Dublin schools face crisis due to teacher shortage

by Rose Barrett
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Dublin has been seriously hit by schools unable to recruit new teaching or substitute staff – and it’s all down to the ever-increasing cost of accommodation to rent or to buy. 

A recent survey by the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN) has revealed that Dublin is second only to Co Wicklow in being unable to attract substitute teachers. Wicklow principals responded 100 per cent they had difficulties in recruiting teachers at short notice while Dublin returned a shocking 98 per cent. 

And the crisis is evidenced further in the IPPN survey which records 27 per cent of schools nationally being unable to secure subs for short term contracts. 

That figure rises dramatically to 65 per cent in Dublin, where two out of every three schools do not have a full quota of staff. 

Recently, a group of concerned parents, teachers, past pupils and members of the Blanchardstown/Castleknock/Clonsilla community met to form Coolmine Community School Action Group. 

The meeting, according to Cllr Tania Doyle (Ongar) was called to deal with an issue “that has become a crisis point in our children’s second level education.” 

She continued: “I attended the meeting and was shocked to learn that Coolmine Community School is now at a crisis point – and cannot fill the posts for teachers in woodwork, metalwork and graphics. 

“School management has gone above and beyond in their search for teachers, all avenues have been explored but to no avail. This is a problem that subtly gathered momentum in clear view of those on the ground for years.” 

It is the cost of securing affordable and appropriate accommodation that is the underlying issue, claims Cllr Doyle. 

“Yet again our children are being left behind and scapegoated through no fault of theirs by a system with no foresight nor will to do better. Pay, conditions, contracts and a lack promotion opportunities are significant drivers. 

“However, the lack of affordable accommodation, both in the owner occupier and rental sectors, has massively escalated this problem as new teachers cannot afford to live and work in Dublin 15.

“We have census figures which provide trends for statistical analysis and planning yet it seems that the exercise is cosmetic and contributes no tangible change.” 

Cllr Doyle feels both current and previous governments have presided over yet another “crisis”, they have allowed the housing crisis to spiral out of control, and that has resulted teachers being driven away from Dublin. 

A principal of a primary school in Dublin who did not wish to be named concurred with Cllr Doyle and the IPPN’s survey findings and claimed that it is inaffordable accommodation that is preventing Dublin schools from filling posts. Applicants simply aren’t applying when they see the postal area, rental costs in Dublin are depriving Dublin schools of badly needed teachers, she claimed. 

A principal of a senior national school in Templeogue also told a national newspaper that in her seven years as a principal, she had never experienced the low number of applicants for fixed term positions, for job shares, subs, etc. 

Despite advertising three times for a long-term substitute position – and had not one application for the job. 

Despite the Department of Education supplying a panel of teachers to replace sudden teacher absences – according to the IPPN survey, Dublin recorded 91 per cent for panels not being fully staffed. 

Cllr Doyle concluded: “I and my fellow Independent colleagues within the Oireachtas will continue to challenge and put pressure on this government and whatever government we may see in 2023 to make efficient and tangible change before another crisis becomes an epidemic!”

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