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Online backlash forces private school to withdraw JobBridge ads

The headmaster said he was not attempting to fill vacancies and was not as familiar with the debates around the scheme as he should have been.

Image: classroom image via Shutterstock

THE HEADMASTER OF a private school in Meath has taken down two JobBridge ads which were looking for language and sports teaching interns after an online backlash.

The fee-paying Headfort School in Kells placed advertisements on the scheme’s site looking for qualified teachers to work nine month internships.

A teaching qualification was required and successful applicants would have been expected to work a 40 hour week.

JobBridge interns receive €50 a week on top of their unemployment benefits.

The school faced a massive backlash online after the ads were posted on a Facebook page called Voices for Teachers.

“In all circumstances, JobBridge is exploitation but in this instance of a school which charges huge fees to the parents of its pupils but now wants to provide education via a teacher who will be paid €50 per week the level of exploitation is just staggering,” the post said.

Commenters on the page described it as “outrageous”, “unacceptable” and “crazy”.

Headmaster Dermot Dix soon took down the listings, telling users on the page that he is strongly opposed to any form of exploitation in schools.

In response to a query from TheJournal.ie he said he was not as familiar with the scheme and the debates around it as he should have been.

We actually don’t have vacancies as such – no teachers have left or retired, and our numbers have not gone up. I had thought it might be a way to give a young teacher some experience and have them serve a kind of internship that would benefit the kids. I certainly had no plan to put anyone to work for full-time and for little or nothing.

“We are definitely not trying to save money by hiring in this way; we have never used Jobbridge. I should have thought longer about the scheme and done more research,” he added.

He received a number of emails from unhappy teachers about the issue and after considering those and the opposition online he decided to withdraw the ads.

The Department of Social Protection said internships in schools must not, under any circumstances, cause an existing member of staff to be displaced from the school or be used to fill a current vacancy in the school.

The scheme can provide a mechanism for newly qualified teachers to accumulate classroom hours in cases where no approved teaching vacancy exists. Where a registered teacher is offered an internship he or she should obviously be appropriately qualified for the intended role.

“To prevent misuse of the scheme, the department has robust monitoring procedures in place to ensure that JobBridge does not displace jobs, that all internships are of high quality, to ensure all eligibility criteria are being met and that all host organisations, including schools, are fully compliant with the scheme guidelines,” it said.

Read: Fifty Dublin City Council JobBridge interns not employed at the end of placement>

Read: Poll: Is it time to scrap JobBridge?>

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