Training of teachers in 22 colleges is excessive and wasteful, says Quinn

The training of teachers in 22 different colleges is wasteful in a country this size, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has said.

He told TDs and senators there are too many courses doing the same thing, particularly when compared to other countries. There are five colleges providing training for primary teachers and 17 others offer courses for second-level teaching.

Mr Quinn told the Oireachtas Education Committee his officials have looked at international best practice. The minister cited the example of Singapore, which he said has a similar population but just one institution to train teachers.

In Finland, which he said is often benchmarked for its education excellence, there are eight. “We think there’s something like 40 different courses being provided in education across the system.

“The duplication is excessive and the cost is wasteful in my view, in that we could perhaps give better co-ordination,” Mr Quinn said.

A review has begun with an initial discussion paper being prepared by former University College Cork deputy president Professor Áine Hyland and former Teaching Council director Áine Lawlor.

Three international experts will also be appointed to draw up a report on the training infrastructure.

The committee later heard Mr Quinn’s officials respond to concerns raised in February by Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan about systems for schools to handle complaints on behalf of pupils and parents.

Committee chairman Damien English said officials could not answer questions about specific cases after a member raised the case reported this week about a girl who was refused a place at St Joseph’s College in Borrisoleigh, Co Tipperary because she was pregnant.

Without referring specifically to it, Department of Education general secretary Seán Ó Foghlú said: “We’re massively concerned about this sort of issue. We don’t think that it’s appropriate, the minister doesn’t think that it’s appropriate.”

He said it is proposed to find ways to address such issues in planned legislation. He said the department is also considering section 28 of the 1998 Education Act’s provisions, which allows the minister to set procedures for schools to use when dealing with grievances.

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