Principals in Sligo Primary Schools recently completed a survey to ascertain the substitution situation in the county. Principals were surveyed before the Hallowe’en break and answered questions based on their experiences of searching for substitute teachers in the September/October period. Unsurprisingly, it emerged that no substitute teacher was available in 28% of cases.

32 schools responded to the survey, with a combined total of 276 substitutable teachers.

10 schools with 49 teachers reported that they had no access to a Substitute Supply Panel.

During the period, there were 476 absences requiring substitution and this is what happened:

In searching for a substitute, this was the situation in schools which had access to a Supply Panel:


This was the situation in schools which had no access to a Supply Panel:


What immediately jumps out from the statistics is how inadequate the Supply Panels are and how much SET teachers are having to be used to plug the holes in the Substitution crisis.

Principals who responded to the survey also reported their frustrations at trying to find substitute teachers, despite contacting up to 20 by text or phone call. They also expressed their deep dismay at pupils missing out on lessons from their SET teacher due to that teacher having to cover absences.

Educators will not be surprised to find that this is the situation on the ground and these are the statistics that the Minister needs to read. If these numbers were to be replicated throughout the country, even before the onset of winter, the situation is indeed bleak in our schools.

Many thanks to the Sligo Principals for permission to publish the results of their survey.