Northern Ireland

Controversial scheme to replace older teachers with newly-qualified staff to go ahead

Classroom Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Schools will be required to replace retired staff with a teacher who has qualified since 2012

A scheme to replace older teaching staff with newly-qualified teachers can begin the education minister has said.

Under the plans, only teachers who have graduated since 2012 will be eligible to apply for the jobs.

The Investing in the Teaching Workforce programme aims to allow teachers over the age of 55 to retire.

It was announced in 2015, but delayed due to lack of agreement over the criteria, including the definition of the term newly-qualified.

Retire

A number of experienced teachers in temporary posts had expressed concern that they would not be eligible to apply for the jobs.

The scheme will now begin in September 2016 and run for the 2016-17 academic year.

The Department of Education said that up to 120 teachers over 55 who had expressed an interest would now be allowed to retire in 2017.

Image caption Some experienced teachers in temporary posts had concerns they would not be eligible to apply for jobs

It also said it would spend £8m allowing those teachers to go.

Schools will then be required to replace them with a teacher who has qualified since 2012.

Previous education minister John O'Dowd originally wanted to spend £33m on the scheme, which would have enabled 500 teachers to retire and be replaced.

But revised figures were announced after a meeting of the Northern Ireland Executive on Wednesday.

Refresh

The current minister, Peter Weir, said that some teaching graduates would be disappointed at the 2012 cut-off.

"This is very good news for those recently graduated teachers who are unable to find permanent teaching positions," he said.

"This scheme will help to refresh the teaching workforce and share employment opportunities fairly between the generations.

"Whilst I realise that this will be disappointing for graduates who are outside the criteria, without this scheme these employment opportunities would not exist."

The scheme will run for the 2016-17 school year on a pilot basis, but further funding may then be sought to extend it.

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