6th October 2021
The Department of Education has today, belatedly, published Circular 0050/2021 outlining Covid-19 operational supports that will be in place for the current school year.
Sequencing of access to Substitution
Circular 0050/2021 also sets out the revised sequencing of access to substitution for primary teachers. The INTO recently made it clear to the Department of Education that in light of the substitution crisis experienced by many schools in the last month, the sequencing in place last year should continue for this school year.
The union’s position is that during the Covid-19 crisis, when a principal teacher needed to deploy a Special Education Teacher or other non-classroom teacher as a last resort to cover the short-term absence of a mainstream class teacher, the tuition lost to children with additional needs should be recouped by these vulnerable pupils later in the school year.
The INTO believes the revised sequencing may have a detrimental effect on the continuity of learning for some children with additional learning needs, and that the proposed change will leave school leaders in a very difficult position.
No school leader or teacher will want to see valuable additional supports removed from children who are entitled to extra support. While recognising that the lack of substitution cover will continue to be problematic and that the arrangements in place last year were not ideal, on balance the union believes the system of ‘banking’ days put in place last year should continue for the 2021-22 school year. The INTO will again raise our concerns about the new circular directly with Department of Education officials.
While the circular states that the Supply Panel scheme has been extended nationwide, the INTO is aware that approximately 20 percent of the country’s primary and special schools still do not have access to the scheme. The union has called on the Minister for Education to extend this vital scheme to all schools as a matter of urgency. Budget 2022 would be an ideal opportunity to guarantee this important scheme for all schools.
Grant payments that applied in the last school year will continue to be paid using the same per capita rates and based on recognised enrolments from 30 September 2020.
Schools that have opened since 2014, and are still at the developing stage, will have the additional supports calculated on their September 2021 enrolment.
The Department of Education’s helpline for schools will continue to operate and can be accessed by dialling 057 9324461.
One principal release day per week will be available to all teaching principals for the remainder of the school year. Schools with special classes will be provided with an additional four release days bringing their total of release days to 41 for this schoolyear.
Release days for deputy principals will also continue on the same basis as during the last school year.