NAPD welcomes the appointment of new Minister for Education, Norma Foley, but describes challenges now facing post-primary education as the ‘most pressing in the State’s history’
- NAPD has called on the new Minister to adequately resource secondary schools to enable their reopening in September and use the lessons learned from Covid-19 to advance Senior Cycle reforms;
- School leaders also call for increased supports to address the principal recruitment and retention crisis, a growing issue in the sector;
- Social distancing, immunocompromised teachers and students, student access to broadband and digital devices and school transport among key issues post Covid-19;
- Clive Byrne, Director NAPD: “Never has there been a more pressing time for addressing the immediate and long-term challenges of the post primary sector and we look forward to engaging with the Minister and her officials on these issues in the weeks and months ahead.”
The National Association of Principals & Deputy Principals (NAPD) has today, Saturday, 27 June 2020, congratulated Minister Foley on her appointment as Minister for Education and set out its key asks as she embarks on her new role.
The NAPD has been a key player in the education sector’s response and adaptation to challenges brought about by Covid-19. School leaders, already under resourced, have gone above and beyond to ensure continuation of learning for students and the successful implementation of the Leaving Certificate ‘calculated grades’ programme.
Clive Byrne, Director NAPD, says “There has never been a more challenging time for Irish education. We have endeavoured to adapt our teaching and examination processes so as to not disadvantage any student and we now need further resourcing and support from Minister Foley to make this a reality.”
As schools are asked to prepare to reopen this September, the immediate needs for the safety and wellbeing of all second level students and staff include:
- Adequate financial resourcing for increased protection and cleaning requirements to prevent Covid-19 transmission.
- Investments in technology and broadband infrastructure to allow remote learning and teaching for immunocompromised students and teachers.
- Blended learning guidance and resources to optimise student experience.
- Investment in school transport services to facilitate student safety, within public health guidelines.
The NAPD has also called on Minister Foley to acknowledge the learnings for the post primary education sector, during the Covid-19 lockdown and public health response. School leaders have outlined the need for substantial Leaving Certificate reform for many years. The challenges brought about by Covid-19 for executing the traditional, outdated, state examinations process have been brought to light and given full public scrutiny. It is now clear that a new approach must be taken.
The Programme for Government includes a plan to hold a ‘Citizens Assembly’ on Irish education and the NAPD believes this will be a crucial moment to strategise reform of the sector for the new Minister.
Commenting on the appointment of Minister Foley, Clive Byrne, Director NAPD, said:
“The NAPD, as the representative body of school leaders in over 700 secondary schools, looks forward to working closely with Minister Foley during the term of next Government. In order to achieve substantial progress for our students, we ask that the Minister engages with and listens to all education stakeholders.
“Of upmost urgency is the need to adequately resource and support secondary schools as we work to reopen this September. We must receive clear, realistic guidance from the Minister and her officials in order to protect the safety of all our students and staff.
“It would be regrettable for the Minister to not take learnings from the past number of months and the challenges Covid-19 has brought about for Irish education. We ask that we now move to future proof our state examinations system and execute reforms that have the best interests of our students at heart.
“School leaders and all those working in education have gone above and beyond in recent months and we must now address the long-term issues of principal recruitment and retention to ensure all our schools are appropriately led into a post Covid-19 era.”
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