It’s an annual summer ritual for most primary teachers – get the Summer Course done to get your three days leave for the following school year. Course Days, or Extra Personal Vacation (EPV) Days to give them their correct title, have been around for many years. Some teachers get the course over and done with at the beginning of the summer, some leave it until the last week of August to do theirs.

With the advent of online summer courses over the past few years, teachers can now complete a summer course in their own time without being restricted to having to attend at certain times of the day. This has certainly helped teachers with family commitments during the summer.

According to the INTO Leave App, EPV Days are governed by two DES (Department of Education and Skills) circulars: Circular 0032/2007 and Circular 0037/97. Teachers can absent themselves from school on 3, 4 or 5 school days during the year, depending on their completion of summer course/s. The 2007 circular states that “the prior approval of the Chairperson of the Board of Management must be granted for all absences”.

I’ve heard many stories surrounding the operation of Course Days in many different schools and wondered whether some of these were simply “urban myths” or whether there was any truth in them at all. So here are some of the stories I’ve heard, and was wondering which of them are true?

  • teacher must get the approval of the Chairperson of the BOM for their Course Days
  • teachers are not allowed to take their Course Days in either September or June
  • teachers are not allowed to take more than one Course Day at a time
  • teachers are not allowed to add a course day onto a standardised school break eg Hallowe’en break
  • teachers are not allowed to add a course day onto another approved leave eg. marriage leave, attendance at a wedding leave
  • teachers are not allowed to do more than one summer course, essentially meaning they cannot have 4 or 5 days leave the following year
  • only one teacher can take a course day at any one time (this obviously makes sense in smaller schools)
  • Learning Support/Resource teachers come under pressure to leave the pupils they work with in order to teach/supervise children in a class whose teacher is on a Course Day (in most schools pupils are split up and divided amongst the other classes)
  • some teachers feel guilty about being absent from school on Course Days and don’t take their full quota

Some of these policies/practices probably make some sense, depending on the type of school that you work in. So, what are the policies/regulations regarding Course Days in your school? Leave a comment below.