New teachers' job scheme excludes 2018 graduates
New teachers who graduated in 2018 are not eligible for a scheme that creates jobs for recently-qualified teachers, BBC News NI has learned.
The Investing in the Teaching Workforce Scheme aims to replace older teaching staff with younger teachers.
Up to 200 teachers aged over 55 can retire early by 31 March 2019.
However, the Department of Education (DE) said that schools can only recruit teachers who graduated between 2013 and 2017 to replace them.
Teaching jobs created under the scheme only began to be advertised on 11 October.
BBC News NI was contacted by a teacher who had subsequently attempted to apply for one of the jobs but had been informed they were not eligible.
They queried why they were deemed too recently qualified for a scheme to create employment for recently-qualified teachers.
However, a DE spokesperson said that as the scheme was officially launched in April this year teachers who graduated later in 2018 could not apply for the new jobs as they "had not experienced difficulty in obtaining meaningful employment".
"Therefore they are not included in the eligibility criteria for the scheme," they said.
"The Department of Education believes that there is objective justification for the restriction of eligibility for the criteria of replacement posts to recently-qualified teachers."
The Investing in the Teaching Workforce has been hit by a number of problems since it was first announced in 2015.
It was delayed due to lack of agreement - and a legal challenge - over how newly-qualified a teacher had to be to take part.
However, after a pilot went ahead in 2017, DE announced the scheme would run the scheme in the 2018/19 school year.