26 September,2019 - Minister McHugh announces new primary schools supply panel scheme

Up to 90 schools in six areas in Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Cork and Galway targeted under a new initiative to ease supply pressure for substitute vacancies at primary level

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. has today (Thursday 26 September) announced six panels to be created around the country to help answer demand for substitute teachers.

As part of the pilot programme up to 18 teachers will be hired on full-time contracts to work across school clusters in north and south Dublin, Co Kildare, Co Meath, Cork city and Co Galway.

It is intended that around 15 schools will be in each cluster with up to 90 schools benefitting from the initiative.

Minister McHugh first called for the creation of supply panels at the annual conference of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) last January.

“My ambition to see substitute teacher supply panels set up on a regional basis was in direct response to the staffing difficulties I’ve heard about from teachers, principals and management bodies in primary schools,” the Minister said.

“It is about trying to find clever and efficient ways of giving a qualified teacher security of work and ensuring they fill as many vacancies across a number of schools. It is possible now thanks to better use of simple technology which allows schools to work more closely and respond immediately.”

The supply panels focus on Dublin, Galway and Cork and the commuter belts in Kildare and Meath.

The areas were selected based on data which demonstrates they have the highest levels of unmet substitute cover in the country.

Minister McHugh said: “I want to thank the principals and the schools for taking on the role of the base school. Their role will be key to its success.”

The six base schools for the panels are:

  • Scoil Chroí Naofa, Athenry, Co Galway
  • Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Alainn, Montenotte, Cork
  • Scoil Bhríde, Leixlip, Co Kildare
  • Ard Rí CNS, Navan, Co Meath
  • St David's NS, Artane, Dublin 5
  • Presentation Primary School, Terenure, Dublin 6W

The pilot scheme will see up to 18 teachers hired on full-time contracts and employed by a base school. The teachers will be available to work in the other schools participating in the substitute teacher cluster as and when need arises.

The scheme will be reviewed towards the end of the 2019/20 school year.

Minister McHugh said: “I am now asking all participating schools to actively engage with this pilot scheme to ensure that these new substitute panels work for the benefit of schools and their students.

“The schools in the cluster should work together to get the best from this initiative. The schools are being given an additional resource and I want to see it become an effective solution to the challenges being faced.”

Here are some of the details of the pilot scheme for substitute teacher supply panels:

  • Two substitute teacher supply panels will operate in Dublin (north and south) along with one each in Kildare, Meath, Cork and Galway over the 2019/20 school year. These locations that have been identified as having the greatest challenge in terms of sourcing substitute teachers.
  • It is intended that each supply panel cluster will consist of at least 15 schools with up to three teachers assigned to each cluster on a full-time basis.
  • All of the supply panel teachers will be recruited and employed by the base school/ ETB, on a full-time fixed-term contract.
  • If a substitute is not required on a given day in the cluster, the supply panel teacher must make him/herself available through the substitute teacher recruitment portal to cover short-term absences in schools outside the cluster.
  • The scheme will be reviewed towards the end of the 2019/20 school year to determine whether it will be continued in 2020/21.
  • The teachers will be assigned to schools in the cluster to provide substitution as required.
  • Clusters include a broad cross-section of school types, including urban and rural schools.


Notes for Editors

(a) Steering Group on Teacher Supply: The Steering Group on Teacher Supply is leading on a programme of actions to address concerns about the supply of teachers. The Steering Group is chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills. The Group held its first meeting on 26 March 2018.

(b) Teacher Supply Structures: The Steering Group leads on the identification of issues, the development of a programme of actions on teacher supply and oversees 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.

(c) Teacher Supply Action Plan: The Teacher Supply 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 to date include:

  • Agreement with higher education institutions for additional four-year undergraduate post-primary initial teacher education programmes for 2019/20 and 2020/19, including in targeted subjects.
  • The HEA is engaging with HEIs to explore the development of programmes to upskill existing teachers in targeted subject areas and to examine potential for flexible ITE programmes as well as programmes to support teachers not currently in the labour force to return to teaching.
  • Additional funding of €1m for the Student Assistance Fund for Professional Master of Education students for 2019/20.
  • The Teaching Council has commenced a review of the implementation of student teacher school placement guidelines.
  • A national consultative forum for stakeholders and six focus groups for teachers, principals and parents and student teachers have been held, to gather feedback to inform actions.
  • “Teaching Transforms” campaign (digital, radio and video) launched to promote the teaching profession, supported by a new dedicated webpage providing signposting to initial teacher education providers and other relevant information.
  • The development of an online teacher recruitment portal is being explored. As a first step, a central portal for short term substitute vacancies is being developed by IPPN/NAPD. It is intended that this portal will be operational over the 2019/20 school year. This will be available to all teachers available to work as substitutes in any part of the country and provide benefits to schools that will be able to access teachers available for substitute work in their area.


A copy of the Teacher Supply Action Plan is available here:  


Further information on the scheme is available here: