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ISSUE 31 • APRIL 2006 1

Who picks the team?

The one who ‘carries the can’ for results…

PRINCIPAL

2

3

4

JUNIOR INFANTS

SECRETARY

SENIOR INFANTS

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6

7

RANG A hAON

SUPPORT TEACHER

CARETAKER

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9

RANG A DÓ

RANG A TRÍ

Special Duties Teacher

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11

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SPECIAL NEEDS ASST.

SUPPORT TEACHER

SPECIAL NEEDS ASST.

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15

RANG A CEATHAIR

RANG A CÚIG

RANG A SÉ

with the priority being the quality of the In sport, the manager’s ability to select the education provided for the children. The key to best team formation from the panel of getting this right is to start the process early, players available is often the difference consult with everyone, encourage staff to between winning and losing. While education think in cycles of two to four years, facilitate is not about winning or losing, as Principal you team teaching and new initiatives to help can certainly identify with the role of the team prepare for change, and above all to treat manager, or in the case of Teaching Principals, everyone with professional fairness and player-manager. Other than the wisdom personal respect. Principals, like needed to recruit the best people, “Except in everyone else, earn respect by the skill of allocating teachers to exceptional showing it. different teaching roles is probably the most important function a circumstances, In recent years there have been a Principal has in determining the a BoM cannot number of challenges from BoMs and teachers to the Principals’ right overall quality of learning in the school. In his book, Good to Great, interfere with a to allocate teachers to classes. Principal’s Section 22 of the Education Act sets Jim Collins says that first you should out clearly the ‘Functions of the get the ‘right people on the bus’, function to next get the ‘wrong people off the allocate classes” Principal and teachers’, stating that: ‘in the case of the Principal…carry out bus’, and the ‘right people sitting in those duties that are assigned to him or her by the the right seats’, then and only then do you all Board’ and that…‘teachers shall carry out those decide ‘where you are going’. duties…. that are assigned to them by or at the Whole-school planning, curriculum direction of the Principal’ development and evaluation require a team A key question arising from the Act is - if approach if they are to be effective and the Principal has his/her duties assigned by the relevant. Picking the right team of teaching Board of Management, can the BoM then and non-teaching staff is vital. There is always overrule the Principal’s teacher–class the danger of falling into the trap of thinking allocation decisions? Legal advice suggests that ‘if only I had better teachers’. There is, of course, Section 22 of the Education Act should be a strong likelihood that if you are thinking like interpreted as follows: this, your staff may also be thinking ‘if only we had a better Principal’! The panel of players The BoM appoints a Principal teacher to available to you is all you have; the skill is in manage the school on ‘a day-to-day basis’ how you balance the team for the year ahead

with specific duties and responsibilities as outlined in Circular 16/’73, which includes amongst others, ‘the delegation of teaching duties to staff’. Given that a BoM ‘employs’ a Principal to carry out a managerial function with a job description containing specific functions, it cannot then proceed to effectively retain some of those functions without undermining and usurping the Principal’s role. There are however three exceptions where a BoM may rightfully overrule a Principal’s decision: 1) where due process was not followed e.g. no meaningful consultation/radical unnecessary last minute changes 2) where perverse decisions are made e.g. going against established education best practice without good reason/consistently refusing to offer an individual staff member an opportunity to experience other roles where such opportunities exist 3) allocation decisions based on a vindictive motive e.g. where there is obvious discrimination against a staff member for personal reasons. Other than these three exceptions, a BoM cannot interfere with a Principal’s function to allocate classes as it is central to the school leadership role (s)he fulfils in the school community. Is mise le meas, Seán Cottrell

CF: Class Allocation A Guide to Best Practice, Page 10

Legal Diary ......................................................................12 A Child in the 21st Century, Fergus Finlay ..........16 Religion, Roles, Rights & Responsibilities...........13

Developing Leaders, Enriching Learning .............22 North South Exchanges.............................................24 Mulit-Culturalism, The Emerging Challenge .....26

President: Tomás Ó Slatara president@ippn.ie Director: Seán Cottrell director@ippn.ie Editor: Larry Fleming editor@ippn.ie Assistant Editor: Virginia O’Mahony Advertising: Nicole Walsh admin@ippn.ie

Irish Primary Principals’ Network Glounthaune, Co Cork e: info@ippn.ie l: 1890 21 22 23 t: 353 21 452 4925 f: 353 21 435 5648 w: www.ippn.ie

The opinions expressed in Leadership Plus do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network

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ISSN: 1649 -5888 Design and print: Brosna Press 090 6454327 • info@brosnapress.ie

F E AT U R E S

Presidential Address ......................................................3 Project the Positive, Minister Mary Hanafin........9 Class Allocation - Best Practice ...............................10


Over to you “a separate salary scale for Principals was discussed and investigated during the previous Benchmarking talks”

The IPPN’s report entitled Investing in School Leadership - Addressing the Recruitment and Retention crisis in Primary School Principalship, is being finalised at present. The feedback received from members at county meetings and through phone calls and correspondence to the IPPN Support Office has been very helpful in establishing the concerns, needs and expectations of Principals in relation to the eagerly anticipated Benchmarking 2 talks. The survey conducted by IPPN, prior to Conference 2006, also provided clear evidence that Principals have high hopes and expectations that Benchmarking 2 will deliver significant results for Principals in general and teaching Principals in particular. Making Principalship, and especially teaching Principalship attractive, both financially and professionally, was one of the clear solutions proposed by members through the IPPN survey and conference feedback. Progress in making principalship attractive, financially and professionally, is in the interest of all teachers, parents and children, in ensuring that quality leadership is available to facilitate quality learning in all our Primary schools. As stated in our previous Leadership+ the report will be passed on as agreed to the INTO. This report will inform and strengthen the case being made for improvements in Principals’ pay and conditions. It will also be made available to all IPPN members and the Education Partners. It is then ‘over to you’ as INTO members to make your voices heard at meetings, through correspondence and at INTO congress.

