Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Thomas Byrne TD has called on the Government to provide a long term plan to deal with the current teacher shortage engulfing schools across the country.

Deputy Byrne made the comments in advance of Fianna Fáil’s Dáil Private Members Business motion due to be debated in the Dáil tomorrow afternoon. The motion focuses on the ongoing shortage of teachers and the steps that need to be taken to resolve the crisis.

Deputy Byrne said, “It has been apparent for some time now that our schools are finding it more and more challenging to obtain and retain the right teachers, with the right subject combinations to ensure that all students can take the subjects of their choosing.

“Ongoing pay inequality has resulted in a recruitment and retention crisis for teachers and there are also major difficulties for schools in securing substitute teachers when required.

“Despite the fact that there are just six physics teachers expected to graduate in the next two years and a reported collapse in numbers applying for teacher training courses, the Minister continues to ignore the problem.

“The shortage of teachers is already having an adverse impact on our education system. Students are unable to enroll in subjects they had planned to study and school principals are finding it difficult to find substitute teachers when needed.

“Our motion calls on Government to agree a roadmap with teaching unions on how full pay equality will be achieved. It also calls for a recruitment and advertising campaign to be put in place aimed at bringing home young Irish teachers who are currently working abroad.

“Other measures we are calling for include the establishment of ‘Substitute Supply Panels’ at primary level and to make it easier for retired teachers to act as substitutes in the short term.

“Minister Bruton must establish a body to work with education partners in coordinating policy matters concerning teacher supply.

“It’s absolutely critical that we deal with this emerging crisis. Our motion will bring a new focus to that. I am hopeful that other parties will support our motion.”