24th March 2021
Today’s announcement of the staffing arrangements for primary schools from next September heralds a very welcome reduction in primary class sizes. The over 400 teaching posts which have been ring fenced to support the reduction in class size to 25 in mainstream classes will help to address the significant challenges faced by Irish primary schools throughout the pandemic. These posts are also a step towards facilitating modern approaches such as greater active learning and more individual attention for pupils.
Some schools with particularly large classes will gain a teaching post while many other schools that were due to lose posts will retain them due to the re-introduction of retention figures at three pupils below appointment figures. The first class size reduction in DEIS band one schools since 2005 and the additional 50 teaching posts are particularly welcome.
In the current year 20% of Irish primary school pupils have been taught in a class of 30 pupils or more. The EU average class size is 20.
To realise the government’s stated ambition for a progressive and equitable education system, Irish class sizes must be further reduced to EU averages. This first step in the right direction must be followed by another reduction in next October’s budget. Numerous international research projects have shown the huge benefits of lower class sizes, especially for children who face educational disadvantage and those in junior classes within primary schools.
The INTO welcomes the clarification that no school will lose a special education teacher. Children with special educational needs require concentrated support in the next school year as the pandemic poses unique challenges for them. The INTO is now appealing to the Department of Education to give early clarity to schools regarding how the additional special education teaching posts and special needs assistants which were announced in Budget 2021 will be allocated.
Supports for Teaching Principals
The INTO further welcomes the retention of one leadership and management day a week for every teaching principal. This scheme has proven to be very successful in alleviating workload for teaching principals. This year, 215 groups of five small schools pooled their days to create a shared teaching post, thereby giving consistency and certainty to each of the 1075 classes being taught by a teaching principal. It is hoped that the remaining schools with teaching principals will create similar clusters from September 2021.
Substitute Teacher Supply Panels
The continuation of the substitute teacher supply panel scheme is also crucial to support schools during the next school year and today’s circular confirms that this successful scheme will continue next year. There is still time for the Department to include all primary schools in this scheme and we urge them to do so. Substitution costs are already budgeted for but the resounding success of the supply panel scheme demonstrates the necessity for a planned and consistent approach to substitute supply for all schools.
Please note the following links:
- Circular 0019/ 2021 – Staffing arrangements in Primary Schools for the 2021/22 school year
- 0019/2021 Info Note – Temporary teacher allocation (covid-19 support measures) for primary schools during the 2021/22 school year
- 0019/2021 FAQ – Staffing arrangements in Primary Schools for the 2021/22 school year
- Circular 0019/2021 Appendix A – Schedule of Enrolment of Pupils Governing the Appointment and Retention of Mainstream Class Teachers in Ordinary Schools, Gaelscoileanna and Gaeltacht National Schools for the 2021/22 school year
- Circular 0019/2021 Appendix B – Enrolments required for Administrative Principal status and Administrative Deputy Principal status in Ordinary Schools, Gaelscoileanna and Gaeltacht National Schools for the 2021/22 school year
- Circular 0019/2021 Appendix C – SEN allocations
- Circular 0019/2021 Appendix D – Special Education Teacher Post (Shared) 2021/22
- Circular 0019/2021 Appendix E – Application Form for Permanent/CID Holding Teachers’ Access to the Main Redeployment Panel for the 2021/22 school year
- Circular 0019/2021 Appendix F – Application to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board for the 2021/22 School Year
- Circular 0019/2021 Appendix G – Declaration by a school for the 2021/22 school year where a teacher has acquired a CID under Part A1 or A2 of Circular 0023/2015
- Circular 0019/2021 Appendix H – Application for department sanction for the award to a teacher, of a contract of indefinite duration (CID) in the 2021/22 school year in accordance with Circular 0023/2015
The INTO is preparing presentations on the staffing circular and on Contracts of Indefinite Duration and these will be available on the website in the coming days.