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Written Answers. - School Staffing.

Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 559 No. 6

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 59. Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  his plans to reduce the level of dependence on untrained teachers or untrained substitute teachers in primary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26705/02]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey A range of measures to improve teacher supply have been introduced in recent years. The intake to the bachelor of education programmes in the colleges of education has been increased dramatically. Since 1999 over 1,000 students have been admitted annually to the undergraduate programme. This represents a doubling of the number admitted to the programme in 1996. Since 1996, post-graduate diploma courses have been run by the colleges to increase further the number of graduates. In February 2002, 461 students commenced the post-graduate course and these students will graduate in June 2003. A further post-graduate course will commence in February 2003. A maximum of 460 places will be available on the course which will conclude in June, 2004. A total of 1,633 students completed the post-graduate course between 1996 and 2002. As outlined, the total intake to the colleges of education in the 2001-2002 academic year was increased to a record 1,461. This compares with an intake of 500 in 1996-97.

There are currently some 3,460 students enrolled and pursuing various stages of primary teacher training programmes in the colleges of education. Between 2002 and 2003, it is projected that some 2,700 qualified primary teachers will graduate. This represents a huge increase in the number of trained graduates compared with 1995 when 291 graduated. My Department is examining the feasibility of providing a modular type course for second level trained teachers currently teaching in primary schools, who hold the higher diploma in education and the necessary academic requirement in Irish. This proposal will be discussed with the colleges of education in the near future and, if implemented, would enable these teachers to become fully qualified primary teachers. As well as increasing the number of student places my Department has introduced a range of initiatives to address the current shortage of qualified teachers. Graduates of St. Mary's College, Belfast, who study Irish to Honours level as an academic subject are now recognised as [1503]fully qualified. In addition, primary degree holders with the higher diploma in education are now paid on the trained salary scale in respect of temporary teaching service. Teachers trained in EU countries are also paid at the trained rate for up to five years pending attainment of the necessary competence in Irish, while teachers trained outside the EU whose qualifications are accepted by my Department are granted the same provisional recognition as EU trained teachers.

Those who successfully complete the three year Montessori course in St. Nicholas, Dún Laoghaire, which is recognised by the NCEA, and those who attain the Montessori qualification on completion of the three year full time course in the AMI college are recognised as fully qualified for substitute teaching. Such teachers are also fully recognised for teaching service in certain categories of special schools and classes where Irish is not a requirement on the curriculum. Fully qualified teachers trained outside the State are also fully recognised to teach in these categories of schools and classes. I am confident that the measures outlined above are contributing significantly to an improvement in the supply of trained primary teachers.

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