Northern Ireland

Scheme to replace older teachers launched

Older female teacher with children in classroom, file pic Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The Investing in the Teaching Workforce programme aims to allow some teachers over the age of 55 to retire early

A scheme to replace 120 older teaching staff with newly-qualified teachers has been launched by Education Minister Peter Weir.

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

Teachers who have qualified since 2012 will then be eligible to apply for the jobs their retirements create.

It will cost £8m, which is being made available through the public sector transformation fund.

It was originally announced last December by Mr Weir's predecessor John O'Dowd, who wanted to spend £33m to enable 500 teachers to retire and be replaced.

But the scheme was delayed due to lack of agreement over some of the criteria, including the definition of the term newly-qualified - and it has also been scaled back.

The scheme will initially run on a pilot basis for the 2016-17 academic year, but may be renewed in 2017-18 if funding is available.

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

Image caption Education Minister Peter Weir says the scheme will provide up to 120 jobs

Mr Weir said he was aware some teachers who did not meet the criteria would be disappointed.

"However I must stress that without this scheme these employment opportunities would not exist," he said.

"As well as helping to refresh the teaching workforce, it will provide up to 120 job opportunities for recently qualified teachers who have been unable to obtain permanent teaching posts."

The Department of Education (DE) said that any jobs created under the scheme are unlikely to be advertised until 2017.

The move was welcomed by Irish National Teachers' Organisation Northern Secretary Gerry Murphy.

"INTO recognises the pilot scheme falls short of what many teachers not in permanent posts would have wanted," he said.

"However, as a teacher's union, we welcome any move that secures full time, meaningful employment for teachers."

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