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TUI backs Martin's call for shorter training but says more measures needed

Teachers have welcomed Micheál Martin's suggestion that training be cut by a year, but say more actions are urgently needed to tackle teacher recruitment and a retention crisis.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, the Tánaiste said the financial burden of the current two-year graduate conversion course is preventing many students from entering teaching.

"If you're working class or your income is limited to what your family can do, the idea of the masters in teaching will be a daunting financial prospect. 

"I think we should be alive to revisiting all that. Pure educationalists might say we need to two years, I'm not convinced."

"I do think we perhaps have to look at, particularly at the post-primary level, that masters process and the two-year timeline and whether we can shorten that."

"The TUI has consistently called for this measure as teaching is becoming a profession that is unaffordable to many," said TUI president David Waters.

"We hope that it signals that the Government might finally be taking the teacher recruitment and retention crisis seriously. 

"The TUI has been consistently calling for a reduction in the PME to one year as we believe that the profession has become an unaffordable one to many."

However, Mr Waters said this measure alone will not tackle the current crisis and said the upcoming budget needs to provide the required resources so that schools can offer jobs of full hours upon initial appointment, while posts of responsibility must be restored to pre-austerity levels.

"A survey of teachers carried out by TUI earlier this year showed that of those recently appointed, less than a third of teachers appointed received a full-time contract, and just over one in 10 teachers were offered permanent positions. 

"This culture of precarious work is driving both potential and serving teachers away from the profession."

Mr Martin also suggested that additional payments should be reintroduced for teachers who go on to gain extra qualifications, such as a special education qualification or doctorate degree.

Under austerity measures, a number of teaching top-ups were axed for new entrants as part of a public service-wide review of allowances and premium payments in 2012.

"In the years after the crash, decisions were taken where allowances for postgraduate [were cut]. That was a mistake in my view because afterwards if people go down to do a masters while they are teaching, you are enhancing the quality of your teaching."