Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle urges Government to take steps to support recruiting and retaining teachers

Pringle urges Government to take steps to support recruiting and retaining teachers

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said Government must address obstacles to people considering entering the teaching profession in the face of serious recruitment issues.

Addressing the Dáil today, Deputy Pringle said: “We are facing a very serious issue when it comes to teacher shortages and the education of our children is at stake. 

“The fact that 91% of our secondary schools are experiencing teacher recruitment issues is incredibly concerning. The Teachers Union of Ireland survey, which is mentioned in this motion, also revealed that 71% of schools that advertised jobs in recent months did not get a single applicant. That is absolutely unbelievable.

“There isn’t a single area in the country that isn’t affected by this. I know my constituency of Donegal is experiencing significant problems in recruiting teachers and in retaining teachers as well,” he said.

Deputy Pringle said: “The government can hardly be surprised at this, at this stage.

“Consider for a moment what this country actually offers our teachers: An accommodation shortage, high rental costs, no hope of ever buying or building a house, a cost-of-living crisis, long commutes, a skeleton public transport service, a broken healthcare system, astronomical childcare costs, very few permanent teaching contracts, job instability and all round a very low standard of living.

“Is it any wonder that we are seeing such high emigration rates among our newly qualified teachers? As well as our newly qualified nurses and indeed all our young people who are newly qualified and in search of a decent standard of living. 

“This is no country for young people. It’s no country for anyone at the minute, sadly,” he said.

Deputy Pringle was speaking in support of the Social Democrats motion re teacher shortages.

The deputy said: “Schools are relying heavily on student teachers. Professional masters of education (PMEs) are working incredibly hard to fill the gap left by teacher shortages and without them, schools would struggle to even open. I have been contacted by many PMEs who are finding the pressure of this, as well as college and other work, incredibly difficult.”

He noted that to complete a PME, you need to complete two years at college, while completing 440 hours of placement in a school. However, most PMEs are now expected by schools to work a full school week, due to current shortages, the deputy said. In addition, he said, most PMEs are forced to take on other work, as it costs over €10,000 to complete the two-year degree.

Deputy Pringle said: “I also believe that the Minister needs to consider the lack of permanent contracts. The sad reality is that teachers are often in precarious employment.”

The deputy said: “We have to hold on to the teachers that we have, because if we don’t, we will only see the situation get worse until we are faced with ongoing school closures. We also need to address the obstacles that are currently present for those considering teaching as a profession. 

“We need to fully fund the PME so that people can afford to complete the degree and we need to put emphasis on ongoing professional development, which can be completed online to facilitate rural schools.

“There are solutions out there for the Minister if she’s willing to listen and engage, and that’s the problem, there isn’t any listening or engaging,” he said.