IPPN welcomes plans for the full reopening of schools and seeks further clarity on a number of key issues

Tuesday 28th July 2020

IPPN welcomes the announcement by Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD, of plans for a full reopening of school buildings for the 2020/21 school year. It is the sincere wish of all school principals and deputy principals to see all pupils and staff back engaged with face-to-face teaching and learning in safe and stimulating classrooms.

The announcement of this package with less than five weeks to go to the new term means there is a huge amount of work to be done to have all the necessary provisions in place and adjustments made to have schools ready for reopening. IPPN has worked tirelessly along with other education partners to ensure all issues essential to the safe reopening of school buildings and grounds are identified and addressed. We are pleased to say that many issues have been addressed in Minister Foley’s announcement, while answers will continue to be sought on any remaining issues.

IPPN welcomes the announcement of one leadership and management day per week for teaching principals, which has for many years been IPPN’s key priority. Teaching principals need this time on a permanent basis, but we very much welcome the additional leadership time for the coming school year as they deal with COVID-19 risk management on top of an extremely challenging workload. We also welcome the announcement of ‘release’ days for deputy principals in schools where there is an administrative principal, as an acknowledgment of shared leadership and management in our schools, particularly in this time of unprecedented challenge.

The establishment of substitute supply panels across the country for the 2020/21 school year is a positive step. We have concerns, however, that 200 posts distributed across these panels will fall far short of meeting the demand, due to the necessity of teachers to absent themselves from work where any trace of potential coronavirus symptoms are evident. To increase the amount of substitute cover available, the Department should consider allowing PME students to work as substitute teachers when a vacancy arises in the schools where they are completing teaching practice. Clarity in also required in relation to teachers who work across multiple schools, to minimise the potential for cross-contamination.

Every school community will be seeking to ensure that their school operates in a way that is safe and reassuring for pupils, staff, and parents. Ongoing advice and support will be required from the HPSC as schools come to terms with operating class ‘bubbles’ and pods within them, particularly in 3rd to 6th classes, especially in cases where class numbers are large and there are small or off-standard classrooms.

IPPN sought extra financial aid towards cleaning, hygiene materials, and PPE for schools and acknowledges the provision of €40 million and the procurement framework to meet the extra demands as a result of Coronavirus. We would urge that this be monitored on an on-going basis to guarantee that it is sufficient to meet the demands of schools in complying with best-practice regulations. Grant aid towards the employment of an aide to assist with the preparation of schools for a safe return is also welcome.

IPPN had highlighted the extra challenges faced by special schools and schools with special classes and are pleased to acknowledge the plan to employ extra NEPS psychologists to support children for whom the return to the school environment will be especially challenging. We also acknowledge the enhanced per capita and Covid-19 rates payable in respect of students in special settings towards the provision of necessary supports and the extra costs of cleaning in areas of specialist provision. One leadership and management day per week for teaching principals in special schools and 16 release days per year for Deputy Principals of Special schools with an admin principal are also welcome.

Last week’s announcement of €33 million towards a doubling of the Minor Works Grant is welcome. We look forward to more details on the procurement of PPE supplies which, considering the time frame, is urgently needed at this stage by schools anxious to have all safety measures in place for the welfare of pupils and staff.

According to IPPN President Damian White:

‘We have worked very hard with our education partners to support and advise the Department of Education over the past few months on what was needed to bring about a safe school return. We welcome this announcement, albeit later than we had hoped it would come. We highlighted many issues in our submission and most are addressed or are in the process of being sorted. We will continue to press for solutions to remaining issues and to work together with our education partners to achieve workable solutions. IPPN continues to work as normal throughout the summer and will support all school leaders through this time of unprecedented challenge’.

IPPN is operating its Leadership Support service as normal during the summer and is available to support members with their queries and concerns. IPPN has prepared guidance documents and templates for school leaders as they prepare to welcome back staff and students in late August.

Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 July 2020 15:15

IPPN call for clear guidance for the delivery of Summer Provision programmes and the reopening schools

June 12th 2020

IPPN acknowledge the announcement today (June 12th) of a summer provision programme for children with special needs and students in DEIS schoolsand recognise the importance of these programmes for these children. We are now calling for clear guidelines to be published in order for schools to deliver these programmes in a safe and orderly manner. School leaders above all else recognise the level of need for students with special needs or students suffering disadvantage and wish to support them. However, the significant challenges of school leaders and boards of management in managing the roll out of these programmes in the absence of any formal guidelines must be recognised.

