Warning over prioritising part-time teachers

Schools or other employers who fail to prioritise part-time teachers to fill vacancies face the prospect of being named and shamed by a teacher union.

Warning over prioritising part-time teachers

Delegates at the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) annual congress in Killarney passed a motion in favour of publishing an annual list of employers that fail to augment the hours of low-hours teachers before advertising vacancies.

The union said around one third of teachers are on part-time contracts, rising to half for those aged under 35.

TUI vice-president Joanne Irwin highlighted an example of a young female teacher trying to survive on a contract of six hours a week stretched over five days. She could not afford to move closer to the school, so had to travel by public transport to be in the building in the hope that substitution work would become available.

“Her dreadful story deeply affected me because I once stood in her shoes. I know exactly how she feels because I started off on three hours per week. I know what employment and financial insecurity means,” said Ms Irwin. “For me, this was 11 years ago and it is somewhat concerning that the situation has not improved greatly, although many of our members now achieve permanency sooner but with less than full hours.”

Anne Marie Courtney, from Kerry, pointed to another example, telling delegates that in 2007-08, a 16-hour-a-week lecturer contract at Institute of Technology Tralee was made available to staff after someone moved to another position.

This was then split into two nine-hour contracts, those 18 hours being split again in 2014 into 17 contracts divided between 10 staff, resulting in one teacher receiving two separate half-hour-a-week contracts.

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