Fianna Fáil Senator in Kildare, Fiona O'Loughlin, has said she believes that school inspectors should consider a return to the classroom in order to alleviate the pressure on our schools who are currently experiencing a teacher shortage.
Minister Norma Foley and officials in the Department of Education have put in place a range of measures to support the supply of substitute teachers including a major expansion of the Primary Schools Substitute Teacher Supply Panels.
Following positive engagement with the Higher Education Institutions who provide primary initial teacher education programmes, year-three and year-four student teachers will be deployed in schools where needed during this academic year.
The Department of Education has also adjusted its payroll operation arrangements so that the restriction on the number of days that teachers on a career break may be employed as substitutes has been suspended and teachers who are job sharing are allowed to work additional hours.
Senator O'Loughlin commented, "I very much welcome the additional measures introduced by my party colleague and Minister for Education, Norma Foley, to help increase the availability of substitute teachers.
"With teachers and schools under unprecedented pressures now, dealing both with covid restrictions and large levels of sick leave throughout the school community, we really must ensure that all hands are on deck.
"I believe that the return of school inspectors to the classroom would be hugely beneficial in terms of alleviating the pressure on our schools and teachers - a point which I raised with the Minister recently.
"There are almost 200 school inspectors in the Department of Education and I am of the view that schools throughout the country could only benefit from their expertise. The inspectors could be part of a substitute panel which I humbly suggest would be a very supportive measure and an excellent use of their time,'' concluded Senator O'Loughlin.