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Want to be a teacher? The Government has allocated an extra 280 third level places

Specific focus will be placed on science, technology, engineering and maths teachers.

Image: Shutterstock/Serhii Fedoruk

MINISTER FOR EDUCATION Richard Bruton has today announced an expansion of the number of places on post primary teacher education courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

The move follows claims by a Fianna Fáíl TD Thomas Byrne that a real crisis exists in the teaching sector and that the demand for substitute teachers is vastly exceeding supply at both primary and second-level and that there is a major challenge for schools in finding teachers with the right subject mixes.

The numbers graduating from post primary teacher education courses have remained steady over the past number of years but the number of students entering the education system is increasing and will continue to do so until 2025, according to Bruton.

He said that universities will increase the capacity on undergraduate initial teacher education programmes by an estimated 280 places this year. This will include an increase in priority areas such as science, technology, engineering, maths, Irish and foreign languages.

Announcing these new measures, Bruton said. “The quality of our teachers and school leaders is the number one factor which will influence the outcome for the child and we are very lucky in Ireland to have high quality teachers.

Some concerns have been raised recently around teacher supply issues. I have previously announced some measures to support schools in managing these issues, including expanding the number of days a teacher can work while on a career break. Today, I am taking further action by expanding the number of places on teacher education programmes with a heavy emphasis on certain subject areas at post primary level, to ensure that schools can get the right mix of subject teachers.

Fianna Fáíl’s education spokesperson Thomas Byrne said that teacher shortages will have serious ramifications in physics and Irish especially.

“Ongoing pay inequality has resulted in a recruitment and retention crisis for teachers and there are also major difficulties for schools in securing substitute teachers when required.”

Byrne’s stance is backed by Teachers Union of Ireland President Joanne Irwin, who said:

“All education stakeholders now acknowledge that there is an unprecedented crisis in the recruitment and retention of teachers. However, it is regrettable in the extreme, and foolish, that the government is still refusing to acknowledge or commit to the only guaranteed cure.

“Over recent months, there have been various suggestions of measures to attract teachers to particular subject areas, many of which would set a dangerous precedent of prioritising particular subjects based on the perceived and short-term needs of industry at a given moment in time. Most of these measures are no more than gimmicks and have not been fully thought out.”

Read: Dáil to be told there’s a ‘real crisis’ with physics and Irish teacher numbers >

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