Education Centres are statutory bodies recognised under Section 37 of the Education Act (1998) and are managed by local voluntary Management Committees which are elected annually.
My Department arranges for the secondment of teachers from their teaching posts for the purpose of developing and providing CPD for teachers and for the appointment as Directors of Education Support Centres (ESC's). While on secondment, teachers retain their school post, the terms and conditions that apply to teachers and receive their salary and a secondment allowance which are met in full by my Department.
Section 37(6) of the Act makes provision to make regulations relating to a number of matters in Education Centre's such as the appointment of management committees, funding, staffing, provision of information to the Department & other operational matters.
In September 2017, Regulation 394 for the appointment and secondment of directors of Education Centres was introduced.
The regulations make provision for an annual Ministerial approval of the secondment of teachers to the role of Director of an Education Centre, subject to a maximum of 5 years on secondment whether those years were as a Director or otherwise. The Regulations provide a legal basis which offers clarity and certainty in the application of public policy and as I'm sure you can appreciate, there is no discretion in their application which would allow for a derogation beyond the 5 year limit set out in the Regulations.
The timeframes outlined in the Regulations are important and are designed to ensure there is sufficient time for Management Committees to run competitions where necessary, and for school boards of management to release teachers and appoint replacements. The overall aim is to ensure that new Directors and their replacement teachers are in place in good time for the start of the following school year.
Regular turnover of seconded teachers is now an established practice with teachers returning to enrich their schools so the investment in their skills is not lost. Since 2017, 16 Education Centres have successfully recruited new Directors and the work of the Centres has not been negatively affected with each Centre confirming to my Department that the Director has performed satisfactorily.