Posts of Responsibility in Voluntary Secondary Schools

Posts of Responsibility Promotional Procedures

New promotional procedures for promotion to Assistant Principal and Special Duties Teacher were accepted by the membership of the ASTI in October 2008.

The new procedures will be phased in over a six year period. There is no change for promotion procedures for the school year 2008/ 2009.

Post of Responsibility Structure

Principles Underpinning the Post of Responsibility Structure

(i) A school’s schedule of posts is developed through a process of consultation with the teaching staff of the school;

(ii) In distributing duties to posts, the duties should be inclusive so as to be open to applications from all eligible members of the teaching staff;

(iii) All applicants will be interviewed and the Board of Management/Manager will appoint the most senior suitable applicant to the post. In determining suitability schools may not take into account relative suitability.

(iv) An independent appeals system is available to candidates who believe that the criteria by which suitability was assessed and / or the process through which the appointment was made were not in accordance with circular PPT 29/02. The ASTI Guidelines on the Submission of Appeals are contained in Appendix Eight to this document.

Objectives

The stated objectives of the post structure include “matching the responsibilities of the posts more clearly to the central tasks of the school, the specification of responsibilities for various posts and the provision of opportunities for teachers to assume responsibility in the school for instructional leadership, curriculum development, the management of staff and their development, and the academic and pastoral development of the school”.

Consultation, Collaboration and Teamwork

Consultation Required

Key elements of the arrangements are the requirement for consultation with the teaching staff in the development of the school schedule of posts and in reviews of the schedule.

Real Staff Participation

Schools are unique institutions. They are almost entirely staffed by professionally qualified teaching staff. They should, therefore, operate on a collegial basis in terms of their organisational or management style rather than an hierarchical one. Opportunities to the staff for real participation in the decision making processes of the school should be provided and through such a process of empowerment, the teaching staff will develop a greater sense of engagement with the work of the school and the learning environment will benefit accordingly.

Consensus

School management styles should foster collaboration and co-operation among the teaching staff. Approaches which seek to achieve a consensus among the teachers about the objectives of the school and a shared commitment to its ethos are most likely to lead to an effective and successful school. An approach to in-school management which seeks to promote a culture of a “management team” separated from the rest of the teachers and who take decisions without adequate consultations with their professional colleagues is likely to lead to conflict rather than engagement.

Team Working

One of the most effective of modern business organisation styles involves team working. Such an approach requires exceptional leadership skills. However in the context of schools it is an approach which would be likely to achieve excellent results. It develops a sense of engagement and shared responsibility for the success of the enterprise which has much to commend it in the context of the collegial spirit which should be central to the culture of schools. Autocratic management styles have no place in the modern workplace. Successful schools are those where the whole school community has a shared commitment.

Transparent Consultation Process

It is of the utmost importance that the process of consultation about the school’s in-school management structure is devoid of any suspicion that it is not an open and transparent process. In this context it should involve members of the teaching staff at all levels in every aspect of its development, including the development of discussion papers or draft proposals. Small but representative working groups may be established for such purposes. It is also of the utmost importance that the outcome of the consultative process is seen to have the major impact on the in-school management structure which is ultimately put in place. In any other circumstances the ASTI will, after consultation with its members, take appropriate action to remedy the situation.

Inclusivity

Inclusivity a Basic Principle

One of the most basic principles of the arrangements is that the definition and description of posts should be inclusive so as to allow any competent eligible member of staff to apply. In this context the national criteria for the determination of posts’ duties as stated in Appendix One of the Circular were designed to be generic whilst recognising that greater prescription of duties would be necessary at school level in the specific circumstances of each school.

Inclusivity at All Stages

In order to ensure that that principle of inclusivity is not frustrated cognisance should be taken of it at all stages of the consultative process.

Schedule of Posts

In designing the school’s schedule of posts it must be borne in mind that the duties must be of a curricular, administrative or pastoral nature. In assigning duties to posts they should reflect the grade of the post, taking into account the level of responsibilities involved in the context of the size and needs of the school. In designing the school’s schedule of posts it must also be borne in mind that the school already has a cohort of post-holders with duties and that they are going to continue to form the majority of post-holders.

