When we send our children off to school in the mornings, we like to think that they’re heading to a safe environment. Needless to say, we were pretty disturbed when we heard the following news.
The Irish Daily Mail reports that 42,000 Irish teachers (that’s 3 in 5) are working in classrooms without garda clearance. Scary, right?
Apparently the gardaí have vetted 31,000 teachers who have taken up posts since 2006 but have yet to carry out these essential checks on the rest.
So why haven’t these teachers been checked? Well there is a lack of resources in the Garda Vetting Unit and they can’t keep up with the volume of clearance requests.
“It will come as a shock to parents that there are hundreds of thousands of children being taught by teachers who have not been vetted,” said Averil Power, a Fianna Fail senator.
“We need a commitment from the Government that resources will be provided to ensure all teachers will be vetted by the gardaí as quickly and as thoroughly as possible,” she added.
The Teaching Council, the body in charge of handling initial applications for Garda vetting, has agreed that the figures are “quite high.” But it has insisted that it is working with the gardaí to ensure that checks are carried out faster, although it pointed out that extra staff were desperately needed as it could only process 10,000 applications a year.
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation said that garda vetting was vital to keep children safe.
“Priority has been given initially to vetting all newly qualified teachers, to situations where existing teachers change employment and to the vetting of other school employees,” said a spokesman for the Department of Education, speaking last night.
“The programme will extend to all teachers and will involve periodic re-vetting,” the spokesman added.
How would you feel if you discovered that your child’s teacher had no received an official garda clearance?