THE teachers of the future gave Education Minister Ruairi Quinn a clear message that they do not want to pay for the sins of the past as he arrived to address their union.
The group of recently-qualified teachers protested at the Sligo hotel about reduced pay and pensions for new teachers since January and difficulties with getting substitution cover or any other work. Many were most angry about the use of retired teachers and unqualified people by schools as substitutes.
The Irish Examiner revealed yesterday that more than 900 retired people taught in primary schools between last September and the end of February — 43 of them for at least 50 days. It has also emerged that hundreds of unqualified teachers are still being used by schools for substitution cover despite growing numbers of teaching graduates seeking work.
“I’ve nothing against retired teachers and when there was a shortage of teachers a few years ago, that was no problem. But preference should be given now to qualified teachers who are out of work,” said Laura Carolan from Drogheda, Co Louth.
She completed an 18-month higher diploma in education at Coláiste Mhuire Marino in Dublin last May but only got one interview after replying to dozens of job advertisements. The 29-year-old relies on substitution cover from local schools, usually at very short notice, and said she doesn’t even know if she will have any work next week.
TJ Clare sees completely different career prospects to when he started a Bachelor of Education degree at St Patrick’s College in Dublin after his Leaving Certificate in 2008, particularly in terms of pay. Like all public servants, new entrants from this year will be on salaries 10% below those for existing workers, but changes to the entry rate mean the difference will be closer to 16% for teachers.
“There’s bound to be a split in staff rooms with us younger teachers coming in on different pay and pensions. A lot of people finishing college soon are looking at options of teaching abroad or taking a career break because they can’t see their immediate future in this profession,” he said.
“There should be some regulation to sanction the numbers going into teacher training so there’s a more realistic number coming out to match the job opportunities,” said TJ from Athy, Co Kildare.
Mr Quinn has already told the Irish Examiner he will legislate to restrict schools from using retired teachers except in limited circumstances. But he said yesterday it was members of the INTO, as the school principals, who are hiring teachers for substitution cover, particularly retirees.
“We have to work to get a system that ensures qualified teachers and those who are not retired are the people who get those positions. The way forward is a matter for negotiation with unions and management bodies but part of the solution lies with school patrons and principals,” he said.
INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan said we are already paying billions in interest to other countries for the bad loans of the banks and we don’t have to give them our brightest graduates and our young, talented and enthusiastic teachers.
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