As of the 1st of November 2013, all teachers in Ireland paid by the state must be registered with the Teaching Council in order to continue to be paid. This can be seen as a good thing – it will mean that only people qualified to teach can register, which in turn means that only people qualified to teach (save for a small number of people without a teaching qualification that were automatically registered in March 2006) will be paid to teach. This is all coming about because of the commencement of Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act (2001), which is long overdue. One might be inclined to question what the delay was.
Like all good teachers, I have started with a positive. I might even try to finish with a positive. Now for the negative – the filling in the sandwich.
Droichead is a proposed new method of probation for teachers that will allow a teacher’s colleagues within the school to be her assessors. The Inspectorate will no longer be involved in formal probation under this scheme. The school principal will have the final word on recommending whether the teacher has shown a satisfactory ability in the areas of teaching and learning, which in turn will determine whether the teacher can go from conditional registration with the Teaching Council to full registration. This whole process will free up inspectors’ time to concentrate on other areas like Whole School Evaluations and incidental (drive-by) inspections.
Droichead evolved from a proposed programme called the Career Entry Professional Programme (CEPP) which was widely rejected and condemned by teachers nationwide, as well as by principal teachers. With its tail between its legs, the Teaching Council retreated to its Maynooth HQ and emerged around a year later with the almost-identical Droichead Pilot Scheme. To date, a reported 11 schools have opted into this scheme, out of an envisaged hundreds.
The Irish National Teacher’s Organisation has issued a directive on this matter, which instructs members not to participate in the Droichead scheme. At the time of writing, the directive reads:
“The CEC directs INTO members not to participate in the Droichead Pilot Scheme being proposed by the Teaching Council, pending the outcome of a vote by members.”
It has been reported at INTO quarterly meetings that all INTO-endorsed elected or appointed members of the Teaching Council were opposed to Droichead, but were over-ruled by the majority of the council, most of which were not from the primary education sector. What use is a Teaching Council for primary teachers where the majority of members are from different sectors and can easily out-vote primary sector members on matters affecting the primary sector?
Initial registration with the Teaching Council costs €90 and costs €65 to renew registration every year thereafter. This cost is relatively low compared with other professional regulatory bodies, but the real issue is what does this registration fee pay for? Through conversations and observations about the work of the Teaching Council, it would appear that the majority of their work is focused on teachers starting out in their career. The following is a non-exhaustive list:
- Accreditation and review of Initial Teacher Education courses
- Recognition of qualifications from abroad (at an additional cost to be borne by the applicant)
- Reviewing transcripts of results for Newly-Qualified Teachers
- Administering Garda Vetting forms
- Promote teaching as a profession
- Uphold professional standards
- Publish professional codes of conduct for teachers
- Research matters relevant to its objectives
- Promote, develop and conduct research into Continuing Professional Development (CPD)