25th January 2013 - Reduce red tape burden and back school leadership, IPPN tells Government

In the keynote speech of its annual conference, ‘The Future is Now’, the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) has challenged the Government to reduce the red tape burden on principals and support school leadership in delivering strong education outcomes.

Seán Cottrell, IPPN Director, said principals are ‘spending hours form-filling and two-finger typing’, and the ‘gradual scrapping of in-school management posts’ is jeopardising principals’ ability to lead learning in schools.

‘In other countries, resources to employ administrators are ring-fenced, making sure that principals can do what they are best at - focusing on the quality of teaching and learning,’ said Mr Cottrell, whose professional body represents primary school leaders.

He urged the Government to prioritise funding for skilled administrators, reinstate in-school management posts, and allow at least one non-contact day per week for the leadership and management role of teaching principals.

‘This is about getting the foundations right on which we can build an education system fit for the future,’ said Mr Cottrell.

He hit out at the Government for not granting teaching principals substitution cover to attend the conference, describing the move as ‘short-sighted’.

‘Cutting back on professional development while continuing to add extra responsibilities to the principal’s role is a dangerous game,’ he said.

Mr Cottrell paid tribute to school principals for their dedication in managing the learning of more than 500,000 children every week.

‘As the leader of your school community, you have the greatest capacity of all to determine the direction and vision for your school - greater than the Minister, the board of management or the patron,’ he said.

Mr Cottrell urged the Government to avoid introducing further initiatives unless schools get the necessary capacity to manage their implementation.

‘We must give principals the required administrative backup so they can fulfil their primary function of leading the quality of learning. The Government must give them the resources to run their schools and harness their capacity to lead,’ said Mr Cottrell.

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