INTO secures restoration of 1,400 assistant principal posts in primary and special schools

In 2009, a moratorium on promotion in schools was imposed. As a result, schools lost over 5,000 ‘posts of responsibility’ (PORs), limiting their ability to meet the growing challenges of curricular and regulatory change. In addition, there were fewer opportunities for career progression for teachers within our education system. These middle management posts were positive steps on the career ladder for teachers.

Following negotiations between the INTO senior leadership team and officials from the Department of Education and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, agreement has been reached to restore an additional 1,400 posts of responsibility in schools, as part of the sectoral bargaining process.

Addressing delegates at Congress 2022, INTO President Joe McKeown said:

We have engaged in intensive discussions with the government about using the sectoral bargaining process to achieve this. I am pleased to announce that we have, in recent days, reached agreement to restore 1,400 posts of responsibility to primary schools. We will not rest, however, until all leadership posts are restored to ensure high quality leadership teams in all our schools.

Such posts, now categorised as ‘assistant principals’, involve a teacher taking on particular responsibility for activities or a curricular, pastoral or organisational area (for example choir/music, sport and physical education, science, special education, wellbeing, library etc.) in return for a responsibility allowance.

The cutting of these posts left schools without supports in a range of curricular, pastoral and administrative areas and limited career progression for teachers. Since the moratorium was introduced in 2009, the first, and to date the only, structured restoration of posts of responsibility took place in 2017, with 1,300 posts restored to schools. The failure to fully restore middle leadership posts has added to the deepening crisis in school leadership as principals and deputy principals have been pinned to their collars to handle ongoing change as school leaders.

This happened in conjunction with significant reform of the nature of these posts, and how teachers are appointed to them. Assistant principals are now appointed, on merit, to positions of strategic importance in the leadership, management and administration of the school. In line with the principles of distributed leadership, assistant principals work in teams in collaboration with the principal and/or deputy principal and have shared responsibility, commensurate with the level of the post, for areas such as teaching and learning, pupil support including wellbeing, special education and inclusion and development of individuals and staff teams.