I S S U E 2 6 • M AY 2 0 0 5
Inside Education: Top of the Political Agenda ...............................2 Education Disadvantage...............3 Passionate Principalship ...............4 Diary of meetings ...............................6 Educate Together................................7 Employing Personnel .......................8 Class Allocation ....................................9 Special Education Support Service .............................10 Legal Diary ........................................12 Concerns about NEWB ...............14 Managing Special Education....15 Hospital Teachers.............................16 New IPPN website ..........................17 IPPN Bursary .........................................17 Citizenship in Schools....................19 Clustering in the sun! ....................20 In-School Management ...............21 2 heads are better than 1 ..........22 National Education Psychological Service ...............23
“Stand firm in your refusal to remain conscious during algebra. In real life, I assure you there is no such thing as algebra” Fran Lebowitz The opinions expressed in Leadership+ do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network
ISSN: 1649 -5888 Irish Primary Principals’ Network Glounthaune, Co Cork President: Virginia O’Mahony firstname.lastname@example.org Director: Seán Cottrell email@example.com Editor: Larry Fleming firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising: Damian White email@example.com e: firstname.lastname@example.org l: 1890 21 22 23 t: 353 21 452 4925 f: 353 21 435 5648 w: www.ippn.ie
Making a difference A Phríomhoide agus a Phríomhoide Thánaistigh, Two initiatives, which will hopefully have a positive impact on the lives of principals and their deputies, are making favourable progress. You are already aware of a working group established by the DES to examine practical ways of reducing principals’ workload and of reviewing In-School Management. IPPN is using the evidence, which you gave us in our workload survey last autumn, to find solutions and strategies, which will have a meaningful impact. Parallel to this working group, following the Ministers commitment at IPPN Conference 2005, the DES’s Central Policy Unit has initiated a comprehensive study of Primary schools to examine and address the ever increasing administrative and communications burden on schools. A main feature of this system-wide study
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is the analysis of all the different agencies, departments and individuals who seek to collect information/data from primary schools. When this long list is completed, it becomes patently obvious that the repeated manual processing and distribution of routine information is central to the bureaucratic quagmire in which we now find ourselves. The provision of an appropriate computerised school based system, which is compatible with external agencies, is not only important but is also urgently required. No modern administration can hope to deliver services with any degree of efficiency or equity in the absence of an electronic database. The IPPN Executive has already made written and oral submissions to the Central Policy Unit. It is reassuring to discover their existing awareness and empathy in particular towards principals. In the case of both of these initiatives, which are complementary to each other, it is important to note that IPPN’s contributions are being valued and taken seriously, not least because of the impressive quality of feedback received from more than 1,000 principals. (CONTINUED ON PAGE 2)
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Making a difference
Top of the Political Agenda
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Ironically, whilst these positive initiatives are under way, colleagues throughout the country are expressing serious concern about the additional administrative demands on schools from the NEWB. IPPN along with NAPD, our second level colleagues, are committed to preventing the system for improving school attendance from becoming ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’. The announcement of staffing schedules for September, and the consequent redeployment panels, was raised again at a meeting with the DES on April 20th. IPPN again emphasised that it is completely unacceptable to take for granted that advertising, short-listing, interviewing and appointing staff can take place during official school holidays. It is extremely bad practice that the main recruitment season for professional school staff is left to fall when teachers are on holiday. Is there any other profession that is forced to engage in its main recruitment drive during holiday time? In recent years it has become quite problematic to engage independent assessors during July and August. Trying to contact referees, whose input is so vital to the recruitment process, often proves impossible. Appointing a teacher requires Board of Management approval, the members of which are equally difficult to bring together at peak holiday times. We hear much of the integrity of the school year. Perhaps it is time to hear more of the integrity of principals’ holidays. It is said that all change begins with awareness. It must be acknowledged that the Minister and her senior officials have become increasingly aware of the need to support principals in their challenging role. It has taken IPPN five years of persistent communication, research and lobbying to make principals’ issues a higher priority. We have a long way to go if we are to achieve our goals of unlocking the education leadership potential of principals, protecting their personal health and safety and enabling professional job satisfaction. For the first time, we do believe that we are being heard. Is mise le meas Seán Cottrell
Jan O’Sullivan, TD Labour Party Spokesperson on Education and Science It came as a bit of a surprise to the political hacks that Education featured so strongly in the concerns of the people of Meath and North Kildare during the recent byelection campaigns. It’s no surprise to anyone involved in Education including Primary School principals and deputy principals who have to deal with all the day-to-day problems of running schools with inadequate space and resources. These two constituencies are part of the everexpanding Celtic Tiger Capital City where housing estates mushroom, enveloping the countryside all around Dublin and communities struggle to gain the infrastructure to catch up on the population growth. Schools are at the centre of this struggle. Families move to brand new estates and seek to enrol their children in the local school. But the local school has classes of 35-plus already, pre-fabs galore, every cupboard space occupied for learningsupport, an application for an extension with the Department and a long waiting-list. The most common plea I heard on the doorsteps was: "can you please do something about the size of my child’s class?" It is a question echoed in many parts of the country. Principals and Boards of Management are in a Catch 22 situation. They want to facilitate families who, naturally, seek to enrol their children in the local school, but they know that overcrowded classes are a bad learning environment. It is time for a new approach from the Department of Education and Science. For too long it has been re-active rather than proactive when it comes to planning for growth. Despite the original concept when the National School system was first set up in the 19th century, the initiative is left almost entirely to local communities. Either the local school, or a group of parents, or a parish must come to the Department and ask for resources for a new school or an extension. They have to raise considerable finance themselves. Then they have to wait…and wait…and wait. Children and teachers have to work in over-crowded classrooms and some have to travel long distances because their local school is full. It doesn’t have to be that way. Other EU countries do it differently. They plan ahead. The primary school is seen as a central part of the integrated provision of services, along with roads, commercial areas and leisure facilities. PAGE 2
We know the projected population increase. Recent Department figures show that there will be 150,000 more children going to primary school by 2020. Let’s see the Department acquiring sites for schools while the houses are in the planning stages and granting extensions in time for the extra children. Let us see legislation changed so that an affordable site for a school is an automatic part of advance planning for any area, as recommended by the All-Party Committee on the Constitution. This issue is, of course, closely linked to the current campaign by Teachers’ Unions to secure the implementation of the commitment in the Programme for Government to substantially reduce class size and bring numbers down to international best-practice guidelines. Ireland has the second highest average class size in the EU. More than 100,000 primary school children are in classes of 30 or more. There is irrefutable evidence that children learn better in smaller classes. This is all the more important in the context of those with special learning needs being accommodated in regular national schools. Their presence is a positive for all concerned, provided they get the full support they need, when they need it. As I write, the review of the ‘weighted’ system is still on-going and there is a lot of concern that some schools and some children will lose resources that they have been deemed to require following professional assessment. This must not be allowed to happen and principals must not be put in the position of having to allocate insufficient resources among children who have a recognized need for support. We live in a rich economy. We can afford to resource our schools properly. The people of Meath and North Kildare are not much different from the people of the rest of the country. Their message that Education is a top priority needs action. Money should be invested in good school buildings, smaller classes, more teachers, learning support…in time for the children of to-day. What’s the use in being a rich economy if our children are poorly provided for? There is a huge commitment to Education in this country, among teachers and parents and society in general. We are second from the bottom of the EU table of spending on Education as a percentage of GDP. Think of how much more could be achieved if the resources invested were brought up even to EU averages….or higher?
One of Minister Hanafin’s expressed priorities is to address, in a coherent and cohesive way, the perennial problem of educational disadvantage. IPPN welcomes the proposed new, positive framework of supports for schools designed by the DES to combat educational disadvantage and to promote inclusion. The DES has engaged the Educational Research Centre in Drumcondra, to immediately carry out a survey of levels of disadvantage in schools. IPPN was invited to be a member of the Advisory Group tasked with advising the DES on designing the questionnaire that will arrive in your school shortly.
IPPN, on numerous occasions, has emphasised to the DES, the need for an electronic interdepartmental pupil database using pupils’ PPS numbers. This database would obviate the need for repeated questionnaires such as the one currently planned. We will continue to press the Minister and the DES for the establishment of such a database so that all key pupil information is collected and stored centrally. It is grossly inefficient and time wasting, when Principals are continuously asked to re-process the same information for the growing number of agencies that require data from our schools. A key concern of the Principals on IPPN’s Executive, is that significant resources designed to address educational disadvantage, will be allocated to schools based on the subjective opinion of the Principal Teacher. IPPN believes that it would be better professional practice, if information pertaining to sensitive socio-economic data were collected from primary sources i.e. parents/
Education Disadvantage Establishing levels of need in schools While appreciating that it would be regrettable if funding could not be accessed because of a lack of information, IPPN is very concerned at the significant increase in Principals’ workload involved, and the required time to consult school records, teachers, parents and other relevant agencies, to make decisions about the socio-economic characteristics of individual families and children. Due to this serious concern for Principals’ workload, IPPN’s executive recommended that the questionnaire would only seek information that was absolutely essential. Consequently, our involvement in the advisory group, has led to a considerable reduction in the amount of information now being required by this questionnaire, when compared with the original draft tabled by the DES. Whilst recognising that Principals, who work on a daily basis with the educationally disadvantaged, will especially appreciate the importance and the urgency of this exercise, IPPN as a professional association, is ill at ease about using unscientific and arbitrary ways of gathering sensitive information through a third party, namely the Principal of the school. None of the key information required is easily accessible or verifiable by the Principal, who has been given the responsibility of completing this questionnaire honestly and professionally. PAGE 3
guardians, the Dept. of Social & Family Affairs and the Dept. of Health & Children. Information from parents/guardians could be collected by the Principal, through each class teacher issuing a short, standarised form to families, with an explanatory cover letter. IPPN has offered to assist the DES in designing such a letter and form. We will inform you by Escéal and text message if this suggestion will be taken on board. Despite our reservations outlined above, we recognise that the DES needs this information in order to target resources for the most needy children in our schools. Consequently, the IPPN executive encourages members to complete the questionnaire as comprehensively as possible. In order to support you through this task, and in the interests of providing enhanced educational resources for our most vulnerable children, IPPN will provide further professional guidance to members by E-scéal and text message. Currently, 93% of our 5,500 members avail of these communication systems. If you are not in receipt of IPPN emails or texts, this may be an opportunity for you to provide us (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your preferred email address and mobile number so we can be of assistance to you.
