There are more than 800 vacant teaching posts across primary classes nationally and the shortage is undermining the education of pupils with the greatest needs, according to a survey of more than 1,000 schools.
Today’s Irish Times is reporting that as a result, most schools say they are being forced to plug staffing gaps by redeploying special education teachers to cover for absent teachers in mainstream classes, leaving vulnerable pupils without support. Others are using unqualified staff or students to fill gaps.
The survey of just over 1,014 primary and special schools was conducted in the first week of October by the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), in conjunction with the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) and the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (CPSMA).
A variety of factors have been blamed for the shortages including the cost of accommodation in urban areas, as well as teachers taking up posts abroad or in the private sector.
Shortages are most acute in the greater Dublin area, as well as in schools in disadvantaged areas, special schools and gaelscoileanna, according to the survey.
School leaders say a lack of short-term substitutes is severe and they have never witnessed such large numbers of longer-term vacancies.