NAPD Conference Press Release

‘The next emergency in education will be a shortage of school principals’ – NAPD President

  • NAPD Annual Conference opens in The Lyrath Hotel, Kilkenny today, Thursday, 17 October
  • 600 secondary school leaders to discuss how our education system can progress and adapt to new regulations and a persistent lack of adequate financial resourcing from Government
  • Key speakers to include Dutch psychologist Professor Mark van Vugt and Dr. Anne Bamford, an international expert in the education of the arts
  • Conference to demo new ‘digital classroom’
  • NAPD comment: “There is an issue with the recruitment and retention of our school leaders. There are too few applicants for the position of principal, and we cannot ignore this.” 

A shortage of school principals will be the next crisis facing the Irish education system, according to Kieran Golden, President of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD). 

According to Mr Golden: “There is a significant issue with the recruitment and retention of our school leaders.  There are too few applicants for the position of principal, and we cannot ignore this.  We need to take serious notice of the impact of an ever-expanding workload on the welfare of our school leaders.”

To alleviate this growing workload, the NAPD is asking for the allocation of additional deputy principal posts and clerical staff posts based on an incremental sliding scale rather than a clinical cut-off point of 700 pupils, which takes no account of the wider context of the school.

Mr Golden will deliver a keynote speech at the Annual Conference of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, opening in Kilkenny today (Thursday).

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘An Bradán Feasa – Essential Knowledge for Today’s School Leaders’ and it will explore how our second-level education system must adapt to the key issues of education funding, recruitment and retention challenges, The Student & Parent Charter, curriculum changes, GDPR, and technology.

Over 600 principals and deputy principals are expected to attend the two-day conference, which commences at Kilkenny’s Lyrath Hotel from 10am today.  Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD will make an address on Friday morning.

The conference programme includes a number of leading Irish and international educational experts and business leaders who will debate and present on the challenges facing our current education system and the innovative ways in which these issues can be overcome.

Digital classroom

Students from Le Chéile Secondary School, Tyrellstown will showcase a model of digital classroom, highlighting the latest innovations in digital education. This includes lessons in coding, digital skills, maths, business, music, geography and virtual field trips.  The classroom will be an example of how IT can be used to enhance digital learning in the classroom and can be achieved using either Apple, Microsoft or Google technology.

Key-note presentations include:

  • ‘Making the implicit explicit – bringing the learning home’
    • Tomás O’Ruairc, Director of the Teaching Council
  • ‘Follow the Leader – but at what cost? – Models of Leadership in human and non-human societies’
    • Dutch academic and evolutionary psychologist, Professor Mark van Vugt
  • ‘The How Factor: Ensuring culture and art education for all students’
    • International expert in the arts, education, emerging literacies, and visual communication, Dr Anne Bamford

Other key areas to be examined over the course of the conference include:

  • The renewed importance of arts education at second level
  • The adoption and roll out of the new Student & Parent Charter

Commenting ahead of the conference, National Director of the NAPD, Clive Byrne, said:

“We look forward to welcoming NAPD members to Kilkenny today for our Annual Conference.  The conference comes at a time where the education system is coming under increasing strain due to a growing student population and the need for parallel Government investment.

“For example, while Budget 2020 was, on balance, received as a positive Budget for education, the provision of 150 new mainstream teaching posts will have little impact on Ireland’s growing student-teacher ratios.      

“We are also hoping to address many of the more complex issues that our principals face day-to-day in our schools, such as the interaction between school management, parents and teachers, GDPR, and the challenge and opportunities that come with keeping pace with new technologies.

“Despite these challenges, our second-level education system has adapted. Many schools have successfully rolled out Physical Education as a Leaving Certificate subject and many more have embedded Computer Education within our curriculum. With increased funding, we will be able to implement these changes nationally in due course.  However, we are currently a considerable distance away from making this happen.” 



For media enquiries, contact:

Paddy O’Dea | | 01 637 1777 | 086 357 3365

Barry Murphy | | 01 637 1777 | 087 266 9878