Foley Wants Assurances Teacher Numbers Won’t Be Cut In County’s Schools

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Deputy Norma Foley.

KERRY Fianna Fáil TD Norma Foley has raised concerns about teacher allocations for the 2020/21 school year, given the current COVID-19 pandemic.

She’s calling for assurances that schools will be able to retain their current teacher numbers for the year ahead.

“I have been contacted by many schools across the county worried about teacher numbers for the 2020/21 academic year,” said Deputy Foley.

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“There are very real concerns that some of these schools could lose a teacher because of declining student numbers. However, given the current Coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions which will have to be implemented in the new school year, I am urging the Department to ensure that additional teacher places are allocated.

“While I accept that the teacher allocation process is independent, we now have a situation where staffing arrangements for the coming term were set out before the onset of COVID-19. We are hearing reports of the necessity of smaller class groups and difficulties around social distancing due to classroom size, all the while schools are losing teachers.

“This is simply not workable and shows a clear disconnect between the two positions. We need to ensure a safe environment for our children once classes resume, and under the current guidelines we will need more not fewer teachers. I am calling on the Minister and the Department to include additional places for teachers to reflect the current circumstances”.

Another issue raised by Deputy Foley concerns Non-Qualified Teachers (NQT). These teachers are required to complete a 60 day block of classroom teaching.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools on March 12th and the Teaching Council is now telling NQTs that they will have to apply for an extension to complete the required classroom teaching block.

“I think it’s unfair that trainee teachers, who have been fully contributing to school life through remote teaching over the past two months are having their work essentially ignored,” said Deputy Foley.

“I have raised this issue with the Minister for Education and welcome confirmation the Teaching Council will review the current situation. It is only fair that NQTs are recognised for their contribution to teaching and learning over the last number of months,” concluded Deputy Foley.

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