Dáil Éireann - Volume 656 - 05 June, 2008

Written Answers. - School Staffing.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of primary school principal teacher posts that are vacant; his views on whether there is a reluctance among deputy principals to apply for the principal post because of the increase in the level of responsibilities and duties with the poor compensatory allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22330/08]

  Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: The number of vacancies in primary schools including those at principal teacher level varies throughout the school year and are managed at local level by individual school Boards of Management.

Under the terms of the Education Act, 1998, the Board of Management of a primary school is responsible for the recruitment, selection and appointment of all teachers to a school, including principal teachers. Appointments are notified to my Department by the Board of Management. My Department has no role in the selection and appointment process however I am aware of anecdotal evidence that workload issues of principal teachers can impact on the decision of teachers to apply for such posts.

[590] School principals play a key role in the successful operation of schools throughout the country and specific initiatives have been introduced over recent years that give more time for school principals to concentrate on the management aspects of their role.

As part of the Programme for Government we are committed to supporting the role of principals through the provision of improved training options for principals, middle management and aspiring school leaders, to increase the number of release days for teaching principals, review the role of middle management in primary schools, to reduce the threshold for the appointment of deputy principals in primary schools, to substantially increase the ancillary services grant so that principals have better administrative support and to maximise the use of IT to cut down on administration and put a database in place to track primary pupils. The Programme for Government also provides that we will seek agreement through partnership for a facility to allow those who have served as principals for more than a certain number of years to return to full-time teaching duties, while maintaining some benefits.