Uniform Education quoted in the Irish Times

Uniform Education quoted in the Irish Times

Posted on 27/10/2015 by Dan Grace

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Many Irish teachers, tired of competing for insecure work at home, are leaving for jobs across the Irish Sea

Illustration: Dearbhla Kelly/Irish Times Premedia

While budget 2016 announced additional teaching jobs at primary and secondary level, a huge lack of opportunity is still pushing many second-level educators in particular to find work in the UK.

Irish teachers are sought-after internationally. Recruiters are specifically targeting the Irish market, and competition to secure Irish teachers is increasing, particularly between Britain and the United Arab Emirates.

“There’s been a massive trend over the past two to three years for Irish teachers,” says Daniel Grace, director of UK-based recruiters Uniform Education. “Before we were just competing with a lot of UK agencies, but now we are even losing some candidates to the UAE, where there is no taxation.

“Schools are very receptive to Irish teachers. Every day we have phone calls from UK schools asking about Irish teachers. Initially it was just Catholic schools, but now it’s across the board.”

More than 40,000 second-level teachers are registered with the Teaching Council of Ireland, including those on maternity leave or secondment and some retirees who have continued their registration. Currently there are 29,000 second-level teaching posts.

A 2014 report by the Department of Education estimates that 35 per cent of second-level teachers are in temporary employment. Many are on part-time hours. According to the most recent OECD report, more than half of all secondary teachers under the age of 30 are on contracts of a year or less.

“It’s not just the temporary contracts; one of the issues is that teachers can be hit with a double whammy of temporary and part time,” says Gemma Tuffy of the ASTI. “So they might be in a school on a job-share or a three-month contract, but they don’t have full hours and they are going from school to school trying to get better job security.

“They can’t get a car loan or mortgage and never really know if they are going to have a job in a few months’ time, or next September,” she says. “That has resulted in a lot of teachers moving to places like the UK because they can get that security there.”

PQE involves completing 10 professional development workshops along with teaching for 100 consecutive days in a school, under the supervision of an inspector from the Teaching Council. But getting the hours to complete the PQE is hugely challenging for many graduates.

Unlike Ireland, there is no shortage of work for teachers in Britain. However, there is a lack of people entering the profession, and, according to figures analysed by the UK’s Association of Teachers and Lecturers this year, nearly half of new teachers leave the profession in their first year.

An excessive workload is the main reason cited for leaving, and it’s not unusual for teachers to work a 60-hour week. In 2011, some 10,800 newly qualified teachers did not take up a teaching job. In 2005 the figure was 3,600.

Over the past month or so, recruiters have received calls from teachers who held out until September to see if they were given any work. Now many are considering their options, with a move to the UK top of the list. Jobs are often offered after a successful phone or Skype interview, and some schools will follow up by asking the candidate to visit the school and actually teach a class.

Recruitment fairs

Then there are the agency recruitment fairs. Next year Uniform Education will hold fairs in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Mayo and Kerry.

It’s not just the prospect of a paid position that is attractive: there is also huge scope to advance a career within the UK system. Progression in Ireland is based on seniority, but in the UK it’s based on work ethic and skills and abilities as a teacher.

Some teachers secure permanency after just a few months on the job and progress into higher-paid and greater roles of responsibility very quickly.

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