An incorporeal Cabinet meeting has been held to try to find ways to address the shortage of teachers.

Minister for Education Norma Foley is attending an OECD meeting in Paris tomorrow and had to brief colleagues today.

The meeting heard that the suspension of non-statutory leave arrangements, such as career breaks, is being considered by the Department of Education to try to plug the gaps in schools.

Meanwhile, around 800 second year Hibernia College postgraduate Professional Master of Education (PME) students who have completed their latest school placement might be asked to do substitute work this year.

The teacher supply panels at primary level may also be changed and teachers could be asked to substitute in other classes while a student teacher is on placement in their class.

Plans to attract students from more diverse backgrounds into teaching as a profession will also be advanced.

The Dáil will debate a Social Democrats' motion tomorrow calling for urgent action by the Government to address the shortage of teachers.

Reacting to news that career breaks for teachers may be suspended, General Secretary of the TUI Michael Gillespie said that the move will have the opposite affect and will reduce attractiveness for teachers.

"It'll make the situation worse," he said.

Mr Gillespie said that the career break system was not blocking anyone taking a job, but reducing the attractiveness of a job will only make recruitment and retention worse.