Question to the Minister for Education and Skills (Ms. Jan O’Sullivan, TD)
To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the measures she has taken, and those of her predecessor, to recruit additional post-primary teachers; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
For WRITTEN ANSWER on Wednesday, 14 January 2015.
Teacher allocations to all second level schools are approved annually by my Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrollment. The criteria for the allocation of posts are communicated to school managements annually and are available on the Department’s website. In accordance with these rules, each school management authority is required to organise its subject options within the limit of its approved teacher allocation. At post-primary level and in accordance with existing arrangements, where a school management authority is unable to meet its curricular commitments within its approved allocation, my Department considers applications for additional short-term support, i.e., curricular concessions. The allocation process also includes an appeals mechanism under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. The appeal procedures are set out in the published staffing arrangements. The Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.
The recruitment and appointment of teachers to fill teaching posts is a matter for the individual school authority, subject to procedures agreed under section 24(3) of the Education Act 1998, as amended by the Education (Amendment) Act 2012. The deployment of teaching staff in the school, the range of subjects offered and ultimately the quality of teaching and learning are in the first instance matters for the school management authorities.
We have a growing population of young people in this country. Despite the difficult financial circumstances we face as a country, we have prioritised education so that the number of teachers we have in the system has grown to protect pupil-teacher ratios. Between this year and last year, this has involved an increase of approximately 2,300 teachers in our primary and post-primary schools. This is a very significant investment at a time of scarce resources.
While there has been a moratorium on recruitment across other sectors in the public service, this has not applied to teaching. This shows the commitment this Government has to educating our future generations. The main priority for any additional resources for the foreseeable future will be to cater for the continuing increase in demographics at all levels within the education system.
Arrangements for the staffing and redeployment process for the 2015-16 school years are under way in my Department. The staffing arrangements for the 2015-16 school years will be published on the Department’s website shortly. The final staffing position for all schools at post-primary level will ultimately not be known until the autumn. At that stage, the allocation process will be fully completed and any appeals to the Staffing Appeals Board will have been considered.