Dáil debates

Thursday, 22 September 2022

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

 

12:20 pm

Photo of Peter FitzpatrickPeter Fitzpatrick (Louth, Independent)

I wish to raise an important issue in respect of which clarification is needed. The Teaching Council is the body with the statutory authority and responsibility for the regulation of the teaching profession in Ireland, including the registration of teachers in the State. Upon registration with the Teaching Council, post-qualification professional practice is applied as a condition of registration for all primary and post-primary newly qualified teachers. Until recent years, the traditional route to fulfil this condition for primary school was probation. The Droichead process, which replaces the traditional process, consists of school-based induction, which is underpinned by reflective practices, mentoring, professional conversation and additional professional learning activities, such as observation, cluster meetings, the Taisce professional learning portfolio and the hours taught. All of these activities address the needs of newly qualified teachers as they begin their careers.

According to Droichead, a primary teacher will normally undertake the Droichead process when employed in a permanent, temporary or substitute capacity as a mainstream teacher. A teacher is teaching all the hours of the primary school curriculum, including Irish, for the entire school day. A teacher's tenure at the school may afford him or her the opportunity to meet minimum duration requirements. Yet limitations are being placed on teachers as to what roles qualify for Droichead. A newly qualified teacher may complete Droichead in one of the following roles: a special class teacher in a mainstream school; a teacher in a special school; a full resource teacher of people with low-incidence disabilities; or a full-time learning support teacher. The restrictions involve teaching the same cohort of pupils. The teachers need to complete a block of 60 consecutive days in eligible settings. At a time when we are crying out for teachers, these requirements are excessive.

I recently met members of the Irish National Teachers Organisation, INTO, who highlighted the issue of teacher-pupil ratios, which have a significant impact on children's development and learning. Why are we making newly qualified teachers jump through hoops to do further training, inspections and supervision when they have already carried out placements and supervision during their qualifications? Any primary level teacher who gets any teaching time should be able to count it towards his or her qualifications as part of the Droichead framework. That is a big issue for some people. These restrictive requirements are putting extra pressure on newly qualified teachers to find a job that qualifies for Droichead. They prevent those teachers taking full-time roles, such as supply teacher roles, as they do not qualify under the rigid classroom and qualification requirements.

During the Covid-19 emergency, the Teaching Council confirmed that newly qualified teachers who secured posts on supply panels for the 2021-22 academic year may complete Droichead, the induction framework for newly qualified teachers. However, that is not the case post-pandemic. As I said, any primary level teacher who gets any teaching time at all should be able to count it towards his or her qualifications as part of the Droichead framework.

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