Non-Post Holders

While recognising the importance of catering for the needs of the school, in the interests of promoting harmony and collegiality among the teaching staff, account should also be taken in the process of designing the school schedule of posts, of the interests and aptitudes of eligible non-post-holders.

Selection Process for New Posts of Responsibility

Suitability

The purpose of the selection process is to assess the suitability of candidates for holding posts of responsibility. The selection process is to assess the evidence in relation to the professional performance, i.e. the competence and experience of the applicants as teachers and in relation to the capacity of the applicants to carry out the duties of the posts.

Order of Seniority

The Interview Board must deem applicants suitable or unsuitable and rank the suitable applicants in order of seniority in accordance with the criteria set out in Appendix 2 to the Department of Education and Science revised circular PPT 29/02. The Board of Management / Manager must then appoint the most senior suitable applicant.

Independent Chairpersons

The Interview Boards are chaired by independent chairpersons who are nominated by schools and their names maintained on a list or National Panel by the Department of Education. Schools are reminded that the national panel should include male and female nominees. If there is an objection to a nominee of a school, then representatives of the ASTI and the JMB will meet to consider the objection. If they are satisfied that the objection is well founded and that there is prima facie evidence that the person nominated does not meet the criteria, then the Department will be advised that either the name should be removed from the list or, when the objection is to the independence of the person in the particular school, then the person nominated may not act as independent chairperson in that school. The school will also be advised accordingly.  (cf. Appendix Six)

Application Forms

Given the nature of posts of responsibility and the limited role of the interview process, an elaborate assessment process would be both unnecessary and unwarranted. The ASTI is opposed to the use of application forms which facilitate such an elaborate process of selection. (cf. Appendix Four)

Boards of Management

Staff representatives on Boards of Management should be vigilant to ensure that the procedures are implemented fairly and appropriately.

Burden of Duties

Time for the Performance of Duties

The ASTI and the JMB continue to stress that the development of an effective in-school management system requires as an essential element the allocation of time for the performance of duties.  Both the ASTI and the JMB have pursued vigorously the question of reduced teaching hours to enable post-holders to undertake the many post duties which can be undertaken most effectively during school hours when the teachers and students are present and available for consultation, etc. The Departments of Education and Finance have consistently refused to make the necessary additional staffing provision to enable schools to reduce post-holders’ class contact hours in any sector.  It is in this context that the reasonableness of the burden of duties attached to a post of responsibility must be judged.  It is clearly reasonable to anticipate that a greater burden of duties will be carried when the teacher has reduced hours for the purpose of carrying them out.  This factor must be taken into account when assessing the burden of duties.

Teaching Duties

The burden of duties attached to a post should not in any event be unreasonable or excessive since the post-holders’ primary duties remain their teaching duties.  The burden of post duties clearly should not impinge on the post-holders’ primary function.

Review

Review of a School’s Schedule of Posts

Circular letter PPT 29/02 provides for a formal review of the continuing appropriateness of the in-school management arrangements on a biannual basis or whenever a vacancy for an in-school management post arises. This does not preclude an in-school review taking place where a vacancy for an in-school management post arises. In many schools, the demand for change will be minimal and thus it will be a matter for each individual school to decide the extent of this review.

Order of Seniority

Assistant Principal Posts and Special Duties Teacher Posts

The order of seniority for appointment to the post of Assistant Principal is the Special Duties Teachers in the order of their dates of appointment to Special Duties or B posts in that school.

If two or more Special Duties Teachers were appointed to their posts of responsibility with effect from the same date, their seniority shall be determined in accordance with the criteria set out in paragraph (D) of the Appendix. First of all their service as a permanent, temporary, substitute, eligible part-time teacher or part-time teacher in the school as a secondary teacher will be reckoned. In the event that two or more persons are equally qualified under that criterion, service in a permanent, temporary, substitute or eligible part-time capacity in a teaching post or posts in a second level school or schools under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education and Science will be reckoned.

An A post holder, of which there are very few currently within the system, will be designated as the senior post holder for purposes of selection for appointment to an Assistant Principal post.

In the event that following the application of paragraphs A and D there are candidates equally qualified the decision will be by lot. Hitherto, date of birth was the determining criterion but this is now contrary to the law.