Passionate in the Primary School If you have the time to pay attention to IPPN newsletters, you may have noticed in a previous issue that there was a book review by Dr. Pauric Travers (President, St. Patrick’s College of Education, Drumcondra). The teaching principals among you are likely to say: ‘I certainly don’t have the time; maybe my ‘walking’ colleagues do’!! What I have to say applies to the teaching principals as much, if not more than to their administrative colleagues, so hang in there, don’t give up on the reading just yet!
The title of the book is Passionate Principalship: Learning from the Life Histories of School Leaders (Sugrue, 2005). However, as it is published in hardback only, and the price is prohibitive, except for those wealthy Boards of Management!, I feel obliged to say a little about some key issues that emerge from the work. I draw on the data generated in interviews with primary principals in the Irish system to say a little about what I think emerged with some significance from that study. My comments also draw on data that were recently generated when Dr. Mark Morgan and myself were evaluating the MISNEACH programme (The DES will publish this report in the near future).
Sustainable Leadership The first point to be made is that all schools, and indeed their principals too, are unique, one of a kind, and yet schools and principals have some things in common also. One of the most commonly cited reasons by principals for wishing to become principal is a passionately held desire to ‘make a difference’ in the lives of children. This commitment is crucially important, sustains people in turbulent times, and cannot be taken for granted. Internationally, as many of you will know, there is a leadership crisis in schools, as the pool of teachers who are willing to take on the onerous duties of being principal has grown alarmingly shallow (Hargreaves et al. 2003) to the point where the issue of ‘sustainable leadership’ is being taken (more) seriously by policy makers in various jurisdictions (Hargreaves and Fink, 2005). There is evidence too in the Irish context of an increasing trickle of those who ‘hand back the keys’ (see Ryan, 2003). Three issues that emerge from the evaluation of MISNEACH (and are further substantiated by other research) are critical in this context: There is need for ongoing professional learning opportunities of a formal and informal nature This need for professional support and learning opportunities increases rather than decreases the longer a principal is in position due to the rapidity of change PAGE 4
Principals have different needs at different career stages, so that a "one size fits all" is inadequate and there is need for diversity of provision. The Irish evidence also confirms what is well established in the international literature–that the role of principal is overloaded, and continues to become more complex–what is generally labelled ‘intensification’. However, it is poor consolation to know that intensification of your role is recognised if nothing of a structural nature is done to alleviate the burden. In the present context, what is of more immediate interest, is the apparent reality that some principals thrive on the challenges, uncertainties, insecurities, multiple-interactions, visibility and even the meetings most of the time, while others are ground down by the daily press and become disillusioned, disengaged, perhaps cynical even. In a general way, it is possible to say that for those who retain their enthusiasm their passion for the job is continuously rekindled, while for others it is dimmed, dissipated or extinguished. So, what is this passion thing that appears to be so crucial?
Passionate Leadership We sometimes say of colleagues or acquaintances that their ‘heart is in the right place’. This suggests that while they are human, flawed, and may not be the most charismatic, efficient individual on the planet, their general ‘stance’ towards others and the world is commendable, admirable even. They are individuals whose beliefs, attitudes and values are highly regarded. These values, beliefs and attitudes are deeply embedded in their biographies, their childhoods, their early socialisation, their character, personality, their professional intentions and actions. There is an additional ingredient also—passion. This is not simply sentiment or emotion. In popular terms it might be referred to as good Karma, but it is more than this.
Principalship Dr Ciaran Sugrue, St Patrick’s College of Education
Passion has generally got bad press. ‘Crimes of passion’ and ‘sins of the flesh’ have not helped its negative image. Passion can be both positive and negative. When someone says: ‘I’m passionate about football’ or some other pursuit, they display a degree of determination that sustains them in good and bad times. Fried (1995) suggests that "to be a passionate teacher is to be someone in love with a field of knowledge, deeply stirred by issues and ideas that challenge our world, drawn by the dilemmas and potentials of the young people who come into class each day—or captivated by all of these" (p. 1). For Kane (2002) passion is presented in more neutral terms when she states: "passion is an intense emotion that compels action" and is an "unequalled source of energy" (p. 2). Dictionary definitions of the term passion include negatives such as martyrdom, suffering, rage, sorrow, and more positive passions such as—love, sexual desire and, importantly also "an enthusiastic interest or direction of the mind". There is some suggestion of struggle, of intensity and engagement, of effort that sometimes too results in failure, disappointment and renewed effort; that passion is not always a blazing star. Kaufmann argues that lest we confine our understanding of passion to that inspired by a narrow supply line of positive emotions only, we should – …re-examine our ideas about it and incorporate a broader and more complex array of feelings and experiences into our definition—even if some of these are dissonant with the positive, uplifting images typically associated with the term. (2000, p. 1)
Replenishing the Reservoir Passionate principalship then is a combination of those raw emotions, ‘fire in the belly,’ that is filtered through values beliefs and attitudes to lend direction, some coherence and purpose; it is raw energy that has been given cognitive purpose. This is the ballast, both personal and professional, that individuals bring to principalship. In the past, in more stable and predictable times, this personal ‘baggage’ was
sufficient to enable individuals to ‘steer the ship’, to ‘keep an even keel’ and all the other cultural clichés that you can bring to mind. However, the emphasis was on stability, maintaining continuity, the status quo. In the past decade in particular, the language of school reform, and of leadership literature has changed dramatically. Principals must be risktakers, entrepreneurial, transformational etc. The complexity of the role is such that principals are much more visible, and consequently vulnerable. Without the selfesteem, self-worth, and self-confidence that comes from passion with purpose the vicissitudes of everyday life in schools and beyond are likely to drain the personal resources of principals, to siphon off from the reservoir of passion, but without space or time to replenish this vital resource.
The Ecology of the Modern School Obviously, colleagues, school context and partners or significant others play a crucial role in the cycle of energy renewal. Yes, individuals need to be resilient, to have a robust constitution, to be reflective and insightful, to understand where they are at when times get tough, while recognising also that things have been and can be better. In this regard, it is evident from the MISNEACH data that staff relations are key to relative stability and a positive teaching and learning environment. However, it is important too to recognise that schools have life cycles, of growth, plateau, and (possible) decline as numbers stabilise and contract. We need to know much more about the ‘ecology of the school’ and how it sustains or dissipates passionate commitment (Gronn, 2003). Yes, the external policy climate too has a significant bearing on internal dynamics with uncertainties about the future. However, those with passion and purpose usually manage to manipulate new initiatives for the benefit of their school community; to fuse successfully local need with national agenda. There are several ways to be entrepreneurial so you continue to have choices!
The Learning Leader For the foreseeable future the role of principal is set to continue at a pace and intensity that will be relentless and unprecedented. You owe it to yourself to create the time and space to reflect and renew the vital personal resources listed above. In doing so, you may wish to try to identify the values, beliefs and attitudes that seem to you to be most crucial. While we know of their importance in a general way, there is need for much more research on which values, which beliefs and which attitudes are the ones that make most difference when fulfilling the role. At a structural level, yes there is need for ongoing support from the DES and its agents, while IPPN itself has a vital role to play in creating and sustaining learning networks. Nevertheless, each individual should also commit to taking a practical step towards supporting his or her own learning. Do it now! Meantime, pressure needs to be brought to bear to change present inflexible structures regarding ‘stepping down’ from the role. Creating such a facility with appropriate pension entitlements may be the single most significant measure to create ‘sustainable leadership’ (Hargreaves and Fink, 2005). Meantime, the primary responsibility for creating and sustaining passion with purpose resides with you; create the necessary space and time for that to happen; you owe it to yourself, your colleagues and students (and your family) will be the better for it, and so will you. It is time for the myth of the ‘superprincipal’ (Copland, 2001) or the ‘superwoman principal’ (Reynolds) to be replaced by the sustaining myth of the ‘learning leader’ (Sugrue, 2005a). This is the collective challenge to the education community. Dr Ciaran Sugrue was a key influence in the formation and growth of IPPN.
