In February of this year, controversy erupted at plans by the local Department of Education to open a scheme which would replace 500 older or retiring teachers with newly-qualified staff. The huge number of temporary teachers that have been qualified for a number of years kicked up such a fuss, rightly so, that the scheme was scrapped. You can read the original BBC story here.
I think it would be fair to say that many in NI probably assume that their child’s teacher is there on a permanent basis, a staple in their child’s development – but this is not true.
BtP asked the Department of Education to outline, since 2011, how many teachers in each Assembly constituency have been or are working on temporary contracts. In their response, the Department were keen to point out that ‘the total has not been provided for each year as there are teachers who have worked in one or more constituency in each year and as such a total would give an inflated count’ – so will not count a teacher who has worked in Derry and then Fermanagh, twice.
The figures are certainly higher than I was expecting, as were the constituencies with the highest prevalence of teachers on temp contracts.
Upper Bann has a consistently higher number than any other constituency, peaking at 734 teachers in 2013/14, and sitting at 714 in 2015/16. Surprisingly, Foyle is at the bottom of the list, with a high of 425 teacher on temp contracts in 2012-13, and sitting at 416 in 2015/16.
The top five constituencies with the consistently highest numbers of teachers on temp contracts is as follows:
- Upper Bann
- North Belfast
- Newry and Armagh
- Fermanagh and South Tyrone
- South Belfast
In total over the years for which we have data, there have always been over 10,000 teachers across the North on temporary contracts.