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Government must tackle initiative overload in schools

06 November 2019


The Minister for Education and Skills must do more than just acknowledge initiative overload in schools, he must take action, ASTI President Deirdre Mac Donald told an ASTI conference for principals and deputy principals today (Wednesday, November 6th).

“The Minister for Education and Skills, Joe Mc Hugh, acknowledged over a year ago that schools and teachers have experienced an unsustainable pace of change and multiple new initiatives in recent years. Words are meaningless without actions.”

The ASTI President said that initiative overload is a reality of school life for both classroom teachers and school management: “The workload associated with the incessant drive to introduce more and more initiatives is unsustainable. It is time to stop and evaluate what is working and what is not, what is worthwhile and what is not”.

“The most recent OECD Education at a Glance report has put us last out of 35 countries for investment in second-level education as a percentage of GDP. Despite this we have managed to achieve highly in PISA tests. Combine this with the fact that student numbers are at an all-time high and you have irrefutable evidence of teachers’ ability, ingenuity and dedication,” said Ms Mac Donald.

John O’Donovan, Chair of the ASTI Principals’ and Deputy Principals’ Committee called for the immediate restoration of middle management post numbers.

“What principals and deputy principals most want to do is develop and lead strong school communities where teachers and students can thrive. To do this we need to be able to step away from the relentless burden of firefighting and administration. We need a modern and properly resourced school management structure which enables principals and deputy principals to delegate important management tasks to experienced teachers. As a first step, this requires immediate restoration of middle management posts in schools.”

Principals and deputy principals working in second-level schools all over the country are attending today’s ASTI conference in Athlone which will be addressed by Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills Seán Ó Foghlú and employment lawyer Michael Kennedy amongst others.

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