14 March, 2018 - Minister Bruton announces extra places on teacher training courses

Post primary undergraduate and postgraduate courses expanded 

Targeted subject areas of STEM, Irish and Foreign Languages 

The Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton T.D. today announced, following consultation with the Irish Universities Association, an expansion of the number of places on post primary teacher education courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. The Minister also announced that there will be additional places provided in the priority areas of STEM, Irish and Foreign Languages. 

Teachers play a central role in achieving the Government’s ambition to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade. Significant additional investment has been made in the provision of additional teachers in recent years and we are now recruiting more new teachers than at any other point in the history of the state. Over 5,000 additional teachers have been successfully recruited in the last two years. 

However, while the numbers graduating from post primary teacher education courses – both at undergraduate and postgraduate level, have remained broadly constant over the past number of years, the number of students entering post primary is increasing and will continue to do so until 2025. The Government is responding to this growth by increasing the number of places on post primary teacher education programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. 

Within the context of the overall ambition to become the best in Europe, the Government has set out very ambitious strategies in STEM, foreign languages and digital. Each of these strategies is committed to taking action to address the supply of teachers in these areas. We are now providing additional places to ensure the system can respond more readily to national priorities and the needs of schools. 

The new measures are as the follows: 

  • The Universities will increase the capacity on undergraduate initial teacher education programmes by an estimated 280 places in 2018.
  • This includes an increase in the priority areas of STEM, Irish and foreign languages of more than 100 places, an increase of over 40% on 2017 in these areas.
  • At postgraduate level, the Universities will increase the capacity on PME programmes by more than 100 places in the priority areas of STEM, Irish and foreign languages.
  • The universities and Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC) have extended the closing date to Friday 13 April for applications for entry to PME programmes for Irish and the targeted STEM and foreign language subjects (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, French, German, Spanish and Italian).

Announcing these new measures, Minister Bruton said. “The quality of our teachers and school leaders is the number one factor which will influence the outcome for the child and we are very lucky in Ireland to have high quality teachers. 

“Some concerns have been raised recently around teacher supply issues. I have previously announced some measures to support schools in managing these issues, including expanding the number of days a teacher can work while on a career break. Today, I am taking further action by expanding the number of places on teacher education programmes with a heavy emphasis on certain subject areas at post primary level, to ensure that schools can get the right mix of subject teachers. 

“We have set out very ambitious strategies in STEM, foreign languages and digital, as part of our overall goal to have the best education and training service in Europe by 2026. We are now providing additional places to ensure the system can respond more readily to our national priorities and the needs of schools. 

“Teaching is a fantastic profession for any young person considering their options, with a starting salary for a teacher straight out of college of nearly €36,000, increasing to €37,600 from October 2020. I’ve also recently announced an additional 3,000 leadership posts, meaning 1 in 3 teachers in our schools will now be in a leadership position. 

“I welcome this year’s provisional CAO figures which show an 8% increase in those applying to study primary education and 4% in secondary education. I would like to take this opportunity to remind final year leaving certificate students who may still be considering a career in teaching that that they can use the CAO “change of mind” facility up to 1st July 2018.”  

Notes to Editors

Minister Bruton has already taken a number of measures to alleviate pressures in this area: 

  • The restriction on the number of days a teacher can work while on career break has been temporarily lifted.
  • Employers were reminded that “in considering applications for career breaks, the welfare and educational needs of the pupils shall take precedence over all other considerations and accordingly, must take account of the availability of appropriate qualified replacement teachers".
  • The number of students admitted to St, Angela's, Sligo, in the current year, to study the home economics programme has been increased.
  • As part of the policy on Gaeltacht education, the Minister has also made funding available for the provision of two additional posts tor the existing Irish medium post primary initial teacher education programme in NUIG and is increasing from 2018/19 the number of places available on the programme.
  • All teachers retiring in 2017 were informed that in order to remain eligible for employment in a state funded teaching post for a period of more than five consecutive days or to supervise the State examinations, they must maintain their registrations with the Teaching Council.

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