MARCH 2005 IPPN Conference Organising Committee met to review and evaluate Conference 2005 in Mallow, Co. Cork International Confederation of Principals (ICP): Symposium on "The Challenge of Recruiting and Retaining School Leaders" in Cork IPPN and School Development Planning Service in Dublin IPPN National Committee Meeting in Galway
Diary of meetings held by IPPN on behalf of Principals
Meeting with John Quinlan, Principal Officer, Central Policy Unit, DES concerning strategies to reduce the administrative burden on schools. Meeting of IPPN Executive in Portlaoise Meeting between IPPN and Leadership Development for Schools (LDS) in Portlaoise Meeting in Dublin with Gearóid Ó Conluain, Deputy Chief Inspector, DES concerning a standardised Student Transfer Form Meeting in Dublin with Dr. Paul Ryan, Principal Officer, Teacher Education Section, DES concerning Principals’ professional development. National Association of Head Teachers (Northern Ireland) Annual Conference in Limavaddy with the theme ‘Removing the Barriers’ Meeting in Cork with Allianz concerning insurance advice for newly appointed principals. Meeting in Dublin of the Department of Education & Science Advisory Group on Identification of Disadvantage in Schools NCCA Conference in Galway on North/South Curriculum Issues IPPN Briefing at the Association of Independent Junior Schools’ Conference in Wexford Meeting in Dublin with John Quinlan, Principal Officer, Central Policy Unit, DES addressing administrative overload in schools. Meeting in Dublin with Peter Baldwin, Assistant General Secretary, DES concerning SEN General Allocation System Meeting in Dublin with Odyssey Internet Portals concerning new IPPN website Meitheal Mala & Meitheal Chorcaigh: Cork Education Support Centre/ Leadership Development for Schools/ IPPN Pilot Project on Professional Development for experienced school leaders. Educational Leadership Workshop: Microsoft/LDS/Michael Fullan in Killiney. Launch in Dublin of the Department of Education & Science Chief Inspector’s Report, 2001–2004
Educate Together Still the fastest growing education sector in Ireland
www.text-a-sub.ie Educate Together have announced the approval of five new Educate Together schools due to open in September 2005. Educate Together currently operates 35 schools nationwide and is working with an increasing numbers of voluntary, community groups across the country. The new schools will be located in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, Tyrrelstown, Co Dublin, Gorey, Co Wexford, Galway North/Claregalway and Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. The progress of the sector is a strong indication of the growing demand from the general public for schools that respect and cherish the identity of children from all
religious, social and cultural backgrounds. New national schools are not initiated by the Department of Education & Science, but by voluntary groups of parents. It is these groups which manage the entire process of opening a new school, with no State funding until they open their doors. Their commitment, energy and vision is to be applauded. Without these volunteers, the National School system, as we know it, would not exist. Educate Together look forward to working in partnership with the other education partners to ensure that adequate resources, training and supports are provided to all volunteers working within the national school system, including those involved in the development of new schools.
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Colm O’Cuanachain, Secretary General of Amnesty International and a founding member of the first Educate Together Gaelscoil in Gort Alainn, Co. Cork; Aideen Maher, Ongar, Co. Dublin and her son David (3) pictured in the Ark Children’s Cultural Centre, Temple Bar, Dublin for the launch of “What is an Educate Together School” a publication aimed at informing parents, primary school teachers, the education community, politicians and media what the Educate Together schools aim to achieve for a rapidly diversifying Irish society. The Educate Together sector currently consists of 35 schools nationwide. The booklet was launched by Colm O’Cuanachain. Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22. PAGE 7
“The only educational aspect of television is that it puts the repair man’s kids through college” Joan Welsh
P R O F E S S I O N A L
G U I D A N C E
Sr. Maighréad Ní Ghallchobhair, Principal, Benincasa Special School, Blackrock, in association with the National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education (NABMSE) is currently providing a training workshop for members of Boards of Management at various locations throughout the country. One of the topics dealt with extensively in these workshops is the procedure to be followed when proceeding with the appointment of Principal or Permanent and Temporary teachers. Detailed below is a brief outline of the planning and preparation involved and some guidelines for the interview board.
Selection Boards For the Post of Principal Chairperson Two independent assessors appointed by the Patron. There must be a gender balance on the Selection Board. For the Post of Teacher Chairperson Principal One independent assessor appointed by the Patron Principal designate when selecting a teacher before the new Principal has taken up duty
Employing Personnel Planning & Preparation for Selection Interviews Advertising Prior to advertising the post it is advisable to have the Selection Board appointed and that all members be familiar with the relevant DES Circular relating to appointments, i.e. Circular 02/02. The Selection Board should also be familiar with the Board of Management Members Handbook and be aware of the most recent equality legislation. Appointments to valid posts made by the Board shall be in accordance with employment legislation and the Rules for National Schools. The appointments should also be subject to DES sanction and the prior approval of the Patron. All vacancies should be advertised in at least one daily newspaper and on www.educationposts.ie. Vacancies for the post of Principal should not normally be advertised in July or August. The advertisement should include The name and address of the school The patronage of the school, if applicable The number of teaching posts including Principal and Support teachers The Status of the post The latest date for receipt of application (not earlier than 2 weeks after the last date of publication of the advertisement) and the date of commencement of the teaching post. The documents required – CV, References etc. The advertisement may also state the nature of the duties initially (Learning Support, Resource Teacher) and whether a list of suitable applicants will be drawn up for future vacancies. Above all the advertisement must have clarity and not discriminate in any way. PAGE 8
Provision must be made for gender balance and it must also be noted that a Selection Board is not validly constituted unless the assessor(s) have been approved by the Patron. As the applications start to come in, they should be date stamped and a job description such as the tasks and responsibilities involved should be provided by the Chairperson / Principal to the Selection Board. The competencies required to perform these tasks should also be outlined to the Selection Board. The Selection Board shall – Meet within a reasonable time after the closing date and establish the criteria for interview, taking into account the Employment Equality Act and the Code of Practice of the Equality Authority Draw up a short list of applicants using the criteria retained. Short listing should take account of educational qualifications, length and types of experience and specialist skills NB. Keep a record of reasons for short-listing / not short-listing Construct a set of questions around the post being advertised and the competencies required Check with named referees and follow up with a phone call to probe any concerns arising from the references Invite short listed candidates to interview in writing giving at least 7 days notice and provide clear instructions as to venue, time and date. Provide a map guide to the location if it is considered necessary. Include a copy of the criteria for interview with the invitation to interview.
P R O F E S S I O N A L
Preparing For Interview Prior to the selection interview, each member of the Board should have An individual copy of the criteria for the post The marking schedule The applicants CV and letter of application References and referees reports The timetable of interviewees The venue should be comfortable and adequately heated and ventilated. Suitable and comfortable seating should be provided. The waiting area should be private and have adequate facilities. If a receptionist is working on the day, he/she should be provided with a list of candidates and the expected time of arrival to ensure interruptions are kept to a minimum. The structure of the interview should allow for sufficient time to be given to each candidate. In the case of interviews for the post of Principal 50 minutes should be sufficient whilst 30 minutes should be allowed when filling the post of Permanent / Temporary teacher. The criteria should be divided among the panel members.
Conducting the Interview The Chairperson welcomes the candidate and introduces the members of the Board. The Chairperson will steer the interview and ensure that bias or discrimination is avoided. The
G U I D A N C E
Chairperson then thanks the candidate for his or her interest in the post and compliments the quality of CV and application form. The initial quaestionning will be straight-forward based on personal information with the twin aims of relaxing the candidate and establishing a format for the interview. Questions asked should be based on past experience rather than be of a hypothetical nature. Avoid unnerving or "trying to catch the candidate out". The normal role of the Chairperson is to follow up issues raised with supplementary questions and to afford candidates an opportunity to ask questions of their own at the end of the interview. The Chairperson will also ensure a record is kept of all questions asked and the Selection Boards evaluation of each individual candidate. He/She should allow time for evaluation after each individual interview.
Assessing and Scoring The Interview criteria should be the basis for marking. Each criteria should be separate and distinct with a weighting allocated to reflect its relative importance. Decide whether a minimum mark must be reached for any of the criteria. Each Selection Board member should have a marking sheet with the weighting for each criteria which should be decided beforehand. It is very important that Board members should take notes of responses and make summaries rather than relying on memory alone.
As marking sheets and notes can be made available to candidates under the Data Protection Act 2003, avoid discrimination, ask the same questions of all candidates and assess candidates against the criteria separately.
Appointing Having discussed and adjusted, the Selection Board will reach a decision. The Board of Management of the School will then be asked at a meeting to sanction the nominee. The Selection Board will submit a written report to the Board of Management who will appoint and seek the approval of the Patron in writing. In the event of the post not being filled by the first nominee, the next candidate of highest ranking should be nominated to the Board. Following approval from the Patron, the successful candidate should be notified and asked to submit a letter of acceptance to the Board. The Chairperson and the successful candidate will then complete the relevant form and forward them to the DES. Meanwhile, the Chairperson will notify all unsuccessful candidates when sanction has been received from the DES. The appropriate contract is then signed and the DES is informed that the selection procedure has been completed.
Class Allocation The allocation of teachers to classes and other teaching duties is a direct responsibility of the Principal. c.f DES Circular16/73 and Education Act 1998, Sections 22 and 23. Circular 16/73 states that: ‘He/she should arrange a fair distribution of teaching duties among the staff, taking into account the needs of the pupils and the abilities, experience, personality and preference of each teacher. He/she should utilise the services of staff with special qualifications or aptitudes in an organisational or advisory capacity.’ Bearing in mind the importance of staff motivation, staff development and the importance of all teachers acquiring an understanding of the full scope of the revised curriculum throughout the school, it is important that teachers are given an opportunity to teach at all levels. Allocating the same class to a staff member for prolonged periods is not in the best interest of achieving optimum teaching and learning conditions in the school.
Advice for class allocation: When a suitable opportunity arises teachers should be made aware of the principal’s responsibility in allocating teachers to classes. Facilitate a whole staff discussion on the advantages of staff rotation. Before any discussion on teacher/class allocation, consult with teachers and where appropriate involve teachers in deciding the optimum division of classes. This is particularly important where multigrade classes are required. Clarify how classes will be divided for the following September. Circulate a questionnaire to teachers requesting each one to prioritise in rank order their preferred options, based on the structure and division of classes already decided. Discuss with each teacher individually the reasons for their preferences and other background issues which may be relevant
The principal then makes the final decision, bearing in mind factors such as teacher preferences, experience, suitability of teaching style, the length of time a teacher has taught a specific class, the length of time a teacher may have spent in unsuitable accommodation, the educational needs of a child or a group of children within the class, teachers on probation, newly qualified teachers and the particular talents of teachers. Under no circumstances should pressure from parents, individual members of staff or any other vested interest ever influence a principal’s decision on the allocation of teachers to classes. This function is entirely the principal’s prerogative and should never be compromised. Once the Principal has made the decision each teacher should be informed individually. Ideally the process of class allocation should be initiated in early May and completed by mid June.
