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Over 600 extra teaching course places to be added over the next two years

Norma Foley said the move was one of number of measures taken to address the high demand for teachers.

MINISTER FOR EDUCATION Norma Foley has announced the approval of 610 additional places on primary initial teacher education (ITE) college courses over the next two years.

Following engagement with the four higher education institutions providing initial teacher education, the minister has approved 610 additional places with 320 of these coming on stream in 2023, and the remaining 290 in 2024.

This will bring the total number of course places across the three programmes to over 1,500 by 2025.

The announcement comes as the government aims to tackle teacher shortages, having recently announced that teachers who qualified outside of the country will be allowed to register and complete their induction in Ireland for a limited time.

Teachers and unions hit out at Foley last year over plans that her department was reportedly considering ending career breaks for teachers in order to keep more of them in schools.

One teacher told The Journal: “I can’t understand why Norma Foley would say ‘let’s get rid of career breaks for teachers,’ and think that will make people want to be a teacher.”

90 additional places will be added on Bachelor in Education programmes this year and in 2024, bringing the total of B.Ed places to 1,090 each year.

30 additional places will be created for the Bachelor in Education through the Medium of Irish in September 2023, doubling the current number of places.

These 30 places will be added to the Marino Institute of Education for the 2023/24 academic year only, the Department of Education has confirmed.

200 more places on the Professional Master of Education (Primary Teaching) (PME) programme in 2023 and 2024 will be added.

Minister Foley said today:

“Primary school teaching remains a very popular career option, both for students leaving school, and people turning to teaching mid-career. Over successive Budgets we have been successful in increasing the number of teaching posts available in our schools, bringing the pupil: teacher ratio down to its lowest ever level, growing the number of DEIS schools and increasing the number of home school liaison and special education posts.”

“All of this, combined with the growth in student numbers in recent months have contributed to a high demand for primary school teachers. I wish to acknowledge the higher education institutions’ commitment to this increased number of students on the Primary B.Ed., B.Oid. and Primary PME programmes.”

“This is in addition to a number of measures taken and underway which are intended to address current challenges in the area of teacher supply in primary and post-primary schools. I and my Department continue to work collaboratively with the education partners to ensure teacher supply.”

The extra course places will be created at Dublin City University, Mary Immaculate College, Marino Institute of Education and Maynooth University.

A Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) survey found that 91% of post-primary schools experienced recruitment difficulties in the past six months, while 61% reported problems with teacher retention.

The number of students admitted to education programmes is determined by the Department of Education, depending on current teacher supply and demand issues, and available resources. 

The department stated that teacher demand has been increasing partly due to the extension of DEIS status to 322 additional schools from September, increased provision for students with special educational needs, along with the enrolment of over 9,300 Ukrainian pupils.

It is anticipated that demand for primary teachers over the next number of years will exceed previous expectations, the department said. 

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