‘Ever-expanding workload’ turning teachers off becoming principals

Schools struggling to attract applicants for vacant positions, representative group says

Schools are struggling to attract applicants for the position of principal due to growing workloads and responsibilities, according to the representative group for secondary school principals.

Kieran Golden, president of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), said shortages of teachers willing to take on the role of principal will be the "next emergency" in education.

“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,” he said.

“We need to take serious notice of the impact of an ever-expanding workload on the welfare of our school leaders.”


The NAPD is seeking a number of measures from the Minister for Education to help ease pressure on principals.

It wants 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 it says takes no account of the wider context of the school.

Mr Golden was speaking ahead of the organisation’s annual conference which gets underway in Kilkenny on Thursday and will be attended by more than 600 principals and deputy principals.


Clive Byrne, director of the NAPD, said the conference is taking place at a time when the education system is coming under increasing strain due to a growing student population and shortcomings in 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,” Mr Byrne said.

“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 the challenges, Mr Byrne said the second-level education system has adapted and many schools are rolling out physical education and computer science as a Leaving Certificate subjects.

“ 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.”

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent