Primary school representative bodies raise concerns regarding support allocations for children with additional needs

Primary school management bodies Educate Together, An Foras Pátrúnachta, National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education (NABMSE) and the Muslim Primary Education Board, supported by the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) are today issuing a joint statement regarding teaching supports for children with additional needs in Irish schools.

The representative bodies note the publication last week of the Department of Education's staffing schedule for primary schools for the 2021/22 school year and information provided to schools regarding their Special Education Teacher (SET) allocation. In particular, they note that the Department intends to maintain the existing Special Education Teacher allocations for all schools for the 2021/22 school year and will not now conduct a re-profiling exercise in 2021 as was originally planned.

School management organisations have expressed serious concern about the impact this will have on children in developing schools, who they believe will suffer from a lack of sufficient Special Education Teaching supports in developing schools in the 2021/22 school year.

They are writing to the Department of Education to outline the need for increased resources to ensure that children with additional needs who attend developing schools receive the supports they need in this very challenging year. The group is also seeking a meeting with Department officials on the issue.

Speaking on this issue, Emer Nowlan said:

“This is an issue for developing schools in all parts of the country. Pupils need more supports this year, not less, and it is imperative that additional resources are allocated for this September so that all pupils with additional needs have the supports they need, regardless of the type of school they attend.”

Alan Sheehan, principal of Rochestown ETNS commented:

“Our school prides itself on being inclusive but we are currently unable to support the needs of our pupils as we are chronically understaffed. A similar sized school across the road from us has seven Special Education Teachers. We have four. We are effectively half-staffed in the area of Special Education solely due to the fact that we are a rapidly developing new school. This limited SET staffing ultimately negatively impacts our ability to support all children in our school. This cannot continue any longer.”

The needs of the most vulnerable children in our school system must be met in an appropriate, effective and timely manner. Primary management organisations are committed to working closely with the Department of Education to achieve this shared goal.

ENDS

(Published 29th March 2021)

Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 March 2021 18:25

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.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

Last Updated: Monday, 05 October 2020 15:55

IPPN Sponsors

WinnerBadge

allianz_sm