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Warning of "crisis of school leadership" over unsustainable cutbacks

The National Association of Principals and Deputy Princiapls has warned that problems could occur due to the failure to invest in management structures in schools.

UNSUSTAINABLE CUTBACKS ARE undermining management functions in schools, a principals’ organisation has said.

The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), the representative body for principals in second level schools, said that there is a “crisis of school leadership” because of cutbacks and the failure to invest in management structures in Ireland’s schools.

School leadership

It is due to make the warning during its presentation to the Oireachtas Committee on Education on the issue of school leadership this afternoon.

The NAPD will tell the committee about two Department of Education funded programmes that were created to develop leadership skills in existing principals and to mentor principals of the future – but which no longer exist.

It will also explain that the administrative responsibilities of principals have increased significantly over the last decade, but supports and continuous professional development (CPD) programmes for principals have greatly reduced.

According to NAPD, school principals’ responsibilities now cover a wide range of areas, from curriculum changes to plant and facilities management.

Management structures

The NAPD said today that flawed middle-management structures in secondary schools add to the problem. These flaws are due to how posts of responsibility are awarded and allocated, it explained.

“Many of these roles are not fit-for-purpose and undermine the effective management of schools,” said the NAPD.

It explained that issues with these posts include:

  • Many are allocated on the basis of seniority, irrespective of qualifications and merit
  • There is no direct connection between the duties and the expertise of the post holder
  • Or, post holders are not accountable for the performance of their duties.

Recommendations

The NAPD has made a number of recommendations that it says could help improve the problem:

  • Training and supports for newly appointed principals, particularly as 60 per cent of current principals have five years or less experience in the role
  • On-going professional development support for Principals to help them identify, attract and develop the next generation of school leaders
  • A Department of Education-funded dedicated annual budget to support the professional development of principals and school leaders
  • The establishment of a Centre for Leadership and Planning, which would support the professional development of existing and future principals
  • Reform of the nature and allocation of posts of responsibility to ensure a better match between duties and post holders.

Clive Byrne, NAPD Director, points out that schools are large and diverse organisations, and so have “a range of differing challenges and problems”.

Like all such organisations, our schools will not achieve their goals and objectives unless the correct management structures are in place.

Read: Ireland’s school children aren’t great at problem solving, but are you any better?>

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