20. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to difficulties caused by the five day rule; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14296/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): It is the policy of my Department that only qualified personnel should be employed by schools as teachers. Unqualified personnel should not be appointed except in exceptional circumstances and only when all avenues for recruiting qualified personnel have been exhausted and only for quite limited time periods. Circular 0031/2011 issued by my Department details a cascade of measures for the recruitment of teachers by schools, prioritising registered teachers over retired registered teachers and unregistered people.

Other than the limited exceptions under Ministerial Regulations, Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act 2001, prohibits payment from Oireachtas funds to people employed as teachers in recognised schools unless they are registered with the teaching Council. The limited exceptions provided for in the regulations allow for an unregistered person to be appointed where an employer has made all reasonable efforts to appoint a registered teacher and no registered teacher is available to take up the position in question.  An unregistered person, so appointed, may not be paid from public funds for a continuous period of more than 5 consecutive school days.  The employer must be satisfied that any such person appointed is competent and capable of acting in the place of a registered teacher in the school. The employer must also continue to make all reasonable efforts to employ a registered teacher.  

In relation to the supply of qualified registered teachers I have recently convened the first meeting of the Teacher Supply Steering Group, a specialist group of stakeholders, chaired by the Secretary General of my Department. This group has been established to ensure that there is an adequate supply of quality teachers to meet the needs of primary and post primary schools and to ensure we can deliver on the Government’s ambition to make Ireland’s Education and Training Service the best in Europe by 2026.

The terms of reference of the steering group include to evaluate policy initiatives both for short-term and longer term implementation to respond to constraints in the system which have been already identified, and others which it identifies in the course of its work on teacher supply and demand. Any extension to the 5 day rule should therefore be considered by the steering group in the first instance.