A CORK teacher and president of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) has called on the government to address issues that, he said, are driving young teachers to work abroad.
INTO president, John Driscoll, is a native of Cork and deputy principal of Star of the Sea Primary School in Passage West.
Addressing the INTO conference in Killarney this week, Mr Driscoll said teachers are overburdened with paperwork, competing for limited resources in overcrowded classrooms, and being offered unattractive salaries.
“If the Department of Education wants to ensure that Ireland retains its reputation for having a high-quality education system, they must urgently reduce the excessive work pressures which are placing an unsustainable strain on teachers and school leaders in primary and special schools,” he warned.
Mr Driscoll went on to highlight the level of paperwork and administration duties which he said are overburdening teachers even outside of school working hours.
The INTO completed a workload survey last year. Mr Driscoll explained that, while the findings show that teachers are comfortable with the practical part of teaching in class, “it is the extraneous things that are sapping energy”.
“For a lot of the time, teachers would say ‘what is the value in me compiling a lot of paperwork that is really not impacting on the education of the child in front of me?”
Mr Driscoll highlighted the large amount of paperwork associated with applications to access special education supports.
“It takes a huge amount of effort, time, and energy to complete applications, to pursue them, to get the right resources in place,” he said, adding that the pressure falls on the teacher, who is also trying to teach a classroom full of pupils.
“They’re in a catch 22, in that they may find themselves with a child who should be getting proper support, but the supports aren’t there. It’s unfair on the teacher and it’s unfair on the pupil.”
Mr Driscoll called on the Government to restore the number of assistant principals to pre-recession levels in Budget 2024. He also highlighted the need for a reduction in class sizes, and measures to recruit and retain teachers.
“They [teachers] have gone through colleges in Ireland to be trained to teach in Ireland — that’s where we want them. But at the same time, if the salaries and conditions aren’t attractive enough, to attract them in, and to retain them, there’s a problem.”
More in this section