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Monday 11 December 2017

Teacher promotions to be based more on merit

Katherine Donnelly

A major shake-up in how teachers are promoted is being introduced from September.

The days are gone when the person with the longest service was in pole position for middle- management posts worth up to €8,520 extra per year.

The new selection process will bring a major culture change in how jobs are awarded in schools and in teacher career expectations.

Coupled with the moratorium on filling many of these posts, it could make the promotion and associated pay rise more elusive for many long-serving teachers.

The traditional system allowed teachers to predict with certain accuracy when to expect promotion, based on projected retirement dates for those ahead of them on the seniority list.

In the future, criteria such as interpersonal and communications skills will carry as much weight as seniority when appointments are being made.

In all, there will be five criteria and the others relate to meeting the needs of the job as well as having capacity to contribute to the overall development of, and the overall organisation and management of the school. Each of the five will carry 20 marks.

Phases

The arrangements are being phased in at second-level from the new school year and similar procedures are in the process of being finalised at primary level.

Initially they will be used to fill one in three promotional posts, while existing practice will stay in place for others. By 2013-14, half of all available promotional posts will be filled using the new system and from 2015-16 onwards, the new arrangements will be fully embedded.

The jobs involved are Assistant Principal, worth an extra €8,520 a year, and Special Duties Teacher, such as being a year head or co-ordinating certain activities such as time-tabling, worth an additional €3,769 a year.

Before the moratorium on filling promotional posts was introduced as a cost-cutting measure in March 2009, more than half of all teachers -- at least 30,000 -- had a promotional position at a total cost of €236m. These included Principals, Deputy Principals and Assistant Principals in the country's 4,000 schools, as well as 17,400 teachers with Special Duties posts.

Education Minister Mary Coughlan has described the number of promotional posts as "unsustainable".

It is estimated that the moratorium has left about 1,200 Assistant Principal and Special Duties posts across both the primary and post primary sectors vacant. Some of these can now be filled -- one third of them in accordance with the new rules.

The revised arrangements also include a new appeals system replacing the current system where, in the event of an appeal, the onus was on the school to show that an unsuccessful candidate was unsuitable for the job.

Teachers accepted the changes in promotional procedures as part of a package in the Towards 2016 pay agreement on which they voted in 2008.

Irish Independent

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