Scheme to replace retired teachers with young staff will create just 31 jobs
A MULTI-million pound drive to replace hundreds of older teachers with younger staff is to finally go ahead - but will create just 31 jobs.
It was intended that up to 500 recently qualified graduates would replace those willing to retire early.
The Executive was to allocate £33 million for its Investing in the Teaching Workforce scheme.
When it was launched last year, that investment dropped to just £8m and the proposed numbers to 120.
Now it will be rolled out as a pilot involving 31 staff, and at an estimated cost of £500,000.
Unions have said this falls far short of what is needed.
Money was to be allocated by the Executive from the Public Sector Transformation Fund and used to "re-shape the teaching workforce as part of a dual approach to a strategic cost reduction scheme for schools".
It is understood that many who applied originally have now reached retirement age so no longer qualify.
The scheme was suspended in March after a teacher launched a legal challenge claiming he was being unlawfully excluded from applying for vacancies because of his greater experience. This was rejected at the High Court.
The Department of Education yesterday confirmed 31 teachers would be leaving the profession between December 2017 and March 2018.
Job opportunities for recently qualified teachers will be advertised by the Education Authority and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools this week.
"The aim of the pilot scheme is to refresh the teaching workforce by enabling the release of teachers aged 55 years and over whilst providing job opportunities for teachers who have qualified to teach in 2012 up to and including 2016," a spokeswoman said.
"An evaluation will be carried out to see if the anticipated benefits have been realised after which the department will decide on next steps."
Avril Hall Callaghan, general secretary of the Ulster Teachers' Union, said it "falls far short of what is needed".
"Our main concern was that this £33m would be lost from the education purse entirely but the department then said it would launch an £8m pilot scheme this term," she said.
"The original £33m scheme would be a lifeline for the profession to give 500 newly qualified teachers permanent jobs. It would allow teachers over the age of 55 to retire to provide a job for a recently trained teacher who has been unable to find a post, thereby refreshing the workforce.
"However, we are also aware that the pilot is limited and as a union we will continue to keep under scrutiny the plight of other young teachers who fall outside the pilot's parameters."
NASUWT national official Justin McCamphill said the department would need to review the scheme before determining whether to run it again.