06 April, 2021 - Ministers Foley and Harris announce additional places on upskilling programmes for post-primary teachers in mathematics, physics and Spanish and new upskilling programme in Irish

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 additional places in 2022 on programmes to upskill registered post-primary teachers to teach mathematics, physics and Spanish and the intention to issue a call for a new upskilling programme in Irish.

Minister Foley said: "I am delighted to announce, with my colleague Minister Harris, additional places for next year’s intake to the current upskilling programmes in mathematics, physics and Spanish for teachers in post-primary schools.

"There has been intense interest from teachers in these programmes, and the number of applications for the programmes that began in January 2021 was significantly in excess of available places. I would like to applaud the great commitment and willingness of our teachers to increase their skills and knowledge to meet the needs of our schools and students.

"Our post-primary schools have highlighted teacher recruitment challenges in certain subject areas, including STEM and modern foreign languages but also in Irish. I am delighted to announce that a call will issue in the near future for a new programme to upskill post-primary teachers to teach Irish.

"These programmes will provide another channel for the supply of teachers to help meet the needs of our schools and students over the coming years in four key subjects; mathematics, physics, Spanish and Irish."

Minister Harris said:

"I am delighted that our higher education institutions have successfully commenced this new and innovative approach to provide upskilling opportunities for teachers and assist with addressing the challenges in schools for the supply of teachers in these subjects. I have no doubt that the HEIs will support the new call for the development of a programme to upskill teachers to teach Irish.

"The response from teachers to avail of these upskilling opportunities demonstrates their commitment and I look forward to our institutions supporting more initiatives to address the demand in our schools in key subject areas."

In accordance with the Teacher Supply Action Plan, in November 2020 Minister Foley and Minister Harris announced new upskilling programmes for post-primary teachers in mathematics, physics and Spanish.

Following a funding call to the higher education institutions, managed by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on behalf of the Department of Education, three level 8 programmes were 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 are provided free of charge and prioritised for teachers who are unemployed, not in full employment, and those teaching the subject "out of field".

Each programme is run over two years on a part-time basis and 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.

Funding is being provided by the Department of Education to support two intakes of students, in January 2021 and January 2022. Applications to programmes for January 2021 significantly exceeded the number of places available. Given that these subjects are still challenging in terms of filling teaching vacancies, the Department of Education intends to fund additional places on these programmes for the second intake of students in January 2022.

The numbers of additional places have not yet been finalised and will be subject to the capacities of the relevant HEIs to accommodate additional teachers on the programmes and to available funding. The Department of Education intends to engage with the relevant HEIs in the coming weeks in order to progress this matter.

Further information on the programmes is 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

The work being undertaken to ensure that the supply of teachers meets the requirements of our schools and students is continuing and, accordingly, the Department of Education also intends that a call will issue to HEIs in the near future for a programme to upskill registered post-primary teachers to meet Teaching Council curricular subject requirements in Irish, as this is also a subject in which some schools report significant difficulties in filling teaching vacancies.

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.

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 adviser 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.

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 of Education 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 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 are 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 is intended to 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 are 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. The first cohort commenced in January 2021 and the second will commence in January 2022. The programmes will therefore operate for a three year period in total.

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 an external evaluation.