Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Gateway Academy: Ireland’s loss, Tilbury’s gain

Newly qualified teachers forced to emigrate for work say they have no plans to return to Ireland in the coming years. Amid speculation that as many as 2,000 teaching posts could be axed by Ireland’s Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, hundreds of fresh-faced teachers are applying for jobs in the UK with most securing full-time posts reports the Irish Independent.

Following her graduation from NUIG in May, Aoife McAdden refused to contemplate being unemployed. “After working hard in university for four years I wasn’t prepared to end up on social welfare,” she says at the end of her day’s work at the Gateway Academy in Tilbury.

One of four Irish teachers to have joined the school this year, the 23-year-old from Streete near Mullingar, says the opportunities in the sector at home are abysmal.

“Out of a class of nearly 200 who graduated from Galway this year, I don’t know anyone who got a full-time job at home.

“The lucky few got work covering maternity leave but that was about it.

“I didn’t even apply for jobs because I just knew it would be a waste of time,” she says.

A recent ASTI union survey found 12pc of recently graduated teachers didn’t even attempt to locate employment in Ireland due to the lack of secure jobs.

Out of a class of 76 who graduated from the University of Limerick this year, Mary Gardiner, from Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath, says only seven or eight got work in Ireland and to her knowledge none of those are on full-time contracts.

“I’m a PE teacher and being realistic there wasn’t a chance of me getting a permanent job in a school at home. If I did get something I’d be starting off at the bottom, doing some subbing and part-time work without anything guaranteed. Here I was offered a full-time position from day one,” said the 23-year-old.

While he’s happy to remain in England for a few years, 36-year-old mathematics teacher Gerard Neenan from Doneraile near Mallow, Co Cork, hopes that at some point in the future he’ll be able to teach in Ireland.

“I went back as a mature student and did the Hdip in UCC, graduating this year; and by the time I finished there I knew I’d have to look abroad for work.

“The situation (in Ireland) is very bleak, but maybe with the experience I’m gaining I might be able to get something there in the future,” he said.

And for 25-year-old Seana McCusker from Banbridge, Co Down, the search for employment at home was fruitless.

She told me: “I was looking for work in Ireland, both north and south, from last Christmas but by the time I left I couldn’t find anything.

“Ideally I’d love to teach at home but the reality is opportunities for young teachers there are non-existent.”

ASTI general secretary Pat King told his union’s conference this year: “Instead of helping us to rebuild our society and economy, our highly educated and motivated young teachers are being forced to emigrate. We are investing in their education, only to export them at the end of it.”



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