21 January,2019 - Minister McHugh welcomes fifth regional teacher supply focus group taking place in Letterkenny today

The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. today (Monday January 21st) welcomed the fifth teacher supply regional focus group to be held under the Teacher Supply Action Plan, which the Minister launched in November 2018.

The development of the Action 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 the recruitment of teachers in certain specific subject areas, such as STEM, modern languages, Irish and home economics is proving difficult.

Tonight’s event, which is being held in Letterkenny, will provide an opportunity for principals, teachers and parents in the North West to consider and respond to the Action Plan and to contribute new ideas.  It is intended to have representation from post-primary school students and student teachers at separate focus groups later this year.  The students will be given the opportunity to voice their concerns and make recommendations in relation to teacher supply.

Minister McHugh said: “Addressing the current and future challenges in teacher supply is a national priority which also has a regional dimension. Finding solutions to these challenges will require the input and cooperation of stakeholders at all levels and I wish to acknowledge the invaluable contribution already made by our many stakeholders to date. Tonight’s event is an opportunity for teachers and parents at grassroots level to contribute to our understanding of the issues and to contribute to the solutions we require.” 

This is the last in a series of five regional focus groups with others having taken place in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Kilkenny. 

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 school management bodies, senior nominees of the HEA, the Teaching Council, the Irish Universities Association and the HEIs and an independent expert.

Consultative forums will 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 took place on Thursday 8 November in the Davenport Hotel, Dublin. A number of regional focus group meetings have taken place over the coming months.

The Action plan 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.