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Dublin: 6°C Friday 25 September 2020

A typical student teacher here is a high-achieving, socially advantaged, white Irish woman

Demand for student teacher positions is still high despite ongoing industrial action over newly-qualified pay.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

A NEW STUDY conducted on behalf of the Irish Teaching Council has shown how demand for teaching places remains high despite challenges in the sector.

This week, 70% of secondary schools were shut for two days as the ASTI demanded equal pay for their younger colleagues starting their careers.

Yet, the study found that inequality in the pay structure for new teachers has not deterred those applying for places in teaching colleges nationwide.

The main point from the report was that the teaching profession continues to attract high-achievers while diversity remains a challenge.

Half of three and four-year-olds attend nursery without qualified teachers Changes to the Leaving Certificate structure will mean fewer people from disadvantaged areas will get the chance to teach, it is claimed. Source: Dominic Lipinski/PA

The study found:

  • Still high demand for both primary and post-primary programmes.
  • Only health-related courses are more popular for CAO applicants.
  • A significant proportion of those who enter teaching courses got 500 or more in the Leaving Cert.
  • Entrants to primary and post-primary courses are disproportionately female, though slightly less so at post-primary level.
  • Students who enter primary teacher courses are more likely to be socially advantaged than those on other higher education courses.
  • They are less likely to have attended a disadvantaged school, to be in receipt of a higher education grant, to be non-Irish or to have entered through an alternative route (such as FETAC).

In response to potential concerns about teacher quality, there have been proposals to change the entry criteria used for selecting student teachers in Ireland.

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Higher grades would now be required in maths, Irish and English which, the report said, would drastically reduce the number of school leavers eligible for teaching courses and would particularly reduce entry rates among more disadvantaged groups.

One of the report authors, Dr Merike Darmody, said: 

Despite challenges experienced by the teaching profession in recent years, teaching as a profession continues to be popular among young people in Ireland and entrants are generally high achievers.

“However, there is a need to consider entry routes that recognise the current lack of diversity in the teaching profession in  Ireland and promote this career path among members of communities that are traditionally under-represented in teaching.”

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