Minister Bruton deluded on teacher shortages

26 January 2018

The move to blame career breaks for the shortages of teachers is deluded, Labour spokesperson on Education, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has said, pointing out that the central issue is pay inequality for young teachers.

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

“The number of teachers on career breaks is around 3% of the total number. The Minister for Education has obviously run out of ideas to tackle the shortage of teachers if he believes this is the root cause of the problem. Just two weeks ago he was blaming the growing economy. The Minister is clutching at straws and failing to address the real problems that have been repeatedly brought to his attention.

“There are many and varied reasons for why teachers would seek career breaks, both to pursue other education opportunities, and most often for family and personal reasons.

“The root cause of the teacher shortage issue stems from structural issues in the profession as a result of the decision by Fianna Fáil to introduce a two tier pay structure in 2010.

“Now that the problem is having a real impact on schools, the Minister should move with haste to address pay inequality for young teachers. He should also establish as a priority a substitute supply panel for primary schools.

“Once again I am calling on the Minister to immediately seek to meet with teaching unions to set out a roadmap for pay equality. The Minister is almost two years in office, in that time he has produced no roadmap and refuses to accept the principle of equality of pay. Last year, the government negotiated a pay deal which ignored the issue, leading to the outright rejection of a pay deal by the INTO for the first time in their history.

“The Taoiseach himself this week pointed out that people often travel abroad to save for a deposit which highlights the unaffordability of housing which is having an impact on all young people including teachers. Young teachers want pay equality, they want to teach in our schools and they want to be treated with respect.

“It is time for the Minister to act and outline how he plans to attract new, young people to the profession.”

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