94% of schools experienced teacher recruitment difficulties in the last six months

Almost half of schools have teaching vacancies and more than nine-out-of-10 principals reported recruitment difficulties in the last six months.

A survey of principals and deputy principals in 120 secondary schools has shone a light on the extent of recruitment and retention difficulties in Irish schools.

The survey was carried out by the Principals and Deputy Principals' Association of the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) and has been revealed as its two-day congress begins in Killarney tomorrow.

The TUI said the findings show the urgent need for the completion of the pay equalisation process. Findings include :

  • 94% of schools experienced teacher recruitment difficulties in the last six months
  • 63% of schools experienced teacher retention difficulties in the last six months
  • 68% of schools advertised positions to which no teacher applied over the last six months
  • 47% of schools have unfilled teaching vacancies

Irish is the subject area in which the most severe recruitment and retention difficulties are experienced. Home economics, French, maths, Spanish, physics, construction studies, biology, chemistry and English are also identified in the survey.

Seamus Lahart, TUI President, said the findings make it clear that the current pay gaps in teaching are having a damaging effect when it comes to attracting new people to the sector.

"Schools in both urban and rural areas are routinely struggling to attract applicants to fill vacant positions," Mr Lahart said.

Graduates who might formerly have chosen teaching are now looking at other options. Progress has been made in terms of addressing pay discrimination, but as the biggest inequalities are experienced in the first few years following initial appointment, the two-tier system continues to have a significant negative effect on the attractiveness of the profession and on the recruitment and retention of teachers.

Mr Lahart said the solution is to eradicate the pay differences in the sector. Failing to do so will cause the issue to worsen in the coming years, he added.

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