New job, new workplace, new questions

A guide to the practicalities of your new job

It takes a while to find your feet in any new job and teaching - a job like no other - can require more adjustment than most. We help to clear the confusion.  

What do I do if I need time off during the school year?

There is no provision for a teacher to take leave other than what is set down during periods where schools are closed so in general you should try to make sure you don’t need to take leave during the school year.

Unpaid leave may be granted in exceptional circumstances, at the discretion of the principal. So you could apply to your principal in the case of something like an immediate family wedding or similar. Substitution will be provided by the Department for unpaid leave.

You have the option to apply for up to five personal leave days in the school year, which are granted at the discretion of the principal. There is no substitution provided and you would have to ask your colleagues to cover on a voluntary basis.

Bereavement/compassionate leave may be granted on the death of a family member and substitution will be provided in such cases. Teachers are entitled to marriage leave but there is no substitution provided so again you would have to ask colleagues to cover for you.

Force Majeure Leave, limited to a maximum of three days in each period of 12 months or five days in 36 months, covers situations where, for urgent family illness reasons, your immediate presence is indispensably required at the place where the family member is. If you need to take Force Majeure leave you should phone your principal as soon as possible to let him/her know and confirm the leave when you return.

For more on teachers' leave click here. This section provides information on sick leave, maternity leave, etc.

How many parent teacher meetings will I have outside of school time?

At least three formal parent-teacher meetings are held outside of normal school hours per year. These meetings commence at 4.15, after each school has closed 15 minutes before normal time. The meetings conclude at 6.45 but parents who were waiting at 6.45 p.m. will be seen, if this can reasonably be done.  

These meetings cannot be counted towards the 33 additional hours required under the Croke Park Agreement.

Schools can also choose to allocate some of the 33 additional hours outside of school time required under the Croke Park Agreement to additional parent-teacher meetings.

How are staff meetings held outside school time?

Schools hold at least one formal staff meeting that includes time outside of the school day each term. These meetings are arranged so that an equal amount of time is taken from the school day as from the time after the school day. So a staff meeting of two hours duration will take place one hour preceding and one hour following normal school closing time. 

These meetings cannot be counted towards the 33 additional hours required under the Croke Park Agreement.

Schools can also choose to allocate some of the additional hours required under the Croke Park Agreement for staff meetings outside of school time.

What is involved in school inspections?

School inspections are carried out by the Inspectorate division of the Department of Education and Skills who perform subject inspections, Whole School Evaluations and incidental inspections.

Subject Inspections evaluate the school’s provision of a particular curricular area. Schools are given two week’s notice of subject inspections. It is expected that you should be able to provide a broad written plan of your work on a termly and yearly basis. However, it is not necessary that teachers prepare individual written lesson plans for the purpose of subject inspection. The subject inspection will likely include classroom observation, interaction with students and discussion with teachers. A core principle guiding the Inspector’s report is that the report issued as a result of subject inspection will not make reference to the work of individual teachers.

Incidental inspections are short one-day inspections conducted by one inspector and focusing on aspects of teaching, learning, student achievement and support for students in a school. Schools are selected for incidental inspection as part of the process of inspection planning managed by region. No advance notice is provided to schools that an incidental inspections to be carried out.

The Whole School Evaluation (WSE) process evaluates schools under the headings of management, planning, curriculum provision, learning and teaching, and support for students. During school and classroom visits the inspectors observe teaching and learning, interact with pupils, engage in discussion with teachers, and examine planning documents. Students’ school work, homework and journals are examined, where appropriate. In general, the process is conducted within normal school time. When students are interviewed, a teacher is always invited to be present.

For more on school inspection, click here.

Is there any scope for promotion within the school? What is a post of responsibility?

Aside from principal and deputy principal posts, teachers can be promoted to hold special duties posts or assistant principal posts. These are known as posts of responsibility.

Unfortunately, due to the current moratorium on posts of responsibility, all special duties posts and some assistant principal posts are not currently being filled. ASTI members who do not hold a post of responsibility should not undertake any updaid work which was previous undertaken by a post holder.

New promotional procedures for promotion to assistant principal and special duties teacher were accepted by the membership of the ASTI in October 2008 and will be phased in over a six-year period. Click here for more.

Who do I talk to if I have a problem in my job?

The ASTI is always here to support you in any issue you are experiencing in your job. We will advice on the best steps to take to resolve your concern. Call us on 01-6040160 or email info(at) Your query will be treated in strict confidence.

If you have a grievance with management, procedures are in place in the various sectors, which set out the correct steps to take in order to resolve issues and promote harmonious relationships between management and teachers. Click here for more.

Procedures in relation to professional competence issues and general disciplinary matters have also been agreed. Click here for more. 

Staffroom glossary

Confused by some of the staffroom chat? Read on!

Buy back years
The "Buy Back Scheme" is one way of enhancing a teacher's pension. It provides teachers with a once-off opportunity to 'buy back' pension credit for years of teaching service during which they were not members of the Superannuation Scheme. Read more about this Scheme and other means of enhancing your pension here.

Click here for an important update on CIDs. CID stands for Contract of Indefinite Duration. This is essentially the same as a permanent contract, except that the holder is paid based on the hours they teach. A teacher is usually entitled to a CID if they have worked on two continuous fixed-term contracts in the same school, providing they were not covering for a colleague absent on an approved leave of absence scheme in the fourth year and as long as there is a continuing need for their position. Click here for more information.

Medmark is the Occupational Health Service provider for teachers. Medmark provides pre-employment health assesments, sickness absence assesments, fitness to work assesments, and ill-health retirement assesments. Find out more here.

Incremental Credit
A teacher who is paid an incremental salary may apply for credit for previous service as a teacher in Ireland, Northern Ireland, the EU or outside the EU. Credit may also be given for relevant non-teaching experience. See here for more.

'S&S' refers to the Supervision and Substitution Scheme. Under this scheme, teachers sign up to supervise class or substitute for a colleague during specified periods during the week. In return, they receive an annual payment in addition to their salary.

Anything else you're wondering about, just use the search button at the top of the page!