Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Leibhéal Foirne Scoileanna
Ciarán Cannon (Galway East, Fine Gael)
Tá mé ag tógáil an ghnó seo thar ceann mo chomhghleacaí, an tAire Oideachais agus Scileanna.
I thank the Senator for giving me the opportunity to talk about the staffing appeals process for primary schools. The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on 30 September. The staffing arrangements in schools for the 2012-13 school year can also be affected by changes in enrolment, the impact of budget measures and the reforms to the teacher allocation process. The reform of the allocation process is designed to bring about a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools; therefore, there will inevitably be some schools that will lose posts and some that will gain posts.
The staffing schedule for the 2012-13 school year was published on the Department's website and includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent appeals board. Details of the criteria for appeals are contained in Department Staffing Circular 0007/2012.
As part of the new staffing arrangements, the Department has expanded the existing appeals process in order that it is accessible to the small primary schools that are losing a classroom post as a result of the budget measure and enable some limited phasing arrangements for schools where the combination of budget and reform measures impact in a particularly adverse manner on a school's overall allocation. All appeals submitted to the primary staffing appeals board, including those in Irish, were considered in accordance with the published appeals criteria. This was done at its meeting on 18 and 19 April. Two members of the appeals board are former school principals, while one member is a former inspector. Each of these three members has competency in Irish on the basis of his or her qualifications and experience in primary schools. In advance of appeals board meetings, the Department also arranges for appeals forms submitted in Irish to be translated into English. The board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.
A total of 367 schools submitted appeals to the appeals board and 205 schools had their appeals upheld. A summary outcome of the appeals has been published on the Department's website and individual schools have been notified of the outcome of their appeals.
The next meeting of staffing appeals board is due to be held on 14 June. The latest date for other schools to submit appeals is 1 June. The final staffing position for all schools will ultimately not be known until the autumn. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed and all appeals to the staffing appeals board will have been considered.