolan.

Photo of Carol NolanCarol Nolan (Laois-Offaly, Independent)
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I thank all the witnesses for coming in. I have read the briefing notes and it is good to get the opportunity to ask some questions. First, in terms of the teacher unions, what level of engagement would the Teaching Council have with them? Second, in terms of teachers who qualified abroad and are returning to Ireland, they must register with the Teaching Council if they wish to take up a teaching post here. Are we seeing higher numbers of teachers in this position? I hope this is the case in terms of solving the recruitment and retention crisis. A follow-on question, then, is what is the turnaround time for the registration of teachers who qualified abroad? Are measures put in place to try to speed up the turnaround time for them?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

On the engagement with teacher unions, we have a 37-member council and its composition is laid out in statute. Some people are directly elected to the council, so we have a significant number of teachers. It is a teacher-led regulatory body. Specifically on the issue of the unions, as we were discussing with the Cathaoirleach, we have engagement with several stakeholders, including the teacher unions. The deputy director and I meet with the teacher unions twice a year and we also attend the teacher union conferences.

In relation to teachers who qualified outside Ireland, and I am assuming the Deputy's query refers to those who are not already registered, with whom we will deal separately, if we receive an application from a teacher who qualified outside Ireland, we are bound by the terms of the EU directive on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications. It requires us to review an application and process it within 12 weeks. Before we commenced our review process, and we have two stages of it, we were processing those applications within 11 weeks. In 2023, we got this time down to eight weeks. Our head of initial teacher education induction can take the Deputy through the stages of that review process if that might be helpful. To date in 2024, we are processing these applications within seven weeks.

Regarding any teacher who was on the register and who lapsed from it for whatever reason, as of the end of January of this year, we have a new tailored process for any teacher wishing to register. Ms Healy, our head of registration, can take the Deputy through all the stages of that process. The working timelines for that process are that those applications are processed within four weeks.

Photo of Carol NolanCarol Nolan (Laois-Offaly, Independent)
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In terms of the teachers who qualified abroad and who are registering, are we seeing higher numbers applying to do so?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

We bring roughly 9,000 new teachers onto the register each year. We have 123,500 teachers on our register and we have roughly 600 applicants from abroad every year. My sense is that has been fairly consistent over the last few years. We have not seen a particular uptick. Is that Ms Murphy's understanding?

Ms Bríd Murphy:

We might have had 575 applications one year but it has averaged approximately 600 over the last five years. In 2023 we received 619 applications but it always seems to fall around that number.

Photo of Carol NolanCarol Nolan (Laois-Offaly, Independent)
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I thank the witnesses.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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In the witnesses' experience either of registration or reregistering, what was the longest period of time an application took to sort out for a specific reason, such as a security issue? Do the witnesses know this off the top of their heads?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

Ms Healy would probably have the detail on that. Where we have an outlier it usually relates to something to do with vetting and that is out of our control.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Yes

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

Ms Healy may or may not have those figures to hand and if not, we can supply them later.

Ms Siobhán Healy:

I do not have the exact figures to hand but in terms of the process, when someone applies to the Teaching Council for registration we outline the documentation required in order to finalise the process. There are qualification requirements and we look for certain documentation to evidence that. There is also a vetting piece and certain documentation we need there. From the time we receive all of the required documentation it comes within our control to finalise that application. At the moment our registration timelines for people who qualified in Ireland and came through the standard registration process is four weeks from the time we receive all of the documentation. What is outside our control to a certain extent is the time within applicants will submit all of the required documentation. From our end what we do is make sure we detail in as plain English as possible exactly what is needed and we review our communications to ensure we are very clear in what is needed. When applicants follow up with us we give them the detail around that.

For applications that go on for longer than what the Teaching Council would like, it is usually in the space of waiting for documentation. We cannot finalise registration until we receive evidence of qualification and of character. The average processing times are four weeks for elements that are in our control, but we have a good process to follow up with those who have not sent in all of the required documents.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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If a teacher who is registered with the Teaching Council goes abroad to teach for whatever reason, do the respective countries he or she goes to check in with the Teaching Council? This is regarding a student who may have gone to Australia or the Middle East to teach there. Does Ms Healy understand the question I am asking? For instance, if a "Paul Keogh" went to Australia to teach and he had registered with the Teaching Council, would the Australian authorities ever come back to check what experience he might have had or does his CV and whatever he may have shown them suffice?

Ms Siobhán Healy:

Generally, what other competent authorities would look for is a letter of professional standing. It is like what the Teaching Council would look for. If a teacher comes to us who qualified outside of Ireland we would look for evidence they are registered with the appropriate competent authority or ministry of education in his or her country. Likewise, when our teachers who have qualified go to teach in another country, the other competent authority will generally look for evidence they have been registered in their own countries. We call that a letter of professional standing which outlines the period of time they would have been registered.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Is there anything else the witnesses wish to add to any of the questions asked?

Dr. Lynn Ramsey:

I extend an invitation to members of the committee to visit the Teaching Council if any of them would find that of use.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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We will definitely discuss that during our private session. That is no problem whatsoever. I thank the Teaching Council representatives for coming before the committee this evening. It has been very beneficial and worthwhile. I have no doubt all of our committee members have learned a huge amount from their appearance here.

The joint committee adjourned at 6.55 p.m. until 11 a.m. on Tuesday, 11 July 2024.