Over 220 teaching posts will be axed in Northern Ireland this year, the Education Minister has said.
Caitriona Ruane said she hoped the cuts could be achieved through voluntary redundancies, without the need for compulsory job losses.
The minister told the Assembly that £9 million had been made available to employing authorities to make payouts required for the 221 redundancies.
“This is a significant amount that was not easy to secure in the current financial climate,” she said yesterday.
“The funding that I have provided will help the employing authorities to provide an incentive for volunteers and keep compulsory redundancies to an absolute minimum.”
During ministerial question time, SDLP Member Alban Maginness said teachers were extremely worried about the prospect of losing their jobs and urged the minister to make sure that redundant staff were given the chance to move to other schools.
“There’s a great concern within the teaching profession over redundancies and increasing redundancies and I would hope that the minister would reassure those involved in teaching that where compulsory redundancies are made, or indeed other voluntary redundancies, but particularly compulsory redundancies, that efforts, genuine efforts are made to redeploy teachers in other schools, because there is obviously a concern for teachers.”
Ms Ruane responded: “Obviously I will do everything in my power to ensure that our teachers get fair play.
“That’s why I made available a significant amount of money in tight times to ensure that our teachers are treated fairly.”
Ulster Unionist Basil McCrea asked the minister to comment on a recent Audit Office report that found the spiralling costs of using substitute teachers had reached almost £70m a year.
The auditors said prematurely retired educators were still responsible for a significant proportion of casual work, leaving new graduates struggling to find work.
Ms Ruane said that practice had to stop. “I believe our newly qualified teachers deserve fair play and I don’t think they have had fair play in the past,” she said.
“I have been very concerned at the level of retired teachers that then are being re-employed.
“My department has carried out many different actions to ensure that this doesn’t happen and the figures have gone down since 2007, since I took office.”