ASTI warns of teacher short­age

Irish Examiner - - News - Áine Kenny

The new pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Se­condary Teach­ers Ire­land has said the Gov­ern­ment must com­mit to equal pay for post-2010 en­trants to the pro­fes­sion in or­der to meet its goal of re­cruit­ing 1,080 ad­di­tional sec­ond-level teach­ers.

The Gov­ern­ment’s plan to re­open schools in the wake of Covid-19 in­cludes the ap­point­ment of the ex­tra teach­ers, in or­der to as­sist schools with so­cial dis­tanc­ing mea­sures.

“Ire­land has ex­pe­ri­enced a se­ri­ous short­age of sec­ondlevel teach­ers in re­cent years. The main rea­sons for this are the high lev­els of pre­car­i­ous teach­ing con­tracts and pay in­equal­ity for those who be­gan their ca­reers af­ter 2010,” said Ann Pig­gott. “This is why schools are in trou­ble now, and they are wor­ried they won’t get the teach­ers.

“Over the last 10 years, work­ing con­di­tions for newly qual­i­fied teach­ers have been so bad, with the dif­fer­ence in pay, and also when some teach­ers start work­ing, they are given a five to six hours per week [con­tract].

“There must be an em­pha­sis on of­fer­ing se­cure teach­ing con­tracts with full-time hours.”

She also said that of the 1,080 new teach­ers, 120 will be guid­ance teach­ers. “Those jobs are only restora­tion. We are go­ing back [to the hours] be­fore guid­ance teach­ers’ hours were cut. There are 730 sec­ond-level schools in Ire­land, so in a way it’s not even two teach­ers per school.”

“Even now, you can’t go into a shop without wear­ing a face mask. But in a class with 30 stu­dents, the teacher can­not make stu­dents wear one?”

How­ever, Ms Pig­gott be­lieves a lot of stu­dents will wear masks without be­ing asked be­cause they will be wor­ried about the spread of Covid-19.

In a state­ment, the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion said: “The start­ing salary for a new en­trant teacher in 2012 was €30,702. As a re­sult of the pro­gramme of pay restora­tion, the start­ing salary of a teacher is now €36,9 53 and from Oc­to­ber 1, 2020, on­wards will be €37,692.

“On Septem­ber 24, 2018, an agree­ment was reached be­tween the Gov­ern­ment and the pub­lic ser­vices com­mit­tee of Ictu in re­spect of new en­trant pay. This agree­ment is ben­e­fit­ting 16,000 teach­ers and nearly 5,000

SNAs within the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor. The deal pro­vides for a se­ries of in­cre­men­tal raises for new en­trants.”

It said Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Norma Fo­ley is fully aware that the teacher unions have out­stand­ing is­sues of con­cern fol­low­ing the Septem­ber 2018 agree­ment.

“Th­ese out­stand­ing mat­ters will be given full con­sid­er­a­tion. This will hap­pen in the con­text of the next round of pay talks. The po­si­tions of each of the par­ties on th­ese mat­ters must be given due re­gard in en­deav­our­ing to reach a mu­tu­ally agreed res­o­lu­tion.

Ann Pig­gott, pres­i­dent of the ASTI, has called for pay equal­ity and for newly qual­i­fied teach­ers to be of­fered full- con­tracts.

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