INTO says proposed £33m teaching scheme is a ‘genuine attempt’ to create full time jobs
By Eleanor McGillie
THE Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) is in talks with the Department of Education to campaign for teachers who are not in full time roles to be placed at the heart of the ‘Investing in the Teaching Workforce’ scheme.
Gerry Murphy, Northern Secretary of INTO, said reaction to the proposed scheme has been mixed with some confusion over the Education Minister’s announcement in December.
The scheme, which was announced by Minister John O’Dowd before Christmas, aims to create job opportunities so recently qualified teachers would not take their skills elsewhere while giving experienced teachers the opportunity to leave.
Although details of the proposed scheme remain unclear, Mr Murphy said it is imperative the Department extends the scope of the scheme as widely as possible to maximise benefit for more teachers.
He said: “The proposed scheme, no matter how it is eventually configured, will not be able to provide a route to employment for every teacher who is not in full time employment.
“As a trade union, however, INTO is about creating jobs for teachers and this proposed scheme, which by no means is perfect, goes some way to doing that. While what is being proposed is not perfect it does represent a genuine attempt to reduce the numbers of teachers no in fulltime employment.
“INTO will continue to challenge the employers and the Department on improved conditions of employment and jobs for the large number of temporary teachers seeking full time employment.”
Teachers have been reacting across the region but, because details of the scheme remain unclear, teachers at different stages in their careers have mixed feelings about it.
Jack Hughes, 22, who is currently on placement in St Patrick’s Grammar School in Armagh, said, while he understands the initiative may not be everyone’s cup of tea, he believes the scheme will give confidence to young students who will soon be graduating.
Mr Hughes, who is studying a BEd Post Primary Technology and Design, said: “For a four year course, you’re looking at up to £30,000 of student loans.
“It’s really worrying to see some recently qualified teachers are struggling to find a post here. We have been trained to teach here in Northern Ireland, for this curriculum, yet it seems that only the English schools are keen to take us on.
“Retiring teachers aren’t staying on to begrudge us. And why would they? Many will view this as an opportunity will which allow them to plan ahead and think of their retirement.”
Lauren Thompson, a substitute teacher currently covering a maternity post in Aghadrumsee Primary School in Enniskillen, said she does have concerns that at the age of 24 she would narrowly miss out.
She said: “The scheme in theory is good but I would be concerned about young teachers in my position who are still subbing because we have not been able to find full time work. Do we narrowly miss out on what potentially is a great opportunity?
“I am 24-years-old. I think the scheme is a good idea for many but has the potential to be very unfair for others. I think it’s a good idea that young teachers will be given the opportunity because it is very hard to get a full time job. The positions just aren’t available in Northern Ireland.”
Pat McKinney, Head of the Technology Department and Head of Fifth Year at Edmund Rice College in Glengormley, said: “Thirty eight years ago when I was coming into the profession the jobs were there. Now they are not so it is hard on young teachers. I am turning 59 in May so for me, I can’t see how this scheme would benefit me. There is no real incentive for teachers in my age bracket.”
Mr Murphy added: “The proposed scheme has attracted a lot of interest. It does hold out the possibility of up to 500 additional job opportunities for recently qualified teachers and permits teachers aged 55+ who wish to do so to leave the profession with no punitive pension deductions.
“INTO continues to campaign to have the scope of the proposed scheme extended to include as many teachers not in fulltime employment as possible and the Department of Education is actively considering this.”
NOTES TO EDITOR:
- INTO is the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation. It is the largest teachers’ union in Ireland. INTO has a Northern Office and a Southern Office. The Northern Office is based at Vere Foster House, 23 College Gardens, Belfast.
- For interview requests or further information contact Eleanor McGillie of MGMPR Ltd on 028 3756 9569 | 07709805379| Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | Brand Journalism UK | PR Northern Ireland | Public Relations Northern Ireland | Education PR