14th September 2021
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) recently launched our Budget 2022 campaign setting out our priorities for primary education ahead of Budget 2022, due to be announced on 12 October. Every single member (and parent) can play a role in helping us to secure critical investment in our schools.
Long before and especially throughout the period of the pandemic, school principals have been overburdened by an ever-growing array of administrative, curricular, pastoral, financial, legislative, and most recently public health demands. This is not sustainable for school leaders as individuals or for their school communities.
Throughout our primary and special schools, there are few management colleagues to share this burden with the principal as a result of the decimation of middle management posts during the financial crisis. Over 5,000 posts were lost during the recession. While there was a partial restoration of posts in 2017, this is not enough, and the Government has failed in subsequent years to build upon this limited restoration.
The number of middle management posts remains at 73% of what it was in 2009 while the number of children and teachers has grown significantly in the same period accompanied by exponential growth in the demands and expectations placed upon a greatly diminished cohort of school leaders. Budget 2022 must begin the process of delivering the full restoration of these posts.
More than half of Irish primary schools are led by a teaching principal. This dual role is particularly challenging and teaching principals require adequate time and support to fully carry out both their teaching and leadership duties. Budget 2022 must provide for the continuation of a minimum of one leadership and management day (release day) per week. The INTO secured this during the pandemic. We reiterate our demand that this needs to be guaranteed into the future beyond the pandemic, to provide for the time to engage in the management of the school.
There has been an increased focus on and awareness of education throughout the pandemic. We must work to direct this focus to our areas of concern and make our voices heard over the coming weeks to place our demands for primary education at the top of the political agenda.
In the run up to the budget, our political representatives need to hear from you about the challenges in your school due to the decimation of middle management posts and the vital importance of adequate release time for teaching principals. You can help by emailing your local TD and Government party leaders and by encouraging your school colleagues, INTO branch members and parents and your wider school community to do the same ensuring that all TDs are fully aware of the needs of primary and special schools.