Questions and Answers - updated September 2011

Below is a comprehensive list of questions and answers addressing how the Croke Park Agreement will be implemented in schools.

Additional hours

Q.  My principal has scheduled a meeting to begin 15 minutes after the school closes and to continue for an hour after that. This means that I have to remain in school for one hour and 15 minutes after school closure time. The principal is stating that this constitutes one hour from the 33 hours, is this correct? 

A.  No. If teachers are required to remain in school for one hour after closing time that constitutes an hour under the terms of the agreement. Your principal cannot ask you to remain in school prior to the commencement of a meeting and not count that time towards the 33 hours.

Q. In relation to 'an agreement of school management and a consensus amongst the staff' on the use of the 33 hours outside the 167 days, how will a 'consensus' or 'general agreement' or 'general support' among staff be determined?

A. School management must consult with staff about the use of the 33 hours. It is envisaged that a meeting of all teachers and the school management would meet to discuss the calendar prior to the commencement of the new school year (for example in May of the previous school year). This planning meeting could also be used to determine whether or not there was consensus to use any of these hours in blocks of more than two hours or outside the 167 days.

Q. Could school management alone decide to schedule the additional hours outside the 167 days?

A. No.

Q. Is someone on a job-share expected to do the full 33 hours or just 16.5 hours?

A. Part-time teachers are required to work the extra hours on a pro-rata basis. This means that a job-sharer on 11 hours would be required to work 16.5 hours. The prioritisation of these hours should be agreed between the principal and the teacher/s.

Q. What monetary savings will the government make by teachers doing 33 hours unpaid?

A. Monetary savings achieved by the introduction of the 33 hours will not be significant. While there might be some savings in Supervision and Substitution costs for some aspects of the hours (e.g. in-service and induction) the principal purpose of the hours is to improve the integrity of the school year and to preserve tuition time.

However, according to the First report of the Implementation Body, the value of 900,000 extra hours worked by teachers at second-level is in the region of €43 million.

Q. We hold our open evening for incoming students on a school night generally from 7 to 9 p.m. Can this be considered for part of the 33 hours?

A. This would depend on whether the open evening could be fairly construed as a planning meeting. If the evening contained large elements of planning for future years and if it was attended by the whole staff, it might be possible to consider it as part of the 33 hours.

Q. When will the extra 33 hours come into effect?

A. The full 33 hours must be worked during the 2011/2012 school year.

Q. Can I, if I choose, do 33 hours S&S to fulfil my obligation to work an extra hour a week?

A. No. The use of the hour will be set out in a calendar at the beginning of the school year, after consultation with staff. Supervision and Substitution may only be used as a last resort where other activities, designed to protect class contact/tuition time, have been fully utilised.

Q. Can a lunchtime meeting be part of the 33 hours?

A. It is the ASTI’s view that a lunchtime meeting, the purpose of which meets the criteria under the Outcome of Talks document, can be used as part of the 33 hours.

Q. Could we as a staff come back a day early or work an extra day during the year for meetings, etc. and set the hours off against the 33 extra hours?

A. Yes. With the agreement of school management and a consensus amongst the staff, the hours may be utilised outside of the 167 days during which the school is open for tuition. Consensus in this case is defined as general support or general agreement. It does not mean simple majority can decide, nor does it give individual teachers or small groups of teachers a veto.

Q. Our entrance assessment test is held on a Saturday morning for 3 hours. Can this be included as part of the 33 hours?

A. No. It is difficult to see how entrance assessment tests could be comprehended by the list contained in Paragraph 5 of the additional time section of the 'Outcome of Talks' document.

Q. Are school open days and entrance exams part of the 33 hours if every teacher is involved? Can regular meetings between subject teachers be included?

The ASTI 'Outcome of Talks ’ document contains the list of activities which may contribute towards the 33 hours additional time (page 4, section 5). The list does not include school open days. However if the whole school is involved, a school open day/night could utilise some of the 33 hours.

Q. My principal claims that since parent-teacher meetings start at 4.15 and end at 6.45 that they will only count for 2½ hours towards the 33. Is this correct?

