Monday, 29 March 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I wish to raise the issue of substitute teachers. I spoke to a couple of teachers in my home area of County Louth over the past couple of weeks, which is a good idea. I find I can do my job much better when I talk to people who are on the front lines of certain sectors rather than when we are in in the Seanad or reading stuff in briefing notes where one gets a theoretical view of the issues.
Until recently, I did not realise there existed this concept of the five-day rule, which is that a person who is qualified as a teacher but is waiting to get his or her teaching number, which could take a couple of months, is allowed to go into a school and substitute for five days. That person must then take one day off and is replaced by another substitute teacher, who comes in and substitutes for the final four days of teaching.
As someone who is coming into this sector without knowing much about it, it just seems mad and I do not understand why it is. I printed the information from the education.iewebsite. A person without a Teaching Council number can only substitute for five days in a row. He or she must then take a day off and be replaced by another substitute teacher who comes in and substitutes for the further four days.That is mad, in this day and age, because we have had a massive shortage of teachers during this Covid era. Perhaps it is a bit like trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted but surely that rule could have at least been put on ice for the past year in light of the situation with teachers and Covid. I would love to have the opportunity to discuss education matters with the Minister at some stage and to ask her what the reasoning behind the rule is. To me as a layman it seems archaic. There does not seem any reason for it. These are qualified teachers who are waiting to get their Teaching Council numbers and we are in dire need of teachers who are willing to step up to the plate during Covid. They should be allowed to do so, rather than being hindered and held back by this type of bureaucracy.