IPPN is very clear that we do not have a responsibility for negotiating the pay and conditions of Principals nor do we aspire to that role. We are very clear, however, as a Professional Association, that we do have an opportunity and responsibility to research, reflect and refer concerns, needs and expectations of Principals to our Union and the Education Partners. We will take this opportunity to deliver a professionally researched report which will inform and strengthen the case for ensuring that Principals, both administrative and teaching, are remunerated commensurate with their levels of responsibility. We will provide the information, rationale and call for change but you also must be heard on this matter by your Union and the Education Partners.

www.textaparent.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

“Principalship is currently the only managerial grade in the Civil Service not on a separate salary scale”

Timetable change e.g. a reminder of early closing for staff meeting

In relation to the call for a separate salary scale for Principals, it is noteworthy that a proposal for a separate salary scale for Principals was discussed and investigated during the previous Benchmarking talks. It is not a new or radical concept to have a separate salary scale for personnel who have day to day management responsibilities. We are currently the only managerial grade in the Civil Service who are not on a separate salary scale. It is time to address this anomaly.

For large schools – reminding staff about a particular event.

Over to you…

Happy announcement e.g. victory in sports final

How can I use textaparent to send messages to the parents in our school? Arrange for the collection of the parents’ mobile telephone numbers Log on to www.textaparent.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 & specify the mobile telephone numbers to which the message will be sent

Virginia O’Mahony receives a presentation from Tomas O Slatara, President, IPPN at the recent IPPN Conference. PAGE 2


IN HIS FIRST KEYNOTE ADDRESS TO 750 PRINCIPALS AT CONFERENCE 2006, IPPN PRESIDENT TOMÁS Ó SLATARA EMPHASISED THE IMPORTANCE OF RECOGNISING OUR INFLUENCE AS PROVIDERS OF QUALITY LEADERSHIP AND QUALITY LEARNING IN OUR SCHOOLS.

Reflection & Celebration Tomás Ó Slatara

"As Principals we can be powerful agents of change and capacity building, whilst at the same time celebrating all that is enjoyable and worthwhile about being school leaders. The quality leadership that we aspire to for ourselves is a vital prerequisite if quality learning is to be assured. Much challenge, opportunity, fun and good humour evolves from our interaction with colleagues and most especially with children".

Tomás chose to focus on three questions in particular:

Administrative Principals Sometimes there seems to be a veil drawn between Teaching Principals and Administrative Principals, a sense that those with the bigger deal have it all – quality space, quality attention, quality resources. Very often the image is more attractive than the substance. Administrative Principals have:

Why did you choose to become a teacher? Why did you choose to become a Principal? Which do you see as your primary role teacher or Principal? Perhaps we chose to become Principals because of the satisfaction to be gained in a leadership role by helping, participating and responding to school management issues, facilitating positive outcomes and being the driver of the quality leadership and the quality learning process in the school. The list of the leadership qualities and skills you show from the moment you arrive in the school until you leave in the evening is endless. The role of Principal is diverse, challenging and difficult but it is also very fulfilling and exciting to be ‘leading the learning’ in your school and providing a high quality service to the children, parents and community. ‘It is my privilege tonight to take this opportunity to praise you and to celebrate your leadership with you. I don’t propose to do as the late Pope John Paul II did in September 1979 and say "Principals of Ireland I love you" but I will say "Principals of Ireland I praise you" for taking on the challenge of being quality leaders in your schools and providing quality education for the children in your schools’.

Responsibility for teaching staffs that can vary from 8 to 38 teachers Responsibility for cohorts of children varying from 180 to almost 900 Responsibility for SNAs that can vary in number from 1 to 30 Responsibility for a variety of part-time and/or full-time ancillary staff. Tomás said that "Administrative Principals need support and there are three practical areas where progress could, and should, be made" 1. Large schools present a compelling case for freeing Deputy Principals from teaching responsibilities to support leadership. Currently a lot of larger schools, for example, are delegating the responsibility for Special Education to the Deputy Principals because of the huge workload and responsibility involved. 2. In School Management is essential for all PAGE 3

schools but especially for larger schools, However, the cumbersome and outdated procedures involved urgently require revision and updating. "We need to make the procedures simpler and to establish the team approach to the running of the school that supplements, supports and shares the responsibility for providing quality leadership and education in the school". 3. An interesting anomaly raised by Administrative Principals is why substitute cover is not allowed when the Principal is away on professional development as for example at this conference. "While you are here your Deputy Principal as far as DES is concerned is meant to run the school and also have full time teaching responsibilities. This sends out the message that Administrative Principals can be done without and that the Deputy Principal’s role is not important enough to warrant sub-cover when fulfilling the role of Acting Principal". Teaching Principals One of the crucial questions that was an ongoing dilemma for Teaching Principals is: Are you a teacher first with the additional responsibilities as Principal? or Are you a Principal first with full time teaching responsibilities?


