Primary school principals who also have to teach need one day per week to be freed up for mounting administrative duties, Education Minister Richard Bruton has been warned.
He has provided additional so-called release days from next September for the 60% of primary principals who also have classes.
Their schools will have substitution cover paid for between 17 and 29 days a year, up from 15 to 25 days currently, depending on the size of a school.
However, Mr Bruton left the conference of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network with the clear message that further increasing this to one release day a week is the most pressing need of those running the country’s 3,300 primary schools.
“Our top priority is to have one release day per week for principals, just like our colleagues in Northern Ireland. We hope you achieve this in the next two budgets, it’s the best value for money you’ll ever get.
Full-time teaching principals are the unsung heroes of our education system; they are miracle workers, in my view,” said IPPN president David Ruddy.
In later remarks to delegates, Mr Bruton said he cannot give commitments on such a target or a timeframe, as the budgetary system only allows for ministers to look at priorities and available funding from year to year.
The minister said not enough attention has been paid to the importance of developing leadership in our schools, but he is conscious of the need to consider the timing of important reforms being rolled out and the capacity of schools and principals to implement them.
The conference heard from the Centre for School Leadership, a Department of Education-supported initiative of IPPN and the second-level National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, of supports for more incremental routes for teachers to become principals.
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