Leadership and Management Days
The government’s own Primary Education Forum has recognised the issue of workload as it relates to teaching principals, in particular. INTO, alongside other key stakeholders, have participated in meetings of the forum and shared our experiences.
At the INTO Congress in 2019 school leaders called on the Department of Education and Skills to initiate a comprehensive review of their terms and conditions of employment. Primary teachers heard how teaching principals have seen their conditions of employment change considerably and workload increase exponentially in recent years. Increased paperwork, initiatives and child protection issues have seen school leaders overwhelmed and under resourced.
Principals and deputy principals spoke of their struggle to ensure new initiatives, policies and paperwork were being implemented in full.
Teaching principals spoke about the growing levels of stress and worry felt by post holders, who are grossly overworked and underpaid.
The INTO is calling for one release day per week for teaching principals who are over-burdened and over-stretched with an ever-increasing administrative workload in addition to their teaching duties.
The INTO is currently supporting a Department of Education and Skills ‘cluster’ model whereby a number of schools with teaching principals may pool their release days to hire one teacher to cover all posts. This is advantageous to all parties involved, including pupils who benefit from continuity of the same teacher covering for their class teacher.
The cost of delivering one release day per week to teaching principals would cost €7.5 million in a full year, but only €2.5 million in 2020. (Source: Dáil Q&A no. 69, 11 April 2019)
Posts of Responsibility
During the recessionary period a moratorium on promotion in schools was imposed. Over 5,000 ‘posts of responsibility’ (PORs) were lost, meaning less opportunity for career progression for teachers within our education system and an inability at school level to meet the growing challenges in curricular and regulatory changes. These middle management posts were positive steps on the career ladder for teachers. Such posts, referred to as ‘assistant principals’, involved a teacher taking on particular responsibility for activities or a curricular area (for example choir/music, sport and physical education, science etc.) in return for a responsibility allowance (€3,769 or €8,520). As a result of the ban, no assistant principal posts in schools could be filled, and even when the moratorium was released slightly, there remained very tight restrictions on the appointment of assistant principals.
The cutting of these posts left schools without supports in a range of curricular and other areas and abolished career progression for teachers. Coupled with the issue of pay inequality for post-2011 entrants, for younger teachers this served as a factor which fuelled their interest in travelling abroad to teach overseas for a period, enabling them to avail of promotion opportunities denied in Ireland.
2017 saw the first, and to date the only, structured restoration of posts of responsibility to schools since the moratorium on promotion in schools was first introduced in March 2009. The INTO, though acknowledging some movement on this issue, viewed the filling of these posts as merely a start to restoration and continues to demand full restoration. While 1,300 posts were restored in 2017, there were no further restorations in Budget 2018 or Budget 2019.