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Dublin: 19 °C Friday 31 October, 2014

Teacher shortage in new subjects as second-level student numbers to rise

School principals said they need to start planning now to ensure that teachers are qualified to teach the subjects that are in demand.

THERE COULD BE a shortage of teachers to deal with the increasing student population, warns the the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD).

The group states that by 2020, there will be 10,000 extra second-level students – an increase of 15 per cent. The principals said they are concerned that teacher resources will not be able to deal with the increase and are calling on the Department of Education to begin planning immediately.

They NAPD said they are also concerned that there may not be enough teachers to meet the increased in demand for certain subjects. They said that due to the lack of data about the numbers of teachers set to retire in the next few years, and the subjects they teach, they said they are in the dark about where the resources need to be targeted in the future.

Shortage

They added that for those reasons, in addition to the increase in student numbers, means that there is a risk that there will be a shortage of teachers trained to teach particular subjects.

In addition to the pressure of staff, they said that resources will also be stretched further with the predicted increase, adding that ICT resources in many schools, such as the lack of Wi-Fi, will become more of a problem with the increase in student numbers.

Speaking about the issue, Clive Byrne, Director at NAPD said while the Department of Education has attempted to tackle the problem by building more schools, expanding existing schools and by recruiting additional teachers, he said the problem goes further than that, stating that is essential that there is the correct match between subjects taught at second level and having the right numbers of teachers to teach those subjects.

Resources

“Ireland is becoming a leading player in the development of IT products and services. For this leading position to be sustained and grow, we need sufficient numbers of teachers to teach the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths at secondary level,” he said.

He said that with the reform in the Junior Certificate cycle, with courses like philosophy, politics, web-design and Chinese being introduced, the department needed to ensure that there is enough qualified teachers in these subjects.

Byrne added:

In short, we must have the right teachers qualified to teach the right subjects. As 2020 draws closer it must be an immediate priority to begin planning for this challenge now.

Read: Schools ‘cannot be run’ on current level of funding>

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