Special Education Support Service building on ability Introduction
Because of the changing nature of special education provision and in order to ensure a comprehensive and co-ordinated response to the associated professional development needs of school personnel, the In-Career Development Unit, (now Teacher Education Section), of the Department of Education and Science established the Special Education Support Service (SESS) in September 2003.
Joan Crowley O’Sullivan, National Co-ordinator Colman Motherway, Asst National Co-ordinator Marie Raftery, Assistant National Co-ordinator
The service will, as appropriate, consolidate, co-ordinate, develop and deliver a range of professional development initiatives and support structures for school personnel working with students with special educational needs in a variety of educational settings. These settings include mainstream primary and post-primary schools, special schools and special classes. The SESS will facilitate a partnership approach involving support teams of practising teachers, Education Centres, the Inspectorate, the National Psychological Service, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the National Council for Special Education, Third Level Colleges, Health Board Personnel, Teacher Unions and other relevant bodies and services. In a similar spirit of partnership the SESS will maximise the benefits of NorthSouth co-operation. The SESS will, for as long as is necessary, also be a key element in the Department’s response to relevant legal cases and will offer appropriate, practical responses to plaintiffs, schools and teachers in this context.
Aim The aim of the service is to enhance the quality of teaching and learning, with particular reference to special educational provision. The SESS aims to provide a quality service that is inclusive, promotes collaboration and cooperation and provides for equality of access.
Programme of Work The main strands to the work of the SESS are as follows: i) Local Initiatives Scheme Schools and / or individual teachers identify their own professional development needs in relation to special education and apply to SESS for support. Support sought may be financial, professional and / or advisory in nature. Application forms are available on the website (www.sess.ie) or through direct contact with SESS. A significant number of specialised courses (TEACCH, PECS, ABA, etc.) have been subvented/funded through this scheme. ii) SESS Strategy The SESS, through a process of research and consultation, has identified the following four priority areas for 2004-2005: Autism Dyslexia Management of Challenging Behaviour in Special Education Settings Second-Level Schools and Special Educational Needs Professional development and support will be provided through the development of expert teams of selected teachers. These teachers are known as SESS Associates. The SESS has proceeded as follows in addressing the selected areas: 1. Autism The Autism Team was engaged initially in the National Conference for Special Schools in November 2004. Subsequent support visits by members of the Autism Team will be based on a prioritization of the needs of personnel working with children with autism.
2. Dyslexia The work of this team currently focuses on the provision of 2-hour evening seminars entitled ‘Understanding Dyslexia: A Seminar for Class Teachers’. Each school is invited to nominate a class teacher and a learning-support teacher to attend. The DVD/CD on Dyslexia, jointly produced by the Department of Education and Science and the Department of Education, Northern Ireland provides a key focus for these seminars. Each seminar accommodates 30 participants. These seminars are on going with details available on the website. 3. Management of Challenging Behaviour in Special Educational Settings Work in this area began with a national consultative conference, involving principals or one other staff member from all special schools. This conference took place on November 24th 2004. A conference for inservice providers and support professionals took place on February 11th, 2005 to examine issues around challenging behaviour in schools. The outcomes of both these conferences will inform subsequent work. 4. Second-Level Schools and Special Educational Needs The work of this team focused on the provision of a series of one-day seminars that commenced in November 2004. The Principal and one other member of staff of each secondlevel school were invited to attend. Each seminar caters for up to 40 participants. These seminars were completed in April 2005. September 2005 will see this team commence a process of whole-staff professional development and support – provided in individual schools own setting. (iii) Liaison and Contact with Third-Level Institutions SESS will continue to liaise with the relevant third-level institutions. To date, in their role as members of the SESS design teams, staff members of Colleges of Education have made an enormous contribution to the design of professional development programme for the
SESS Associates, and also to the design of the programme for seminar delivery / school visits.
assist the wider education system to learn from and avail of the resources beyond the programme period.
(iv) SEN Cross Border Professional Exchange Programme The Programme aims to enhance the quality, and reinforce the cross-border dimension, of school education, in particular, by encouraging co-operation among schools, teachers and other professionals, in order to facilitate the engagement and inclusion of minority and marginalised school-aged pupils in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Louth, Cavan, Monaghan, Sligo, Leitrim, and Donegal.
An initial conference took place on February 9th & 10th, 2005 to launch the programme. Guest keynote speakers from Pittsburgh, USA, offered a template and exemplar of cluster working, including a live link up with Watson Institute, Pittsburgh, and helped to set the scene and identified the outcomes for the work of the clusters over the programme period. The programme will conclude with a second conference to report on progress and to publish report manuals of best practice to assist the wider education system to learn from and avail of the resources beyond the programme period.
The core aims are to share and promote best practice, to develop partnership networks, to improve and establish commonality of standards and working approaches, to raise the social and educational achievements of pupils with differing and pronounced learning differences, and to provide frameworks to secure further and enhanced professional pathways to a better understanding and empathy with children and young people whose needs remain unmet. Information and communication technology learning will be a core aspect of the work throughout. Andrea Quinn, Project Manager, will provide overall co-ordination for the work and take responsibility for the smooth running of the programme and the recording and reporting of progress.
Models of Support The precise nature of professional development and support will vary according to identified needs. A range of provision will be in place - from short, specific programmes, to one-year diploma courses that may have links with post-graduate qualifications up to Masters level. The SESS will also explore, in terms of overall relevance and effectiveness – including cost effectiveness - a variety of models of in-service and support for teachers in the classroom. These will include models such as distance learning, creation of support teams, on-line professional development and capacity building at system level.
Website: www.sess.ie The themes for the Exchange Programme are ß ‘Toward the Inclusive School: A Full- Service Approach towards ’hard- to- help’ Young People’ ß ‘Assisting the Inclusion of pupils with Autism into Mainstream Classrooms’ ß ‘Investigating in Dyslexia through ICT: Achieving Best Practice in Schools’
The purpose of the website is to inform users as to the role of the Special Education Support Service and the types of support provided. The website also acts as a portal for accessing information on a range of topics relating to Special Education, both in Ireland and internationally.
Fifty-nine participants comprising 46 teachers from 21schools, 4 psychologists, 4 advisors and 5 representatives from Colleges of Education/Universities will participate in the Exchange Programme. Over 100 delegates attended the initial conference in Cavan. Guest keynote speakers from Pittsburgh, USA, offered a template and exemplar of cluster working, including a live link up with Watson Institute, Pittsburgh, and helped to set the scene and identified the outcomes for the work of the clusters over the programme period. Target setting for each of the identified themes was facilitated subsequent to the conference. Initial exchanges will take place in June 2005. The programme will conclude with a second conference to report on progress and to publish report manuals of best practice to
www.text-a-parent.ie Would you like to be able to send a brief message to the parent in your school at short notice? Unpredictable events e.g. enforced school closure no heating etc Last minute timetable change e.g. cancellation of sports day Timetable change e.g. a reminder of early closing for staff meeting Happy announcement e.g. victory in sports final For large schools – reminding staff about a particular event.
How can I use text-a-parent to send messages to the parents in our school? Arrange for the collection of the parents’ mobile telephone numbers Log on to www.text-a-parent.ie Register your contact details Send cheque to IPPN to purchase "credit" for the cost of the text messages When your cheque is received, a text message will be sent to you informing that your account has been set up and is ready for use Follow the on-screen instructions which enables you to type your short message and specify the mobile telephone numbers to which the message will be sent
Contact details: Special Education Support Service, c/o Laois Education Centre, Block Road, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Email: info @sess.ie • Web: www.sess.ie
“To the fearful change is threatening because it means things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspirng because the challenge exists to make things better” King Whitney Jr
Failure to maintain supervision rota results in negligence for school KENNETH MURPHY V COUNTY WEXFORD VEC 2004 High Court & Supreme Court FACTS A 16-year-old pupil was injured during lunch break when horseplay erupted amongst a group of approximately fifty 5th & 6th year pupils. One of the boys had produced a bag of chocolate bars with the intention of sharing them amongst his friends. The bag burst and a group of boys started throwing the bars at each other around the room. The commotion lasted about ten minutes and during that period the plaintiff was hit in the eye and suffered a serious injury. The injured boy sued the school for negligence as there was no supervision on that day. Evidence was produced that normally there would have been four teachers on yard duty at lunchtime on any particular day. One teacher should have been on duty in the vicinity of the incident. The Rota system was in response to a number of serious incidents that had occurred in the school two years previously. These previous incidents had resulted in no fewer than 20 pupils being the subject of expulsion orders. This was a strange case in that the injured party had only two witnesses – himself and another boy. The school in fact did not present any witnesses. However they denied negligence and claimed they had no case to answer.
Mr Justice De Valera held: That the school was negligent and made the following points; 1) It was necessary to have lunchtime supervision for this area and a teacher was rostered to look after that supervision. 2) If there had been a teacher supervising they would have least taken steps to control the situation.
