General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

 


‘Children benefit’ if more older teaching staff retire

28-09-2009

Irish News

Teachers have admitted that retaining older staff in the classroom at the expense of new graduates can impact adversely on the quality of children’s learning.

If the age profile of staff is not reduced by allowing those in their fifties to retire and be replaced by younger teachers “pupils will suffer”, it has been claimed.

The comments, made in a consultation about changes to pensions, are at odds with the actions of many schools who award most substitute (sub) cover to retired teachers.

Trainees have said staff returning after quitting permanent posts hamper their efforts to gain employment.

Millions could be saved each year if schools employed newly-qualified teachers as substitutes.

Sub costs have risen to a staggering £64 million in the last year.

This is a massive £10 million increase on the annual figure just two years previous. Annual rises are causing concern and are now the focus of a probe by auditors.

Subs at the lowest ‘point one’ of the pay scale will be paid about £100 a day. The retired teachers who cover for absences are paid up to £170 per day.

In a summary of responses to a consultation about changes to pensions, teachers admitted it would be better for children if older staff were allowed to retire early.

Teachers are facing widespread compulsory redundancies because experienced staff are no longer taking early retirement due to proposed changes to the premature retirement compensation scheme.

Also known as ‘added years’, it is offered to those taking voluntary redundancy and adds up to seven years to pensions at no cost to the teacher.

Responsibility for ‘added years’ is to be passed from the Department of Education to employers but they have no funds to continue it.

Almost all redundancies in teaching had previously been voluntary – added years were always a major incentive to go. But schools are having to reduce their staff numbers due to falling rolls meaning many teachers now face being forced out.

Members of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation’s (INTO) said older teachers should continue to be given incentives to leave early.

“There is likely to be an adverse impact on the quality of education provision within schools arising from the retention of staff who otherwise would have accepted early retirement and been replaced by younger teachers,” the union’s consultation response read.

“Pupils will suffer as older teachers may be unable to deliver new curriculum requirements and embrace technological changes in classrooms.”

INTO northern secretary Frank Bunting said the union advocated all sub cover work being given to young, unemployed teachers but added that there appeared to be issues about principals being unable to get young teachers in certain areas.

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