School crisis as 1,600 teachers rush to get out
ALMOST 50pc more teachers than originally estimated are planning to retire en masse before the February cut-off date.
Schools will be left with gaps in their teaching staff from the end of next month as almost 1,600 primary and secondary school teachers leave their posts.
The Herald first revealed how there would be a mass exodus of the profession just months before the vital State exams.
Teachers are entitled to their pension and a tax-free lump sum based on their 2009 salary under the Croke Park Agreement extension.
But if they decide to retire after February, their pension entitlements will be cut on their reduced salary.
A total of 798 primary teachers, 582 secondary, community and comprehensive school teachers and 217 in vocational and community colleges have indicated their intention to step away from their positions, according to Minister Ruairi Quinn's Department of Education figures. This brings the total to 1,597 - a huge increase on the 1,100 figure that was originally anticipated.
The vast majority - more than 1,150 - plan to retire next month which will leave hundreds of schools struggling to provide cover in the middle of the school year. It is possible that students could lose three or four teachers and the offer is not restricted per school.
It will leave schools in an awkward position of recruiting certain teachers from March to May.
The Government has since made provision for Junior Cert and Leaving Cert teachers who will be allowed to leave after the examination period concludes.
ASTI representative Gemma Tuffy said that the union looked for a change in the final closing date.
"The timing of it is such that it is mid-school year and some schools will be left in a position that they find it difficult to fill that post at that time," she said. "Schools would never normally recruit at this time."
Sources at the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) said teachers have been "weighing up their options" throughout the year and they anticipated large numbers to take up the offer.
The Government is projecting an overall drop of 6,000 in public sector numbers this year.
And as 7,500 staff plan to leave, it clears the way for the recruitment of up to 1,500 new staff across the public service without breaking spending targets.
Figures from the various departments show that more than 2,000 want to leave the HSE -- which includes almost 1,000 nurses and nearly 50 hospital consultants.
So far 438 staff have applied to leave the garda and 117 from the Department of Social Protection.