One substitute primary school teacher last year received payments totalling €61,299, figures show.
According to figures released by the Department of Education, last year it paid out €160m in substitute and part-time hour payments to substitute teachers at primary, secondary, vocational, community and comprehensive schools.
The figures, released in response to a Freedom of Information request, show that primary substitute teachers received €114m in 2014 with secondary, vocational, community and comprehensive schools receiving €45.9m.
The spend last year represented a 6% drop on the €170m paid out in substitute payments in 2013 with €118.73m going to substitute primary teachers and €52.2m to substitute post primary teachers.
The top amount received by a substitute primary teacher last year was €61,299 followed by another teacher who received €56,796 along with five others who received in excess of €50,000.
In relation to post primary substitute teachers, the figures show that the top earning post primary substitute teacher last year was a teacher who received €49,063 with the second top earner receiving €49,035. Five other teachers received in excess of €45,000.
A spokesman for the INTO said yesterday that it is “highly likely that the payment of €61,299 to a substitute teacher at primary included a significant payment for arrears”.
He said: “Most substitutes at primary level are recently qualified teachers seeking longer term employment. The INTO has pressed schools to prioritise this group of teachers when looking for substitutes.”
He added: “On average primary teachers take five days absence from schools because of illness. INTO case work files indicate that roughly half of teachers on long-term sick leave are dealing with cancer diagnoses, treatment or recovery.”
The spokesman pointed out that “substitution payments at primary level mainly involve the payment of substitutes for teachers on maternity leave and sick leave. Substitution costs arise because children need to be taught on days a regular teacher is unavailable”.
The FOI unit points out that “substitute teachers are paid a daily casual rate for substitute work”.
The unit stated however that if a substitute teacher takes up a contract in a school to cover a maternity leave, s/he is also paid as a substitute teacher, but the contract is classed as non-casual and they are paid an agreed rate.
The FOI unit declined to disclose information identifying the county where the top earning substitute teachers work in “as the disclosure of this information may identify individuals”.
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