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Written Answers. - School Staffing.

Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 559 No. 6

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 50. Ms Lynch Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  the steps he intends to take to address the concerns of primary school principals who are threatening a partial work to rule in January 2003 due to detrimental increases in their workload; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26701/02]

[1494]Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey I am aware that the introduction of new legislation and changing circumstances in society has created additional impositions on boards of management and principal teachers in primary schools. However, in recent years many improvements have been made to assist principal teachers in the performance of their duties and to relieve their administrative burden. Up until the 1999 to 2000 school year, principals were released from teaching duties to become an administrative principal where the school had a staffing of eight or more mainstream class teachers. From the commencement of the 2000-2001 school year, administrative principals were appointed to ordinary schools with seven mainstream class teachers and in schools with a principal plus eleven or more teachers including ex-quota posts. Further improvements were granted in the 2001 to 2002 school year when schools were allowed to appoint an administrative principal where there were six mainstream class teachers. The provisions were further enhanced for the 2002-2003 school year whereby administrative principles can be appointed to schools with a large number of ex-quota posts where there is a principal plus nine or more teachers in the school.

The scheme of release time was also introduced for the 2000-2001 school year. This scheme enables teaching principals of primary schools to be released from their teaching duties for a specified number of days annually to undertake administrative leadership and management functions. The number of days release time granted is determined by the number of mainstream class teachers in the school. Substitution paid by my Department is provided for the days that principals are on administrative leave. The number of release days granted was further increased for the current school year and boards of management were advised of the increase in a recent circular issued by my Department. Arising from the implementation of the PCW agreement significant improvements were introduced to the management structure of primary schools by the allocation of additional posts of responsibility. It is a matter for the boards of management of schools to delegate functions to post of responsibility holders. The number of posts of responsibility range from two posts of responsibility in a two teacher school to, for example, 20 posts of responsibility in a 40 teacher school. In addition to the above, funding to primary schools for secretarial and caretaking services has increased from the €50.79 per pupil that applied in the 2000-2001 school year, to the €102 per pupil that issued in March 2002 to all eligible schools. This rate will increase further next year to €127.

I am aware that a claim regarding the category of allowances payable to primary teachers is being processed under the teachers conciliation and arbitration scheme. The Deputy will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the business of the conciliation council. My Department is currently engaged in the [1495]development of a computerised on line system for the submission of claims for the payment of certain categories of teachers. It is expected that a pilot project will commence in the 2003-2004 school year on the implementation of this project. The implementation of this project and its extension in primary schools in the next few years should help to further reduce the administrative burden on boards of management and principal teachers.

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