During the financial crisis there was an agreement to cut costs and increase efficiency in public service. This was known as the Croke Park Agreement. The Department of Education, the INTO and school management bodies agreed that primary teachers would work an additional 36 hours per year to complete tasks that schools would usually take a half day for, such as staff meetings and Staff CPD. This was outlined in Circular 0008/2011. The usage of Croke Park hours was reviewed under the Haddington Road Agreement and a new circular issued (0052/2014), and again under the Lansdowne Road Agreement (Circular 0042/2016).
As things currently stand, teachers still have to do 36 Croke Park hours per year, however 10 of them can now be dedicated to “planning and development work other than on a whole-school basis”. This means that 10 hours can now be used by teachers at their own discretion as approved by management.
The remaining 26 Croke Park Hours should be used for some or all of the following:
- school planning
- continuous professional development
- pre and post school supervision
- policy development
- staff meetings
- nationally planned inservice
- school arranged inservice
As per the original circular 0008/2011, CP hours should be scheduled outside of normal tuition time over the course of the 183 days that the school is open for tuition, and can take place in 1, 2, or 3 hour blocks.
Alternatively, if there is consensus among the school staff, some of the hours can be combined into a maximum of 2 full days outside of the 183 days that the school is normally open for.
The circular also sets out how “…it is expected that there will be consultation at school level as to the optimum usage of this block of hours in order to meet the requirements of the school…”. This means that there should be agreement amongst the staff about how the remaining 26 hours can be best used.