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

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