19 December, 2019 - Minister McHugh announces funding call for programmes to support teachers to upskill in subjects

HEA issues call to higher education institutions to develop courses for existing teachers to qualify to teach mathematics, Spanish and physics


Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. has today (Thursday 19 December) welcomed a call for universities and colleges to create new programmes/courses for registered post-primary teachers to upskill.

The proposals are sought by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to enable teachers to qualify to teach an additional subject in mathematics, Spanish or physics.

Teachers undertaking the new programmes will not have to pay fees.

The courses are intended to offer teachers a route to upskill to meet the Teaching Council’s curricular subject requirements in mathematics, Spanish and physics.

Minister McHugh said: “The initiative to start new programmes to help teachers to upskill is responding to the concerns of post-primary schools and management bodies. We know there are difficulties recruiting teachers in some subject areas but this is an opportunity for teachers to upskill free of charge and in a flexible way.

“I urge our higher education institutions to come forward with proposals to provide innovative approaches that will work for teachers.

“There is a strong need for these new programmes to be offered to build capacity for teachers to deliver these subjects in Irish medium settings and I would encourage institutions to come forward with proposals on that front.”

The HEA call is being made on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills and will be open to third level institutions that have primary or post-primary ITE programmes accredited by the Teaching Council.

Full proposals are to be submitted no later than 2nd March 2020.

It is intended that the programmes will be open to already qualified and registered post-primary teachers and they will be offered on a part-time, flexible basis. Participating teachers will not have to pay fees.

The HEA is seeking proposals to upskill teachers to teach in Irish-medium as well as English medium settings.

A panel of independent experts will assess the proposals and make recommendations to the Department of Education and Skills for final decision.

The initial intention is to have two intakes for the upskilling programmes, with the first intake in the 2020 calendar year.



Notes for editors

Teacher Supply

Post-primary school management bodies have reported shortages of teachers in particular subject areas, including STEM and modern foreign languages, as well as difficulties in recruiting substitute teachers generally.

Steering Group on Teacher Supply: The Steering Group on Teacher Supply is leading the development of a programme of actions on teacher supply and overseeing its implementation.

The Steering Group is chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills and includes members of the Department’s senior management team, the CEO of the HEA, the Director of the Teaching Council, senior representatives of HEIs and school management bodies, the Minister’s advisor and an independent expert.

Teacher Supply Structures: The Teacher Supply Implementation Group supports the work of the steering group. The Implementation Group is in turn supported in its work by a number of working groups which consider and report on particular issues. The HEA is represented on the implementation group and several of the working groups.

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.


The call from the HEA to the HEIs follows from one of the actions in the Action Plan.

Other Actions to date include:

  • The “Teaching Transforms” campaign (digital and radio) is ongoing to promote the teaching profession, supported by a dedicated webpage.
  • The Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) and the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) recently launched Sub Seeker, an on-line service to match available teachers with short term substitute vacancies in schools.
  • Following engagement with the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the higher education institutions (HEIs) have put in place new post-primary initial teacher education undergraduate programmes in 2019 in a number of priority subject areas. These have been reviewed and accredited by the Teaching Council. More new programmes are also planned to commence in September 2020.
  • The Teaching Council has reviewed the implementation of student teacher school placement guidelines.
  • Stakeholder consultative forums and focus groups for teachers, principals, parents, student teachers and school students have been held with further engagements planned over the coming school year to inform policy to address teacher supply challenges.
  • Substitute teacher supply panels for primary schools are operating on a pilot basis for 2019/20 in six locations that have been identified as experiencing a significant challenge in recruiting substitute teachers (two panels in Dublin and one each in Kildare, Meath, Cork and Galway)
  • The Department published Circular 0015/2019 with details of a new teacher sharing scheme for post-primary schools. The scheme is intended to enhance curricular choice in schools and support young teachers in obtaining full time employment.

The Teacher Supply Action Plan is available here:


More information on the HEA call is available here: