The Northern Ireland first and deputy first ministers announced a jobs lifeline as part of a £26 million drive to improve literacy and numeracy levels among pupils living in areas of social disadvantage.
Three months after Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness’ promise of offering immediate employment to teachers to help pupils struggling with English and maths, not one has been appointed.The North’s Department of Education now says it cannot say when anyone will be given a job, or how much the scheme will actually cost.
The jobs outlook in Northern Ireland is bleak with thousands of teachers unemployed. Opportunities are expected to become even more limited due to multi-million pound cuts to school budgets. The new plan is to give a total of 150 recently graduated teachers, who are without permanent employment, two year contracts to deliver one-to-one tuition to secondary pupils who are not projected to get C grades in their maths and English GCSEs.
In addition, 80 newly qualified but unemployed teachers will deliver one-to-one tuition to primary school pupils who are struggling with reading and maths. Unions which welcomed the announcement in October last year are disappointed.
The Department of Education says the scheme, when implemented, will improve the literacy and numeracy skills of young people. “This project not only provides employment opportunities for these teachers, it should also have a positive impact on the minister’s raising standards agenda by improving the educational outcomes of pupils who are most at risk of underachieving,” a spokesman said.
Department officials are understood to be working to establish arrangements for the development and implementation of this project including details of which schools will benefit from this additional funding, how schools and teachers will be matched, and how teachers will be recruited.
“The minister has asked officials to work through the finer details of the project as quickly as possible, however it is not possible at present to give exact details on the timescales and costs.”