One in five primary principals has retired since 2007
ONE in five primary school principals has retired in the past three years, prompting fears about the exodus of experienced managers.
The trend, which grew last year according to new figures, is expected to grow again this summer when it is forecast record numbers will retire.
The figures show that 661 principals -- out of a total of almost 3,300 -- have retired since 2007, as did 501 deputy principals.
The retiring principals and deputies have been replaced, for the most part, by teachers in middle management positions.
But these assistant principals and special duties post holders are not replaced when they retire or are promoted.
Other figures show that 141 assistant principals and 214 teachers with special duties posts have resigned since March of last year.
"The loss of leadership and institutional knowledge now represents a real problem for the education sector," said Fine Gael education spokesperson Brian Hayes, who was given the information by the Department of Education.
"Ultimately, the real losers will be students and the taxpayer," claimed Mr Hayes.
The Irish National Teachers' Association (INTO) said the greatly increased numbers of principal and deputy principals retiring was a cause of concern.
Incoming INTO General secretary Sheila Nunan said additional supports were required, not fewer, at a time of such a big turnover of principals and deputies.
"Significant numbers of new principals are being appointed to schools who will have to do without leadership training which is being cut back. In addition, many newly appointed principals are taking over in schools where the in-school management team has been greatly reduced because of the Government's moratorium on promotion," she said.
She disclosed that the Leadership Development for Schools (LDS) programme is being terminated this year with some of its functions being subsumed into a generic support service for all schools. Up to a hundred support posts will be suppressed in this move, she claimed.
The union said the LDS programme had provided relevant training for principal teachers and was universally hailed as a positive development.
Ms Nunan said the loss of the programme would have "long-term consequences for the way schools will be able to function".