Adhoc arrangements bringing schools to breaking point

27 October 2021

Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has urged the Minister for Education to intervene in the substitute teacher crisis and amend the substitute supply panel to provide greater flexibility for teachers and schools. Deputy Ó Ríordáin said the crisis schools face is as a result of a lack of proactive intervention by the Department.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“I have previously called on the Minister and the Department to engage with school communities and unions on the issue of substitute teachers which has been well flagged with the Department. Unfortunately, every issue seems to take the Department by surprise leading to adhoc, unworkable arrangements for schools. Earlier this month, the Department issued an entirely impractical circular, rather than engaging with school communities to understand what’s happening locally.

“It was highlighted then and the situation has not changed now – school communities are really concerned that children will have to be sent home from school due to a lack of resources. The Minister and her Department need to be in control here and find workable ways out of this crisis for school communities. Changes must be made to the supply panel but we also need to look at recruiting additional primary school teachers, not only to get over this current crisis but to reduce our class sizes as we emerge from the pandemic.

“My office has been inundated with contact from principals and teachers who are frustrated at the lack of engagement by the Department. They need additional supports to get them through the Covid crisis which school communities are doing their best to manage. It’s time for the Department to show some leadership here. We need to find a solution before the midterm break is over to ensure that children will actually be able to return to the classroom and get their education.”

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