Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Department of Education and Skills
I am aware that in recent years school management bodies, school leaders and teacher unions have reported that some schools, including in Dublin city and county, are experiencing difficulties in recruiting teachers, particularly substitute teachers at both primary and post-primary levels and teachers of certain subjects at post-primary level.
In response to these difficulties in March 2018, the Teacher Supply Steering Group, chaired by the Secretary General of my Department, was established. The Steering Group is leading on the identification of issues, the development of a programme of actions on teacher supply and overseeing its implementation. It is supported by an Implementation Group and a number of working groups which are considering specific areas of policy.
The Teacher Supply Action Plan, published in November 2018, includes a range of actions under four policy headings: data/research to support teacher supply planning; higher education; policies and arrangements impacting on teacher supply; and communications / promotion of the teaching profession.
A number of measures have been put in place to increase the supply of teachers at post-primary level, particularly in subjects where difficulties in recruitment have been reported.
Following engagement with the Higher Education Authority (HEA), higher education institutions (HEIs) put in place new post-primary initial teacher education (ITE) undergraduate programmes in 2019 and 2020 in priority subject areas, including mathematics, modern foreign languages, computer science and Irish.
In addition the HEA, on behalf of my Department, issued a call to ITE providers for proposals for programmes to upskill registered teachers in targeted post-primary subjects (Spanish, mathematics and physics). The programmes, which commenced in January 2021, will run over two years on a part-time, flexible basis. There is no fee charge for participating teachers.
Earlier this year I, along with my colleague Minister Harris, announced an additional programme to upskill teachers in Irish, to begin in 2022. My Department is currently engaging with the HEA in regard to a call to ITE providers for the provision of this programme.
A number of measures have been taken by education partners which are aimed at matching teachers with teaching vacancies. Turasabhaile, a service developed by the post-primary school management bodies and the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, matches registered teachers, resident abroad with post-primary vacancies in schools here at home. The Irish Primary Principals’ Network is also developing a new central portal for the recruitment of teachers to long-term positions in both primary and post-primary schools. It is anticipated that this portal will be available to schools and teachers in the coming months.
In November 2019, my Department published a technical report“Developing a Teacher Demand and Supply Model for Ireland 2020-2036”. The report was updated in May 2021 with projections of teacher demand and supply to 2038. Ultimately, the intention is to establish a robust data based model for the effective projection of future teacher demand and supply across the school system.
The report projects that, at post-primary level, the demand for teachers, on a no policy change basis, will follow a largely downward trend to 2032. It is important to note that the report’s projections are based on high level demographics and to demonstrate trends in demand and supply. Work is ongoing in my Department to produce projections of post primary teacher demand and supply on a subject level basis to inform future teacher supply planning.
The various measures to support teacher supply are underpinned by the Teaching Transformscampaign, which promotes the teaching profession and encourages students to follow a career in teaching. The campaign uses digital, radio and video media, and is supported by a dedicated webpage, .
My Department will continue, with the cooperation of the education partners, to develop and implement measures to support the supply of teachers to our schools.
I propose to take Questions Nos. 254 and 258 together.
As part of the COVID-19 supports provided to schools in 2020, additional funding of €41.2 million was allocated to provide primary schools with substitute staff.
This funding allowed for the expansion of the Substitute Teacher Supply Panel from a pilot scheme consisting of 6 base schools to 132 Substitute Teacher Supply Panels nationwide, with almost 380 newly appointed Supply Panel teachers employed, providing substitute cover to over 2,500 schools across the country. Primary schools have been informed that the Supply Panel Scheme will continue for the 2021/22 school year.
The scheme provides more certainty on the availability of substitutes for primary schools and allows for substitutions that are not covered by existing schemes.