In some parts of Ireland there is currently an over-supply of newly-qualified teachers coupled with a lack of job security for those who do find employment.
In Scotland, there is a shortage of teachers for Catholic primary schools, in STEM subjects and in rural schools.
But now the University of Glasgow’s School of Education has embarked on a new initiative which has the potential to come up with a solution to both problems - at a single stroke.
An initial group of 14 recently qualified young teachers from teacher education institutions across Ireland and Northern Ireland has just completed an introductory summer school at the University before going on to teach for the equivalent of four days a week in Scottish schools, while spending the fifth day developing their professional knowledge and studying for Masters in Education with the School of Education.
Irish teachers anticipate working in Scotland
The young teachers will be in Scotland for two years, working in schools in four local authorities - Glasgow, Edinburgh, West Lothian and North Lanarkshire - while acquiring a postgraduate qualification.
Their experience in schools will mirror the Teacher Induction Scheme, an acclaimed support system used to assist Scottish teachers to gain the Standard for Full Registration - the full professional qualification which is required of all teachers in Scotland by the General Teaching Council for Scotland.
The scheme, which is being funded by the Scottish Government as part of its drive to create New Routes into Teaching, has been brokered in part by Professor Tony Finn, who, in addition to his previous role in Scotland as CEO of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), has had involvement in the accreditation of teacher education programmes in Ireland. He was also recently Rapporteur of a working group set up by the Irish Government to look at the issue of supply and demand in Irish schools. The report from that group, “Striking the Balance: Teacher Supply in Ireland”, was published earlier this year.
Professor Finn said: “We have tried to put in place a structure which would allow Irish teachers to come over here and work in schools while at the same time getting the opportunity to study on an M.Ed programme at the University of Glasgow. We have been very impressed by the high standard of applicants and their enthusiasm. Next year we hope to replicate this initiative, again with funding from the Scottish Government, and to attract, in addition, teachers of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects for secondary schools.”
In Ireland, teachers following postgraduate teacher education courses qualify with a Professional Masters (PME) in Education which has a particular focus on their preparation to become reflective teacher practitioners when they gain their first posts. The M.Ed at Glasgow has more of a focus on building on their current knowledge, improving and deepening their understanding of teaching and learning and, subsequently, developing the quality of their own teaching.
The initiative has been developed with the support of the Scottish Catholic Education Service and the GTCS.
Oisin Morgan, from Galway, who is going to be teaching at Bargeddie Primary in North Lanarkshire, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for us to develop professionally. A big attraction of this is being able to complete your Masters so I’m looking forward to studying at the University of Glasgow which is world-renowned but I’m also looking forward to broadening my horizons when it comes to teaching.”
Aideen Murphy, from Belfast, has just completed the B.Ed programme at St Mary’s University College, and is going to be doing primary teaching in Glasgow. She said: “I’m going to have a job for the next two years, which is amazing, as well as the opportunity for professional development through the Masters - and studying at the University of Glasgow made it an opportunity which was hard to resist.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “This government is working hard to ensure we have the right number of teachers in our classrooms. I am very pleased to see the progress being made by the University of Glasgow in attracting newly qualified teachers from Ireland to work in Scottish schools.
“The post-graduate study and supported in-classroom training will ensure these new teachers achieve the highest possible standards, and I wish them all the best in their studies. This is an important step in our efforts to find new ways of attracting people into the teaching profession, backed by £1 million from the Attainment Scotland Fund.”