Since my appointment as Minister for Education and Skills I have met with a number of Teaching Principals, including at this year’s IPPN conference, and I appreciate the pressures they face. In Budget 2019, school leadership is again supported with an additional release day for teaching principals in primary schools and a further four additional release days for teaching principals in schools with special classes. This builds on measures in previous budgets, including €0.4 million made available in Budget 2018 to fund almost 4600 additional release days for teaching principals in primary schools.
The allocation of an administrative principal in ordinary schools is based on the number of pupils enrolled in the school. Those schools operating a specialist autism unit have a reduced enrolment requirement for the appointment of an administrative principal.
Since 2012, special schools are provided with teaching staff on the basis of individual pupil profiles and disability categories of those pupils, as opposed to being based principally on school designation, in accordance with Department Circular 0042/2011. Special school staffing allocations are reviewed and updated each year by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and schools are staffed on the basis of each year’s current school enrolments.
Administrative Principal status is granted in special schools at the point at which the sixth teacher (i.e. the fifth assistant teacher in addition to the principal) is appointed.
From the 2019/2020 school year, special schools may appoint an Administrative Deputy Principal on the basis of a teaching staff complement of Principal plus 15 or more class teachers. This change was introduced in recognition of the additional administrative needs of special schools.
I have requested that the NCSE undertake policy advice on the educational provision that should be in place for students educated in special schools and classes and make recommendations on the provision required to enable students in special schools and classes achieve better outcomes.
The NCSE have been asked to complete and submit its report to me no later than June 2020. There will be no change to the staffing arrangements currently in place in special schools, pending the receipt of this policy advice.