Schools 'descend into chaos' as hiring ban persists
Published 28/12/2010 | 05:00
The Government has failed to live up to its promise to allow schools to fill certain vacant posts, leaving some schools to "descend into chaos".
The Department of Education has frozen the process in post-primary because a flood of retirements pushed up the number of vacancies they expected to have to fill.
More than 1,300 middle-management posts, crucial to the smooth running of schools, were lost as a result of the public sector jobs' embargo.
The Government gave a commitment in July to fill some of them amid warnings of the damaging effects on pupils of not filling vacant assistant principal positions.
The relief felt when the partial lifting of the moratorium was announced has now turned to disappointment and anger.
But to date, none of the 120 primary schools that applied to fill a vacancy in September has heard anything back from the department.
While the embargo affects all middle-ranking posts in schools, the alleviation only applies to vacancies at the level of assistant principal, because of the crucial role they play.
There are about 1,100 unfilled assistant principal jobs at second-level and 200-300 in primary level, which many schools had expected to fill after the July announcement.
Now, as schools prepare to enter the second term of the year, they are struggling without key personnel.
The alleviation allowed post-primary schools to replace assistant principals automatically, subject to certain criteria.
But the department was taken aback in the autumn when more than 1,144 had retired since the moratorium was announced in March 2009.
The department has now abruptly withdrawn the concession in second-level schools and has announced a review.
According to the Irish National Teachers Organisation, one in four assistant principal posts have been lost due to retirements, transfer and promotion to principal or deputy principal. A significant number of other special duties posts have also been lost.
One school told the INTO that its organisational structure was "descending into chaos". Another school said if the moratorium remained it would leave schools "inoperable, unable to meet department and legislative requirements".
According to the INTO, schools have to cut back on planning and co-ordination in several curriculum areas such as maths and computers.