KEVIN CARBERRY is one of hundreds of students who will face the dole or emigration this summer because his teaching qualifications may not be good enough to secure work in Irish primary schools.
About 2,000 trainee primary teachers will graduate in the next few months but hundreds of experienced teachers who lose their jobs at primary schools this year, because of government cuts in school staffing, are likely to pick up whatever jobs become available in schools with big increases in pupil numbers.
The reversal of fortunes in the sector is stark since Kevin, from Longford town, started his degree course at St Patrick’s College in Dublin in late 2006, along with more than 400 others.
“For a couple of years before we did the Leaving Certificate, the big buzz was all around promises of smaller class sizes, and the Government was looking to bring down pupil teacher ratios. Naturally, I was thinking this means teaching will be a good, safe job,” he said.
“Then last October, we were all shocked when we heard after the budget that teaching jobs were cut. Most of the class who graduated last year have still not got permanent jobs, so it looks like we’ll have little enough chance,” said Kevin.
Many of his classmates have already applied to go to the US or Canada, where they would still have to do a postgraduate course to qualify to teach.
Kevin, meanwhile, is keeping his fingers crossed and preparing to start sending out his CV when most schools with teaching jobs start advertising later next month.
“I know it’s going to be really hard but the only hope is to get my foot in the door somewhere, or maybe even some substitution work during the next school year,” he said.
He is just finishing his last three-week teaching practice at Virgin Mary Boys’ School in Ballymun, in Dublin’s northside.
“I still want to be a teacher, I love working with the kids, but I know the chances of getting a job this summer are fairly slim,” he said.
Most of this year’s 2,000 newly qualified teachers will graduate in the next few months from St Patrick’s College and Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, with groups also being conferred this year by Marino, Froebel and Church of Ireland education colleges in Dublin, and Hibernia College, which offers online postgraduate teaching qualifications.
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