A. No. The school closes at 3.45 (15 minutes before normal time) and the teacher is required to wait until 6.45 before going home. This constitutes 3 hours. This, of course, only applies to parent-teacher meetings currently held within school time. Those meetings already outside school time are not counted towards the 33 hours.

Q. Will the three parent-teacher meetings previously required under circular M58/04 be included in the 33 hours?

A. No. The 33 hours are in addition to hours already worked by teachers. Parent-teacher meetings which currently take place within school time will be counted towards the 33 hours if they are now moved outside.

Q. In relation to staff meetings, at present these are half in/out. Can the hours be used to have these fully ‘out’, and if staff meetings last for 2 hours does this count as just 1 hour from the 33?

A. Yes, the hours can be used to hold staff meetings fully out of school time. A staff meeting outside school that lasts for two hours will count as just one hour from the 33 on three occasions. If the meeting lasts for three hours, this will count as two from the 33. If, however, there are more than three meetings, all the time taken for the fourth and subsequent meetings will count towards the 33 hours.

Q. If a parent-teacher meeting for 2nd year is due to take place as part of the 33 hours and I have no 2nd year classes, must I make the hours up elsewhere?

A. No. Where a block of hours from the 33 is allocated on the calendar, it is part of the 33 hours for all teachers. If you are not required to attend you will still be deemed to have used the relevant number of hours from your allocation of 33.

Q. Can the extra hours be used for purposes other than those listed?

A. No. The hours must be used for the purposes outlined in the document.

Q. One of the possible activities listed to make up the 33 hours is induction. Does this refer to induction of new staff or students or both?

A. It refers to induction of new teaching staff.

Q.  If the staff agrees by consensus to work a day outside the 167 days and that day runs from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm is that day counted as 6 hours or seven hours?

A.  If the day includes a one hour lunch break then the day counts as 6 hours unless this can be designated as a working lunch in which case 7 hours would be counted.

Redeployment 

Q. I am in my fourth year on fixed-term contracts and was expecting to get a CID next September. Am I in danger of losing out to a teacher who is redeployed into the school?

A. No. If there is an ongoing need for the post in the school you should receive a CID. DES Circular 0034/2009 sets out the order in which vacancies are to be filled and the first step an employer must take is to “offer a CID where an existing fixed-term teacher qualifies for such in accordance with the terms of this circular”.

Q. I am a fixed-term contract teacher on my 4th year and I am expecting to get a C.I.D. contract next year. We are losing the equivalent of a full teacher’s timetable or 22 hours from our allocation. My principal has indicated that it may happen that the loss in these hours will be spread among all fixed-term contract teachers irrespective of the amount of years (1,2,3,4) they have in the school. Can my principal apply this loss to my timetable considering I am one of two teachers who are due a C.I.D?

A. All things being equal, no. See the answer above. If there is an ongoing need for your post (or any part of it) and you would, in the normal course of events, be entitled to a CID, you must be given that CID for the hours of your current contract.

Q. Do all vacancies in a school have to go to the redeployment panel, including those entitled to C.I.D. contract?

A. See the previous two answers above.

Q. On the issue of redeployment, can a permanent teacher apply for redeployment for reasons of distance from residence? What is the distance one might be redeployed and is it from place of residence or present school?

A. If a school is required to select a teacher or teachers for redeployment the school must, in the first instance, seek volunteers for redeployment. A teacher who is to be redeployed may be redeployed within 50 kilometres of their place of residence or of the school. The choice of whether to select place of residence or school is solely the teacher’s.

Q. Can people on fixed-term contracts be replaced by a redeployed teacher?

A. This question is complicated by various factors. In the agreement on redeployment in the case of school closure, the Department accepted that it was not possible to redeploy a teacher into a position occupied by a teacher who was in the second or later year of a fixed-term contract. In the new agreement, the Department was insistent that they would attempt to so redeploy teachers. The ASTI insisted that this was contrary to employment law and the result was the insertion of the following phrase in paragraph 3 of Appendix 2 of the Agreement: “…save where such posts cannot be deemed a vacancy by operation of law.” If the Department attempts to redeploy a teacher into a position occupied by a fixed-term teacher who has been in that position for more than 1 year, the ASTI will vigorously defend that temporary teacher’s rights, at law if necessary. Any member who is a fixed-term teacher and believes they are in this position should contact the ASTI.

