25 Jan 2022

Concerns mounting as Offaly schools struggle to find substitute teachers

Concerns mounting as Offaly schools struggle to find substitute teachers

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Independent TD for Laois-Offaly and member of the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Further Education, Carol Nolan, has said that efforts by the Department of Education to increase the number of substitute teachers available to assist schools have fallen way below the mark and must be immediately expanded.

Deputy Nolan was speaking as concerns continue to mount among Laois-Offaly primary and secondary school principals around the chronic inability to source substitute teachers to cover mainstream and special education classes:

“It is becoming increasingly clear that very many of our schools at all levels are simply unable to source substitute teachers and this, in turn, is having a hugely disruptive impact on students who have already suffered due to Covid related closures.

"While I accept that the Department has provided an additional 100 permanent posts on panels for primary schools in recent weeks, this has to be seen in context.

"The reality is that there are just over twenty-eight thousand primary school teachers in Ireland and each and every one of them are operating in circumstances heavily impacted by the implementation of Covid-related guidelines," the Offaly TD continued.

"So, providing 100 permanent new posts, while welcome is still only the tip of the iceberg.

"I am also aware that the Department and the Teaching Council are meeting with the providers of primary initial teacher education (ITE) to explore how flexibility in the ITE programme delivery could facilitate additional substitute supply.

"This and other measures such as reviewing how the operation of the substitute teacher panels can be enhanced need to be addressed as a matter of urgency," Deputy Nolan concluded.

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