Staffing schedule misses the mark 

The Department of Education and Skills has today published the primary staffing circular for the school year 2020/21 (Circular 18/20).

The staffing schedule provides for a one-point reduction to the pupil-teacher ratio for small schools (four teachers and less), which will be implemented for the 2020/21 school year. INTO welcomes the reduction of appointment and retention figures for small schools but continues to demand that these reductions be applied to all schools from 2021 onwards, to ensure Ireland delivers the EU average of 20 pupils per class.

Earlier this year, primary teachers and parents sent more than twelve thousand emails demanding that the Minister for Education, Joe McHugh TD, urgently act to lower class sizes in our most disadvantaged schools – DEIS Band One schools. Today’s staffing schedule is yet another blow to these schools and a damning indictment of government inaction when it comes to our most vulnerable. INTO urgently calls for the publication of Department of Education and Skills reports reviewing the DEIS scheme and class sizes in DEIS schools.

Throughout the recent election, INTO members and parents across the country called on all political parties to commit to reducing pupil numbers by one pupil per class per year over the next five years. We expect to see a firm commitment to the delivery of this policy in any future programme for government.

INTO welcomes the provision of a redeployment panel, which will be established for teachers working in Community National Schools (on an ETB basis).

When the latest Special Education Teacher (SET) allocations were issued in 2019, schools were advised that any SET clusters formed would remain in place until the next review of the allocation. Therefore, SET clusters will remain unchanged for the 2020/21 school year.

Members are advised that the deadline for returning panel forms, notifying vacancies, submitting appeals, and so forth is Friday, 27 March. It is expected that the Main Redeployment Panels will be released after the Easter holidays.

Staff Planning Form

The number of teachers on Main Panels is expected to increase this year as there has been a fall in the number of primary pupils and only a small improvement in the staffing schedule.

In addition, the issue of panel compliance has been raised by INTO over the past number of years. In this context, it is important that all schools participate in the redeployment process to ensure that teachers are redeployed as early as possible.

The first step in that process is the identification of teaching vacancies in schools that are available for the redeployment of teachers. Over the next couple of weeks, Primary Allocations will issue a Staff Planning Form to each primary school. The form will list the current school staff and schools are asked to indicate the teacher’s expected employment status for the 2020/21 school year (for example, are they remaining in the school, retiring, taking a career break, or so forth.

The purpose of the form is to collate all teaching vacancies in schools to make the redeployment process as efficient as possible. Schools will be advised to continue notifying vacancies to panel operators in the normal manner.