Dozens of Longford teaching posts at risk

Several County Longford primary teachers face losing their jobs this summer as a consequence of budgetary cutbacks.

Several County Longford primary teachers face losing their jobs this summer as a consequence of budgetary cutbacks.

In a fresh setback for new graduates and those with less than three years’ teaching experience, all vacant positions must be filled by permanent teachers redeployed from other schools.

It means temporary teachers who may already be doing the job could potentially be left out of work and facing a summer of uncertainty.

At the start of September, an estimated 1,100 teachers will be relocated from their existing jobs.

Those teachers, on the Department of Education’s main panel, will be entitled to first refusal on these posts which before now were taken by staff on fixed term contracts, held mostly by recent graduates.

It is only after the main panel has been cleared can schools then offer any remaining positions to those on a supplementary register, the majority of whom operate in a temporary capacity.

Brian Hilliard, a sixth class teacher at St Mary’s National School in Edgeworthstown said he was shocked to learn of the new changes last week.

“We were told about this new circular about the way schools have to fill teaching posts from now on,” said a bemused Mr Hilliard when the Leader called to the school on Friday. “It took me a while to get my head around it to be honest.”

A temporary teacher for the past three years, Mr Hilliard said in any other year, waiting for the main panel to be cleared would cause little or no problem. But it is the sheer length of that waiting list which has left the Ardagh native fretting about his own future job prospects.

“They (Department of Education) are talking about 1,000 people on the main panel so this new information we are after getting says that every person on the main panel will have to be looked after first.

“I have no possibility of getting another job or temporary contract until that panel is completely cleared. I can’t see how that is going to clear at all. I will just have to play a waiting game now and see in a few months time when schools know what places they have available,” he said.

“I have three years’ experience but there are a lot of people who don’t have three years experience that won’t go on any panel,” he revealed. I thought I got out of college at the right time, there seemed to be plenty of jobs. I don’t mind being redeployed or applying for jobs coming up but where are the jobs going to come out of? There are no new jobs being created.”

St Mary’s NS Principal, Helen O’Gorman said around 26 jobs in Longford could be in jeopardy as a result.

“I have six temporary teachers on one year contracts. Three of these are on the supplementary panel and are expecting to get a permanent post or fixed term post in another school....This time last year I knew who my staff were for next year. I do not know who my members of staff will be next year,” she explained.

Ms O’Gorman said the cuts and incoming changes would have a contradictory affect on schools and their social fabric, saying the present climate was by far the “toughest” she has so far encountered in her nine years as principal.