The ongoing difficulties that qualified teachers are encountering when seeking employment in Donegal have prompted a new campaign which it is hoped will highlight the issue.
Details are now being compiled to find out just how many people have qualified to teach, but who can’t get a job here.
One of the means by which a qualified teacher can gain a full-time post is by undergoing a period of ‘probation’
However, in order to be ‘probated’, a teacher must take up a position in a school for at least 100 days. It’s claimed this can only be achieved by covering for maternity leave or medium or long-term illness. During this time, the teacher will receive a number of visits from a school inspector and thus probation is achieved.
One Donegal teacher who contacted the Democrat to highlight the problem, said she has been qualified to teach for almost ten years, but has found it impossible to be ‘probated’.
She said there is little problem in finding a teaching post in the bigger cities, especially Dublin. However, she said there is real difficulty getting probated in Donegal with a view to finding employment in her home county, where she wants to live and work.
She claims that in some instances positions are already filled before they are advertised - the advertisement is simply to comply with legalities. She also claimed that when such posts become available they are offered to teachers who have already been probated. This, she said, saves the school the bother of going through all applications. It also keeps the "cigire scoile" away from the school.
A spokesperson for the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation ( INTO) said the procedures for recruiting and appointing teachers are set out in the Governance Manual for Primary Schools 2015 -2019 and the minimum requirements for employment as a teacher are included.
The spokesperson said it is not a requirement that a teacher has completed a probation or induction period before being appointed to a full-time/permanent teaching post.
“It is a matter for the selection board to establish agreed criteria for the assessment of applications and for interview prior to opening applications received,” the spokesperson said.
“There are two means by which a teacher can gain their full registration with the Teaching Council – traditional probation by the Inspectorate or induction via Droichead. For the traditional probation process a teacher must secure work of at least 100 days, either in one block or in two blocks of at least 50 days each, while the minimum Droichead period is 60 consecutive school days.
“We understand that there are areas in the country where demand for teaching jobs exceeds the availability of permanent teaching positions which is why INTO campaigned hard for the supplementary panel, which provides a means of accessing permanent positions to teachers that have built up substitute and temporary service.
“We have also succeeded in reducing the time needed to be granted a contract of indefinite duration from in excess of four years of continuous service to in excess of two years of continuous service.”
Locally, efforts are being made to compile figures of those teachers who are qualified, but can’t get ‘probated’ in Donegal. People are asked to send their details by email to firstname.lastname@example.org