For Written Answer on : 21/02/2023
Question Number(s): 387 Question Reference(s): 8339/23
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
* To ask the Minister for Education further to Parliamentary Question No. 156 of 9 February 2023, if her Department has considered fully funding post-primary teachers to participate in upskilling programmes for the teaching of home economics, similar to the funding provided for upskilling programmes in mathematics, physics and Spanish; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
– David Stanton T.D.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 21 February, 2023.
In 2018, my Department established a Steering Group on Teacher Supply to facilitate multi-agency engagement and to lead on a coordinated programme of actions to support the supply of teachers. Arising from the work of this Group and its various substructures, the Teacher Supply Action Plan was published in November 2018.
The Action Plan called for the development of upskilling programmes in targeted subject areas for existing teachers, and following a request from my Department, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) issued a funding call to initial teacher education (ITE) providers for upskilling programmes in mathematics, physics and Spanish in late 2019. These were identified by the Steering Group as among the most challenging subjects in terms of teacher recruitment. Following the successful completion of the funding call, these programmes commenced in January 2021.
Upskilling programmes are provided over two years on a part-time basis. They are free of cost to participants. The first cohort of participants, approximately 170 teachers, completed these programmes in 2022 and more than 300 teachers are due to graduate in 2023. My Department has agreed to extend funding in 2023 and to provide for additional capacity.
Funding for these programmes was put in place following a competitive call to all initial teacher education providers for proposals. It is intended to commence an upskilling programme in Irish in 2023/24 and consideration will be given to programmes in other subjects. The allocation of funding for any future programmes will be dependent on a competitive process for potential providers.
Separate to the direct funding to these upskilling programmes, the Teacher Fee Refund Scheme provides funding to teachers towards the cost of participation and examination fees on successful completion of professional development courses. Funding under the scheme is being prioritised for those taking courses in particular areas, including upskilling for post primary teachers leading to registration with the Teaching Council in an additional subject.
The maximum refund under the scheme is €5,000 per year and the level of refund depends on the volume of eligible applications that are received. Department Circulars 0005/2023 and 0015/2021 relate to this Scheme.