Teacher recruitment scheme falls flat in Northern Ireland

Written by: Simon Doyle | Published:

A drive to replace older teachers with younger staff in Northern Ireland schools falls way short of what is needed, unions claim.

The Investing in the Teaching Workforce scheme will create just 31 jobs for those who are out-of-work.

When the scheme was first unveiled, it was hoped that up to 500 recently qualified graduates would replace those willing to retire early. The Northern Ireland Executive was to allocate £33 million.

This dropped to £8 million and the proposed numbers to 120 teachers by the time of its official launch.

The scheme was suspended in March after a teacher launched a legal challenge claiming he was being unlawfully excluded from applying for vacancies because of his greater experience. This was rejected at the High Court.

Now it will be rolled out as a pilot involving 31 staff, and at an estimated cost of £500,000.

Unions are unhappy. Avril Hall Callaghan, general secretary of the Ulster Teachers’ Union, said it “falls far short of what is needed”.

“The original £33 million scheme would be a lifeline for the profession to give 500 newly qualified teachers permanent jobs.

“It would allow teachers over the age of 55 to retire to provide a job for a recently trained teacher who has been unable to find a post, thereby refreshing the workforce.

“However, we are also aware that the pilot is limited and as a union we will continue to keep under scrutiny the plight of other young teachers who fall outside the pilot’s parameters.”

It is understood that many who applied originally have now reached retirement age so no longer qualify. The Department of Education says 31 teachers will leave the profession between December 2017 and March 2018. Job opportunities for recently qualified teachers will be advertised soon.

NASUWT national official Justin McCamphill says the department will need to review the scheme before determining whether to run it again.


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