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Greater incentives for teachers needed to combat shortages, says Kelly

Published: Thu, 08 February 2024

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Sean Kelly, MEP representing Ireland South, is calling for measures to address the challenges facing the teaching profession in Ireland. Drawing from his experience as a former teacher, Kelly underscores the importance of recognizing the hard work and dedication teachers contribute to shaping the future workforce.

In a recent speech addressing the working conditions of teachers in the European Union, Kelly, who delivered his speech in Irish, highlighted the pressing issues in Ireland’s education sector, specifically the significant teacher shortages currently experienced in the country. Hundreds of teaching positions remain unfilled in schools across Ireland, posing a threat to the quality of education.

Kelly stated, “I understand the hard work and dedication that individuals put into this profession and the enormous impact they have, not only on the youth of today but also on their contribution to building the workforce of tomorrow. A lot of teachers do great voluntary work in communities too, as President of the GAA I say this on a daily basis.”

One of the identified causes of the teacher shortages is the attractive opportunities for educators in other jurisdictions, particularly the Middle East and Australia. In response to this, Kelly emphasizes the need to create a more appealing environment for teachers in Ireland.

Kelly proposes solutions such as recognizing the value of experiences gained by teachers who have worked abroad, advocating for their return on a higher pay scale. “For returning teachers, their experiences abroad should allow them to come back on a higher pay scale. For graduate students and young teachers, longer-term contracts could be offered instead of the one-year contracts. It is important to provide stability and incentives for people to return to, or remain in, the profession”, said Kelly

“Experienced teachers are hard to replace,” notes Kelly, acknowledging the unique expertise and knowledge that experienced educators bring to the classroom. Retaining and attracting experienced professionals are essential for maintaining a high standard of education.

“I have great respect for teachers, I understand their case. We must prioritize the attractiveness of the teaching profession to ensure a sustainable and high-quality education system in Ireland. Teachers play a crucial role in shaping the future, and we must provide them with the support and incentives they deserve”, Kelly added.

As part of his advocacy for the teaching profession, Kelly calls for collaborative efforts between policymakers, educational institutions, and stakeholders to address these challenges. He believes that a comprehensive approach is necessary to create an environment that not only attracts new teachers but also retains the experienced ones.


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