Q. Can privately paid CID's be considered for redeployment by the management or is it just Department paid teachers?

A. The redeployment scheme as defined in the Agreement does not comprehend privately paid teachers. This means that if a school has more than its allocation of Department paid teachers it will be Department paid teachers who will be redeployed. The ‘safety’ or otherwise of privately paid teachers is another matter entirely. The absence of a redeployment scheme for such teachers means that, if the school decides to employ fewer teachers from its own resources, it is redundancy, rather than redeployment that faces such teachers. This position is unaffected by the Agreement.

Q. By how much or by what percentage must a school be over quota before a teacher must be redeployed?

A. An excess teacher situation arises when a school/VEC has in its employment one or more teachers in excess of its allocation subject to that surplus position representing more than 1% of the overall allocation of that school/VEC. The allocation figure for this purpose is the allocation on 31 December of the year prior to redeployment adjusted by policy decisions on the pupil-teacher ratio and other teaching posts. Where in the case of a VEC, the surplus is distributed across a number of schools, the Director will have regard to any inequities arising from that fact in arriving at a view as to the required level of redeployment.

Q. What is the situation with regard to teachers on regular part-time contracts in their second or subsequent year? These posts were not regarded as vacancies under the earlier redeployment scheme for school closures.

Paragraph 3 (Page 8) of the Redeployment Section of the ASTI 'Outcome of Talks' document states that a teacher can only be redeployed into a vacancy in a manner that is permissible by law. A temporary teacher already in employment may well have a legal entitlement to remain in the school. However, the specifics of each case would need to be clarified before a definitive view can be given.

Q. Given that this will be the first year of the redeployment scheme and that a sizeable number of teachers may be redeployed, what happens if no position can be found within the agreed limits of the teacher in question’s home/school?

A. If the Director is unable to redeploy a teacher because there is no suitable vacancy available, the teacher will not be redeployed in that year.

Q. Can a family member of the manager and/or trustee of the school be made exempt in the redeployment procedure?

A. No. The criteria for establishing availability and seniority for the purposes of redeployment as outlined in paragraphs 5-11 of Appendix 2 of the outcome of talks document. Family relationships are irrelevant for this purpose.

Q. Paragraph D in Appendix Two of Circular PPT 29/02 refers to “non-post holders”. Does this mean that redeployment applies only to non post-holders?

A. No. The criteria used will apply to all teachers.

Q. If I am redeployed into a temporary position, do I lose my permanent status as a teacher?

A. No. A central purpose of the redeployment scheme is to protect the permanent status of teachers who are in situations where they may be deemed surplus to requirements. You could be assigned to a school on a temporary basis but you will retain your permanent status as a teacher.

Q. I am a temporary teacher covering for a recently retired teacher. Does redeployment mean that a teacher surplus to requirements will be given that position and I will be left with nothing?

A. The proposals in the redeployment scheme allow for redeployment into temporary positions even where there is an already existing temporary teacher. However, temporary contracts already in place must still be honoured. It is the ASTI’s firm belief that a temporary teacher who is more than one year in the position has rights to that temporary position. The ASTI will test this in the courts if necessary and we have made that clear to the Department.

Q. Can an ex-quota permanent teacher who now has to be absorbed into the staff as part of the school’s teacher quota under new redeployment regulations be redeployed before a less senior teacher on a CID contract?

A. The identification of teachers for redeployment depends on seniority and the needs of the school. In the first instance, the school/VEC should ensure that a seniority list for redeployment purposes is drawn up. In the event that the school concludes that it is not possible to cope without the most junior teacher on this list, it will review the position of the second most junior teacher in a like manner, and so on until a teacher suitable for redeployment is identified. Old style ‘permanent’ teachers and teachers on CID contracts have exactly the same employment rights and conditions. The redeployment scheme does allow a more senior teacher to be redeployed where the school can show that it cannot cope without the junior member.

Q. Can a CID teacher who is surplus to the school quota be redeployed and an RPT member of staff keep their job?

A. The redeployment scheme only applies to permanent teachers. This includes teachers on CID contracts. A school that employs teachers surplus to its allocation and is required to redeploy them may still be entitled to employ a teacher on an RPT contract if the curricular needs of the school demand it.