Presidential Address

had an average of 10 to 15 unavoidable interruptions to class teaching time each day was hugely conscious and concerned that the children in my class missed out on at least a half hour a day of quality teaching time because of my responsibilities as principal "I had parents understandably concerned about the effects this was having on their children’s education. They were understanding, respectful but anxious. I share their anxiety and concern". What is the solution? The IPPN President focused on four initiatives he believed would bring immediate benefits to Teaching Principals and smaller schools

The large attendance listen to Tomas O Slatara deliver his Presidential Address at the IPPN Conference 2006

"A primary recommendation in the HayGroup Report is that Teaching Principals should see their role as Principal first and teacher second (not just ‘primus inter pares’). The answer to this question has critical implications for how we perceive and value ourselves professionally and financially and will also be critical in deciding how others perceive and value us professionally and financially in the upcoming Benchmarking process". Tomás raised a crucial question for all Teaching Principals and Education Partners: "Are we to be valued primarily for our teaching role with an additional allowance as happened in the previous round of Benchmarking or are we to be valued/benchmarked on a separate salary as School Leaders with an additional top up allowance commensurate with our teaching responsibilities?" "New Horizons" Report Mr O Slatara also pointed out that questions are being asked as to what if anything has changed or improved, for Teaching Principals and smaller schools since the launch of the ‘New Horizons for Smaller Schools and Teaching Principalship ’ report last year? Some of the positive benefits of this report were Teaching Principals were happy to have a dedicated report analyzing and highlighting their special circumstances in the light of national and international research There is certainly a lot more discussion and awareness about the advantages and disadvantages of smaller schools There is now a ‘book of evidence’ that brings together the national and international research on smaller schools and Teaching Principalship. There has been a welcome focus on One Teacher Schools and their particular difficulties" I would ask the question, is the

current situation in one teacher schools a ‘safe system of work?’ where the Principal does not have the assistance or safeguard of a 2nd adult in the school" However, Mr O Slatara feels strongly that the core recommendations of the report were not being discussed, supported or implemented. It is difficult for Teaching Principals to be confident that the DES and the Education Partners have a short term or long term plan or vision for the future of smaller schools. The IPPN President said that: "Principals must be pro-active in exploring the ‘New Horizons’ recommendations and persistent in their efforts to get the DES and the other education partners to bring about significant changes and opportunities for Teaching Principals and smaller schools. I am appealing to the DES on this particular matter to prove me wrong, and to take action before the quality we aspire to as Teaching Principals crash lands and flounders on the rocks of inaction" Students of Teaching Principal at a Disadvantage Tomás gave a very honest assessment of his experience as Teaching Principal. "As a Principal of a small school I have come to the conclusion after 23 years in the role that there is ample evidence that children are at a disadvantage because they are in the class of a Teaching Principal. Likewise, the Teaching Principal is at a significant disadvantage by having to fulfil the dual roles of Principal and teacher". As a Teaching Principal of a six teacher school I was: responsible for 5 teachers/2 learning support/resource teachers/2 part time hours resource teachers/3 SNAs/1 secretary/1 caretaker/1 cleaner had legislative responsibilities for 105 families/210 parents-guardians/ 167 children PAGE 4

1. Cluster posts for release days The recommendation in ‘New Horizons’ report calling for the appointment of temporary teachers to be provided for the clusters of schools regarding release days for Teaching Principals has been under consideration since the launch of the report. The Minister’s announcement at the IPPN conference of the launching of 19 pilot schemes is a very welcome development which needs to be introduced countrywide. 2. Teaching Principal as Learning Support Teacher/Resource Teacher Mr O Slatara pointed out that "children in the class of a Teaching Principal are unlikely to get the full attention and the quality of teaching and learning they require and are legally entitled to have". and also that "children in the class of a Teaching Principal are more likely to be exposed to risk through the unplanned interruptions and/or incidental and unavoidable absences of the Principal from the classroom". He went on to say "And yet it is perceived by the DES as ‘safer’ to have a multi-tasking Principal in a multi-class of 25-30 children where more children are potentially at risk of having a sustained interrupted and unsupervised pattern of teaching than working with a smaller number of Special Needs children who at least, if the Principal has to leave to deal with an emergency, the children can safely return to the care of the class teacher". The IPPN President called on the DES to: "remove this unhelpful restriction and allow Principals to take on the role of LST/RT in tandem with fulfilling their role as Principals". 3. Prioritized Class Size for Teaching Principals Tomás also believes that there should be a prioritized class size for Teaching Principals, and called on the DES to

"introduce a targeted class-size reduction for Teaching Principals which ensures that no Teaching Principal has more than 15 pupils".


4. Clustering is a simple but powerful concept which has become well established worldwide. Mr O Slatara said that

"It can confidently be argued that the DES has not seized the opportunity offered through clustering to embed change in the Irish educational system". In the words of Professor Michael Fullan "there is a strong appetite among educators in Ireland for this work, some good initial experience to draw on and a rapidly increasing presence around the world in funding strategies designed to build lateral capacity across schools" The two IPPN sponsored bursaries for clusters of schools in Longford/Leitrim and Cork are very good exemplars of what can be achieved with well planned and supported clustering. "Look what has been achieved with €3,000? What potential could be unleashed within the education system if this year 10, 20, 50, 100 clusters could be financed with a grant of €10,000 each to replicate the success of these two IPPN sponsored pilot projects?" Reluctance amongst the educational partners to take new initiatives such as establishing pilot projects for clusters of smaller schools in line with those proposed in the ‘New Horizons’ report is a failure to provide for children and Principals who are at a disadvantage by being in smaller schools and especially in the class of a Teaching Principal. He concluded this section by saying that "IPPN has made clear the recommendations in the light of national and international research. We now need to have a Government response that clarifies current and future plans to secure ‘new horizons for smaller schools and Teaching Principals". Practical and Positive Options for Principals: Mr. Ó Slatara listed some options for that are within our control as Principals: Decide on our own perception and value on your role as Principal Vs Teacher Prioritize your own class size Break the professional isolation by becoming involved in professional co-operation and initiatives with other schools Join a Principals’ support group through your local Education Centre Take all your release days, if you can find substitutes. Not taking them sends the wrong message to the DES. Take agreed planning days with other schools

