Release Time for Teaching Principals

Release time arrangements

Circular 0006/2023 sets out the provisions in relation to release time for teaching principals (with substitution) in primary schools for the 2023/2024 school year.

The number of days to which teaching principals are entitled to release time is as follows:

  • Each school with a teaching principal will have 37 release days in the 2023/24 school year.
  • Schools with one special class will have an additional 4 release days in the 2023/24 school year.

Purpose of the release time

The purpose of release time is to enable Principals undertake administrative, leadership and management functions within the school. Examples of such duties are included in Circular Circular 14/2001 (PDF). The Principal should be present in the school during the periods of release time unless absent on official school business approved by the Board of Management.

Principals are required, in consultation with the Chairperson of the Board of Management, to draft a programme of duties, to be undertaken during release time. A brief report on the use of the release time must be presented at one Board of Management meeting annually. A copy of the report should be retained in the school and be available for inspection by a Department Inspector.

Principal release time posts

Schools may combine their allocation of principal release days into clusters so as to form a full-time fixed-term post to cover each school’s principal release days for the 2023/24 school year.

DE Circular 0006/2023 states that all Principal Release Day Clusters in place for the 2022/23 school year will remain in place for the 2023/24 school year unless the staffing schedule determines otherwise. In other words one or more of the schools in the cluster has attained administrative principal status.

Schools cannot be involved in more than one principal release cluster in any school year. Only schools with teaching principals may be the base school for a Principal Release Time Post. As part of the clustering process, schools should agree a timetable for the teacher.

Principal Release Time Posts are fixed-term posts and should be filled in accordance with the published redeployment arrangements and must not be filled until the Department advises that the post is not required for a teacher on the Main Redeployment Panel.

Each cluster must contain a minimum of 182 days. Principal Release Time Posts with a combined entitlement of more than 182 days in the cluster may use normal casual substitution to cover the number of days in excess.

Participating Principals are required to record all release time absences on the On Line Claims System (OLCS) for days covered by the Principal Release Time teacher.

Principals of the schools in each cluster are required to formally plan, coordinate and document the pattern of their release time absences.

Forming a cluster

Schools with teaching principals are invited to create clusters with other teaching principals in their locality.  Schools with teaching principals who are combining release time apply to the primary allocations section of the Department of Education to create a principal release cluster with a minimum of 182 days.

The deadline for applications for the 2023/24 school year was the 23 February 2023. Please note however, late applications can be submitted.

The schools involved complete and sign this form Principal Release Time Post for 2023/24 Form and return it to the Department of Education.

Deciding on the base school

The base school for the principal release post is decided by the schools involved in the cluster.

Schools should agree from the outset which school will be the base school responsible for the employment of the fixed-term teacher and they should agree a timetable for the teacher.

One school in the cluster must be nominated as the base school. This school will be the employing school for the teacher in the post. The post will not give rise to the payment of an increased allowance to the Principal or the creation of an Administrative Principal post or additional Posts of Responsibility.

Employment of a teacher

Circular 44/2019 outlines the current procedures for the recruitment of teachers to teaching positions in Ireland.

To be employed in a principal release cluster post a teacher must be appropriately qualified, registered with the Teaching Council for the primary sector and comply with all current Garda Vetting Requirements.

When making appointments, schools/ETB should be aware that principal release teachers may be deployed into a variety of settings.

The teacher must agree to respect the ethos and comply with the relevant policies of all schools in which they teach during the period of the contract.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, a principal release teacher is a fixed-term worker and under the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Workers) Act 2003 they have the same leave entitlements as other fixed-term and permanent employees.

They can apply to the Board of Management of their base school to avail of all types of leave in line with the provisions of the relevant leave circular.

Where a principal release teacher avails of un-substitutable leave, such as an EPV day, a substitute teacher can be employed by the cluster to ensure that no teacher loses out on their release time.
If there is no substitute teacher available on a day when the teacher appointed to the principal release cluster is absent the principal does not lose out on their release time.

The base school for the cluster records the absence of the principal release post teacher.

The principal who was due to avail of a release day may take this day another time when a substitute is available to them. On this day they enter a principal’s release day for themselves on the OLCS system and they enter the substitute employed against this leave record.

The post will not give rise to the payment of an increased allowance to the Principal.
The post will not give rise to the creation of an Administrative Principal post or additional Posts of Responsibility. The current circular outlining the allocation of posts of responsibilities to schools is Circular 0043/2022.

Travel expenses

Travel expenses are payable to teachers who are assigned to teach children in cluster arrangements and are required to travel between schools to undertake their teaching duties.

Circular 009/2015 outlines the regulations and procedures regarding the payment of travel expenses to eligible registered teachers.

Claims should be submitted promptly at the end of each academic term: Christmas term, Easter term and Summer Term.

Release Teacher Travel Expenses Claim Form 2023

The completed form must be signed by the teacher and the Principal of the base school.

Forms are returned to –

Travel Expenses,
Primary Teachers Payroll Section,
Department of Education,
Co. Westmeath
N37 X659


Updated July 2023

Still have questions?

Submit your query by email to INTO. Please include your payroll or membership number.