Calls for more teachers and funding in schools ‘to help pupils catch up’

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Schools are going to need more resources next year to help students catch up with what they lost in the pandemic, according to a teachers’ union.

ore than nine in 10 (93pc) teachers have noticed disengagement by some pupils since the switch to remote learning, according to a survey by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) .

While 75pc of teachers reported that student engagement was better in 2021 than in 2020, there is much concern about the extent of the learning loss over the past year.

The greatest impact has been on students from disadvantaged backgrounds and 86pc of teachers surveyed say additional supports will be needed in the 2021/22 school year to compensate for what they have missed.

Lack of technology was a key issue, with as many as 73pc of teachers saying that some students were unable to engage with online learning as a result of not having access to appropriate electronic devices.

TUI president Martin Marjoram said “regrettably, educational disadvantage is nothing new, but a situation where it becomes worsened by the pandemic cannot be allowed.”

The union wants additional teachers recruited to allow for smaller classes and more learning support, investment in technology, more guidance counselling support and full restoration of middle management positions in schools.

The TUI has released the survey findings ahead of the annual teacher union conferences, where the impact of the pandemic on teachers and students will be a major focus.

In terms of the impact on teacher workload, 89pc said that preparation, provision and associated work involved in providing classes remotely took more time than face-to-face delivery.

Last month’s survey of more than 1,000 TUI members in second-level schools and further education and training sectors highlighted concerns about the impact of two-tier pay scales on the profession.

Teachers recruited after January 2011 are on lower pay and, among those, 42pc believe as it stands now that they will still be in the profession in 10 years, while 29pc didn’t believe they would be.

However, if pay discrimination was to be fully resolved, 74pc believe they will still be in the profession in 10 years while 8pc do not believe that they will be.

Mr Marjoram said this showed “the continuing corrosive effect that pay inequality, which sees those employed after 2011 earning less than their colleagues, is having on the perception of the profession.”

He said progress had been made but even with recent gains there is still an €80,000 loss in career earnings, with the largest differences in salary in the early years of employment.

Mr Marjoram said it had led to a teacher recruitment and retention crisis at second level that is “making it increasingly difficult for schools to fill teaching vacancies.”

Online Editors

Source: Irish News