Practice effective shared leadership and delegation of responsibility with the In School Management team and Board of Management Say ‘NO’ as appropriate to work that is not your responsibility Recommend to the BoM that they pay for necessary secretarial, legal, accounting, and building expertise. These are not your responsibility Establish a professional development and expenses budget using section 9(j) of the Education Act and take your professional expenses as all other civil servants do. Set an appropriate value on your professional time and efforts in being involved in selection processes in other schools and maybe eventually we will be properly recompensed for the many hours involved in interviewing in our own schools. Go to your IPPN county meetings for professional development and support Book in for an LDS Misneach/Forbairt course Try out the IPPN/LDS/Education Centres based Spreagadh courses for experienced Principals piloted successfully last year in Cork and now being delivered in Galway/ Limerick/Dublin

Gaeilge/(Corpoideachais agus Scoil Ghaelach) Tomás pointed out that IPPN had tested the ground on this matter in a recent survey of members. The findings indicate that over twothirds of principals feel that schools are now more positively disposed towards a wider use of Irish in schools, and that principals’ have a role in providing for this as part of their leadership role in schools. He said that "The Irish Primary Principals’ Network believes it is now timely to support initiatives that provide for a more creative and constructive use of Irish in primary schools. Parental attitude and positivity is probably the single most crucial factor in the progress of the children at Irish in Primary school especially in the middle and senior classes". Mr O Slatara proposed that serious consideration be given to the teaching of a second subject in Primary schools through the medium of Irish. It is well established that teaching another subject through the medium of the target language is both linguistically and educationally very sound. "I believe Physical Education is a subject that would be very well taught and received through the Irish language. It is one of the most enjoyable elements of the curriculum and the area children least associate with ‘subject’ or ‘learning’. What a difference it would make to teachers if they felt well-prepared for such a change in their curriculum teaching; what a difference it would make to children if they saw ‘real Irish’ being used in ‘real situations’. This would, I believe, improve children’s ability, usage and attitude to Irish as well as providing the teachers with an opportunity to build up their own PAGE 5

confidence and competence in the language" Another idea Tomás proposed for consideration was the recognition and provision of a ‘Scoil Ghaelach’ status for schools who wish to promote and prioritise agreed Irish language and cultural activities. These would be schools other than the 158 Gaelscoileanna and 143 Gaeltacht schools that already have special recognition as providers and promoters of ‘whole-time, whole-school’ Irish. Mr O Slatara hopes to progress both of these ideas during his presidency of IPPN in co operation with the Education Partners and other relevant agencies.

IPPN’s ROLE AS AN EDUCATION PARTNER Tomás reflected on the role of IPPN as an Education Partner since February 2000. IPPN is still very much the ‘new kid on the block’ amongst the Education Partners. There is a degree of healthy tension at times but most importantly a healthy respect amongst the Education Partners. We have given credit where credit is due and we have not been afraid to ask the hard questions when we believe it to be necessary and justifiable. This has helped to ensure that the Principals’ perspective is factored into most discussions on education. We are a solution driven association whose primary purpose is to provide professional supports, representation and guidance for school leaders. We also want to bring about worthwhile change that will be of short term and long term benefit to school leaders, school management, staff, parents and children. We could not succeed as well as we have done without the commitment of Principals who unselfishly find borrowed personal and family ‘Quality Time’ to serve on the National Committee and National Executive. We appreciate the ‘healthy respect’ that we receive from the Education Partners and embrace the occasional moments of ‘healthy tension’ that are an inevitable part of the growing pains of being accepted as an independent voice for school leadership. Finally, we would not exist at all without the support, encouragement and active participation of Principals and Deputy Principals throughout the 26 counties as members of IPPN.

"IPPN is writing its own "leadership melody for the 21st century". We have now become an accepted member of the orchestra and there is general recognition that the quality of the leadership melody is vital to the overall success of the performance. As quality leaders we are important members of the orchestra and we will continue to ensure that the "leadership melody" is heard clearly as part of the overall performance of our education


