College students being sent back to school to help alleviate teacher shortages
The scheme involves postgraduates and undergraduate 3rd and 4th years.
College students are being made available to support schools facing a shortage of staff due to a lack of available substitutes.
The announcement comes following calls from the Irish National Teachers Organisation for an immediate review of the Government's Covid response plan as cases continue to rise.
Over a 12 day period, 11,778 substitutable days were reported by schools, 31.98% (3,693 days) of which went without a replacement.
On days where a substitute was available to take a class, less than 50% of these days were filled by registered primary school teachers.
10.66% of these days were filled by registered teachers who were not primary teachers, and 7.34% of these days were filled by people not registered with the Teaching Council at all.
605 teachers in 877 schools surveyed tested positive for Covid during this period, which amounts for 3.62% of all staff in the country.
Colleges that provide teaching education courses have agreed to make postgraduate and undergraduate 3rd and 4th students available for schools looking for substitutes.
Changes will be made to facilitate students who are substituting, including providing flexible options for the assessment requirements in their courses.
There will also be regulations put in place to allow retired teachers to work more days until the end of the current school year without putting their pensions at risk.
📣INTO welcomes additional measures to alleviate substitution crisis
In recent days, INTO has highlighted the serious shortage of substitute teachers. We welcome measures proposed in the Information Note sent to schools by the Department this evening
— INTO (Irish National Teachers' Organisation) (@INTOnews) November 23, 2021
In a statement, INTO General Secretary John Boyle welcomed the proposed changes put forward by the Department.
"Principals and teachers have been under tremendous pressure managing COVID-19 in schools," Boyle said.
"These additional supportive measures will provide some relief and enable primary and special schools to function more effectively over the winter months.
"The INTO will continue to work constructively to ensure that our schools are in a strong position to address the challenges posed by the pandemic,” he concluded.