Since my appointment as Minister for Education and Skills I have met with a number of Teaching Principals and I appreciate the pressures they face. Earlier in the year, I 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.
Budget 2020 is the third successive budget to provide for an increase in the number of principal release days. One additional release day will be allocated to each school with a teaching principal with effect from 1 September 2020. This will bring the number of release days to 19, 25 and 31, depending on the size of school. This is an increase from 14, 18 and 22 days since 2015. In addition, a further four additional release days are allocated to schools with special classes.
There are arrangements in place for schools to cluster their principal release days into a full-time post which will assist teaching principals to more effectively plan their release days for the benefit of the school.
In addition to the increase of release days, the Government lifted the moratorium on middle management posts in 2017. In total almost 1300 leadership posts have been invested in our primary schools since 2017 which has led to 1 in 3 teachers now holding promoted positions. My Department has committed to revising the number of available Posts of Responsibility to take account of retirements during the school year. This ensures that the current level of Posts of Responsibilities are maintained in the school system.