A Cork TD has called for teachers working abroad to be offered permanent contracts while they are home this Christmas, in order to address the “severe crisis in teacher supply”.
Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday morning, TD for Cork South Central and Sinn Féin spokesperson for Education and Skills Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire highlighted that the shortage of teachers in Dublin and other urban centres such as Cork is an issue that is “escalating quite significantly”.
“We have a very severe crisis in teacher supply at this moment in time, both primary and post primary, in my view primarily caused by the cost of living crisis,” he said.
Speaking to Minister for Education Norma Foley, Deputy Ó Laoghaire said that the issue is “fundamentally about housing” as teachers cannot afford to live in urban centres, but added that in trying to attract teachers working abroad to come home, “the least we should be able to do is offer those teachers a permanent position”.
Under current rules which were introduced eight years ago, teachers cannot be offered a permanent position after 1 October at post primary level, and after 1 November at primary level.
“This Christmas there will be hundreds of teachers returning home… who would love to be teaching here in Ireland. If those teachers wanted to stay at home after Christmas, their best chance is to take a temporary contract until the summer, go without pay over the summer months and then take their chances for a permanent position or a contract of indefinite duration in September,” said Deputy Ó Laoghaire.
“Would it not be far better, as was the case until about eight years ago, that the Department could allow permanent contracts to be offered to them, so that those teachers returning from Dubai, returning from England, returning from wherever, could come home and be offered a permanent job, get paid over the summer, and they would stay in the system?” he asked the Minister.
Minister Foley said that she is “very aware” of the challenges in recruiting teachers and particularly substitute teachers.
She highlighted that several “important actions” have already been taken to alleviate supply pressures and expand the pool of teachers who can work in a substitute capacity, but acknowledged there “remains a job of work to be done”.
Education stakeholders are due to meet this week to discuss the issue as part of the National Consultative Forum on Teacher Supply, and in response to Deputy Ó Laoghaire’s suggestion, Minister Foley said that they are open to looking at all options to address the issue going forward.