Gannon says Foley is “sleepwalking” through teacher staffing crisis

Mike Finnerty 02 Apr 2024

School may be out, but lingering issues surrounding teacher recruitment hasn’t taken a holiday.

Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon has accused Minister for Education Norma Foley of “continuing to sleepwalk” through the teacher recruitment crisis in Irish schools.

The Dublin Central TD said that the annual teachers’ conferences should “refocus” Minister Foley’s mind onto the issues of recruitment and retention of teaching staff.

“The Minister and her department seem to be in a permanent state of paralysis when it comes to tackling this crisis,” the Social Democrats’ education spokesperson said.

Gannon said that Government should offer incentivises to attract people towards a career in education, namely the financial and academic barriers that currently exists surrounding education within the Irish second and third-level systems.

He said it has been well over a year since his party brought forward measures such as speeding up the pipeline of teacher graduates entering the workforce, but their calls have fallen on dear fear

“Our proposals included reducing the Professional Master of Education (PME) from two years to one to help address the significant costs of studying to be a teacher – a practical measure that the Minister has so far refused to consider.”

“We also called for the creation of funded scholarships to be awarded to outstanding candidates, including those from minority backgrounds, to allow them to pursue primary school teaching qualifications.”

As Ireland sees newly-qualified teachers leave Ireland for more attractive opportunities abroad, Gannon said that Minister Fokey should be encouraging new teachers to stay in Ireland after they qualify.

In this context, Gannon proposed giving newly qualified teachers “permanent, full-time jobs on their initial appointment instead of temporary, precarious employment.”

“At this week’s conferences, Minister Foley must fully engage with teachers’ unions and come away with a clear, workable plan to address chronic staff shortages in our classrooms,” he said.

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