Wed, 22 May 2019

DUBLIN, Ireland - To provide more depth to reserve substitute teacher levels, the Irish government is to create six substitute teacher panels for schools in urban and rural areas.

The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh announced the move on Monday.

North and South Dublin, Cork, Galway, Kildare and Meath are being targeted for the new initiative to provide more certainty for schools experiencing staffing shortages.The pilot scheme will see up to 18 teachers hired on full-time contracts. Each teacher will be based in one school and rotate among up to fifteen other schools as part of a substitute cluster covering both urban and rural areas with the potential for the scheme to cover 90 schools.

"The creation of substitute teacher supply panels is a direct response to staffing difficulties I’ve heard about from teachers, principals and management bodies. We are initially focusing the panels on Dublin, Galway and Cork and also the commuter belts in Kildare and Meath. These are where significant staffing pressures are being felt," McHugh said Monday.

"Much like the clustering initiative for post-primary schools to work together and share teachers in some subjects, we are now asking principals and management to put their best foot forward to make these new substitute panels work."

"Primary schools are being asked to collaborate and work together in clusters in each of the six areas. And I urge them to see this as an effective solution," the minister said.

"These substitute supply panels have great potential to support schools in tackling the issue of staff shortages, to reduce administrative burden and improve access to quality, reliable substitute cover."I look forward to seeing this pilot project in action and I hope it will also deepen innovation and co-operation among schools."

Following are some fo the highlights of the pilot scheme for substitute teacher supply panels:

- Two substitute teacher supply panels will operate in Dublin along with one each in Kildare, Meath, Cork and Galway from the start of the 2019/20 school year. These are the locations that have been identified as having the greatest challenge in terms of sourcing substitute teachers.

- It is intended that each supply panel cluster will consist of 10-15 schools with two-three teachers assigned to each panel on a full-time basis.

- It is envisaged that each teacher on a panel will be employed by one school in the cluster, i.e. the base school, on a one-year full-time fixed-term contract. The teachers will be assigned to schools in the cluster to provide substitution as required.

- It is envisaged that each cluster will include a broad cross-section of school types, including rural schools. Schools will need to be reasonably close to each other in order to maximise the efficiency of the panel.

The details of the operation of the scheme, the government says, are currently being finalised with a view to ensuring that it meets the needs of the participating schools in an efficient and effective manner

The department will shortly be contacting schools in the selected locations regarding participation in the scheme.

The Substitute Teacher Supply Panels will operate on a pilot basis for one year. It will be reviewed towards the end of the 2019/20 school year to determine whether the scheme should be continued in 2020/21.

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