Unions warn Teacher Sharing Scheme is ‘sticking plaster’ measure

Catherine Gallagher

The new Teaching Sharing Scheme has been described by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) as another “sticking plaster” measure for recruitment and retention issues in the sector.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh announced on February 25 a new scheme to allow post-primary schools to share teachers in priority subjects. It is one of a range of actions included in the Action Plan for Teacher Supply, published by the minister in November 2018.

TUI Press Officer Conor Griffin told The College View that while the union supports initiatives to support teacher shortages, it is a measure that does not currently suffice with its members.

“This initiative could be described as another ‘sticking plaster’ measure that seeks to treat the symptoms rather than treating the disease. Whatever positive effect the measure might have will be limited until such time as the scandal of pay discrimination is ended,” said Griffin.

A survey carried out by the TUI’s Principals and Deputy Principals Association (PDA) in 150 schools found that 99 per cent of respondents stated that their school experienced teacher recruitment difficulties within the previous 12 months.

“Graduates who might formerly have chosen teaching will continue to vote with their feet and opt for other professions where pay and conditions are seen as better,” said Griffin.

The Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) is still considering the proposals brought forward by the Teacher Sharing Scheme before recommending it to its members.

Deputy General Secretary of the ASTI, Diarmaid de Paor said that he welcomes increasing flexibility in the profession, where he believes there has been a level of “casualisation”.

“This might suit some teachers who have 11 or 14 hours in one school that they could bring themselves up to full hours in another school,” de Paor told The College View. “Or it may suit a teacher who for example who could get a job in Dublin but would actually like to work in a smaller town in the country where two schools might need half a physics teacher each.”

De Paor explained the potential logistical concerns of teachers working between schools and travelling long distances. “The scheme may allow that but it could mean that you might be given full hours, but you might be teaching 15 of them because the rest will be spent on travelling.”

He reiterated the wider issues of pay and working conditions. “These are far more important issues than the half dozen extra teachers you might get from offering a full job as opposed to half a job. It is a small sticking plaster for a bigger wound.”

Catherine Gallagher

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