We further acknowledge the publication  of the “Planning for reopening schools in line with the Roadmap for reopening society and business” report to government issued by the Department of Education and Skills today. We are disappointed at the lack of definitive guidelines and clarity in the document which will hinder schools leaders in their efforts to plan for the reopening of their schools.

IPPN President Damian White said:

“This a time of unprecedented challenge for everyone in the school community.The viability of a summer programme without clear and concise guidelines is inconceivable presently. It is imperativethat before the roll out of any such programme that guidelines are released to boards of management and schools leaders for review in a timely fashion to allow for sufficient planning and preparation.”

It is important that all organisations work closely together to ensure that the return to school for children and staff is safe and in keeping with best practices as laid out by NPHET and the HSE. Alongside our formal engagement with the DES, we will be working closely with key stakeholders in the primary education space to ensure a joined up approach in supporting our members.

ENDS

Last Updated: Friday, 12 June 2020 18:26

School Meals during COVID-19 closures - IPPN / INTO Joint Statement

The Department of Education and Skills (DES) has confirmed that the School Meals Scheme will resume from this week, with some notable changes.

 

Following the latest restrictions announced by the Government on Friday, The DES have confirmed that either An Post or local community/voluntary groups, via a Community Champion in each county, may assist schools with the delivery of food to vulnerable pupils under the scheme. Each county has a Community Champion whose role is to direct queries and requests for assistance to local community and voluntary groups.


INTO and the IPPN are advising school principals and Home School Community Liaison Teachers, whose Boards of Management have decided how the scheme will operate in their school, to liaise with school completion services to ensure that pupils from all families who wish to avail of the school meals scheme during the coming weeks, receive the food once a week.

 

INTO and the IPPN wish to acknowledge the dedication and commitment of school principals, and all those working within their school, who continue to implement exceptional measures for the benefit of primary school pupils in these unprecedented times.

 

It is important that all of our members adhere to the advice of government regarding physical distancing, while supporting the school meals initiative.

 

Important Note: Effective 6pm, on Monday 30 March, school buildings will no longer be accessible to school staff until Easter Sunday April 12 (except in the case of school staff who are involved in planning for the distribution of school meals to vulnerable pupils).

 

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Last Updated: Monday, 30 March 2020 12:53

IPPN and NPC Joint Statement on School Closures due to COVID-19 measures

During these unprecedented times, IPPN and NPC are in agreement that a mutually supportive partnership in local school communities between school and home will be critical to supporting children’s education in the coming weeks, during mandated school closures.

IPPN and NPC will work together with other national stakeholders in the coming weeks to support school communities to best support children’s learning.

Páiric Clerkin, CEO of IPPN, stated that ‘Naturally, pupils, parents, staff and Boards all have questions and need assurance that the very best is being to support children’s learning. In responding to this crisis, IPPN has focused our attention on providing school leaders with the most up-to-date information and guidance, as well as practical supports. Our website www.ippn.ie continues to be the one-stop-shop for key information.’

Áine Lynch, CEO of NPC, encourages parents to support their children’s learning through this period in partnership with their school, to ensure the least impact on their children’s learning.

Ends

IPPN Supports

IPPN will continue to provide support and guidance to concerned school leaders through the Leadership Support service (1890 21 22 23 / info@ippn.ie). TextaParent SMS units will be provided to all schools that request them, without requiring up-front payment, to ensure that no school would run out of ‘credit’ in communicating urgent information to parents -  email info@textaparent.ie.

IPPN urges all members to keep up to date with the latest information from the HSE and the DES and to follow their guidance. As always, we are here to support school leaders who have queries, or if you need help with a critical issue in your school. Please bear with us if you cannot get through to the Support Office immediately, as the number of calls has increased significantly in recent weeks. We will endeavour to respond to all calls and emails within 24 hours, in order of receipt, during office opening hours: Monday to Friday, 08:30 – 17:00.

Last Updated: Thursday, 12 March 2020 21:11

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