PRACTICE OF EMPLOYING UNQUALIFIED TEACHERS MUST END

To view Michaels speech click here:  Education (Amendment) Bill 2010

Speaking during a Dáil debate on the Education Amendment Bill 2010, Cork North West Dáil Deputy Michael Creed has called for an end to the practice of schools employing unqualified teachers on an interim basis.  Speaking in the Dáil Deputy Creed said;

“This Bill represents a missed opportunity. I wish to take up the point Deputy Costello made at length in respect of the provisions which will enable unqualified teachers to be paid out of the public purse. However, I will first comment on the real missed opportunity to which I refer, namely, the opportunity of encouraging greater democracy in the area of education. This is the Bill’s great weakness.

Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act 2001 refers to the employment of a registered teacher and states:

A person who is employed as a teacher in a recognised school but—

(a) is not a registered teacher, or

(b) is removed or suspended from the register under Part 5,

shall not be remunerated by the school in respect of his or her employment out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas”.

“Section 12 of the Bill enables unqualified teachers to be paid out of the public purse, which is absurd. What is proposed clearly highlights the fact that the Government is out of touch. Anyone with experience of the education system will be aware that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of qualified teachers who are either being forced to emigrate or being obliged to scamper around the country – from Malin Head to Mizen Head and from Donegal to Dublin and on to Cork – in search of a week’s teaching work here and there. These people are posting thousands of CVs to every school in the country. However, it is proposed in the Bill that the provisions of the Teaching Council Act 2001 be repealed in order that schools will be able to pay unqualified staff out of the public purse”.

“I accept that such staff will only be employed in certain circumstances and that schools will be required to furnish evidence to the Minister for Education and Skills that they have been unable to employ registered teachers. Are we expected to believe that when, at 7.30 a.m. on a Monday, the principal of a school in Macroom, County Cork, receives a telephone call from a member of staff indicating that he or she is sick and will not be able to attend for work, that said principal will, in turn, be obliged to telephone the Minister to seek permission to employ an unqualified teacher for the day?”

“The Bill offered a real opportunity to involve VECs in a democratic system by means of establishing a regional structure. Under such a structure, a centre could be put in place which schools requiring staff on a temporary basis – perhaps for one, two or three days – could contact. Are we expected to believe that the principal of a school is going to telephone the Department of Education and Skills on the morning on which an emergency arises and inquire whether – as a result of the fact that he or she cannot get a qualified teacher at short notice – he or she can call on the services of a retired teacher who worked in the school the previous year or whether he or she can employ the latter’s son or daughter? That is absurd and it is a real betrayal of the investment the State and taxpayers have made in training qualified teachers. Those to whom I refer are desperate to find work in order that they might get on the first step of the ladder towards obtaining a permanent teaching post. These individuals are obliged to take a day’s work here, there or anywhere they can get it throughout the country. That is also absurd and is sufficient reason for the House to reject the Bill”.

 “There was a real opportunity in this Bill for greater democracy in education. If we were starting out with a blank sheet of paper today what system would the Minister of State put in place to serve the educational needs of the country? It would not necessarily be the VEC system but it has one cornerstone which is critical to education and is missing in a lot of other areas of the education system and the service that is delivered, that is, democracy. There should be a democratic education system which is not beholden to parents, patrons or teachers but which is accountable democratically”.

“There was a real opportunity to deal with many of the ills of education in this Bill and put in place a real democratic structure which would provide for diversity in education and be accountable. It would deal with the kind of issue to which I referred. Something sneaked in under the carpet to facilitate paying, from the public purse, unqualified and retired teachers in receipt of a pension who are taking jobs from young people who are signing on. It is absurd and I ask the Minister of State to go back to the drawing board, withdraw the section and provide a regional structure whereby teachers can be contacted on Monday or Tuesday morning at an early hour to inform them that a teacher is needed in Clondrohid national school or wherever else and that service can be delivered locally”.

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