Proof beyond Reasonable Doubt Professor Michael Fullan The launch of his most recent paper on educational leadership by Professor Michael Fullan at the IPPN conference, entitled Quality Leadership - Quality Learning, Proof beyond Reasonable Doubt, is intended to build on the strong educational traditions and practices in the Irish system. There is proof beyond reasonable doubt that Quality Leadership and Quality Learning go hand in hand. Speaking via web link to the IPPN Conference in CityWest, Prof. Fullan was insistent that the challenges presented must be tackled by IPPN, the DES and by individual Principals now, so as to ensure quality learning for our children into the future. This paper, according to eminent academic Professor John Coolahan, presents a "concise and compelling case for constructive action which we will ignore at our peril". In time, it is likely to prove to be the beacon in developing strategies which allow school Principals to foster shared and distributed leadership as a cornerstone of quality education. Building on earlier research, Professor Fullan offers a clear agenda for change through identification of the challenges and the ultimate rewards for all who engage in this change process. When the dust settles, this paper will be acknowledged as having played a central role in proving beyond reasonable doubt, that quality learning is underpinned by quality leadership. It has profound implications for the Irish Educational System. It is a call for action, challenging IPPN, the DES and individual Principals to take responsibility for initiatives and actions that will ultimately influence the quality of learning for each individual child. In his address, Professor Fullan explained the rationale behind recognising the Principal as the nerve centre of school improvement. He

pointed out that irrefutable research evidence is available identifying the Principal as the "pivotal figure" when it comes to success. INFLUENCING STUDENT LEARNING Professor Fullan initially focused on school capacity i.e. the collective power of the full staff to work together to improve student learning school wide. This capacity is driven by the "powerful but indirect influence" of the Principal in linking the capacity to achievement. How does leadership influence achievement? It does so through: Setting high performance expectations Developing people intellectually and emotionally Building relationships with school community Professor Fullan then proceeded to outline his vision of the "executive leader" - the leader who builds enduring greatness. The main mark of a school Principal at the end of his or her tenure is not just the impact on student achievement, but also, equally, how many good leaders they leave behind who can go even further. So in reality, the Principal has a critical role to play in system-wide reform, development and success. BARRIERS TO DEVELOPMENT a) The "If only Dependency" - (if only the system could provide coherent policies, I could

do my job). The solution is to take risks. b) Loss of Moral Compass i.e. getting caught up in daily routines and failing to connect with why we became leaders in the first place. Professor Fullan is adamant in his conclusions that the solution we need is a system one. Times have changed. We can no longer be satisfied with educating those 50% 60% of the children who pass easily through the system. We have to learn to work differently and rebuild the organization of schooling around a different way of doing work. This requires strong organizational leadership and the need for a broader model. Improvement will only follow from collective deliberation, and for this to happen meaningful amounts of regular, uninterrupted time for professional dialogue must be made available. In other words, if team based planning is to take place, it must be by design rather than by chance so that accountability and capacity are working in tandem. THE WAY FORWARD Professor Fullan, identifies role overload and lack of role clarity as the key impediments to progress at the moment from the point of view of the Principal. Fullan puts his trust in capacity building as the way forward - putting ideas into practice on a daily basis, that involve changes in the culture of schools and require "learning in context". He identifies the Hay Group Report on the role of the Principal (IPPN 2003) as a crucial document supporting many of his theories and laments the fact that the government have not acted on many of the Hay recommendations. For the record, Professor Fullan concludes with his own recommendations for Government, for IPPN and for individual Principals as follows: For Government Establish a formal process to review the role of the Principal Revise the contract for Principals (5-7 year contract) Focus on recruitment and retention Develop strategies based on clusters For IPPN Engage in "Thought Leadership" Be proactive and foster a sense of quality Look to international best practice for Individual Principals Be open to clustering Build on available talent to create change Let the debate commence.

Professor Michael Fullan (left) addressing the attendees by weblink at the recent IPPN Conference.

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A copy of Professor Michael Fullans paper ‘Quality Leadership – Quality Learning, Proof beyond Reasonable Doubt’ will be circulated to all schools shortly.


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The researchers discovered that pupils using interactive programmes couldn’t remember the stories they just read because cartoons and sound effects distract them. In other words the programmes are more entertainment than education. In the study, a group of 10 Senior Infants used a programme where a human voice read a story as the text simultaneously appeared on the screen highlighted line by line. A second group of ten other children used an interactive programme that encouraged children to click on the illustrations which triggered animations and sound effects, only some of which were relevant to the story line. The next day children were asked to recall the storyline. Over 90% of the first group had an above average recall while this figure dropped by 30% with the children who used the interactive programme as they tended to confuse the storyline. A multiple-choice test also showed the first group scoring significantly higher. The researchers have warned parents and teachers not to abandon simple storytelling and reading books to young children.

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Let’s Project the Positive Mary Hanafin Minister for Education and Science Speaking at the IPPN Conference in City West last month, the Minister for Education and Science, Ms Mary Hanafin highlighted the powerful influence Principals exert on education but cautioned that if we want to attract the best quality candidates into the position, we should project the positive aspects of the job and, ‘stop moaning about what a hard life it is’. 750 attendees listened attentively as the Minister affirmed the positive leadership being provided in schools despite the increased demands of Special Needs, Multiculturalism, Disadvantage and additional legislation. She pledged continuing support in the form of improved facilities, improved staffing and a reduction in the administrative burden on Principals. The Minster highlighted LDS as hugely significant in providing professional development courses for Principals and she thanked the IPPN for its role in the process whereby over 1,450 Principals have availed of the courses provided. She insisted that more Deputy Principals need to avail of the service so as to encourage them to become "leaders in waiting" as happens in many other European countries.

