Emergency talks aim to avert chaos in schools
URGENT talks are taking place to avert school chaos in the autumn when teachers step up their work-to-rule.
Figures revealed yesterday show that primary and secondary schools have already lost more than 1,100 middle-management positions at assistant principal and special duties level.
Many more are likely to disappear in the summer following an expected surge in retirements.
Teacher unions have ordered members not to undertake any duties carried out by teachers in these middle-ranking posts who retire and are not replaced.
Managers have warned that this would make some schools "inoperable" in the autumn.
Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe agreed in the Dail yesterday that some schools were already encountering serious difficulties and that children were being affected. The position was uneven, he told Fine Gael education spokesman Brian Hayes, who suggested a "floor" below which a school would not lose further posts.
The minister disclosed that his department was in discussions with the Department of Finance to alleviate the worst problems. But he made it clear the present position where more than 50pc of second-level teachers have promotion allowances is not sustainable.
The allowances cost €236m a year. Assistant principals get an extra €8,520 a year and four hours off teaching per week to undertake duties while special duties teachers get €3,769 but no hours off teaching.
The ASTI has welcomed, as an initial step, the minister's talks with the Department of Finance. But general secretary John White said: "Unless the moratorium is totally removed, schools will not be able to provide an optimal service."
He added: "Anyone familiar with the workings of a modern second-level school understands that you must have a system in place which allows the school to operate in an orderly fashion to meet the needs of the student cohort, undertake administration in a responsible manner, and fulfil legislative obligations."