The order of seniority for the appointment to the post of Special Duties Teacher will be in accordance with a seniority list of non post holders in accordance with (D) of Appendix 2 which sets out the revised order of seniority.

First of all, service as a permanent, temporary, substitute, eligible part-time teacher or part-time teacher in the school will be reckoned. In the event that two or more persons are equally qualified, service in a permanent, temporary, substitute, eligible part-time or part-time capacity in a teaching post or posts in a second level school or schools under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education and Science will be reckoned.

A B post holder, of which there are currently very few, will be designated as the senior non post holder for the purposes of selection for appointment to Special Duties Teacher post.

In the event that following the application of paragraph D there are candidates equally qualified the decision will be by lot.

Records of Service

Records of service in the school should be available in the school. The Department of Education and Science will also have records if the teacher was paid by the Department.

The furnishing of verification with regard to service in other schools may be more difficult but it is a matter for the applicant to furnish such verification. Verification may be sought from the schools themselves, from the Department of Education and Science or from Social Welfare records.

Qualifying Service

As hitherto, a teacher will retain his / her seniority rating on the staff in all of the following circumstances:  career break, leave of absence, secondment, job-sharing, maternity leave, sick leave.

Acting-Up Posts of Responsibility

Previously, acting-up allowances were payable when post-holders were absent for more than three months. Such allowances are now payable where post-holders are absent for more than one month. Acting up posts should be filled in accordance with Circular PPT 29/02 and the revised order of seniority. The period of advertising for acting-up posts can be shortened to four school days after which interviews may be held. This allows schools to fill an acting-up post more quickly thereby allowing payment to be made from the earliest date possible.

It is important to distinguish between “acting-up” posts of responsibility and temporary posts. Temporary posts arise when the holder of the post is absent for a year or more, and arise, for example, when the post holder is on career break or secondment. In such circumstances the normal provisions of the Circular apply.

Appendix One: Suggested Procedure for Reviewing a School Schedule of Posts

1. It is a matter for each school to decide the extent of the review. In many schools the need for change may be minimal.

2. A small working group, including the Principal and representatives of the teaching staff chosen by the staff, should be formed at a staff meeting to draw up a discussion paper outlining the changes, if any, required in the schedule.

3. The discussion paper should be refined at a staff meeting(s) into the proposed in-school management posts structure for the school.

4. The duties appropriate to the grade of Assistant Principal and Special Duties Teacher should be identified in this process and listed in order of priority.

5. An outline of the specific duties to be undertaken as the duties for each post in the particular school should also be drawn up as part of this process.

6. The number of Assistant Principal posts and the number of Special Duties Teacher posts to which the school is entitled under the Department of Education’s schedule of posts should be matched to the duties identified.

7. Board of Management role as per the Circular.

Appendix Two: Schedule of Posts: ASTI Procedures

1. Internal ASTI Procedures

1.1 ASTI meeting:

The School Steward should convene a meeting of ASTI members to discuss the issues in relation to the drawing up of the schedule of posts prior to the consultative meeting with the Principal of the school.

1.2 ASTI policy:

The School Steward should ensure that ASTI members are aware of ASTI policy in relation to appointments to posts and, in particular, in relation to seniority and should remind members of the need to accommodate the skills and aptitudes of those already in posts as well as the most senior non-post holders in the drawing up of the schedule of posts.

1.3 Status of post:

The School Steward should also remind members of the need to ensure that the level of responsibility and volume of work attached to posts should be related to the category of the post. 

2. Definition of Duties to be Attached to Posts

2.1 Existing Skills:

School stewards should point out to members that the post duties must take account of the existing skills and aptitudes of the existing post-holders.

2.2 Inclusive Duties:

Members should be reminded that the scheme provides that duties should be inclusive so as to be open to applications from all eligible members of the teaching staff.

2.3 Seniority:

In discussing the drawing up of the schedule of posts, ASTI members should take account of the skills and aptitudes of the post-holders who are next in line for appointment to Assistant Principal posts and of the most senior non-post holders as appropriate in order to ensure that they are not excluded in the design of the schedule. 

3. Appointment & Selection of Teachers for New Posts

3.1 Interviews:

School Stewards should note that all applicants for a post must be interviewed.

3.2 Appeals:

School Stewards should draw members’ attention to the provisions of the appeals procedure in Section 4 of the Circulars and to the ASTI Guidelines for the Submission of Appeals (see Appendix Eight).

