Updated: 09/01/18 : 10:39:11
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Primary schools battle 'severe shortage of substitute teachers'

The CEO of the Irish Primary Principals' Network has called for the Department of Education to show flexibility to address the "severe shortage of substitute teachers."

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Pairic Clerkin said recent surveys by the network, showed up to 36% of schools were unable to source a substitute teacher on ten or more occasions since September.

"There are a number of solutions which include pay equalisation among newly graduated teachers and existing staff as well as extending the cover of substitute teachers which is currently capped at 90 days when they are replacing teachers on career break."

The IPPN has been speaking to the Department of Education about showing greater flexibility in relation to teachers on career break.

Mr Clerkin said there is also need to encourage some retired teachers to re-register with the Teaching Council and for graduates to stay in Ireland.

"We need to keep our graduates in the country; they are being actively recruited by other jurisdictions at the moment".

He said "they are highly regarded abroad, but they're needed at home".

He said pupil numbers are currently peaking at primary level so "the likelihood this is a short term problem at primary school level, but what would help is some greater flexibility in terms of ensuring that every possible teacher out there is available to the system at the moment."