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Principals under 'severe stress' over cuts and changes

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                         IN.....Arriving for the  Dail Committee  hearing on fee paying schools yesterday were, l to r,  Ferdia Kelly, general secretary, JMB,  Gerry  Foley, Belvedere  College, Dublin, Sister Eileen Randles, Loreto Education Trust, Noel Merrick,JMB, Ian Coombes, Bandon Grammar School, Cork  and Christopher Woods, principal, Wesley College, Dublin. at the Dail, Leinster House, Kildare St.,  yesterday.  Pic   Martin Nolan  Thursday   23/April/2009

IN.....Arriving for the Dail Committee hearing on fee paying schools yesterday were, l to r, Ferdia Kelly, general secretary, JMB, Gerry Foley, Belvedere College, Dublin, Sister Eileen Randles, Loreto Education Trust, Noel Merrick,JMB, Ian Coombes, Bandon Grammar School, Cork and Christopher Woods, principal, Wesley College, Dublin. at the Dail, Leinster House, Kildare St., yesterday. Pic Martin Nolan Thursday 23/April/2009

IN.....Arriving for the Dail Committee hearing on fee paying schools yesterday were, l to r, Ferdia Kelly, general secretary, JMB, Gerry Foley, Belvedere College, Dublin, Sister Eileen Randles, Loreto Education Trust, Noel Merrick,JMB, Ian Coombes, Bandon Grammar School, Cork and Christopher Woods, principal, Wesley College, Dublin. at the Dail, Leinster House, Kildare St., yesterday. Pic Martin Nolan Thursday 23/April/2009

SCHOOL cuts have gone too far, second-level school managers have warned

Principals are "overwhelmed" and the pressurised environment is having a significant effect on pupils and their educational experience.

Growing demands on principals arise from a combination of cuts, new educational initiatives and societal changes, such as more single-parent families, according to the Joint Managerial Body (JMB), which represents management in over half of second-level schools.

The ban on filling middle-management posts, the loss of guidance-counselling hours and cuts in support of special-needs pupils are taking their toll.

In many cases, principals have to fill the gaps, such as becoming a year head for one, two or even three year groups because of the ban on schools filling such posts.

Resources are being reduced, while schools are being required to take on new initiatives, such as Junior Certificate reform.

It has created a situation where principals are "overwhelmed", said JMB general secretary Ferdia Kelly.

Mr Kelly said principals were "complaining of symptoms of severe stress such as disrupted sleep and chronic fatigue".

Research carried out on behalf of the JMB details the impact of the changes on school leaders. It was launched at the JMB annual conference yesterday.

He said all of the changes were taking place at a time when society was changing dramatically, resulting in increased pressures on schools and a reduced capacity on the part of parents to support their children's education and schools.

Mr Kelly said the cuts "have gone too far" and called on Education Minister Ruairi Quinn to restore allocations of careers counsellors and special-needs support personnel.

Irish Independent