Ministers to increase upskilling places for post-primary teachers in maths, physics, Spanish and Irish

Gerry O'Sullivan

Posted: 6 April, 2021

The Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD have announced additional places in 2022 on programmes to upskill registered post-primary teachers to teach mathematics, physics and Spanish and the intention to issue a call for a new upskilling programme in Irish.

Minister Foley said: “Our post-primary schools have highlighted teacher recruitment challenges in certain subject areas, including STEM and modern foreign languages but also in Irish. I am delighted to announce that a call will issue in the near future for a new programme to upskill post-primary teachers to teach Irish.

These programmes will provide another channel for the supply of teachers to help meet the needs of our schools and students over the coming years in four key subjects; mathematics, physics, Spanish and Irish.”

Minister Harris said: “I am delighted that our higher education institutions have successfully commenced this new and innovative approach to provide upskilling opportunities for teachers and assist with addressing the challenges in schools for the supply of teachers in these subjects. I have no doubt that the HEIs will support the new call for the development of a programme to upskill teachers to teach Irish.”

In accordance with the Teacher Supply Action Plan, in November 2020 Minister Foley and Minister Harris announced new upskilling programmes for post-primary teachers in mathematics, physics and Spanish.

Following a funding call to the higher education institutions, managed by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on behalf of the Department of Education, three level 8 programmes were selected for funding, as follows:

  • Professional Diploma for Teaching Physics: DCU (lead institution), UL and NUIG
  • Higher Diploma in Spanish for Teaching (Post-Primary): UCC
  • Professional Diploma in Mathematics for Teaching: UL (lead institution), NUIG, DCU, TUD, CIT, LYIT and WIT

The programmes are open to registered post-primary teachers irrespective of employment status. Teachers cannot already be registered in the subject in which they are intending to upskill. Other than a deposit, refundable to the participating teacher on completion of the programme, places are provided free of charge and prioritised for teachers who are unemployed, not in full employment, and those teaching the subject “out of field”.

Each programme is run over two years on a part-time basis and delivered in a flexible and innovative fashion, so as to ensure the best opportunity for teachers to participate, including those in partial or full employment and to facilitate participation of teachers on a national scale. Programmes are designed so that participation should not impact on class contact time for currently serving teachers.

Funding is being provided by the Department of Education to support two intakes of students, in January 2021 and January 2022. Applications to programmes for January 2021 significantly exceeded the number of places available. Given that these subjects are still challenging in terms of filling teaching vacancies, the Department of Education intends to fund additional places on these programmes for the second intake of students in January 2022.

The numbers of additional places have not yet been finalised and will be subject to the capacities of the relevant HEIs to accommodate additional teachers on the programmes and to available funding. The Department of Education intends to engage with the relevant HEIs in the coming weeks in order to progress this matter.

Further information on the programmes is available at the following links:

  • Professional Diploma for Teaching Physics link
  • Higher Diploma in Spanish for Teaching (Post-Primary) link
  • Professional Diploma in Mathematics for Teaching:  link

The work being undertaken to ensure that the supply of teachers meets the requirements of our schools and students is continuing and, accordingly, the Department of Education also intends that a call will issue to HEIs in the near future for a programme to upskill registered post-primary teachers to meet Teaching Council curricular subject requirements in Irish, as this is also a subject in which some schools report significant difficulties in filling teaching vacancies.

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