Some great news for the education sector this week as more than 600 new college places will be available for primary school teacher education programmes in the next two years. Education Minister Norma Foley made the announcement earlier in the week, stating that the new places will help to address teacher shortages in the sector.
The majority of the 610 new places will be on the two-year Professional Master of Education programme, with 200 new places created each year. However, 90 new places will also be available on the Bachelor of Education programme, and an additional 30 on the B.Ed. through Irish this year.
Demand for primary school teachers is expected to increase due to a range of factors, including the extension of disadvantaged (DEIS) status to over 320 schools. There will also be increased provision for students with special educational needs, and more teachers will be required in order to lower the pupil-teacher ratio. The enrolment of Ukrainian pupils has also impacted teacher demands, while many schools are struggling with a lack of available substitute teachers.
The Department of Education determines the number of students admitted to primary programmes in State-funded higher education institutions each year, taking into account teacher supply and demand issues, and available resources. Primary teaching is a popular career option for students, and the new places will help bring the pupil-teacher ratio down to its lowest-ever level.