04 November, 2020 – Minister Foley and Minister Harris announce new upskilling programmes for post-primary teachers in mathematics, physics and Spanish

The Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD are delighted to announce the launch of a new initiative that will see three new education programmes to upskill registered post-primary teachers to teach mathematics, physics and Spanish.

Following from the Teacher Supply Action Plan, the Department of Education requested the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to manage, on its behalf, a funding call to the higher education institutions for proposals for upskilling programmes for post-primary teachers. At the end of this process, three level 8 programmes were recommended for funding by an external panel appointed by the HEA. These new programmes are targeted at registered post-primary teachers. Each programme will enable participants to meet the Council’s curricular subject requirements in either mathematics, physics or Spanish. On graduation from the programme participants will be able to register to teach the new subject at the highest level in post-primary education.

Minister Foley said:

“I am delighted to announce, with my colleague Minister Harris, the establishment of these innovative new upskilling programmes.

“Our post-primary schools have highlighted teacher recruitment challenges in certain subject areas, including STEM and modern foreign languages. These programmes will support the supply of teachers to meet the needs of our schools and students over the coming years in three key subject areas, mathematics, physics and Spanish.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the higher education institutions for coming forward with these approaches to help improve teacher supply in these subject areas and the HEA for their management of this process on behalf of my Department.

“This is an exciting opportunity for teachers to upskill in a flexible way with no fee cost, to increase their own opportunities for employment whilst addressing recruitment challenges in these subject areas. I would urge strongly any registered post-primary teacher with a potential interest in these subject areas to look into these programmes and assess their options further with the relevant HEIs.”

Minister Harris said:

“I am delighted with the response from our higher education institutions in coming forward with innovative approaches to provide upskilling opportunities for teachers through these programmes. I want to commend all the institutions that responded to the HEA call.

“The recommended proposals are of the highest quality and I am confident that participants will, over the two years of the programme, be empowered to become effective and enthusiastic teachers of these subjects.

“I look forward to seeing these new upskilling programmes up and running. Both the Department of Education and my department will view these with great interest as potential templates for future initiatives to address the demand in our schools for subject teachers as needs are identified.”

Dr Alan Wall, Chief Executive of the HEA said this is another great example of flexibility by our higher education institutions: “Building on the track record of our HEIs in providing quality upskilling programmes, the initiative provides a great professional learning opportunity for teachers and highlights the collaboration across the education continuum.”

Following the call process, three level 8 programmes have been selected for funding, as follows:

 

  • Professional Diploma for Teaching Physics: DCU (lead institution), UL and NUIG
  • Higher Diploma in Spanish for Teaching (Post-Primary): UCC
  • Professional Diploma in Mathematics for Teaching: UL (lead institution), NUIG, DCU, TUD, CIT, LYIT and WIT

 

The programmes are open to registered post-primary teachers irrespective of employment status. Teachers cannot already be registered in the subject in which they are intending to upskill. Other than a deposit, refundable to the participating teacher on completion of the programme, places will be provided free of charge and prioritised for teachers who are unemployed, not in full employment, and those teaching the subject “out of field”.

Funding is being made available to support two intakes of students, commencing in January 2021 with the second intake in January 2022. In total the Department of Education intends to invest approximately €3m in these programmes over the next few years. Approximately 160 places will be provided for in each intake across the three programmes.

The programmes will run over two years on a part-time basis and will be delivered in a flexible and innovative fashion, so as to ensure the best opportunity for teachers to participate, including those in partial or full employment and to facilitate participation of teachers on a national scale. Programmes are designed so that participation should not impact on class contact time for currently serving teachers. For those teachers employed or considering seeking employment in Irish-medium schools, the mathematics and physics upskilling programmes will also be provided through the medium of Irish.

The application processes will open shortly and applications should be made directly to the appropriate HEI. Further information on the programmes and the application processes, including closing dates for applications, are available at the following links:

  • Professional Diploma for Teaching Physics link
  • Higher Diploma in Spanish for Teaching (Post-Primary) link
  • Professional Diploma in Mathematics for Teaching:  link

ENDS

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 includes members of the Department’s senior management team, the Director of the Teaching Council, senior representatives of HEIs, school management bodies and the HEA, 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 Teacher Supply Action Plan is available here: link

Upskilling programmes

Following from an action in the Teacher Supply Action Plan, the Department requested the HEA to manage, on its behalf, a funding call to initial teacher education providers for proposals for upskilling programmes for teachers in mathematics, physics, and Spanish. Following the call process, three level 8 programmes were recommended for funding, as follows:

  • Professional Diploma for Teaching Physics: DCU (lead institution), UL and NUIG
  • Higher Diploma in Spanish for Teaching (Post-Primary): UCC
  • Professional Diploma in Mathematics for Teaching:  UL (lead institution), NUIG, DCU, TUD, CIT, LYIT and WIT

The programmes will upskill registered post-primary teachers to meet Teaching Council curricular subject requirements in the targeted subjects and allow them register to teach the subject at the highest level.

The programmes are part-time and will be delivered in a flexible and innovative fashion, so as to ensure the best opportunity for applicants to participate, including those in partial or full employment and to facilitate participation of teachers on a national scale. The manner in which the participants experience the course content should reflect how they should teach and facilitate learning in their own classrooms. Participation on the programmes should not impact on class contact time for serving teachers.

The programmes are open to registered post-primary teachers irrespective of employment status. Places will be provided free of charge to participating teachers and prioritised for the unemployed, those not in full employment, and those teaching the subject “out of field”.

The programmes are of two years duration and will be delivered to two cohorts of students, with the first cohort commencing in January 2021 and the second in January 2022. The programmes will therefore operate for a three year period in total. It is intended that each cohort will consist of 160 teachers approximately.

The projected cost of the three programmes over the three years of their implementation, including evaluation and administrative costs, is approximately €3m. Programme costs will be met from the Department of Education’s vote. 

The Department proposes to engage an external evaluator to conduct a formative and summative evaluation of the implementation and outcomes of the programmes. It is intended that the evaluation will be ongoing throughout the operation of the programmes and for a period thereafter in order to allow a comprehensive evaluation of the programme outcomes.

A steering group, composed of representatives of the Department and the Teaching Council, is being established to oversee the implementation and operation of the programmes and the external evaluation. The steering group will be supported in its work by 3 sub-groups in each of the subject areas, which will include representatives of the Department and the various HEIs.