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. These additional release days - 18, 24, and 30 depending on the size of the school - will be effective from 1 September 2019.
This builds on measures in previous budgets, including €0.4 million made available in Budget 2018 to fund almost 4,600 additional release days for teaching principals in primary schools. This funding provided an increase in the number of release days available to teaching principals in the 2018/19 school year to 17, 23 or 29 days depending on the size of the school.
€2.75 million was allocated in Budget 2017 to restore middle management positions i.e. the equivalent of approximately 1,300 middle management posts (Assistant Principal I and Assistant Principal II) at both Primary and Post-Primary (2,600 in total).
The Department has committed to revising the Posts of Responsibility table in the leadership and management circulars to take into account retirements during the school year. This ensures that the current level of Posts of Responsibilities are maintained in the school system. In total more than 1500 leadership posts have been invested in our primary schools in the past two years which has led to one in three teachers now holding promoted positions.
I recently hosted a symposium on Small Schools which gave me an opportunity to restate the Government’s commitment to small schools and to open a dialogue with all the key stakeholders.
The purpose of this work by the Department is to develop a policy proposal to help support and strengthen small primary schools throughout the country.
Any additional increase will have to be considered as part of the annual budgetary process, alongside the many other demands in the education sector.