Letter to NI Minister of Education, McIIveen
22 October 2021
I am writing to you on behalf of UCETNI, the body that represents teacher education HEIs in Northern Ireland, to ask if the Department for Education would be willing to investigate, in partnership with us and other stakeholders, the teacher supply needs of schools in Northern Ireland. This is in the context of an increasing number of reports from schools about the difficulties they are experiencing in recruiting appropriately qualified teachers, especially in some key subject areas such as maths, computing/IT, Design & Technology, Home Economics and Science. There is also evidence of significant wastage from teachers leaving the profession soon after qualifying.
We realise that data from the annual teacher vacancy survey feeds into the calculation of ITE intake targets for the HEIs and, in theory, this should ensure that we ae training the right number of teachers. However, the assumptions underpinning the model used to calculate the intake targets have not been tested for some time and do not, in any case, take account of subject-specific vacancy data.
We have, over the last 18 months, developed an extremely productive and collegiate working relationship with DE officials because of the pressures placed on us by the Pandemic. We are confident that such a spirit of cooperation will allow us to address this increasingly important issue as a matter of urgency.