SETU and Teacher Training Education

SETU and Teacher Training Education

Waterford TD believes that the SETU campus in Waterford could become a “centre of excellence for teacher training education” in an exchange with Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education. Deputy Ó Cathasaigh was questioning the Minister in the Joint Oireachtas Committee of Education on issues around SETU and regional balance in the context of the well publicised teacher shortage in primary and secondary schools.

Speaking about the opportunity for Waterford, the region and SETU to benefit from a centre of excellence, Deputy Ó Cathasaigh said “Coming from a regional perspective, there are 600,000 people within an hour of Waterford who look to Waterford for their services. This includes students accessing 3rd level education and their families and we know that families want more options for their teens and students within the region. At the same time, we are in the middle of a well documented teacher shortage which is enticing young people out of the region. If we really want to reverse the brain drain on the region, we have to look at all opportunities to meet the needs of our growing population”

Addressing Minister Harris at the Committee, Deputy Ó Cathasaigh said: “You can’t put on a teacher training course unless you’re nominated as a centre of excellence and it’s as far back as the 1970’s since a number of centres of excellence were prescribed. Yet we are now in 2024 but anyone who wants to engage in teacher training has to travel to Dublin, Limerick or Cork. I was one of those students myself – studying in Marino College in Dublin for my own teacher training. We have a perfectly functional department of Education in SETU but we cannot provide this service.”

“I wanted to know if the Minister was aware of this and if his department was looking into it. If we can provide a pathway for teacher education through the Technological Universities, I think this would be most welcome in terms of provision of teachers and keeping young people in our region” Deputy Ó Cathasaigh said

In response to Deputy Ó Cathasaigh, Minister Harris said that “Teacher training centres and initial teacher education is a policy matter for the Department of Education but I will seek their views on it”. He went on to say that “SETU hasn’t lacked any ambition in terms of what it can do in it’s short time” but he added that he saw the point Deputy Ó Cathasaigh was making around ‘regional balance in terms of their location’.