Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has called on the Department of Education to stop issuing unworkable circulars that are tying the hands of principals rather than empowering them to find solutions locally, he says.
Following the circular issued on Wednesday, Deputy Ó Ríordáin said that school communities “need practical solutions from the Department, not further barriers.”
Deputy Ó Ríordáin said: “The circular issued from the Department regarding the sequence for access to substitution teachers is entirely unworkable for the majority of school communities.
“Rather than empowering principals to continue finding solutions locally, there is now a strict process to be followed which is unrealistic and does not reflect what’s actually happening in school communities nationwide.
“School communities are concerned that this may lead to thousands of children being sent home from school.
“My office is inundated with queries from concerned principals.
“Proposing that administrative principals fill the gap undermines the extensive work that they have to do, and the circular assumes that substitute teachers are available when we know that they’re not.
“The whole things showcases a Department that is out of touch with the work that’s going on in schools throughout the country.
“It is truly incredible to think that a system could be created that could see schools telling children to stay at home.
“The Minister and Department must show leadership and provide clear guidance but this must be grounded in reality.
“It’s not fair to the the hands of principals who are already stretched by trying to keep the show on the road.
“The circular issued Wednesday ignores the substitution crisis and ignores the work that schools have been doing to keep children in the classroom.
“It is an impossible situation now made even more impossible by the circular issued Wednesday.”