DEGREE OF SUPERVISION Kenneth Murphy was awarded damages of €50,000. The school appealed the case to the Supreme Court. They argued that the Case should have been decided on the general Duty of Care principal as it applied to all schools. It was felt that the High Court Judge noted the high level of supervision provided by the school i.e 4 teachers for yard duty and then used that yardstick which the school had itself created to determine the standard of care. The Supreme Court appeal was heard by 3 judges. Mr Justice Mc Cracken and Mr Justice Mc Guinness held in favour of the injured pupil. The following quotation summarises their position, "Quite clearly, school authorities are not insurers of the pupils under their care. However, they do owe a duty to those pupils to take reasonable care to ensure that the pupils do not suffer injury. To do this, some degree of supervision is clearly required. The extent of such PAGE 12
supervision will depend on a number of factors, for example, the age of the pupils involved, the location of the places where the pupils congregate, the number of pupils which may be present at any one time, and the general propensity of pupils at that particular school to act dangerously. I am of the view that the particular circumstances of this case, and the history of indiscipline in the school, imposed a duty of care on the school to provide supervision at lunch time in accordance with its rota system, and the failure to do so constituted negligence on the part of the defendant." However Mr Justice Fennelly dissented. He was inclined to find favour for the school. The following quotation summarises his position; “Because of his reliance on the school’s own roster, the learned trial judge failed entirely to address the appropriate legal standard of care. He not only made no reference to the cases cited to him but he failed to identify any objective standard of care”. Ultimately the Supreme Court held in favour of the plaintiff on a majority of 2 to 1.
OBSERVATION It was not surprising that both the High Court and the Supreme Court held in favour of the injured pupil. A Rota was in place and it was not adhered to by the school. The lesson for schools is to cut the cloth according to the measure. If you set unreal targets you will be held to it.
L E G A L
D I A R Y
The Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 Most of us will have now received the annual invoice for the school’s insurance renewal. Boards of Managements will be pleased to note that premiums have been reduced by 10% approx. This reflects a general trend in the insurance business that claims are levelling off and compensation paid out is actually dropping. This is welcome news and flies in the face of media hype that schools are sitting on legislative time bombs. Schools are entitled to take credit for this. Improved safety standards, rafts of policies and robust safety statements are all playing their part. There is a very clear shift in recent years against a compensation culture. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 has been enacted. It requires litigants to go before the Board for Assessment of Damages as a precondition of going to court. The Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 reduces the limitations period from 3 years to 2 years. The plaintiff must issue a letter of claim within 2 months of notifying the alleged wrongdoer of the alleged injury. There are criminal sanctions for giving false or misleading statements. There is a provision for a mediation conference, designed to encourage settlements. The act empowers the court to appoint an independent expert. A register of personal injuries actions will reveal the number of times plaintiffs have previously participated in legislation. Courts must have regard to the Book of Quantum published by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. This book sets out ranges of awards for injuries to different parts of the body. If the Personal Injuries Assessment Board decides to make an award in favour of the plaintiff, he or she can accept or reject the award. If the plaintiff is unhappy with the award they can take their claim to the courts. However the courts are required by the 2004 Act to have regard for the book of Quantum. The two new acts are likely to have a positive effect (from a schools point of view) in that awards should continue to be lower as in the past four years.
The Changing Role of the Legal Profession Many acres of print space has been devoted to the issue of the ever changing and expanding role of the Primary Principal. The issue increasingly dominates the agenda and business of Fora and conferences. Spare a thought for other professions who are undergoing a similar journey. In a recent edition of the Law Society Gazette a number of solicitors who have been in practice for over 50 years each were asked to reflect on the changes over the years. There are now 6750 practising solicitors in Ireland. Fifty years ago there were only a couple of hundred. There was no such thing as Family Law, faxes or even photocopiers. Here is an extract from two solicitors based in the west of Ireland.
Leo Loftus, Bourke, Carrigg and Loftus, Solicitors, Ballina, Co Mayo When I qualified in 1953, my father’s office was the only one in the town with more than one solicitor. It was doubtful that there would be room for me. In those days, many people never bothered to make wills or couldn’t afford to put their titles right. To transfer a property, you only had to be concerned with having basic title, a vendor in a position to sell and to be able to identify the property. You didn’t work ‘hours’. You came to work and left when you felt like it. Clients came in whenever they took the notion, and you were very glad to see them. Nowadays, you are not happy to see anybody except by appointment because your day has to be structured. In rural practice, you don’t know what the problems will be that day. There is a variety to it. You also feel that there are people that depend on the value of your advice. You find yourself talking to people about problems that have nothing to do with the legality of what is on their mind. I suppose you are in a very privileged position. There is a confidence and a trust there. A big difference is this: 50 years ago, the practice ran itself. Now, it is a big business and so much time is spent running the office as distinct from practising what you were qualified to do. If I were starting off again, I would like to divorce myself from the mechanics of running the office.
Liam MacHale, MacHales, Solicitors, Ballina, Co Mayo My father was a solicitor. Our home and his office were opposite the courthouse. I wanted to be a solicitor right from the start. He wanted me to do the bar. He said, ‘there is nothing left in this for solicitors now’. I persuaded him when my brother said, ‘Whatever I do, I am not going to do law’. When I was doing my apprenticeship, my father brought me to the town agent’s office, then John PAGE 13
R Peart’s. We met Denis Peart. My father said: ‘this is my son. I want him here in your office when he doesn’t have his study’. Denis Peart smiled and said,’ Certainly’. I bought this practice in 1968 without actually coming in to the office – that’s how easy things were. We did the deal in the car outside. In 1974 I decided that I had to expand the business. Legislation had grown out of all proportion. When I qualified, you could hardly get your hands on two textbooks. We must be buying about 50 books a year now. Law is very much linked with human nature and that does not run on two rails. People create different situations. We have to know about these situations and, more particularly, how to cope with them. But people don’t change. After 50 years in practice, the problems they have, you have met before. That is where coping comes easy with experience. It must be difficult for a young solicitor starting off now without any background. If I had the chance to start all over, I would do the same, though I wouldn’t feel as strongly about which profession. I had a very high regard for my father. Before I ever qualified, he once found himself in a conflict of interest situation. One party was a wealthy property owner, the kind of client you would like to have. The other was a poor unfortunate. I could not believe it when my father said he was staying with the second. He said, ’Yes, the poor man needs help’. What he said and did, and how he did it, formed my opinion. Reproduced courtesy of the Law Society Gazette.
Extensive Range of School Stationery, Art and Resource Materials O’Connell Street, Birr, Co. Offaly Contact: Tom Kelly Tel: 086 3259625
Addressing Principals’ Concerns about NEWB Unit requesting practical suggestions on ways of reducing bureaucracy in schools. In this context, and in response to the concerns of our members, IPPN’s National Executive has sought an urgent meeting with the NEWB to explore all relevant issues.
The National Education Welfare Board (NEWB), which addresses school attendance within a legal framework, was set up under the Education (Welfare) Act 2000. IPPN has welcomed this initiative and fully supports this worthwhile legislation. The NEWB has considerable potential to work for and promote the welfare and educational development of children and this is in line with the professional aspirations of all school leaders.
The IPPN Executive recommends that, while awaiting the outcome of that meeting, principals would continue to fulfil their statutory obligations by:
Recent communications from IPPN members suggest that: Although there is some general improvement in attendance, there are many concerns about the new reporting systems
There is still much confusion over the definition and suitability of the register, the daily attendance book and the roll book, as they currently exist in primary schools.
The increased administrative burden borne by principals does not seem to be matched by an improvement in attendance levels among persistently poor attenders - due perhaps to a lack of meaningful sanctions being enforced.
Given that it is Principals who implement attendance policy at school level they need to be consulted in a meaningful way through their professional association.
Schools that have the most serious attendance problems are shouldering the greatest administrative burden and seeing the least positive results.
Following our Annual Conference, at which Minister Hanafin acknowledged growing administrative demands on Principals, IPPN received a letter from the DES Central Policy
1. Continuing to mark daily attendance/absence in roll books, as is the current practice in schools. 2. Reporting to the NEWB the following information concerning pupils: a) those who have been absent for 20 days or more b) those who have been suspended for 6 days c) those who have been expelled d) those who are not attending school regularly and about whom the principal is concerned. The executive of IPPN will keep principals informed and in the light of any developments will make further recommendations.
Newspaper Vs website advertising? Approaching the busiest time of the year for recruiting teachers, SNAs and other staff, there are several factors to consider in adhering to best practice. Previous issues of Leadership+ and Solas have provided guidance on the short listing and interview process. However, finding the best people for your school depends to a large extent on how wide you ‘cast the net’ in the advertising process. IPPN has, since 2002, urged the DES, Management Bodies and Union to amend the rules which govern the appointment of teachers and principals to schools. To date, permanent vacancies and temporary vacancies of 8 months duration or longer must still be advertised at least once in a national daily newspaper. Research show that not only is this imposing highly punitive costs on schools, it is also an extremely limited and inefficient means of advertising. When you consider that a high proportion of advertising takes place during the holiday period when potential applicants are likely to be traveling etc, it is imperative that the advertising process be empowered to avail of modern reliable and effective technology.
Notwithstanding the fact that regulations have not yet been changed to give equal recognition to web-based advertising, it makes sense to avail of the free educationposts.ie website which IPPN has put in place, in addition to a regular newspaper advertisement.
Facts & Figures: Currently 2,500 teachers have registered their email addresses and mobile telephone numbers with educationposts.ie for automatic text message and e-mail alerts when the category of vacancy in the county of their choice is posted on the website. In the month of April alone, 6,150 automatic emails were sent to job seekers alerting them of vacancies matching their pre-selected criteria. Key information, including the application closing date, can be set to correspond exactly with the details in the newspaper advert The advert is automatically removed from the site on reaching the closing date The service is completely free to both schools and job-seekers.
www.educationposts.ie The simplest way to advertise vacancies in your school
Managing Special Education
Managing Special Education One of the greatest challenges facing Principals is the management of Special Education Needs in schools. Providing for pupils with SEN is absorbing a disproportionate amount of a Principal’s time. This can be mainly attributed to the significant amount of legislation relating to SEN, which has been passed in recent years. The Education Act 1998 makes provision for the education of "any person with a disability or who has a special education needs" while the Education for Persons with Disabilities Act 2004 makes "further provision for the education of people with disabilities to have the same right to avail of and benefit from appropriate education as do their peers who do not have disabilities". Recent legislation has also impacted on staffing, accommodation, staff roles and the formulation of policies.
