08 November, 2018 - Minister McHugh publishes Teacher Supply Action Plan

The Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh T.D, today (Thursday November 8th) published the Teacher Supply Action Plan.

The development of the range of actions contained in the plan was led by the Teacher Supply Steering Group, chaired by the Secretary General of the Department, in recognition of the significant challenges for some schools experience in recruiting teachers. At primary level, the recruitment of substitute teachers is problematic while at post primary recruitment of teachers in certain specific subject areas, such as STEM, modern languages, Irish and home economics is proving difficult.

Minister McHugh acknowledged that he is aware of the various challenges for schools, the level of curricular change which is compounded with difficulties in recruiting teachers. He said, “We have to find innovative ways to resolve the issue of teacher supply. There are many Irish teachers all over the world who would happily return home and we need to explore better engagement with the diaspora and find convenient ways for them, through the use of digital technology, to avail of online recruitment processes.

Addressing the current and future challenges in teacher supply is a national priority. Recent developments to improve learner outcomes in our education system and to ensure learners are equipped for 21st Century living have included new curriculum initiatives such as computer science, and the introduction of STEM and foreign language strategies. These developments coupled with the increase in student numbers at second level will require an adequate supply of appropriately qualified teachers in the coming years, particularly at post-primary level, to meet the needs of the system. This is a major task which will require cooperation from all stakeholders.”

Minister McHugh said “I wish to acknowledge the invaluable contribution made, by our many stakeholders, in the development of this, the first teacher supply action plan.  I very much welcome the complementary strands and actions and look forward to getting feedback from stakeholders at the national and regional consultation fora planned for the coming weeks.” 

A number of key actions in the plan aim to address the numbers of teacher graduates and the HEA has been working with the Teaching Council and the Department of Education and Skills to examine how the Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) can respond to the needs of the school system. The HEA has advised that the number of available places for first year students on post primary initial teacher education programmes, in state funded HEIs, in the current year is 1650 approximately, rising to over 1900 in 2019, an increase of over 400 from 2017. These include places on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and a number of new programmes that are being proposed by HEIs to address key priority subject areas, including mathematics, foreign languages and Irish.

Speaking about the plan Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “We need to ensure that we have an adequate supply of appropriately qualified teachers in the system in the coming years and I am very happy to see that the Higher Education Institutes are responding positively with increased places and the development of new programmes. Collaboration across the education system is important to ensure that we continue to provide the best possible experience for learners at all levels.”

Minister McHugh added, “We will only succeed in addressing the challenges of teacher supply in the immediate and longer term if we continue to work together and seek to identify and implement flexible and innovative approaches to ensure that we meet the future needs of our schools, our teachers and our children”.

Notes for Editors

 

A copy of the Teacher Supply Action Plan is available here: https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Education-Reports/teacher-supply-action-plan.pdf

  

(a) Establishment of the Steering Group

The Steering Group on Teacher Supply is leading on a programme of actions to address concerns about the supply of teachers.  The Group held its first meeting on 26 March 2018.

(b) Methodology

The Steering Group leads on the identification of issues, the development of a programme of actions on teacher supply and will oversee its implementation. 

An Implementation Group supports the work of the Steering Group.

The Group is also supported in its work by a number of working groups which consider and report on particular issues. The working groups report to the Implementation Group.

Consultation with partners and stakeholders will be a central feature of the way the Steering Group works.

The work is supported by a dedicated secretariat within the Department. 

The Steering Group will:

  • Evaluate Policy initiatives both for short-term and longer term implementation to respond to constraints in the system which have been already identified, and others which it identifies in the course of its work on teacher supply and demand
  • Oversee a programme of actions for implementation by the Department of Education & Skills, its agencies and Higher Education Institutions together with identified targets, outcomes and timeframes.
  • Provide direction and governance for the programme of actions and be the escalation point for the resolution of any difficulties
  • Provide a forum for the discussion of significant issues which impact on demand and supply and how these can be best progressed  
  • Develop a consultation and communication strategy

 

The Steering Group is chaired by the Secretary General of the Department and includes members of the Department’s Management Board, representatives of the School Management bodies, senior nominees of the HEA, the Teaching Council, the Irish Universities Association and the HEIs and an independent expert.

  

Consultative forums are planned to ensure that all stakeholders are kept aware of the measures being considered and implemented and to facilitate their input and participation.

The first consultative forum will take place on Thursday 8 November in the Davenport Hotel, Dublin. A number of regional focus group meetings are also planned to take place before the end of the year.

The Action plan being published today contains a range of priority actions identified through the work of the Steering Group and engagement with stakeholders.   These actions are classified under four broad headings:

  • Data collection and analysis
  • Promotion of the teaching profession
  • Higher education policy
  • Policies and arrangements for schools and teachers that impact on teacher supply and demand

Actions include:

  • Developing, with the support of the Government Information Service, a campaign to promote the teaching profession
  • The development of new four year undergraduate programmes to train post primary teachers and increased student numbers on postgraduate programmes in post primary priority subject areas.
  • Review of School Placement Guidelines
  • Teachers on career breaks to be allowed for the 2018/19 school year to take up employment without a restriction, to support the supply of substitute teachers.
  • Development of a recruitment portal for teachers