School principals have welcomed the restoration of middle-management posts that will see more promotional chances in second-level schools, writes Niall Murray, Education Correspondent.
The sanction for 1,300 assistant principal posts by Education Minister Richard Bruton will also ease pressure on principals and their deputies, but it comes after almost a decade of such promotions being banned.
School management will also get more flexibility in how the new posts are allocated, as rigid structures that sometimes suited staff more than educational needs are replaced. Principals will now be able to identify the areas of leadership that need strengthening and regularly review duties of assistant principals.
Mr Bruton said seniority of applicants will be phased out as a stand-alone criterion for making promotions to assistant principal.
But that process already began in recent years and length of service was never a significant factor in nearly half of second-level schools.
Seniority will only be worth 12% of marks at interview up to next year, after which all marks will be based on candidates’ leadership and management abilities.
The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals director, Clive Byrne, said many schools have lost half of the posts of responsibilities, meaning duties are either left undone or added to the huge workload of management.
“The greater flexibility schools will have to assign or re-assign duties in line with educational needs recognises the need for leadership roles to facilitate new initiatives like computers and coding that are being introduced,” he said.
The Teachers’ Union of Ireland said that, despite some slight improvements, a new formula to decide schools’ middle-management numbers will lead to some schools having fewer, and more than a third not gaining any assistant principals.
The new system will lead to around a third of the country’s 29,500 second-level teachers being in promoted posts, including principals and deputy principals, down from around half before cutbacks restricted promotions.
An average-sized 500-student school should have around a dozen assistant principal posts among a teaching staff of around 40 arising from the changes.
Assistant principals will still be paid an €8,520 allowance on top of their teaching salaries, or €3,769 if appointed to a second assistant principal grade which replaces an old special duties post.
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