Northern Ireland

£2.5m spent on suspended teachers

Two and a half million pounds has been paid to suspended teachers on wages, national insurance and pension contributions over the last five years.

The figure was released after SDLP MLA Thomas Burns tabled an Assembly question.

The Southern board paid out £816,000; the Belfast board £735,000; the Western £585,000; the South Eastern £212,000 and the North Eastern £199,000.

Mr Burns said the system was "failing badly".

"If a teacher is incompetent, unprofessional, ineffective or simply not up to the job there should be no barriers to their removal," he said.

"They should simply be dismissed from their post permanently, reassigned or given the appropriate training quickly.

"It does not make sense for them to stay at home doing nothing at excessive cost to the taxpayer, especially when schools have to bring in substitute cover, effectively paying twice.

However, in circumstances where teachers are being investigated for physical or sexual misconduct Mr Burns said it "would be inappropriate for them to remain on the premises".

"There are obviously many reasons why teachers are suspended and in the most serious cases a neutral suspension from their duties is clearly the only option," he said.

"Precautionary suspensions are only acceptable in these cases and lengthy, costly, enforced absences should be the exception rather than the rule."

The Department of Education said it was "mindful" of the cost of placing teachers on suspension, but the responsibility rested with Boards of Governors.

"Such suspensions are an essential tool in managing difficult and sensitive situations and are normally only imposed after careful consideration of the facts of each case," a spokesperson said.

"Teachers are entitled to full pay for the duration of their suspension."

"The safety of pupils is of paramount importance, therefore some teachers are suspended on a precautionary basis while an investigation takes place."