Q. With regard to reckonable service, the agreement states: "Teachers will transfer reckonable service for promotion purposes … Except for those transferring from one Voluntary Secondary School to another.” Does this mean teachers going from VEC/Community to Voluntary Secondary will transfer reckonable service but those transferring within the voluntary secondary system will not?

A. Yes. This is in line with the existing agreement and circular on redeployment in the case of school closure.

Q. If a teacher is redeployed to a school and that school has less than full hours available for that teacher will he/she receive full pay (based on 22 hours) going forward?

A. Redeployed teachers are guaranteed a continuation of payment of salary. This includes teachers with CIDs. Teachers with CIDs for 18 hours+ will continue to receive full pay. CID teachers with fewer than 22 hours could be offered extra hours on a fixed-term contract basis, but they cannot be given or paid for fewer hours.

Q. If a full post is vacated by a teacher under redeployment at the start of any given year, can the school seek to fill this position in part or in whole in the following year?

A. Each year is treated separately, i.e. it is possible that a school could have a vacancy even though in the previous year a teacher was redeployed.

Q. In a fee-paying school where there are a number of teachers on CIDs funded entirely by the school do teachers on the redeployment panel have prior rights to a position in the school if a vacancy occurs?

A. If a vacancy for a Department funded post occurs in a school then a teacher regarded as surplus to requirement in another school may be redeployed into that position. Privately paid teachers are outside the scope of the Agreement and of the redeployment arrangements contained therein. However, privately paid CID holders have employment rights and are protected against being unfairly dismissed by their employers. If a privately paid CID holder was to lose their job as a result of the redeployment of a teacher into their school, this could constitute unfair dismissal.

Q. Can five CID contracts be given out to RPT staff (as entitled to in our school) next year even though under the new agreement it will mean the school is over surplus in staff?

A. Any teacher who meets the criteria for a CID should be awarded a CID. However, the school will be subject to the redeployment scheme.

Q. Taking into account changes predicted for the future (i.e. retirements) can we make a case for deferring redeployments?

A. Paragraph 11 of Appendix 2 of the ‘Outcome of Talks’ document states: Where a school/VEC is of the opinion that its surplus position is strictly short-term or transient by reference to its historical and projected enrolment, it will be open to it to present its evidence for this opinion to the Director. Where the Director is satisfied that the surplus is strictly transient and will not endure, he/she may, at his/her discretion, defer a decision in relation to redeployment. The school should inform the Director of any impending retirements, career breaks or job shares that may affect whether or by how many the school has teachers over and above its allocation.

Q. Is there an advantage to those being redeployed if someone planning to retire puts it in writing early, and what is the latest date it needs to be submitted to be taken into consideration?

A. Yes. The ASTI would encourage teachers to notify their boards of management at the earliest opportunity if they are going to retire or if they are applying for a career break or job sharing.

Q. Can someone volunteer if they are on the compulsory list?

A. The school/VEC should, in the first instance, ascertain if there is a member of staff who wishes to be considered for redeployment on a voluntary basis. After this, the school is then required to identify teachers for compulsory redeployment.

Clarifications on redeployment arrangements

Determination of seniority for redeployment

Calculation of service for the purposes of redeployment is covered in section 7 of Appendix 2 of the “Outcome of Talks” document. In ALL sectors calculation of service for the purposes of redeployment is based on service in the school/VEC in the first instance.

Transfer of reckonable service for promotion – Section 21

There have been many questions about Section 21 of Appendix 2 to the “Outcome of Talks” document, which deals with the transfer of reckonable service in the consequence of redeployment. These questions have related, in particular to the last sentence in the section. The section is reproduced below.

“Teachers redeployed in consequence of these arrangements will transfer their reckonable teaching service for promotion purposes in the receiving school and this service will be reckonable for promotion purposes in the receiving school. This is subject to one exception that a teacher being redeployed from a voluntary secondary school to a receiving voluntary secondary school will not transfer reckonable teaching service for promotion purposes.”

