Cease discrimination against student teachers and newly-qualified teachers
Dear Minister Quinn,
The penal implications for new teacher entrants into Education and the decision not to pay allowances to new teachers with exceptional qualifications, including Primary Degrees, Masters' Degrees, Doctorates etc., is the first step in ensuring that the teaching profession will no longer attract the quality of expertise that has, until now, enhanced many schools throughout this country. How many students who achieve excellent Leaving Certificates, or who bring exceptional and versatile skills to teaching through participation in further education, will now be keen to become a teacher? This government talks about a Knowledge Economy yet your actions shows this to be an empty and hollow rhetoric.
The morale of teachers is already at an all-time low. With the introduction of a two-tiered salary system, it is highly likely and natural that underlying tensions and resentment will become a prominent issue in staffrooms across the country as new teachers are expected to perform the same role, to the same standard as their colleagues, while being remunerated in accordance with a very different pay scale. This is despite our commitment to the teaching profession prior to the proposed withdrawal of allowances. Do we not live in a democratic society that promotes and values equal pay for equal work? Most schools are already stretched to critical level and these current proposals will further exacerbate this situation. Great advances in schools, particularly DEIS schools will be severely curtailed.
Is it also necessary to highlight the fact that a Degree qualification is a necessity for primary teaching? Therefore, the allowance is not an 'allowance' or 'bonus' per se but a basic entitlement for obtaining the minimum standard to teach as set out by the Department of Education and Skills - an entitlement which comprises a sizeable proportion of a teacher's salary. If you take away the Degree, you take away the teacher so we view this Government's actions as devious and insulting to our profession.
If Education has any chance of progressing under your governance, surely you must recognise those who have made the effort to bring their significant expertise to the profession. We would appeal for your careful consideration of how your actions will seriously damage the Primary Education System in Ireland.
Current and future primary and secondary school teachers throughout Ireland.