Thursday, 16 December 2021
Department of Education and Skills
463. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to resource Youthreach education amid a staffing crisis that is leaving the most vulnerable young persons at risk; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62450/21]
464. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the reason Youthreach resource workers and co-ordinators are not paid as teachers even though they have the same duties and responsibilities, plus additional work in re-engaging those most in danger of being left behind educationally; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the provision of this education is carried out over 226 days in comparison to normal school terms which amount to 167 days and that there is little opportunity for career or pay progression within the Youthreach sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62451/21]
465. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the rationale for not extending similar pay and conditions to Youthreach education providers as other teachers; his views on whether Youthreach students are entitled to fully qualified teachers receiving the same pay and conditions and opportunities for career progression as their peers teaching in secondary schools; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the recent crisis in substitute teachers makes it impossible to fill resource and substitute positions in Youthreach with appropriately qualified persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62452/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 463 to 465, inclusive, together.
Youthreach is a further education and training programme for early school leavers which aims to provide young people with the knowledge, skills and confidence to participate fully in society and progress to further education, training and employment.
The staff in Youthreach include Youthreach Co-ordinators, Youthreach Resource Persons and teachers. Youthreach Co-ordinators and Resource Persons have their own terms and conditions and are a separate grade to teachers. Accordingly, they do not require to be registered with the Teaching Council nor does Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act, 2001 apply to Youthreach Centres as they do not fall within the definition of a recognised school.
The Youthreach programme provides a range of supports for learners, including work placement, career guidance, personal counselling as well as informal support from staff. It requires staff who are flexible, multi-disciplined and experienced. While relevant qualifications are desirable, no qualifications are specified for staff working in the programme. This is intended to give Education and Training Boards (ETBs) maximum flexibility to recruit staff with the combination of personal qualities and professional skills most likely to meet the often complex needs of participating learners. Teachers are also employed in Youthreach and it is a matter for each ETB to decide on the staff required for the programme being delivered in their Youthreach centres. The length of the programme is longer than the school year, but this is to ensure the continuity in the lives of the young person and provide that ongoing support needed over a longer period.
The roles of the Youthreach Co-ordinator and Youthreach Resource Person were designed very much with the programmes structure in mind. Template contracts of employment for these roles, as set out in Circular 12/03, were negotiated and agreed by all stakeholders. The latest pay scales (with effect from 1stOctober 2021 for these grades are set out in Circular 051/2021 Revision of salaries of certain grades other than Teachers and SNAs employed by ETBs, which is available at www.gov.ie/en/circular/4ed38-revision-of-salaries-of-certain-grades-other-than-teachers-and-snas-employed-by-etbs-with-effect-from-1-october-2021
A union representing Youthreach Co-ordinators and Youthreach Resource Persons has submitted a claim in respect of both grades. Officials from my Department and the Department of Education are engaging with the trade union on this claim under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission. This is the most appropriate place for that engagement to happen.
I can also confirm that consideration of future staffing and the development of a staffing framework for the further education and training system (which includes Youthreach) is a component of Future FET-Transforming Learning, the Further Education and Training Strategy 2020-2024.