The Northern Ireland Substitute Teacher Register (NISTR) is an on-line web based facility which provides a real-time booking system and a regional centralised database for all substitute teachers in Northern Ireland.

It allows local schools to access the database at short notice in order to book substitute teaching cover for teacher absences. Payment for all approved periods of substitute teaching is then made on a monthly basis by DE Teachers Pay Team. 


Voluntary Grammar schools submit monthly returns to the Department of Education’s Teachers Pensions Team detailing employee and employer scheme contributions as well as service details for all substitute teachers. Substitute teachers working in a Voluntary Grammar school are paid directly by the the school and not the DE Teachers Pay Team.

Background Information

The Department of Education (DE) is responsible for the central administration of education (other than higher and further education) and related services in the Province.  It is concerned with all aspects of pre-school, primary and post-primary education, the youth service, teacher education, and the promotion of community relations within and between schools.  Its primary statutory duties are to promote the education of the young people of Northern Ireland and to secure the effective execution of its policies in relation to the provision of the education service through local educational employing authorities and other bodies or persons with powers or duties under the legislation. 

The Education Authority (EA) employs teaching staff in controlled schools. It has five regions which are;

  • Belfast Region      
  • North Eastern Region      
  • South Eastern Region      
  • Southern Region      
  • Western Region      

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) - employs teachers in Catholic Maintained Schools 
The managing authorities of individual Voluntary, Integrated and Irish Medium schools employ teachers in these schools.

In March 2006 DE issued Circular 2006/7 to advise employing authorities and schools that only substitute teachers on NISTR should be employed to work in schools. In May 2008, DE issued Circular 2008/10 to advise that from 1 August 2008, substitute teachers employed by schools must be booked on-line via NISTR. 

DE Circulars


At present (February 2019) NISTR includes in the region of 11,000 suitably qualified substitute teachers in the live pool that is made available to schools (approx. 1,200) to search for, book and process payment to suitably qualified teachers.

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