Tyrone student says investment in teaching gives graduates confidence
By Tiernan McGee
A STUDENT teacher from Tyrone studying at St Mary’s University College in Belfast has hailed the ‘Investing in the Teaching Workforce’ initiative a great move for teachers who will be leaving college in up to £30,000 worth of debt.
Jack Hughes, 22, from Killyman just outside Dungannon, 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.
In December, Education Minister John O’Dowd announced the ‘Investing in the Teaching Workforce’ initiative which proposes a £33million cash injection aimed at refreshing our education system.
The scheme’s aims are to create job opportunities in Northern Ireland so recently qualified teachers would not take their skills elsewhere but also to give experienced teachers the opportunity to leave.
Although the full details of the scheme are not yet known, Mr Hughes, who has been on placements at St Patrick’s Primary School Dungannon and St Patrick’s College in Dungannon, said student teachers need a vote of confidence.
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. I prefer not to think about the exact figure.
“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.
“A lot of final year students are worrying about the job situation. It seems a shame that over in England the government are creating schemes and incentives for people to become teachers yet, here at home, it’s the opposite.
“There is a lack of opportunity to get your foot in the door. It affects me, and hundreds of other trainee teachers, because we can’t make any long term plans because we have no idea whether there will be any opportunities for us to gain employment.”
The fourth year student added: “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. That’s understandable.
“So if there’s a new incentive which makes it easier on older teachers to retire, whilst opening up job opportunities for us coming out as graduates, it’s great news. I for one welcome it with open arms.”
Gerry Murphy, Northern Secretary for the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) described the proposed scheme as ‘ a genuine attempt to reduce the numbers of teachers not in fulltime employment’.
He said: “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.
“The proposed scheme may not be enacted and that would mean no additional jobs for anyone which, from a trade union point of view, would be compounding of an already difficult employment climate.
“While what is being proposed is not perfect it does represent a genuine attempt to reduce the numbers of teachers no in fulltime employment.”
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.
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