Wicklow TD Jennifer Whitmore has called on government to do more to assist principles in the midst of a substitute teacher shortage, which is being keenly felt in Wicklow.
Deputy Whitmore said:
“Primary schools all over the country are finding it difficult to get teachers, with the issue near crisis point in Wicklow. In fact, principals are finding it nearly impossible to provide the most basic educational service – simply keeping classrooms open. This is causing significant problems for all pupils but particularly those with additional needs.
“According to a recent Irish Primary Principals’ Network survey, we know Wicklow is the worst hit county by teacher shortages. The impact the lack of substitute teachers is having on schools is immense. Minister Foley and the whole government need to seriously ramp up their action to help schools keep their classrooms open.
“Every primary school in Wicklow is having struggling to recruit substitute teachers. As a result, 96 per cent of Wicklow schools had resorted to moving a special education teacher from their core duties to cover an absence. Earlier throughout Covid, those children were left behind because classrooms and education were not available to them. We cannot leave them behind again now.
“Today I asked the Taoiseach what steps his government is taking to make sure our classrooms have enough teachers available to them. I also asked if he would reintroduce the banked hours system that ran during Covid so that those children with additional needs and their Special Educational Needs teachers can bank the hours being spent on other classroom provision.
“I am working with schools across Wicklow on this matter and will continue to bring it to the attention of government on behalf of our students.”