Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Thomas Byrne TD has expressed concern over the lack of planning carried out by the Government to determine future teaching needs in schools.
Deputy Byrne pointed to an over-supply of teachers in certain subject areas, while at the same time there are teacher shortages are emerging in other areas.
A report on this issue was presented to the previous Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan and has been sitting on Minister Bruton’s desk ever since.
“I am getting reports that this crisis is having a huge impact as schools return this month”, said Deputy Byrne.
“Currently the system for training teachers is unplanned, uncoordinated and takes little regard of the requirement of schools and trainee teachers themselves. This is leading to significant problems in the education system as there is an over-supply of teachers for some subjects while there aren’t enough teachers to fill vacancies in other fields.
“I have raised this issue with Minister Bruton and was absolutely shocked by the lack of planning carried out by his Department to rectify this problem. They’re aware of this time bomb for years. Despite this, the Minister was unable to tell me if there are enough positions available in each subject area for teacher training.
“I am aware of classes having to be cancelled in certain schools this month, even in Leaving Cert year, due to a lack of teachers.
“An audit needs to be carried out to determine which subject areas need greater number of teachers. Consideration might also have to be given to capping the number of students entering into popular subjects. This will help achieve a more sustainable approach to the future supply of teaching jobs.
“It’s important to recognise that pupil enrolments at second level are expected to increase by 8% by 2020 and a further 10% by 2025. This will place significant pressure on our education system and will exacerbate the current teacher supply problems unless decisive action is taken by Government.
“The reality is that until these number issues are addressed not only will it have a knock on effect on graduates seeking to secure a teaching job in Ireland, but schools also will continue to struggle to recruit the required number of teachers in certain disciplines such as Irish, Maths, the Sciences and business subjects.
“Minister Bruton needs to explain what his plan is to resolve this issue. He’s been sitting on his hands, like the previous Minister, and this is not good enough”.