Real Improvements The Minister outlined the real improvements that have been put in place since Conference 2005. The General Allocation Model is up and running and an improved pupil-teacher ratio is in place for smaller and disadvantaged schools. The new DEIS programme will ensure that help is targeted towards children in the most disadvantaged schools where they can avail of all the co-ordinated responses available. A new scheme of paid sabbatical leave for teachers in disadvantaged schools should reduce the demands on Principals in retaining teachers in these disadvantaged areas, she said. The reduction in the staffing schedule by one point this year and one point next year will result in 500 new teachers coming into the system and €500m will be spent on school buildings this year. The earlier publication of the staffing schedule will allow recruitment to be finalised earlier and successful Summer Works Scheme applicants are also being informed earlier. Acknowledging the fact that Principals often have a great difficulty in securing suitable replacements when on release days, the Minister announced a pilot scheme which allows for the appointment of temporary teachers to a cluster of schools for release days. This scheme is now being rolled out and will be extended nationwide. In another welcome announcement Minister Hanafin stated that from now on Principals of new schools will be appointed a few months in advance and a €10,000 grant will be lodged to the account of the Board of Management.

“The Minister announced that from now on Principals of new schools will be appointed a few months in advance and a €10,000 grant will be lodged to the account of the Board of Management.“ Multiculturalism The Minister acknowledged that all children of Non-Nationals/New Irish have been welcomed and included in schools nationwide and their culture celebrated. This is a great tribute to the country’s teachers, and she stated that there are now over 600 teachers assigned to teach English to foreign nationals/new Irish. Ms. Hanafin then stressed the importance of involving and informing parents about the education process and she singled out the IPPN initiative Text-A-Parent for special praise. Parents must have real information she stressed. Publishing ‘Whole School Evaluation Reports’ allows for this to happen and provides a benefit to schools in that it allows for a wider audience to appreciate the good work being done in schools nationwide. In a reference to recently published reports on literacy, the Minister acknowledged that reading levels countrywide are good. Complacency must not set in and she advised Principals to ensure that the more experienced members of staff be allocated to Junior Classes particularly First Class. The Minister proceeded to refer to bullying in schools and emphasised the requirement for each school to have ‘strong policies’ in place. She advised that in relation to the teaching of Irish in schools fostering a love for the language is paramount and this could be achieved through teaching subjects such as Physical Education ‘as Gaeilge’, an initiative which was also advocated by IPPN President, Tomás O Slatara in his Presidential Address the previous evening.

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PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE

Class Allocation A Guide to Best Practice IN THE WORDS OF A RECENTLY RETIRED PRINCIPAL "WE CAN’T ALL TEACH 3rd & 4th CLASS". For many Principals the annual challenge of which teachers will teach which classes often proves to be problematic. To be clear from the outset, this function of allocating teachers to classes is both a duty and a responsibility of the Principal Teacher. This means that the Parents, The Board of Management and the staff of the school cannot and must not be part of the decision making process.

This time last year and again this year, there have been many enquiries seeking advice and guidance in this critical aspect of a Principal’s role. It may be helpful first to understand some of the reasons why the process is often a reason for conflict in schools. Perhaps the Principal does not clarify his or her role in this area, which may result in teachers misunderstanding the process and as a consequence feeling aggrieved when the desired outcome does not emerge. The following steps offer an approach to the process of deciding teachers class allocation in a way that is both transparent and informative to all those concerned: When a suitable opportunity arises, teachers, parents and Boards of Management are informed that this is a function of the Principal. Cf Education Act ’98 section 22 & Circular16/73 and Primary Education Management Manual

Facilitate a whole staff discussion on the notion of staff rotation. Such a discussion should be guided by factors such as (a) The professional value and benefit to individual teachers when experiencing teaching the different levels within the school (b) The importance of all teachers acquiring an understanding of the curriculum throughout the school in the context of whole school planning and the cohesive teaching of the revised curriculum.

(c) The importance of teachers experiencing different levels and areas of teaching in order to enhance their career opportunities in the future (d) Generally accepted wisdom that new and inexperienced graduates would not be required to teach Junior Infants during their induction period as teachers. Prior to the allocation of teachers to classes, it is important to clarify how classes will be divided for the following September. In smaller/multi-graded schools and many larger schools where there is a necessity to have multi-grade classes, it is useful to consult with teachers and where appropriate, to involve teachers in deciding the most appropriate division of classes Circulate to teachers, a page requesting him or her to indicate their teaching preferences for the subsequent school year. Each teacher is required to indicate his or her first, second and third preference. The sheet circulated may offer the various options from Junior Infants to Sixth Class in addition to various learning support, resource teaching roles etc. or alternatively the exact division of classes as planned for September with the details of numbers of children and breakdown of class levels etc. Discuss with each teacher individually the reasons for their preferences and the various background issues which may be PAGE 10

relevant. Having consulted with all, the Principal then pieces together the jig-saw in the best possible manner, bearing in mind factors such as teacher preferences, relevant experience, suitability of teaching style, the length of time a particular teacher has taught a particular group of children, the length of time a particular teacher has taught a specific class, the length of time teachers have spent in unsuitable accommodation such as prefabs etc., the educational needs of a group of children or of a specific child within a group, extra curricular talents and attributes possessed by different teachers. Once the Principal has made his or her decision, inform each teacher of his or her allocation of class for September and the reasons why this is so. Some of schools have a policy of informing parents about the allocation of teachers to classes in advance of the school holidays, on the day of the school holidays or on the return to school in September. This is generally a matter of custom and practice and varies a lot. There are merits and demerits for the various options. Specific consideration has to be taken into account when the Principal is also a teacher. One of the key recommendations of The HayGroup Report on The Role of


