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Education Dept guilty of inequality and Govt of discrimination - Ferguson

23 January, 2006

Sinn Féin MLA Michael Ferguson made his comments after a number of trainee teachers voiced their concerns about finding employment after they qualify because a number of retired teaching staff decide to stay on working on a part-time basis.

Speaking today Mr Ferguson said:

"I am entirely sympathetic to the plight of trainee teachers who work extremely hard to secure their teaching qualifications and who are eager to enter the education system only to find that they are excluded because retired teachers have been brought in as substitutes or on a more semi-permanent basis.

This type of system denies new teachers any Early Professional Development opportunities and it is a situation that I have discussed with one of the main Teachers' unions.

It is important that on one hand we do not lose the enthusiasm and dynamic teaching methods brought by newly qualified teachers and on the other hand there is the valuable experience brought to the profession through years of teaching that retired teachers can also offer.

We are currently in a situation were school budgets have been slashed by Direct Rule ministers resulting in the loss of over 525 teachers in the last two years many from natural wastage but also many offered redundancy packages.

There needs to be a strategy developed involving the Teachers Unions,organisations like the General Teachers Council and the Government which reviews current recruitment and training practices adequately forecasting the number of teachers we require, the type of skilled teachers we need and the financial payment provided to ensure equity for everyone concerned.

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