General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Teaching graduates jobs crisis deepens


23/06/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

Fewer than 40 of 800 graduate teachers got jobs in Catholic schools last year - and competition is expected to become even more frantic.

Figures show that a relatively small number of graduates secured employment in the Catholic sector and most were only awarded temporary contracts.

The statistics provide further evidence of the crisis facing young teachers, with the battle for jobs expected to intensify.

Students who were unable to apply to Catholic primaries in the past are now taking the additional qualification required for a job in the schools.

Stranmillis University College, which traditionally trains teachers for state-controlled, non-Catholic schools, is offering the Certificate in Religious Education.

This qualification was created to ensure an adequate supply of teachers competent to assist parents in educating their children "according to the principles of Catholic education".

Between April 2007 and March this year there were 429 appointments made by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools.

About 800 student teachers graduated from all the north's institutions last year.

Just 38 of these gained employment in Catholic schools - 18 securing full-time posts and 20 being called in to cover maternity leave or secondments.

Of the 229 new jobs in primary schools last year only 12 were given to newly qualified staff.

Anyone seeking appointment to a permanent teaching position in a maintained primary requires the Certificate in Religious Education.

This has been offered by St Mary's University College, where it is taken in addition to BEd and PGCE courses.

With most Stranmillis students only completing BEd or PGCE, St Mary's graduates have long been considered to be at an advantage entering the job market.

While St Mary's graduates can be considered for posts in all sectors, Stranmillis students' lack

of the additional certificate has ruled them out of the running for jobs in Catholic primaries.

Stranmillis began offering financial assistance to allow its students to undertake the Catholic certificate by distance learning at the University of Glasgow.

The college provides £400 of the £440 course fee and about 50 students have already undertaken the additional course of study.

Numbers taking the certificate are relatively low but are expected to increase as falling pupil numbers mean job opportunities are becoming even more scarce.

Frank Bunting, northern secretary of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, said increasing certificate entries would cause competition for jobs to become even more intense.

He said student teachers "would be at a disadvantage in terms of the overall job market without the certificate".



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