The Principal and Special Education The administration and management of Special Education provision primarily rests on the shoulders of the Principal. The DES has contributed significantly to the workload involved through lengthy delays in sanctioning resources to schools. The National Education Psychological Service (NEPS), though established in 1999, is still unable to offer a comprehensive service. This forces many parents and principals into sourcing private assessments. As no principal can deal with the management of SEN in isolation, it can be advantageous for the school to create a "Special Education Team." This team can be drawn from all post holders and stake-holders, with each member of the team having an area of responsibility. Some of these responsibilities could encompass the organising of assessments, the arrangement of meetings to draft IEPs, and the formulation of SEN policies. The main function of the Principal in the entire process is
to act as a co-ordinator and to liaise with the relevant bodies involved. In some larger schools, many Principals have delegated the entire area of SEN to the Deputy Principal who manages the day-to-day provision, monitors and evaluates progress and acts as the school’s link to external agencies.
The Role of the Special Needs Assistant Special Needs Assistants are appointed to foster the participation of pupils in the social and academic processes of the school and to enable the pupils to become independent learners. In recent times, many Principals have expressed concerns that the ‘Velcro Model’, where the SNA is appointed exclusively to one pupil, promotes a culture of dependence. As a rule SNAs are only appointed to pupils who have physical needs or to pupils who may be a danger to themselves or others. To optimise the contribution of the SNA, it is essential that they have a significant role as part of an overall SEN team. An important function of the SNA is to encourage the child to work independently. It can be good practice to remove the SNA from the child occasionally so that the class teacher is given the fullest opportunity to interact meaningfully with the child. The movement of SNAs between allocated pupils is also a good policy. It reduces over dependence and fosters flexibility.
Interventions Every pupil with SEN is entitled to have an Individual Education Plan (IEP). The formulation of this plan is the responsibility of the class teacher and is done in consultation with the parents, the Learning Support Teacher, the Resource Teacher and other professionals involved with the child. This plan addresses the pupil’s full range of needs as outlined in the
child’s assessment analysis and in reports from other agencies. The IEP formulates the child’s learning strengths and learning needs. It sets learning targets and outlines class based activities and home activities aimed at supporting the child’s learning. It employs a gradual approach with finely graded steps and learning targets, which help ensure that the child experiences success.
“An important function of the SNA is to encourage the child to work independently… ” In addition to drawing up an IEP for pupils with learning difficulties, a school may decide to use interventions such as shared teaching and group tuition. When a school operates a process of intervention it must be transparent and open to evaluation. School policies need to be revised to take account of new legislation in relation to SEN. Policies should cover areas such as enrolment, health and safety procedures, challenging behaviour, inoculation, handling and lifting etc. The most serious challenge to the effective provision of SEN services in a school is the lack of access to speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and psychological services.
The Way Forward In the short term, schools must be informed immediately of the provisions contained under the General Allocation System. Teachers need specialised training in drawing up IEPs and in dealing with challenging behaviour. Central to this must be a commitment to reduce class size and reduce the workload of the Principal. To this end all staff should be counted as the basis for appointing an administrative principal. For the future resource provision must be determined by what the pupils actually need as opposed to what the government is prepared to pay. There are certainly many challenges ahead for the Principal, but with proper support these challenges present us with the opportunity to make a difference.
World Class Professional Development Opportunity for Irish School Leaders
Hospital Teachers’ National Conference 24th & 25th February 2005 • Castle Durrow Hotel, Durrow, Co. Laois
Hospital Teachers pictured at their recent conference in Durrow.
Professor Michael Fullan is one of the leading international experts on educational leadership and change management. He has earned universal respect for his outstanding writing and teaching on leadership and school improvement, and on the key role of the Principal in that process. Some quotes from workshop participants:
‘Michael Fullan makes sense out of chaos’…‘An injection of selfconfidence and hope’ ‘A nice mix of theory and common sense’ …‘Chicken Soup for Leaders’ IPPN was delighted to have secured the services of Professor Fullan again this year for 3 one-day workshops which were held in Mallow, Galway and Dublin on May 9th / 10th & 12th respectively.
“Memory is the thing you forget with” Anon
t the IPPN Conference 2004. Mary O’Connor (NRHS, Dun Laoghaire, Mary Mc Carron (OLHS, Crumlin) and Mary Chambers (CUHS, Temple Street) in discussion with Caoimhe Máirtín, Former President of Coláiste Mhuire Marino, proposed a placement for her students in hospital schools. For Caoimhe this highlighted the fact that DES hospital schools exist for inpatients where teachers work on a full-time basis. Leading on from this Caoimhe contacted Éamonn Ó Murchú, Marino. Further meetings ensued between all parties, culminating in February’s conference.
ordinated by Avril Carey, Beaumont Hospital. At this course we propose to examine and formulate key policies relating to the work of teachers in hospital schools.
The objectives were to provide a forum for hospital teachers to meet to discuss matters of mutual interest and concern to formulate policy areas and to plan for the future
This was followed by a workshop facilitated by Aileen Cassidy, National Coordinator of the Junior Certificate Schools Programme, City of Dublin VEC, who was introduced by Gobnait Curran, Cork University Hospital School. Éamonn Ó’Murchú, Coláiste Mhuire Marino, in a concluding address summarised the exhilaration and excitement of the conference and the potential for all participants to move forward in a co-ordinated and productive manner.
Following a warm welcome to the delegates by Caoimhe Máirtín, Pat Curtin, Chief Executive Officer, National Council for Special Education opened the conference with a keynote address at a session chaired by Ciara Jenkins (CUHS Temple Street). He outlined the role of the National Council for Special Education Services and the development of Special Education in Ireland. On the conference’s second day Mary O’Connor (NRHS) introduced David Ruddy, Legal Advisor IPPN, who discussed a range of legal issues pertaining to hospital schools. Arising from that Sean Cottrell, IPPN, focused attention on our needs and led us to plan, in a realistic and immediate manner, the major issues that had arisen from the conference. As a direct result of this input two significant developments have arisen A summer course for hospital teachers coPAGE 16
Sean Cottrell has very kindly extended an invitation to us to set up our own network under the aegis of IPPN. This is a wonderful facility that will enable and enhance communication on a regular basis on matters of mutual interest and concern between principals and teachers in hospital schools throughout Ireland.
This conference highlights a number of key aspects The potential for Colleges of Education and schools in particularly unique situations (especially where small numbers are concerned) to collaborate and plan together for mutual benefit. The benefits accruing from principals and staff in such schools to come together and discuss / plan issues of common concern. The debt we owe IPPN for the outstanding support and leadership they continue to provide at a time of enormous challenge and change in Irish Education.
New IPPN website By mid-May IPPN will launch a new website replacing the current edition which has been in existence since 2002. In ‘web years’ a threeyear-old web site is beginning to fossilize! Using the same address – www.ippn.ie – the new site is designed to combine much greater user friendliness with much enhanced services and functions. In our survey of members last autumn, Principals and Deputies rated the website and its related activities with a 95% satisfaction rating. The new website is designed to suit the nature of
IPPN Bursary for Pilot Project to Cluster Smaller Schools
the content and communication required by users with a strong intuitive and colour coded navigation system. In the process of ‘migrating’ existing resources to the new site, much of the content has been culled. If you have sample organisational policies, curriculum plans, or management resources that you are willing to share with colleagues, please forward to email@example.com. All details that identify the source of your school’s document will be removed before uploading to the site.
Following many enquires from interested Principals and as a follow up to the report ‘New Horizons for Smaller Schools and Teaching Principalship in Ireland’ IPPN has decided to provide two bursaries of €3,000 each to support pilot projects for the clustering of smaller schools. The report, which was very favourably received at IPPN Conference 2005, outlined the many benefits for smaller schools in exploring the possibilities of well planned and supported clustering. It also highlighted that working in co-operation with other schools in localised clusters needs to be seen as a key professional development opportunity for smaller schools to: provide enhanced educational opportunities for children identify, prioritise and meet localised needs share the administrative and curricular workload break the professional isolation experienced by principals and staffs
7th ICP Convention 2005 Cape Town International Convention Centre CAPETOWN, SOUTH AFRICA The South African Principals Association (SAPA) and the South African Heads of Independent Schools Association (SAHISA) take pleasure in inviting fellow head teachers and educators from around the globe to join us for the 7th World Convention of the International Confederation of Principals (ICP), which is to be held in Cape Town from 10–14 July 2005. South Africa is a spectacular, exotic and affordable destination and the site selected is Cape Town, the city where two oceans meet and recently voted as the Top Tourist Destination in Africa. Our country is Africa’s leading conference destination and tourism is SA’s fastest-growing market sector.
Members continue to express gratitude for being able to peruse sample policies, plans etc. before undertaking to develop it for their own school. Whilst acknowledging the value of organically developing each policy from general guidelines, the reality for the vast majority of schools, and in particular those with teaching principals, is that they have neither the time nor the staff capacity to adopt this ideal approach. Please extend your professional generosity to colleagues by sharing the fruits of your labour.
benefit from the professional expertise and advice of colleagues seek the support of other agencies for their initiatives With this in mind IPPN is inviting interested clusters of schools to submit proposals for the bursary awards by e-mail on or before May 31st, 2005. A decision will be made before June 17th, 2005 by an independent adjudicator appointed by IPPN. The pilot project will commence at the beginning of the 2005/2006 school year. Proposal forms and terms and conditions are available on the IPPN website www.ippn.ie For further information please contact the IPPN Support Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1890 212223.
