Many students struggling due to Covid disruption, teachers say

Most secondary school teachers think extra supports are needed next year to help pupils who are falling behind due to Covid-related disruption to teaching and learning, a new survey has found.

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) online survey of 1,200 members conducted in March and April found that 87% of respondents believe additional supports will be needed in the 2022/23 academic year.

The vast majority (84%) also believe that emergency remote teaching and learning has had a disproportionate negative effect on students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

A similar proportion said some students were unable to engage in remote teaching and learning because they lacked access to electronic devices.

When asked what measures would best support those who have lost, most teachers said smaller class sizes, followed by increased teacher assignments, better guidance counseling support and the reinstatement of middle management positions.

The survey also indicates that only a minority of teachers who joined the profession since 2011 believe they will still be teaching in 10 years. This percentage increases to 75 per cent if the two-tier scales are completely eliminated.

The availability of affordable housing also emerges as a serious problem, according to the survey.

Almost three-quarters of appointees after 2011 do not believe it would be possible for them to get mortgage approval for a property in or near where they work.

Among renters in the same cohort, 98% said it would be extremely difficult (77%) or difficult (21%) to find new accommodation in the locality if they had to leave their current accommodation.

Wage discrimination

TUI chairman Martin Marjoram said the findings showed the need to end the “scandal” of pay discrimination.

He also said it was very concerning that 65% of teachers did not get a full-time contract when they were first appointed, meaning that for several years they only earn a fraction of a salary. complete.

“To make the profession attractive, we must return to a situation where teachers are appointed on a full-time permanent contract from the start of their career,” he said.

He said TUI’s position is that all second tier members would waive a 1% salary increase payable on February 1, 2022, so that the equivalent value would allow the restoration of the Professional Masters in Education allowance ( SMEs) to those appointed since 2012.

“So effectively the money to end the pay discrimination scandal was donated by the teachers themselves, but it currently sits in state treasury accounts pending resolution. The Department of Public Expenditure and reform must immediately and definitively eliminate wage discrimination,” he said.

Mr Marjoram also said the remaining funds could also enable a return to the pre-2011 system of starting new fully qualified post-primary teachers at a higher level on the pay scale in recognition of their period of unpaid training. six years old. Unions estimate that new entrants face career losses of around €50,000 due to the changes.

It appears that the Ministry resisted this proposal on the basis that new entrants should start at the bottom of the pay scales.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Norma Foley said teacher pay was part of a wider public sector discussion between unions and government.

Talks are set to start soon on a possible new public sector pay deal after the Irish Trades Union Congress invoked a cease of circumstances clause to revise the current deal due to rising inflation.

Ms Foley said the newcomer had risen significantly since 2012, rising from €30,702 to €38,192 in October this year.

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