“Teaching Principals should consider allocating to themselves a teaching workload, which reflects the dual role of Principal and Class Teacher.” Primary Principal illustrates the importance of Teaching Principals allocating to themselves a teaching workload, which reflects the dual role of Principal and Class Teacher. In recent years many Teaching Principals have refrained from teaching the senior classes of the school, for reasons associated with the preparation of transfer to Post Primary School and in many cases the preparation for sacraments and other extra curricular events. Teaching Principals are frequently undertaking middle/junior classes in the school. Furthermore there are instances of Teaching Principals allocating themselves a single grade class, e.g. Rang 3 or Rang 4, whilst teaching colleagues may as a direct consequence have somewhat larger classes. This is a direct reflection of one of The HayGroup recommendations. Teacher seniority and/or holding a post of responsibility does not give any staff member any additional rights or priorities when it comes to the allocation of teachers to classes. Some further considerations: This process should not be left until the end of June. Ideally it should be commenced in the month of March and substantially completed by the end of April, leaving a period of time between initial request for class preferences, consultation and discussion. This is a useful way of preparing people for change. It is not a good idea to impose radical change on a teacher who has perhaps taught the same class level for several years or maybe even decades. In such an

instance, where change is necessary for the good of the children, the school or even the teacher, conflict can be best avoided by – informing the given teacher that whilst he or she will get their choice of class this year, next year a change will happen and that there is a year in the meantime to prepare fro that change. Such preparation is made easier in recent years with the involvement of all teachers with in-service training for the revised curriculum, where in effect all teachers are updating their professional knowledge across the entire curriculum. In addition, by giving plenty of advance notice, a teacher should be capable of consulting with colleagues and perhaps team teaching with a colleague for a limited period of time, on a weekly basis throughout the year to prepare for an impending change. In communicating the allocation of classes to each individual teacher, it is worth reminding people that inevitably some teachers will not get their preferred teaching area in a given year. By keeping a simple record of teaching preferences and actual allocation, it should be easy enough to ensure balance from year to year in terms of preferences to actual allocation. The time and effort put into the allocation of classes in a way that is transparent and accountable, is more than rewarded in terms of its benefit for overall staff, teamwork and harmony. If moving from a situation of little or no change from year to year to limited rotation, final allocation may not be achieved within the first year or two. Like the implementation of any other change, gradual rather than the radical implementation is often the most sustainable in the long run. Eventually everybody wants some of it! Sample Class allocation request forms are available in the Management Resources Section on www.ippn.ie

European City Guide Update

Your school may have received correspondence for a "European City Guide". While apparently similar to other European initiatives, the Guide has a cost of €857 included in the small print. If you have offered your schools details to this guide you will find that you will be invoiced for this amount. All subsequent attempts to cancel inclusion of your school details in the Guide will not be permitted and you will then receive threatening emails and phone calls from a debt collector causing much distress to Principals and Treasurers. Following legal consultation, IPPN recommends that should you find yourself in such a scenario, do not engage in further correspondence or telephone conversations as this is an elaborate scam. All demands for payment should be ignored.

Avant Garde Software

Your school may also have received an invoice from Avant Garde Software for two poetry cd roms. The invoice states that if you do not pay it within ten days the matter will be referred to Kilroys Solicitors. IPPN have been in contact with Kilroys Solicitors and can confirm that Kilroys Solicitors of 69 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2 has no knowledge of Avant Garde Software and is not acting on their behalf. We recommend that you firstly, verify that you ordered and have indeed received the CDs prior to payment of any invoice from Avant Garde Software, and secondly, that any cheque payments are made and posted to the correct service provider.

Extract from Fergus Finlay, THE IRISH EXAMINER, Tuesday 7th February 2006 “…I was asked to speak…to the Irish Primary Principals last week. You might have noticed the Minister for Education on television at the weekend urging them to stop moaning about their lot. I think she must have been at a different conference. Far from moaning, the people I met were committed and concerned professionals, determined to get the most from the education system for the kids they worked with”. Above left: Newly Appointed Primary Principals enjoying the Gala Dinner at the IPPN Conference in City West Hotel in February. Above right: John Bowman addresses the delegates. PAGE 11


Principal’s right to allocate classes undermined by decision of Employment Appeals Tribunal

Teacher V Board of Management of the Holy Trinity School, Mervue, Galway Employment Appeals Tribunal, December 15th 2005 The allocation of teachers to posts has always been viewed as the sole responsibility of the School Principal. It is a task that needs to be approached with sensitivity and diplomacy. Many Principals distribute class preference choice forms to help achieve the best possible result. In spite of all such efforts a Principal and his Board of Management found themselves on the receiving end of a recent decision which favoured the position of an aggrieved teacher, who did not wish to vacate the post of Home School Liaison Officer (HSLO), a post which she held for 8 years.

THE CLAIMANT’S EVIDENCE The teacher was employed in the school in 1985. In 1994 she was appointed to the post of HSLO. This post was advertised on the school’s notice board. Two applicants presented for interview and the successful applicant was presented with a letter of a job offer to which she replied in the affirmative. This teacher was of the view that the appointment was for a specific contract as HSLO. While based in one school she was shared with another school. A new Principal in 2003 distributed class preference forms to all staff. However the plaintiff was of the view that this did not concern her as she had a specific contract for

the position of HSLO. At a meeting with both school Principals it was clear that they asked the plaintiff to stand down from the position and to resume a teaching position.The teacher stated that if she could complete a 9th year in the job she would voluntarily step aside. She stated that she felt sure she was on a specific contract because of the procedures she went through to get the job as HSLO and the fact that the position needed the sanction of the patron.