Cape Town is regarded as the jewel of Africa and is the country’s leading domestic and international leisure destination. Located at the base of the spectacular Table Mountain, at the tip of Africa, this dynamic and cosmopolitan city is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, golden beaches, and world-renowned wine estates. Cape Town boasts a World Heritage Site in Robben Island, the island prison that was home to Nelson Mandella for most of his 27 years of imprisonment. The Cape Peninsula National Park, comprising 60% of the Cape Peninsula, is shortly due to be declared a World Heritage Site. The Convention will be held in the Cape Town Convention Centre which offers state-of-the-art facilities. The layout is ideal for large international conventions and it is more than capable of catering to all the ICP’s requirements. The Trade Exhibition will be located in the same building, and daytime meals will be available in this area. The Convention Centre is within close proximity to the world-famous Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, which is a shopper’s paradise, and boasts a range of wonderful hotels and over 40 restaurants (to suit all pockets); the Two Oceans Aquarium; craft markets and an Imax Theatre.
For further information, please see websites at: www.icp2005.com and www.icp2005.org PAGE 17
COM E N I U S Promoting the values of Citizenship in Schools The Council of Europe have proclaimed 2005 as the European Year of Citizenship through education. The ‘Year’ is about developing awareness and strengthening policy and practice in Citizenship through education across all levels of education in both the formal and non-formal sectors. The concept of citizenship is not a new one for schools that have participated in Comenius. Comenius is the School Education Action of the European Community’s Socrates Programme in the field of education. For the past 10 years schools have laid the foundation and embedded values of citizenship amongst pupils through the project activities undertaken through Comenius projects. Comenius Projects involve schools from at least 3 eligible European Countries and are funded for 3 years to embark on collaborative activity around specific themes such as sport, history, culture, language, science and ICT to name but a few. Citizenship as a concept and the values that underpin it is evident across many if not all of the Comenius projects in Ireland. Indeed the Comenius Programme itself is named after the 17th century Czech pedagogue and philosopher Amos Comenius who was convinced that the only way to reach full human potential and harmony was through education. As a cosmopolitan and universalist he championed the cause of human rights and worked for peace and unity between nations. His philosophy may have been born in the 17th century but its values are more relevant today than ever and these values shape the overall objective of the Comenius action which is; ‘to enhance the quality and reinforce the European dimension of school education and to promote learning of languages and intercultural awareness’. So what do we mean when we talk about citizenship and what are the values underpinning it that are promoted by Comenius?
PRO MOTING CITIZENSHIP Citizenship can mean many different things to different people, but in terms of the student and the school environment, education in the school context has the responsibility of enabling young people to take opportunities to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes that empower them to take an informed and active role in the society in which they live. By being informed young people have an understanding of inequality, tolerance and understanding of other cultures and races and an inherent sense of the need for social justice.
Comenius contributes to promoting intercultural awareness in school education in Europe by facilitating transnational activities designed to; Promote the enhanced awareness of different cultures Develop intercultural education initiatives for the school education sector Improve the skills of teachers in the area of intercultural education Support the fight against racism and xenophobia Improve the education of children of migrant workers, occupational travellers, and Travellers.
“By being informed young people have an understanding of inequality, tolerance and understanding of other cultures and races” Whether the project chooses to explore history, sport, language, environment or culture, the international nature of the project facilitates a more in-depth and global view. The cultural exchange between pupils not only stimulates interest in other countries and promotes a sense of being a European citizen but also a pride in ones own country. The Comenius project affords the time to develop concepts and attitudes with students by facilitating dialogue with peers in other countries. The key emphasis of Comenius projects is that it is ‘student centred’ and inclusive with students identifying the issues that they wish to explore. Many projects develop interactive websites with discussion forums, CD Roms, DVD’s and booklets which have brought concepts to life.
GLOBAL AWARENESS The Comenius project not only focuses on the student’s awareness, but also builds the awareness of teachers both in terms of concepts and methodology around delivering and promoting citizenship in the classroom. By widening the discourse beyond PAGE 19
ones own country, the debate is strengthened by the experience of the partner countries being brought to the table. Many of the projects funded under the Comenius Programme have explored and promoted the concept of citizenship and the development of a ‘citizenship attitude’ by exploring violence, racism and xenophobia at a local, regional and European level. The virtues of education for citizenship are far from abstract. The White Paper on Education itself acknowledges educational aims which include creating tolerant, caring and politically aware members of society; ensuring that Irish young people are equipped with global awareness; and providing students with necessary education and training to enable them to participate in society in an effective way promoting equality for all. Comenius projects can then enable this global awareness and facilitate the understanding of citizenship in the wider European sense. It allows for the development of citizenship ideals without being overly prescriptive through cultural understanding and exchange, friendship and community awareness.
For further information on how to get involved in a Comenius Project please check out the Leargas website at www.leargas.ie/education and see advert below.
Clustering in the
On the 28th March, 2005, with the warm Spanish sunshine on their backs, a group of pupils, teachers and parents from five schools from the Kerry / Cork border climbed the cobbled streets of Sos del Rey Católico (Birthplace of the Catholic King) in Northern Spain. Their mission? An educational interchange with another group of schools from the region. Little did they think that the clustering arrangement they had developed 4 / 5 years earlier would lead to an Easter 'vacaciones' in Northern Spain.
Back at the turn of this millennium schools in Cloghoula (Cork), Kilcorney (Cork), Cullen (Cork) and Carriganima (Cork) began, on their own bat, a process of clustering unique to their own small school contexts and professional needs. It involved the sharing of best practice, the development of organisational and curricular strategies and mutual collaboration on the implementation of the Revised Curriculum. Of noteworthy mention was the approach they took to tailoring the Revised Curriculum to the specific needs of their multiclass groupings. For example, in the area of Mathematics, each school examined how Mathematics could be implemented in certain multi-grade classrooms. One school looked at 'senior maths' another at 'middle maths' and another at 'infant/junior maths'. Then on School Development Planning days, these schools met, shared conclusions and ideas they had formulated and thence planned for the implementation of the Maths curriculum appropriate to their small 2 / 3 teacher schools. Needless to say, this collaborative work did not go unnoticed in the local community.
Keen to support and become involved in this innovative work, a local LEADER Group, IRD Duhallow (NW Cork/ East Kerry), quickly became interested in this successful approach. They presented this group of schools, and also another school from Kilmurry (Kerry) with a unique suggestion - How about extending the scope of this clustering arrangement to new shores? Almost immediately, a Schola project involving these schools and a cluster of schools in the Aragón region of Northern Spain (near Pampalona) was born. News of this 'transnational project' spread quickly. Two other local leader groups, namely West Cork LEADER and Tuatha Chiarraí also joined in. Showing clear vision for the educational potential of the project, at both school and community level, these leader groups provided logistical and financial support to the nth degree. Communication from the Boggeragh Mountains to the Pyrennes began in earnest!
Rich Learning Experience The project had an extensive remit. At school level, teachers began examining Spanish culture, history, food, climate, education, language, soccer and of course the bull fights! Of particular note, were the historical connections which were made between Ireland and Spain (e.g. the Spanish Armada, Battle of Kinsale…).At local level, they embarked on a wide variety of projects based on their local areas (such as: 'The Cullen Pipe Band', 'Life on the Blackwater', 'The Local Creamery', 'Millstreet' and 'Carriganima Village') and spent many hours outside of school time preparing songs, Irish dances, instrumental pieces (tin whistle band) and presentations for the trip to Sos. Clustering rose to a 'nuevo' height! What was clearly a very enriching experience for pupils also extended to being a learning opportunity for the local community. Spanish classes were organised for pupils, parents and teachers. Workshops and speakers were organised. No stone was left unturned! the Spanish embassy was contacted and the education officer Miguel Angel Miguel became involved - providing a briefing for all on the project. PAGE 20
Thus as this group of teachers (8), parents (12), pupils (33) and leader officials climbed those cobbled streets, they carried with them projects, gifts, but above all else a deepened awareness and curiosity about the Spanish educational system and culture. In the days that followed, this Irish contingent became involved in a very pleasant and enthusiastic interchange of cultural and educational identities. The interchange involved presentations of projects by both Spanish and Irish pupils, discussions among both sets of teachers on best practice and on building further links between the schools, parental meetings and talks (Spanish and Irish parents) and finally an in-depth exploration of local Spanish history and culture. In short, a rich learning experience for all concerned. Where to from here? Having seen and experienced the songs, dances, music and educational research which these Irish schools brought to this rugged Pyrennian landscape, the locals were chomping at the bit, to see first hand, the home ground of their guests. A trip to Rockchapel, Newmarket, Co. Cork has been planned, with a similar educational approach in mind. Once again, these Irish schools will adopt a clustering approach to prepare and plan for the 'New Spanish Armada'! Given this unique and exciting approach to clustering, its potential is clearly evident both within and beyond the classrooms walls. It invigorated parental and community interest in local and foreign culture, while also affording pupils the unique opportunity to experience at first hand the mountains, climate, food, classrooms and people of another E.U. country. In short, the potential of clustering as highlighted in the report ‘New Horizons for Smaller Schools and Teaching Principalship in Ireland’ was cleverly extended to a communal and indeed European level. Viva España and Irlande! Article by John White, St. Patrick’s College of Education, Drumcondra.
