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Sinn Féin suggest proposals to help new teachers

7 November, 2007

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Paul Butler MLA has outlined two areas that could be explored in order to help newly qualified teachers into employment.

Mr Butler said:

"The hypocrisy of some MLA's concern for newly qualified teachers being unable to secure full time permanent teaching posts whilst they retain a full time teaching post themselves and jobs as Assembly members does little to address the issue. They become part of the problem because they occupy a post that if released could enable a newly qualified teacher to get on the road to a full time permanent position.

"It is also little benefit to newly qualified to hear some politicians use this issue to attack on the Minister of Education or Irish Language teachers. Indeed the careless and irresponsible remarks made by a unionist MLA in a recent debate on the issue about the employment of former republican prisoners in the teaching profession may have placed the lives of people in danger.

"Rather than play politics with the issue we need a constructive debate about the difficulties faced by young and newly qualified teachers.

"The problem of the disparity between the number of qualified teachers and the number of available teaching posts in the North of Ireland must be addressed. We are training more teachers than we can employ. With declining number of pupils there will also be a reduction in the number of teaching posts needing to be filled by newly qualified teachers.

"Sinn Féin is seriously committed to trying to introduce measures that, when taken together, will go a considerable way to opening up more opportunities for young and newly qualified teachers.

"For example, Sinn Féin has proposed curtailing the ability of retired teachers to re-enter the classroom as substitute teachers, thereby opening up more newly qualified teachers.

"We have the guidance from the Education Minister to employers, advising them that preference should be given to newly qualified teachers and experienced non-retired teachers who are seeking employment.

"There is also considerable work to be done in the creation of job opportunities on an all-Ireland North/South basis for teachers throughout the country and this I believe can also help to address the situation." ENDS

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