3.3 Grounds for appeal:

School Stewards should draw members’ attention to the grounds on which an appeal may be submitted.

Appendix Three: Specimen Advertisement

Post of Responsibility

Applications are invited from eligible members of staff for the post of Assistant Principal / Special Duties Teacher

To be eligible for appointment to a Special Duties Teacher / Assistant Principal post,
a teacher must have at least two / five years’ wholetime teaching service, or its equivalent.

You should refer to the school schedule of posts to identify the duties required at this time.

Please submit your application in writing on the standard application form
available from the school office.

The application form must be submitted not later than ____________

Appendix Four: Sample Application Form

Application Form for the Post of Assistant Principal / Special Duties Teacher (duties as defined in the school’s schedule of posts)

1. Name of School:  

2. Name in Full:   

Home Address:   

Address for Correspondence:   (if different from above)

Telephone Number:   

3. Number of years whole-time teaching service, or its equivalent, in this school:   

4. Have you held a post previously:   

If yes, please specify:

(i) Post:   

(ii) Duties:  

5. Please specify your professional experience: 

Signed:   

Date:   

Appendix Five: Deputy Principals’ Duties

The terms of the PCW agreement were set out in the document on which members balloted. Most of the detail of the Circulars merely sets down the procedures necessary for the implementation of the agreed proposals.  In some areas, the details were not predicated on the agreed proposals except in very general terms. 

An example of this would be the duties of Deputy Principals. These are defined in the relevant Circular by reference to a list  (which is not itself exhaustive) of Principals’ professional duties which might be delegated. Certain elements of the list have caused concern to Standing Committee which decided to issue the following statement:

Standing Committee:

declares that it is inappropriate for Deputy Principals to assume or to be assigned duties in relation to teacher discipline or liaising with union representatives except in the absence of the Principal;

decides to inform all Principals and Vice/Deputy Principals of this decision, and,

decides that if there is a difficulty either between the Deputy Principal and the Principal/Board of Management or between ASTI members and the Deputy Principal in respect of this, the ASTI will take appropriate action, up to and including industrial action.

Appendix Six: Independent Chairpersons

Identification of Independent Chairpersons for Selection Boards for Posts of Responsibility

Managers / Boards of Management will be asked to identify suitable people in their local area who fulfil the criteria set out below and who would make themselves available, if required, to chair selection boards for posts of responsibility.

The names and qualifications of such persons will be submitted to the Department of Education and Science which will maintain a list of all such persons. The list will form the agreed National Panel provided for under the PCW. The list will be made available to the ASTI and the JMB. The names of the Chairpersons of Selection Committees must be on the list before they serve on a Selection Committee.

The Manager/Board of Management will be advised that where possible more than one person should be nominated by each school in case a particular nominee is unavailable when required.

The Manager/Board of Management should publish the names of its nominees to the teaching staff as soon as possible after the decision to nominate them is taken.

Criteria: 

(a) An involvement or experience in second-level education and

(b) An involvement in or experience of selection committees.

Selection categories for independent chairpersons (not in any order of priority):

1. Principals or Deputy Principals of other second-level schools.

2. Retired Department of Education and Science Inspectors or Senior Officials.

3. Staff in Third Level Institutions (Universities, Teacher Training Institutions, DITs and ITs).

  • Professional Staff in Education Departments.
  • Professional Staff in Human Resource or Industrial Relations Departments.

4. Members of Civil Service or Local Appointments Commission.

5. Personnel or Human Resource Managers of local industries.

6. Members of Boards of Management of second-level schools.

The Manager / Board of Management appoints the Chairperson of the Selection Committee from the list.

Appendix Seven: Disputes About the Implementation of the Circulars at School Level

In the event of a dispute in relation to any aspect of the duties attached to the post or other matter, the matter should be resolved through discussions between the Principal and the teacher, and the grievance procedure may be invoked, unless the matter is appropriate to the Appeals Procedure provided in the circular. Guidelines for the submission of Appeals are contained in Appendix Eight of this document.

Note: If there are any efforts made to obstruct union meetings or to prevent union representatives undertaking union business in schools, they should be reported immediately to ASTI head office.