IN SCHOOL MANAGEMENT THE BRIEF OF THE DES WORKING GROUP ON PRINCIPAL’S WORKLOAD
CRITERIA FOR POSTS OF RESPONSIBILITY
INCLUDES A REVIEW OF IN-SCHOOL MANAGEMENT (ISM). THE IPPN SURVEY ON PRINCIPALS’ WORKLOAD WOULD SUGGEST THAT MANY PRINCIPALS ARE WELL SUPPORTED BY THEIR ISM TEAM AND THAT THERE IS WIDESPREAD GOOD PRACTICE.
To ensure that members of ISM are empowered to share meaningfully in the leadership of the school a new team leadership culture must be nurtured. The first step towards culture change should focus on the criteria for appointment to include the following:
IT IS ALSO CLEAR THAT THERE ARE SCHOOLS WHERE ISM IS NOT WORKING, SUGGESTING THAT A REVIEW OF THE PROCESS IS NECESSARY. The needs of schools have changed enormously and ISM must be able to respond to that change accordingly. While some ISM teams are responding to the demands of change, it is clear that where problems arise in schools the existing process is insufficient to address the challenge. Some principals report that the energy and time devoted to making ISM appointments and addressing ISM issues far exceed the desired effect, i.e. the distribution of the leadership and management functions of the school.
CHALLENGES The following are the most commonly cited concerns of the present system: There is a significant lack of clarity regarding ISM roles, responsibilities and time allocation for the performance of duties The principal has responsibility for managing the ISM team without the authority to ensure that the quality of performance is acceptable. While the list of responsibilities of the principal continues to grow, the duties for other In-School Management posts are generally fixed. Duties listed in DES circular 07/03 do not encompass the many initiatives, agencies and curricular change, which regularly add to workload. The allowance is considered an insufficient incentive and reward for what should be an important role of sharing in the leadership of the school. The criteria for appointing teachers to posts of responsibility are outdated and inadequate and inappropriate. PAGE 21
The record of the applicant’s professional competence and effectiveness as a teacher and a colleague. The applicant’s disposition and contribution to positive staff relationships. The applicant’s appropriate skills and abilities. As the most senior post on the ISM team, the post of principal is awarded completely on merit without reference to seniority, all other ISM roles should be rewarded on the same basis. There is no correlation between length of service and suitability for leadership. Membership of the ISM team must be regarded by teachers and other staff as an important leadership role within the school. Where a principal masters the art of real and effective delegation, others are empowered to become part of the decision-making process, with the opportunity to effect change. In order to optimise individual ISM roles it is essential that each be given a budget, appropriate resources and relevant training. Principals should enable their ISM team to be effective and feel valued by having open and regular communication through formal and informal meetings. This practice indicates that where ISM post holders report to and communicate with both their teaching colleagues and the Board of Management, this leads to developing a true sense of team leadership. Letting go of the sense of obligation to do everything is the biggest challenge of all for principals.
Two heads are better than one
The role of the Deputy-Principal is going through an interesting time. This is a period of transition when schools are moving away from the older model of Vice-Principal, who merely took over from the Principal during times of absence to a far broader role of distributed school leadership. As with all transition, problems present themselves in the form of resistance to change. Goodwill and flexibility on all sides will overcome the challenges.
Broad Outline of the Role The main role of the DP is that of working with the principal in the day-to-day running of the school as well as contributing to all aspects of long term planning in the context of the whole school. In addition to the above, the DP of a modern school would typically have responsibility for specific areas of the school life such as the management and organisation and co-ordination of Special Education Needs. As a senior member of the In School Management Team, the DP works closely with the principal in leading the teaching and learning throughout the school and in being proactive in promoting a positive atmosphere for children and teachers alike. In practical terms this involves the overall management and implementation of the school Code of Bahaviour. It could also include the induction and support of new staff members and newly appointed teachers. Promoting a positive profile of the school, both to parents and to the wider community, can be a very important, enjoyable and rewarding aspect of the work of a DP.
Good practice in action Sheelagh O’ Leary is Deputy Principal in Scoil Niocláis, Frankfield, Cork. The following is a brief outline of how the Principal and Deputy Principal work together in Sheelagh’s school to improve the quality of teaching and learning. At the September staff meeting, the duties of the Deputy Principal and post holders are discussed for the year. These duties are reviewed regularly throughout the year and each staff member is given a copy of the duties. The Principal and Deputy Principal meet for an hour each week to review progress and to support other members of the In School Management
team. Post holders are involved in the immediate and long term planning for the school as well as the areas of curriculum planning and professional development. Collective team responsibility has been achieved through effective delegation and regular communication. The White Paper on Education 1995 "Charting Our Education Future" states that: ‘The Deputy Principal is the person who, under the direction of the Principal, shares the duty of co-ordinating the work of all sections of the school’. It goes on to state that the Deputy Principal should be "capable of discharging all the duties of the Principal when the latter is absent" as well as having devolved responsibilities for specific sections of the school on a daily basis. The Principal and Deputy Principal should be seen as a cohesive unit and effective delegation and communication ensures this effective distribution of leadership.
The duties of the Deputy Principal should involve some form of managerial responsibilities. These responsibilities must be clearly defined and mutually agreed between the Principal and Deputy. Effective Delegation The duties of the Deputy Principal should involve some form of managerial responsibilities. These responsibilities must be clearly defined and mutually agreed between the Principal and Deputy. The DP must be given the authority, resources and the space to do the job properly. If the area of responsibility requires a budget, the DP should have the autonomy in relation to expenditure. The Deputy Principal must have a clear written statement of responsibilities, to PAGE 22
include the shared responsibility of influencing the general quality of teaching ad learning in the school as well as the quality of leadership throughout the school. Whilst these duties are clearly documented it is essential to understand that the Deputy Principal’s role, like the principal’s, must be flexible and responsive to the daily unpredictable needs of the school. Delegation of responsibility should not be viewed as a loss of control but rather as a model of distributed leadership resulting in a more effective means of managing a school.
The Cohesive Management Unit How can the DP effectively carry out the duties of the principal when the principal is absent? A smooth transition is easily achieved if effective channels of communication exist between Principal and Deputy. The DP should know everything that the Principal does regarding the day-to-day running of the school. This should include office organisation, school planning and Board of Management matters. Good communication leads to a relationship based on trust where confidential information can be exchanged and where there is mutual respect and support. Without this trust and support, the Deputy Principal cannot be innovative in his/her approach to the job. Through effective delegation, the Principal’s workload is considerably reduced and more time is available to concentrate on the central aspects of management. A Principal can have a valuable ally in a Deputy Principal, a trusted colleague with whom ideas can be discussed and advice sought in a supportive and confidential context. The Deputy Principal benefits by having a challenging, fulfilling and rewarding role, with a greater sense of ownership, not only for their own specific areas of responsibility, but for the school in general.
Two heads are definitely better than one!
National Educational Psychological Service Model of Service to Schools
The Staged Approach
The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) is an executive agency of the Department of Education and Science and provides a service to 60% of schools nationwide. The NEPS service to schools is a "consultation" model of service in that it provides for consultation and casework in relation to both individual learners and also provides for consultation in relation to the needs of a particular school.
The Classroom Support Stage Stage 1 This stage is activated following teacher or parent concerns about learning or behaviour. A learning plan is drawn up and implemented for at least one term. After review, the plan is either discontinued and the normal class programme resumed or alternatively the plan is continued for a further period of time.
Assessments Assessment is part of the process of intervention that is provided by NEPS. It provides a wide variety of means by which the strengths and needs of a learner are identified. The Individual Education Plan (IEP) is itself a vehicle for assessment. Assessment encompasses all the diverse aspects of learning and is primarily carried out by teachers who have responsibility for the child. The main purpose of assessment is to generate an understanding of what is happening with the child, why there is a problem and what can be done to rectify the situation. It is not meant to be a static once-off event. There is a continual process of assessment going on in our schools on a daily basis, revolving around teacher observation, homework, dialogue with children, school reports and standardised tests.
The Consultation Model and NEPS The new staged model of assessment is a graduated problem-solving model, which provides a framework, enabling schools to fulfil their statutory obligations in relation to identifying, assessing and making provisions for their pupils. All three stages of the new system merge into the one process. Stage 1 is the classroom stage and involves the teacher and child and ultimately, the parents. Stage 2 is the school support stage where the schools resources such as Learning Support teacher may be utilised. Stage 3 involves moving to an assessment stage when outside professionals become involved and the groundwork for an education plan has been laid.
School Support Stage Stage 2 If problems persist, the class teacher informs the parents, the principal and the school care team. A revised learning plan is then drawn up and implemented for at least one term. Following a review and consultation a decision is made to return to either the normal class programme or to continue with Stage 2 for a further period of time or alternatively proceed to Stage 3. School Support Plus Stage 3 A plan is now drawn up and implemented for at east one term with NEPS involvement. Following an end of term review, a decision is made to either continue the plan for a further period of time or to return to Stage 2. It may also be decided to adapt the plan to include more supports or indeed, a decision could be made to request a Section 4 Assessment. The staged approach represents value for money as problems can be addressed at an early stage and the demand for individual psychological assessments is reduced. It must be noted that the psychologist is available for consultation at every stage but will only meet the individual learner at Stage 3.
Assessing Progress Any review of progress should take account of the fact that all children develop at different rates. Adequate progress is achieved if the gap between the learnerâ€™s progress and that of peers has not widened, and social and personal skills have improved. The improvement in capacity to access the full curriculum is also central to any meaningful review. In some cases the learnerâ€™s difficulty may be of such a serious and complex nature that it is immediately clear that the resources of the school are not meeting, or will not meet all their needs. These cases are relatively rare, occurring only in approximately 2% of cases.
Published on May 7, 2005