Irish National Teachers’ Organisation General Secretary John Boyle is calling on the government to acknowledged the demands being placed on the primary school sector.
Donegal native Boyle yesterday launched a report showing that 90% of teachers struggle with a challenging workload.
Teachers are reporting that their job has become more “stressful”, “demanding”, “challenging”, “inflexible” and/or “hectic” in the last five years.
Teachers said they are spending too much time on paperwork with no demonstrable effect on the quality of teaching and learning.
They said the workload of a teacher is ‘bursting at the seams’, with increasing demands, additional complexity and unrealistic expectations cited as common issues along with an overloaded curriculum and a tsunami of new initiatives.
The report, soliciting detailed feedback from over 4,000 teachers and 1,100 school leaders, represents a sizable percentage of the entire teaching profession at primary level.
INTO General Secretary John Boyle emphasised “The teaching profession in Ireland has been well regarded and respected for generations. If the Department of Education wants to ensure that Ireland retains its reputation for having a high-quality education system, they must urgently reduce the work overload which is putting huge strain on teachers and school leaders in primary and special schools.
“The right to disconnect is not sector-specific – all workers have this right, and the Government must ensure it is delivered to all those working in primary and special education. Government must recognise the damage that is being done to the profession with a never-ending list of new demands placed at the school door.
“As the framework for a revised primary curriculum comes into focus, the Irish Government has some decisions to make. They have failed to address our overcrowded classrooms and there continues to be a lack of a middle-management support structure in many schools. There is also an overload of initiatives. Significantly, the bureaucracy that creates obstacles to supporting inclusive education will jeopardise the effectiveness of the core purpose of teachers’ work – giving their best to the children in their classrooms. All of these factors act as barriers to further progress.”
In response to the findings of this report, the INTO have today set out key recommendations to support teachers and principals. These include:
- A fundamental review of the primary system to include a focus on school governance and school infrastructural supports.
- The appointment of administrative principals in all schools with more than 10 staff, and to schools with special classes.
- The provision of two leadership and management release days per week for teaching principals, together with release days for deputy principals, pro-rata, depending on school size.
- Access to a HR advisory service for all principals to support them with such matters.
- The need for teachers to collaborate and engage with continuous professional development and for whole school planning to be recognised and accommodated by the education system.
- The full restoration of assistant principal posts, many of which have been lost to schools since 2009.
- Guidelines to be issued to inform planning for special education with less demands for paperwork from teachers