‘I had to drive 15 hours a week to and from work’

Teacher urges TUI delegates to back establishment of national voluntary redeployment scheme

The sense of personal investment was impossible to miss as Susanna Earley urged delegates at the TUI conference in Cork on Wednesday to back a motion calling for the establishment of a national voluntary redeployment scheme for teachers.

At one stage, she recalls, she was spending three times as long in the car Monday to Friday as the single hour she got each day with her six-year-old boy with the daily return journey to and from work just about allowing her to get him up and out to a creche and then to put him to bed in the evening.

Earley’s frustration over it all was abundantly clear as she recounted for delegates her longstanding struggle to get guaranteed teaching hours in Donegal, where she had initially been living and had become established as a music teacher, and then to return to her native Monaghan where she was getting married and would subsequently have three children.

A pilot scheme seemed to offer a route home, she says, but she had to wait for her county’s turn to come up and when it did she was not considered to be qualified for the only music teacher’s position to come up because she did not have the additional subject listed in the job spec.


“The pilot scheme offered me the opportunity to apply for a transfer once in 15 years. Since when did a pilot run for 15 years that is not fit for purpose?” she asked delegates to loud applause.

‘Biggest problem’

In the absence of a system that allowed her to transfer, she simply applied for jobs that might get her closer to home but found that having had three stints of maternity leave she had almost no experience from the immediately previous years and repeatedly felt she was discounted.

The fact she was registered for just one subject was, she says, an issue too as despite having filled in to teach Irish countless times it could not be considered at the selection stage. She has now returned to college to add another couple of subjects to her registration.

“I could throw so many reasons that I think are the reason why I can’t get past the interview process but at the end of the day, the biggest problem is we do not have a proper redeployment scheme?”

Now a single parent, she says: “I’m making every effort I can to get a job in my home county but it just doesn’t seem to be possible. And they say we have a teacher shortage. I just want to be able to teach and to be a parent. But right now, it is not possible for anybody who is who is commuting to do both.

“I’ve said to people: ‘Covid was a blessing for me’. It wasn’t a blessing for everybody else but what Covid gave me was the ability to see my eldest at a formative time of his life. Instead of driving 15 hours a week either side of work, I got to see my other children. It shouldn’t take a pandemic.”

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times