1,400 assistant principal posts in primary and special schools are to be restored, the INTO has announced.
Following negotiations between the INTO senior leadership team and officials from the Department of Education and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, agreement has been reached to restore an additional 1,400 posts of responsibility in schools, as part of the sectoral bargaining process.
In 2009, a moratorium on promotion in schools was imposed, resulting in the loss of over 5,000 ‘posts of responsibility’ (PORs).
These middle management posts were seen as an opportunity for career progression for teachers within the education system.
Now categorised as ‘assistant principal’ posts, they involve a teacher taking on particular responsibility for activities or a curricular, pastoral or organisational area (for example choir/music, sport and physical education, science, special education, wellbeing, library etc.) in return for a responsibility allowance.
Addressing delegates at Congress 2022, INTO President Joe McKeown said he was pleased to make the announcement.
“We have engaged in intensive discussions with the government about using the sectoral bargaining process to achieve this. I am pleased to announce that we have, in recent days, reached an agreement to restore 1,400 posts of responsibility to primary schools,” he said.
The INTO said the cutting of these posts “left schools without supports in a range of curricular, pastoral and administrative areas and limited career progression for teachers”.
Since the moratorium was introduced in 2009, there has been one restoration of 1,300 posts to schools, in 2017.
The INTO said the failure to restore middle leadership posts had “added to the deepening crisis in school leadership as principals and deputy principals have been pinned to their collars to handle ongoing change as school leaders”.
There has also been significant reform of the nature of the posts, and how teachers are appointed, the union said.
Assistant principals are now appointed, on merit, to positions of strategic importance in the leadership, management and administration of the school.
In line with the principles of distributed leadership, assistant principals work in teams in collaboration with the principal and/or deputy principal and have shared responsibility, commensurate with the level of the post, for areas such as teaching and learning, pupil support including wellbeing, special education and inclusion and development of individuals and staff teams.