Teacher Supply: Launch of Teacher Upskilling Initiative in Mathematics, Physics, and Spanish

Maura O'Shea

By Maura O'Shea

Posted: 4 November, 2020

Wooden dice with letters spelling out the word Teach

The Minister for Education, Norma Foley, TD, and the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD, together with the HEA have announced a new initiative for registered post-primary teachers to upskill to teach Maths, Physics and Spanish.

Part-time Level 8 programmes of two years in duration are being offered to teachers in related subject areas so that they can be upskilled to meet the Curricular Subject Requirementsto teach Maths, Physics or Spanish to the highest level in post-primary education.

Two cycles of the programmes will be supported, commencing in January 2021 and January 2022. It is expected that more than 300 teachers will be upskilled across the three subject areas over the two cycles.

Places on the programmes will be provided free of charge to registered teachers, with participants paying only an initial deposit to be refunded on programme completion.

Places will be prioritised for teachers who are unemployed, are in partial employment, or are teaching the subject of the upskilling programme out of field.

The programmes will be delivered on a flexible and blended basis to facilitate participation by teachers nationwide. Programme delivery will not impact on class contact time for currently serving teachers.

Provision has also been made within the programmes to upskill teachers to teach Maths and Physics in an Irish languagesetting.

The programmes have been developed by accredited initial teacher education providers following a call for proposals. The call was managed by the HEA on behalf of the Department of Education and is one of a suite of measures contained in the Teacher Supply Action Plan to address teacher supply challenges in particular subject areas.

The initiative reflects the commitment of the Department to build capacity in the priority subject areas of STEM and MFL, and to providing quality professional learning opportunities across the continuum of teacher education.

Minister Foley said: “I am delighted to announce, with my colleague Minister Harris, the establishment of these innovative new upskilling programmes.

“Our post-primary schools have highlighted teacher recruitment challenges in certain subject areas, including STEM and modern foreign languages. These programmes will support the supply of teachers to meet the needs of our schools and students over the coming years in three key subject areas, mathematics, physics and Spanish.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the higher education institutions for coming forward with these approaches to help improve teacher supply in these subject areas and the HEA for their management of this process on behalf of my Department.

“This is an exciting opportunity for teachers to upskill in a flexible way with no fee cost, to increase their own opportunities for employment whilst addressing recruitment challenges in these subject areas. I would urge strongly any registered post-primary teacher with a potential interest in these subject areas to look into these programmes and assess their options further with the relevant HEIs.”

Minister Harris said: “I am delighted with the response from our higher education institutions in coming forward with innovative approaches to provide upskilling opportunities for teachers through these programmes. I want to commend all the institutions that responded to the HEA call.

“The recommended proposals are of the highest quality and I am confident that participants will, over the two years of the programme, be empowered to become effective and enthusiastic teachers of these subjects.

“I look forward to seeing these new upskilling programmes up and running. Both the Department of Education and my department will view these with great interest as potential templates for future initiatives to address the demand in our schools for subject teachers as needs are identified.”

Dr Alan Wall, Chief Executive of the HEA said this is another great example of flexibility by our higher education institutions. “Building on the track record of our HEIs in providing quality upskilling programmes, the initiative provides a great professional learning opportunity for teachers and highlights the collaboration across the education continuum.”

Places on each programme are limited and interested teachers are encouraged to consult the websites of the relevant programmes for more information (details below).




Programme Name


Closing Date for applications


Professional Diploma in Mathematics for Teaching/Dioplóma Gairmiúil sa

Mhatamaitic don Mhúinteoireacht(75 ECTS)

Consortium led by the University of Limerick partnering with NUI Galway, Dublin City University, Technological University Dublin, Cork Institute of Technology, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, and Waterford Institute of Technology

14 December 2020


Consortium led by Dublin City University, partnering with NUI Galway, and University of Limerick

4 January 2021


University College Cork

17 January 2021




Notes for editors

Call process

The Teacher Supply Action Plan was published in November 2018 detailing a coordinated programme of actions to address concerns in relation to the supply of teachers in particular subject areas at post-primary level. Arising from the Action Plan, the HEA was requested to manage a call for upskilling programmes on behalf of the Department of Education.

In December 2019, a call for proposals for flexible upskilling programmes in Maths, Physics and Spanish was issued by the HEA to higher education institutions that have primary or post-primary initial teacher education programmes accredited by the Teaching Council.

The submitted proposals were evaluated by an external panelof experts in the field of initial teacher education. The panel was provided with guidance from the Teaching Council as to the alignment of the proposed programmes with the relevant Curricular Subject Requirements.

A programme in each subject area was recommended by the panel to the Department of Education, and the Department accepted the recommendations and considered the distribution of places in the context of national supply and the level of funding available.


Up to €3 million has been committed over the three-year lifecycle of the initiative for the purposes of supporting participation on the upskilling programmes by registered teachers and for programme evaluation. It is expected that more than 300 teachers will be upskilled over the course of the two cycles.

Governance and Evaluation

A Steering Committee will be established by the Department to oversee implementation and governance of the programmes. The Steering Committee will be assisted in its work by sub-groups in each of the subject areas.

An external evaluation of the programmes will be commissioned by the Department to assess the efficacy of the initiative as a policy intervention, and to ensure that the programmes are meeting the stated objective to upskill teachers to the highest standards in these subject areas.


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