Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson, Thomas Byrne has called on the Minister for Education to act urgently to address consistent underestimates of the number of teachers retiring each year. Deputy Byrne explained, “This year the Department of Education has estimated only about a third of the actual number of teacher retirements. They estimated about 700 when in fact there are over 2000 in 2018 alone. Thus the Department of Finance and Public Expenditure fails to estimate for this number and so insufficient funds are set aside.
“This is a financial and teaching crisis. Apart from the huge financial cost which seriously detracts from the Education Budget, children are also suffering as a result of the number of teachers retiring as the Department figures are way off the mark. It’s no wonder we have a teacher shortage and it is the children who are disadvantaged without a full compliment of teachers in many schools.
“I challenged the Minister about this at the Education Committee and the Independent Parliamentary Budget Office has now echoed my own concerns. This is a ridiculous situation and the continued failure to factor in these retirements has led to a Department overspend of €147 million. The disagreement between the two Departments is making it appear that additional investment has taken place, when in fact it has not.
“During the 2017 Supplementary Estimate process Minister Bruton acknowledged that the method was flawed but seems to have done nothing. Minister McHugh needs to resolve this issue once and for all by putting in place a forecasting model which is agreed”, concluded Deputy Byrne.