Tuesday 16 January 2018

Ban on filling crucial posts was 'last straw'

THE Government's ban on filling middle-management posts in schools introduced last year was the "last straw" for Margaret Cooney.

For 13 years she relished her job as principal of the Holy Family senior school in Ennis, Co Clare. "I really loved my job but the demands became insatiable," Ms Cooney, who decided to quit last year at 57, told the Irish Independent.

She oversaw major changes in the school with a much more diverse intake including children with special needs, children from overseas and more Traveller children.

She could proudly claim "there was never a day I did not love being in school". But the administrative and paper workload piled up with a raft of new policies and procedures. She was assisted by a middle-management structure, which she regards as crucial to the success of a school.

She believes the moratorium will have a major negative impact unless eased or reversed.

When the ban was announced she said she knew it was time to go: "It's a job for a younger person with more energy."

A classroom teacher for 25 years before becoming principal, she is not surprised at the fall in applications for the post of principal. "I would love to see younger teachers go for the job of principal, but they would not want to be saddled with it all their working lives," she said.

There is little provision to allow principals return to teaching jobs.

Ms Cooney believes principals should be appointed on a fixed-term contract.

"It should not be a life sentence," she stressed.

Irish Independent

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