Spilling the Tea on SET Allocations — a Guide for Disillusioned Principals

Simon Lewis
3 min readFeb 6, 2024

Principals — Have you been unable to find a cluster arrangement? Don't worry. The following might save you some sleepless nights.

The SET Allocation Hours is simply a type of scavenger hunt. Let's say you are a school with 15, 17.5, 20 or 22.5 hours, you are essentially scavenging for schools with the remaining hours. The first thing to know is that everyone around you is playing.

The second thing to know is that it's each man/woman for themselves. There's no point getting angry that your neighbouring school with the exact hours you need went off with a school 40km away.

After you've finished thinking murderous thoughts about the people you thought were decent, your first step should always be this great app from @d4rk_onion

The app finds schools close to you who make ideal matches. It’s very likely that if you are reading this now, almost all the schools near you have been exhausted. Don’t panic!

Let's take a 15 hour principal who needs 10 hours. While most arrangements will be 3 days in one school / 2 days in another, it doesn't have to work this way. You could split the year instead so 6 months in one school, 4 months in the other.

This might let you spread your wings further and might suit a teacher who is commuting a long distance. For example, 6 months in Louth and 4 months in Meath might be handy for a teacher in your school so don't worry if the distances are larger.

If you still can't find a partner, don't panic! There is a form that you'll be filling out and you can simply state that you can't find a partner school. This results in 2 possibilities:

The Department will have to find you a partner. If they can then - ta-da! - you're sorted. If they can't then they make the position a part-time one. In a 15 hour situation, that could help someone work 3 days a week, which may be attractive to someone.

You might be thinking: but I might lose a job for a teacher! You don't. Your teacher will go on the panel and get a permanent job in another local school. We have to accept we no longer live in a world where gaining an extra teacher means we get to keep them forever.

Teaching is already a more fluid job than it was and positions are going to depend on SET Allocations which are going to change every year. We have to get used to it and stop the fallacy of "saving" a teacher.

However, you’re allowed murderous thoughts about a neighbour that screwed you over. When you’re pouring tea at the next local meeting, accidentally spill some on his crotch area so it looks like he wet himself. Then say, “sorry, I’d allocate you a towel but I gave it away.”



Simon Lewis

Primary school principal, podcaster and poet. 👨🏼‍🏫 Writes about the Irish primary education system. Tweets from @simonmlewis