‘Unequal pay and low retention a threat to teaching’

The retention of teachers and new entrants in a sector with pay inequality is a threat to the education system, a union leader has warned.

‘Unequal pay and low retention a threat to teaching’

In advance of today’s planned action, Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) president, Joanne Irwin, said an already bad situation will get worse, ahead of the next school year, unless pay parity is restored for teachers employed since 2011.

A TUI survey, she said, points to 29% of recent entrants envisaging leaving the profession within 10 years, primarily due to lower pay rates. Applications for post-primary teaching have plummeted by 62% since 2011.

Ms Irwin said: “It can no longer be denied that pay inequality is threatening the quality of the education system.

“Reports and statistics from school-management bodies, along with the higher-education institutes and teacher unions, consistently cite ever-growing difficulties in recruiting teachers in second-level subjects, including Irish, modern languages, across the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) areas, and home economics.

“The range of subjects affected will, inevitably, have broadened further by next September, unless the only guaranteed remedy, a restoration of pay equality, is implemented,” Ms Irwin said.

“It is wrong-headed and disingenuous for the department to suggest that these shortages are mere ‘pinch points’ across some subject areas,” she said.

“A range of trends and statistics, from a variety of sources, provides evidence of much deeper problems around the recruitment and retention of teachers.”

Furthermore, Ms Irwin noted that the emigration rate of second-level teaching graduates multiplied fivefold over a six-year period.

“Tellingly,” she said, “these problems are also evident in other sectors of the education system.

“The further-education sector is struggling to recruit suitably qualified teachers and, at third-level, some institutes of technology have reported difficulties in recruiting staff at assistant-lecturer level, the entry grade.

“In a number of cases, advertisements have not attracted any applications”.

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