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Principals call for re-examination of SET allocation Model

Posted by SchoolDays Newshound, on 29/04/2024. Principals call for re-examination of SET allocation ModelTags: Teachers

A survey from the National Principals’ Forum has revealed that more than half of primary school principals have reported that they had no faith that their appeal to the Department of Education for extra Special Education Teaching hours would be successful. They cited the administrative burden, the timeframe and the knowledge that fewer than 8% of appeals are ever successful as reasons.
After it emerged that the criteria of Complex Needs was removed from the Department’s algorithm that calculated the number of hours per week of support children in each school would receive, over 600 principals and 1,300 parents signed a petition to demand that the criteria was restored. 
Promise of Engagement:
The Minister admitted that the removal of the criteria could impact a number of schools and that she would engage with schools directly should they feel they were adversely affected. Despite this promise, 87% of principals did not see evidence that there was any engagement.
Results of Appeals:
The survey, filled in by over 500 school leaders, also showed that 81% of non-developing schools (schools that have not increased their enrollment by one or more classes) were unsuccessful in their appeal. Principals complained that the process was time-consuming.
Simon Lewis, principal Carlow Educate Together said:
“Our school lost 15 hours a week despite little change to our enrollments and an increase in needs. I had to manually fill in a spreadsheet for 146 children and it took five days of sourcing the information from teaching staff. Whatever little hope I had that there would be engagement with our appeal, my heart sank when I saw the template response, which offered no reasons for our supposed failure to provide sufficient evidence of our children’s needs.”
Adrian Ormsby, principal of Clogher NS, Claremorris said:
The appeal process is hugely time intensive on an already stretched teaching principal. Despite receiving a letter to state my school is moving to the next stage of review,  I have to spend more time submitting individual support files with names redacted and coded, support plan reviews etc. It’s adding more and more pressure to my role.” 
The Removal of Complex Needs as a Criteria:
Although advocacy groups Inclusion Ireland, AsIAm and Down Syndrome Ireland have lobbied the Minister for Education about the removal of the Complex Needs criteria, a joint statement from the National Parents’ Council and two principal representative groups, the Irish Primary Principal Network (IPPN) and National Association for Principals & Deputy Principals (NAPD), was issued to refute that the complex needs criteria had been removed. The survey showed that 56% of respondents did not feel the IPPN’s response represented the views of principals on the ground. Respondents expressed frustration and disappointment and called on the IPPN for a much stronger stance. 
Principal who wished to remain anonymous:
I was incredibly frustrated when I read it. I would hold the IPPN in very high regard, and find it difficult to believe that this was a true reflection of their membership's views.
The Department of Education has since attempted to explain that Complex Needs were calculated under two criteria. According to a statement from  the Department of Education:
Complex need is now measured in two ways. Firstly, students who are performing at the lower levels in standardised tests, which indicate the greatest level of need for additional teaching support and secondly, the pupils with more complex needs and who have been exempted are given the highest weight.
Angela Dunne from the National Principals’ Forum
Schools will do everything they can to help a child with complex needs to complete the Standardised Tests, whether that is by being allocated someone to sit with him or to have the test completed in a quieter environment, or whatever will aid the child to be comfortable. Schools were never informed about exemptions being offered the highest level of support when it came to Standardised Tests. When we are doing everything we can to be inclusive to children with complex needs, what message are we giving them when we tell them they don’t get to take part like their peers?
The National Principals’ Forum continues to call on the Minister to re-examine the SET Allocation Model to ensure that every child receives the support they require.
Alan Kelly, also a member of the National Principals Forum states:
It is clear that the process is failing many children. Not only is the data being used unreliable, it is still based on a 15% school-wide cut made in austerity times by former Minister Ruairi Quinn. At the very least, this cut should be reversed. Schools should be trusted to outline the needs the children have, through the Primary Online Database, and the Department of Education should provide them with the resources they require. It is clear from the survey that the Department of Education does not trust its school leaders.

Source - Press Release from The National Principal's Forum (NPF)
"NPF is an entirely voluntary, registered grassroots lobby group of practising Primary School Principal Teachers, established in May 2018. We are seeking to work with the Minister for Education, Management Bodies and Representative Bodies to affect urgent changes needed to sustain us in our roles as school leaders. We aim to provide support to school leaders through dynamic collaboration."


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