The Irish Primary Principals’ Network said this situation has already faced three schools it is aware of this year, with more than a dozen more seeking suitable applicants on three occasions.
The organisation’s EducationPosts.ie website has taken ads for 161 principal jobs since January, but the number of schools re-posting the jobs has risen by more than half in the past two months alone.
Almost half of those which have been unable to fill their vacancies are in Dublin, Galway and other areas of major population growth.
More than two-thirds of the country’s 3,300 primary schools are led by principals who also teach classes, but the growing workload is believed to be a major factor in the reluctance of other teachers to step up to apply.
IPPN deputy president Gerry Murphy said this, the dual role of teaching a class and managing a school, and the absence of a proper step-down process have seen the average number of applicants for every principal’s job advertise fall from six to less than two over the past few years.
The organisation said the high proportion of principals who have expressed satisfaction in the job could be improved if principals were allowed to return to full-time teaching duties after a certain length of service or to take up a support teaching role in their schools.