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More pupils being taught by fewer and older teachers, reveals report

By Lindsay Fergus

More pupils are being taught by fewer teachers in growing classes across the region, it has emerged.

Teacher numbers in schools across the province plummeted by 185 this year compared to the previous year.

New figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics Research Agency (NISRA) show how the ratio of teachers to pupils has changed significantly over the past decade.

It shows that there are 312 fewer teachers now than in 2007/08 and 1,919 fewer than 2002/03.

And the situation is set to get worse when hundreds more step down for a lucrative voluntary redundancy package this August.

It is also expected that more jobs will be lost in 2012/13 following a consultation on area plans to determine a consolidated schools’ estate.

Those plans — for post primaries — are due to be published next Thursday and the public consultation will close in October.

That will put further pressure on pupil/teacher ratios (PTR) which have increased to an average of almost 17 pupils (16.9) per teacher — much higher than Scotland’s 13.4 pupils, but lower than England’s 17.3.

The Teacher Workforce Statistics report published yesterday said: “The sectors which had the biggest increase in PTRs were the primary and grammar schools.

“The reason for this increase in (primary and grammar school sectors) is that the pupil enrolment numbers have increased, but the number of teachers has decreased,” it added.

The annual figures also reveal that teachers are getting older, and despite Department of Education efforts there are fewer young teachers in the classroom.

The average age of teachers has continued its steady rise to almost 41, while the percentage of teachers who are under the age of 30 has slumped from 15.6% in 2009/10 to 13.6%.

Education Minister John O’ Dowd last month cut the number of teaching places at Northern Ireland’s universities for 2012/13 because the market is over-saturated with nine out of 10 newly-qualified teachers failing to secure a full-time post.

However, on a positive note the average number of days lost due to sickness per teacher in all schools was just 7.2, the sixth consecutive year it has fallen.

Teacher substitution costs have also fallen to £57m in 2011/12 from a high of £66m in 2008/9.


1,919 — fewer teachers now than in 2002/03

612 — fewer full-time teachers compared to 2007/08

300 — more part-time teachers than 2007/08

40.7 — the average age of a teacher

1,600 — the increase in primary school pupil numbers in 2011/12

18,852 — the number of teachers

788 — the number of teaching vacancies in 2010/11

16.9 — pupils per teacher

Belfast Telegraph


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