The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) today launched a campaign with trade unions TUI, ASTI, INTO and ICTU for better working conditions for student teachers while on placement. The unions are demanding student teachers should receive financial support while on placement, to cover the cost of travel, accommodation, materials, and food as a result of the drastic increase in the cost of living devastating students’ lives. The campaign is calling on student teachers and graduates to fill out a short survey to help drive the campaign forward.
Link to national student and graduate teacher survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/95S9S7H
Speaking at the launch, USI President Michael Kerrigan said, “Our top class teachers get second class supports. Work placement is invaluable preparation for student teachers who are pursuing their vocation as educators and no financial support is given. Along with working part-time jobs, we’re hearing of some placements lasting 30 – 35 hours a week with no support for travel, food or materials. The reality is, students can’t cope with the cost of living without another job on top of this. The average cost of college is €12,500 while students are paying the second highest fees in the EU after the UK. It’s time our Government valued student teachers, otherwise we’re faced with a drought of talent with a shortage of teachers reaching crisis point.”
“This is yet another example of the financial difficulties that face our students and young people and act as barriers to their accessing and fully participating in the workplace,” said Patricia King, Congress General Secretary. “The collaborative survey – fully supported by Congress and our affiliates – will highlight the daily realities for students and how the rising cost of living impacts on their education and the opportunities that will bring. We must do all we can to ensure that our student teachers, indeed all students, are given the best opportunities to access the workplace and decent work, without the added pressure and stress of these additional financial costs.”
John Boyle, President of the INTO, said, “The escalating costs for student teachers on placement was a matter of concern to the INTO”. Mr Boyle went on to say, “Additional time spent in schools needed to be accompanied by support for student teachers to compensate for expenses such as transport, clothing, classroom resources and materials and loss of part time earnings while on placement. Without government action on this there was a very real fear that success in school placement could become a factor of ability to pay rather than ability to teach.”
The unions are inviting students and teachers to take part in a national survey to gain further insight into the current situation facing student teachers today and issues faced by graduates. The unions will be seeking a meeting with Minister for Education Richard Bruton to discuss how the Department for Education and Skills can support student teachers on placement.