Schools in urban areas badly hit by teacher shortage because of rental costs

The teacher shortage is hitting schools in urban areas particularly hard because of difficulties finding affordable accommodation.

ental costs and availability in Dublin and other urban centres are now having a significant impact on a school’s ability to recruit and retain teachers, principals say.

Principals gave examples of teachers accepting jobs and then declining because of inability to find rented accommodation.

A new survey of principals and deputy second-level schools highlights what is described as a “worsening crisis” with teacher supply.

The problem is affecting schools nationwide, with some subjects presenting particular challenges.

The recent survey of 109 schools by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) found that three in four (75pc) had no application for an advertised post in the previous six months

The 10 subjects for which schools find it most difficult find teachers are Irish, home economics, maths, engineering/metalwork, French, biology, construction studies/woodwork, English, Spanish and agricultural science.

Principals and deputy principals of all-Irish schools reported significant difficulties finding teachers across all subjects.

Other findings include:

  • 98pc of schools experienced teacher recruitment difficulties in the previous six months
  • 66pc experienced teacher retention difficulties in the previous six months
  • 72pc have unfilled vacancies due to recruitment and retention difficulties
  • 75pc said that recruitment and retention difficulties have become more severe since Covid was first detected in Ireland.

TUI general secretary Michel Gillespie said the two most damning findings show that 75pc of schools advertised positions to which no teacher applied, while over 70pc have unfilled vacancies.

He said the crisis was worsening year on year and accused the Department of Education of “doing precious little to tackle it.”

“This is limiting service to students, who can miss out on subject choices or be taught by ‘out-of-field’ teachers,” he said.

While the cost of accommodation was cited as a key factor in recruitment difficulties experienced by urban schools, principals and deputy principals in rural areas reported difficulties in attracting younger teachers.

Mr Gillespie said schools in both urban and rural areas were routinely struggling to attract applicants to fill vacant positions.

He said cited continuing two-tier pay scales in the profession as a major factor in attracting people to the profession.

The largest pay discrimination still occurred in the early years of employment, with new entrants to second level teaching earning almost 15pc less on initial appointment, or over €50,000 less in the first 10 years of their career, he said.

Mr Gillespie called for an acceleration of the process of pay equalisation for those who started employment since 2011, a return to teachers being employed on permanent contracts of full hours upon initial appointment and the restoration of middle management posts.

He also referred to the accommodation issue and said that “the impact of the rental and accommodation crisis across the country is also having a detrimental effect, particularly in situations where teachers have contracts of less than full hours.”

“In too many cases they cannot afford to live in certain areas.”

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