Budget 2021 – IPPN calls for urgent clarification

 

IPPN welcomes the reduction in the pupil:teacher ratio to 25:1 announced in Budget 2021 yesterday. We acknowledge the positive impact this will have in all schools and also welcome the additional funding to support pupils with special educational needs, both in terms of additional teacher and SNA posts and the additional therapists and psychologists, which are all badly needed in our schools.

IPPN prioritised three key areas for primary education in Budget 2021:
1. Put one leadership and management day a week for teaching principals on a permanent footing
2. Increase middle leadership capacity
3. Funding to keep schools safe and open during the ongoing pandemic.

The budget seems to have delivered on the last of these to an extent, with contingency funding set aside to keep schools open and safe (‘Additional costs may also arise in the Education sector in schools and further and higher education depending on developments in relation to the virus in advance of the next academic year and developments in areas such as school transport.’)

We have sought urgent clarification from the minister to ensure that funding has been set aside to continue the support for teaching principals into 2021 and beyond, and also to clarify the nature of the 87 posts provided ‘to alleviate the risk of a school losing a teacher in 2021’. The potential to lose teachers owing to parents deciding to keep children at home due to anxiety around COVID-19 infections is a key concern of many school leaders and the Department needs to urgently clarify this, as requested repeatedly by IPPN over the past several months. The September 30th returns in 2020 do not accurately reflect the true enrolment in schools, due to COVID-19-related anxieties. This is especially critical for developing schools who may lose posts in the current school year. IPPN’s position is that, where parents have indicated that they intend to return their children to the school once the virus risks have abated, those pupils should be counted as part of the valid enrolment.

We are disappointed to note that there appears to be no additional funding to improve middle leadership capacity in primary schools.

IPPN will continue to advocate for adequate funding to enable all school leaders to carry out their leadership and management role effectively and in a sustainable way.

Source: budget.gov.ie – Part II – Expenditure Allocations 2021

Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 October 2020 10:43

IPPN President Damian White statement: School leaders need support from inspectors, not more checklists

Wednesday 16th September 2020

It is not unreasonable for there to be checks to ensure that schools are operating in accordance with public health guidelines to protect all members of the school community. As employers, the Board has a duty of care to its employees and its pupils to provide a safe environment in which to work and learn. However, the move to have the primary inspectorate organise inspections of schools on behalf of the HSA is ill-judged and poorly timed, not to mention an insult to school leaders, teachers and Boards of Management. It utterly compromises the advisory and support role the inspectorate claimed to embrace before this was ever experienced by a school.

Since March 12th, when schools were forced to close their doors and school leaders had to lead learning using new and innovative ways of supporting their pupils through various online platforms, school leaders have not had a break. Before Covid-19, the burgeoning workload of principals meant that they were lucky if they managed any sort of break in the middle of the summer holidays. This summer, the vast majority of principals had no break at all, with many working 50/60-hour weeks, or more, to make sure their schools were ready to resume, with all measures in place to ensure the safety of all children and staff.

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Last Updated: Monday, 05 October 2020 15:54

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.

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Last Updated: Monday, 05 October 2020 15:55

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

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