Threat of school closures after jobs embargo action stepped up
THE prospect of school closures in the autumn on health and safety grounds hardened last night as the secondary teachers' union stepped up action over the jobs embargo.
Last month, the Irish Independent revealed that the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) union had directed members not to undertake any duties carried out by teachers in middle-management positions who were not replaced when they retired.
But the union yesterday announced that principals and deputies would also refuse to take on duties carried out by middle managers who retired this summer.
"We will not continue to paper over the cracks in our education service caused by the moratorium," ASTI Principals and Deputy Principals' Committee chairman Brendan Forde said. He said schools had struggled to survive a school year in which they were unable to fill vacated posts of responsibility.
"A higher than usual number of retirements this September will leave many schools with several vacant posts each.
"A school with 500 to 1,000 pupils and 35 to 75 staff members cannot function properly with just a principal and deputy principal carrying out all of the associated management duties," Mr Forde added.
The Joint Managerial Body (JMB) and the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals have expressed concern over the effects of the latest action, saying schools were already under great pressure.
They said many schools would become inoperable due to the lack of personnel in middle-management posts and the union's action.
JMB chief executive Ferdia Kelly said managers were seeking an urgent meeting with the new Education and Skills Minister Mary Coughlan.