The exception for voluntary secondary schools arises for the following reason: seniority based on service in the school has always been regarded as the preferred means of promotion in voluntary secondary schools. When the redeployment scheme in the case of school closures was being negotiated, the ASTI strove to keep this principle intact as far as possible. Since the criteria for promotion was different in the VEC and Community and Comprehensive sectors, it was only possible to maintain this principle of promotion through seniority based on service in the school in the case of redeployment within the voluntary school sector. The wording of section 21 is identical to the wording in section 15 of the redeployment scheme in the case of school closures.

The arrangements outlined in Section 12 of the Agreement (above) will be overtaken as the revised promotional procedures, agreed in October 2008, are phased in. Under these procedures seniority for promotional purposes is calculated in the same manner in all sectors. This means that for all teachers, whether redeployed or not, service in the school and service in previous schools will count towards seniority in the same way. Find out how these procedures operate and the phasing in period here.

Supervision and substitution

Q. Is the Supervision and Substitution Scheme going to continue to run as it has done for the past few years or is it going to exist at all?

A. The supervision and substitution scheme will continue as normal. The only difference is that teachers who sign up to the scheme will be required to be available for three class periods per week instead of the current two. The maximum of 90 minutes delivery per week still applies. 

Other questions

Q. Will the new government honour the Croke Park Deal?

A. The ASTI has met with Fine Gael and the Labour Party. Both parties have stated unequivocally that it is their intention to honour the Croke Park Agreement.

Q. How does The Agreement affect teachers' pension and lumps entitlements?

A. Under the terms of the Croke Park Agreement, teachers who retire before the end of February 2012 will have their pensions calculated on their ‘pre-cut’ salary. ‘Pre-cut’ salary refers to the salary scale these teachers were on before the public service pay cut was imposed in January 2010. However, on retirement, these pension payments will be subject to a cut – averaging 4% – imposed on existing public service pensioners (and those retiring up to the end of February 2012) in Budget 2011. Lump sums will be based on the pre-cut salary. Under current tax arrangements, only lump sums over €200,000 will be taxed.

Those retiring after February 2012 will have their pensions and lump sums calculated on the basis of post-cut salary, i.e. their actual salary at retirement, which will have been reduced by an average of 7% since January 2010. The 4% pension cut announced in Budget 2011 will not apply to this group.

Q. Under the terms of the Croke Park Agreement, can my pay be cut?

A. The terms of the Agreement protect teachers’ pay from further cuts until 2014 and the ASTI has clearly stated its position that if further pay cuts or compulsory redundancies are introduced it will not consider itself bound by the terms of the Agreement.

Q. Can the Principal change the schedule of posts in my school without consultation with the staff?

Q. No. There has been NO change in the circulars governing posts of responsibility. It has been clarified that school management may reassign these posts, from the existing schedule, to a post holder – as they always could. However, the principal should endeavour, in as fair and as even-handed a manner as possible, to accommodate the views of teachers affected and should fully consult with them.

Q. The public service agreement 2010-2014 document states “There will be no further reductions in the pay rates of serving public servants for the lifetime of this agreement”. Does this mean that degree, masters and H-Dip allowances as well as payment received for post of responsibility work will not be reduced?

A. Yes. No further reductions in pay includes all pay.

Q. Given the failure by the Department of Education and Skills to sanction new posts of responsibility can the duties formerly filled by retiring teachers now be spread upon existing post holders?

A. No. The extra hour can only be utilised for the purposes outlined. Post holder duties are not included in any way in this list and cannot be construed to do so.

Q. The government 4 year plan states that the pupil-teacher ratio will remain as it is for current year, but it will increase after that unless the teacher unions can come up with other savings. How does this tie in with the public service agreement 2010-2014?

A. The Croke Park Agreement is completely separate from the Four Year Plan. The Croke Park Agreement was negotiated by the public service unions and the Government. The Four Year Plan is a Government policy position and, as such, unions have had no input into it.

Q. To avail of retirement at current rates must retirement take place before Feb 2012 or can it be during Feb 2012?

A. Budget 2011 extended the period until which public servants (including teachers) can retire and have their pension payments and retirement lump sum calculated on the basis of the pre-cut salary until the end of February 2012.

Q. Regarding Appendix 1 of the document, does this apply to teachers who work as facilitators and associates for the support services.

A. No. This section applies solely to teachers involved in the provision of Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) Courses.