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Being a teacher is harsh lesson in economics

Published 11/11/2013

IS it me or does working as a teacher in Northern Ireland just not make any sense? Just as Hollywood seems to be awash with wannabe actors eking out a living as a waitress or bell-hop, Northern Ireland seems to be populated by wannabe teachers who can't seem to get their big break.

The statistics tell an interesting story. In a wee country that can be driven across in an hour-and-a-half, there are some 1,200 schools and 18,000 full-time teachers.

A legion of 10,000 substitute teachers are on call to fill in for those full-time teachers on courses, or off work due to other reasons. The teacher training colleges pump out new recruits at the rate of 640-ish each year.

When will this madness stop? If Sony continued making VHS video recorders for a market that doesn't exist anymore, someone would ask difficult questions.

The simple economic law of demand and supply so obviously applies to the Northern Irish teacher situation. There is currently a huge over-supply in the market.

As a result, new teachers often have to endure months – if not years – of rejection.

Like many struggling teachers, I have become disillusioned and have voted with my feet. The country of my birth does not want me as a teacher and, come January, I will be taking up my first permanent teaching post in Devon.

I was nearly driven to distraction by the Northern Irish teaching crisis. I hope my new students in Devon don't do the same.

SIMON JENKINS

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Belfast Telegraph

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