RESPONDENT’S EVIDENCE Three main witnesses attended on behalf of the school; (a) The National Coordinator of the HSL Scheme (b) the Chairperson of the Board of Management (c) the Principal of the base school.

Management would be expected to follow the direction of the Department but conceded that the term of the HSLO position is entirely a matter for the Board of Management. (B) THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE BOARD OF MANAGEMENT The Chairperson was at pains to say that this scheme was in its infancy. She stated that it was in the nature of the job itself, that the H.S.L.O would be replaced after a number of years. The patron’s sanction for the appointment was sought out of courtesy to the Bishop as it was a new post within the Primary sector. The position was permanent but the person going in was not, the nature of the post being one of rotation. (C) THE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL

(A) THE NATIONAL COORDINATOR OF THE H.S.L. Scheme She claimed that the post is not advertised nationally (unlike some other posts) because the successful candidate could be in the post for life. The coordinator had visited the school and stated it was for a 3 year renewable period. The contract was renewable for 3 years to a maximum of 6 years, however there were some who had been in the position longer than 6 years. This was made clear to both applicants for the post, and also to the Principals and Boards of Management. The National Coordinator never heard of the post being offered on a contract basis. The 3 year renewable contract was incorporated into DES Guidelines in 2003 but these guidelines were not available in 1993. The National Coordinator stated that Boards of PAGE 12

The Principal was in his first year in the post. He gave evidence that there were two Support teachers, who were recruited for a specific job following national advertisement. It was not in his remit to remove those people from those positions. When the Principal gave out the class preference sheets, another teacher applied for the HSLO post. He stated that he was not looking to make immediate changes, but there were 48 staff and if some opted for a change of role they were entitled to do so, and he had an obligation to look into that. He stated that if you do not allow staff to rotate you disenfranchise staff. His understanding was the maximum time allowable in the HSLO post was 6 years unless no one wanted the position. The Principal allocated the teacher to a teaching post. The teacher went out on sick leave in June 2003 and returned in February


2004. She subsequently left the school to take up a position in another parish.

(7) 4 weeks gross pay to be paid to her by way of compensation.

DETERMINATION OF THE EMPLOYMENT APPEALS TRIBUNAL

APPEAL

1) The claimant was dismissed from her position as HSLO.

The Board of Management has lodged an appeal, in the Circuit Court, to the above decision of the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

2) Under the Unfair Dismissals Act 1997 – 2001 it constituted an unfair dismissal.

OBSERVATION

3) The assignment of the teacher to the post of Home School Liaison Officer constituted a contract of employment. 4) By implication or otherwise,the teacher was permanently appointed to the post of Home School Liaison Officer. 5) The school failed to provide compelling evidence to show the position was for a specific duration of time.

The decision given was a majority one, 2/1 in favour of the claimant. Decisions of the Employment Appeals Tribunal are given by a division. The Chairperson is a barrister’ Mr John Fahy. The case was fought in a private capacity by the teacher. It is significant in my view that the I.N.T.O were not part of this process. I feel that the decision is a harsh one which is worthy of the scrutiny of the Circuit Court. I will update readers on the results of the appeal in due course.

6) The teacher to be re-instated to the post of HSLO

School settles case for €10,000 in Bullying Action by 10 year old boy Ó Donnchadha V Board of Management of Scoil Uí Dhalaigh, Leixlip, Co. Kildare 6th February 2006 A Circuit Court Judge, Mr. Justice Joseph Matthews approved a €10,000 settlement on behalf of a 10 year old boy Cillín Ó Donnchadha who alleged he had been bullied and harassed during the academic school year of 2001 – 2002. It was alleged on the pupil’s behalf that he had been stoned, kicked and spat at and jeered in the school yard. The claim had been brought against the school on the basis that the pupil had been traumatized by what had taken place. The alleged bullying had taken place when the boy was 6 and 7 years old. The parents of the pupil withdrew him from the school. They alleged that the school wasn’t doing enough to protect the boy after complaints were made to the school. Judge Matthews, in approving the settlement, said it was clear Cillín had been bullied regularly over a period of time by other children of his own age. He said it had been a matter of children ganging up on an innocent boy. It was a simple truth that children could be cruel to each other. The circumstances of the bullying had not been beyond the control of the school. It was unfortunate it had taken so long to come to the attention of the school.

OBSERVATION This case was settled by both sides. The parents were anxious their son would not give evidence in court as they felt it would cause the boy trauma. The settlement is rather low in that the Circuit Court has a Jurisdiction to award between €6,000–€38,000 (approx). In the case of minors, the judge has to approve of the award despite the fact that the parents and the school Insurance company had come to an agreement. Cases are often settled by schools insurance companies on the grounds that the case could be lost if contested in court or an economic grounds i.e. the legal costs of defending the case could far surpass the award. This case is a reminder that schools cannot afford to be complacent in relation to dealing with complaints of bullying. Only two short years ago, Nano Nagle JNS in Bawnogue, Clondalkin won a landmark High Court in relation to allegations of bullying. The court in that case adapted the Department of Education and Science guidelines in relation to bullying as follows: "Bullying is repeated aggression, verbal, psychological or physical contact by an individual or group against others. Isolated incidents of aggressive behaviour which should not be condoned can scarcely be described as bullying. However when the behaviour is systematic and ongoing, it is bullying".

Principals/BOMs and The Special Education Appeals Board EPSEN Act 2004 Michael Nolan BL The Special Education Appeals Board is scheduled to be in place by April 2006 as a statutory independent Board. Reassuringly, it will have recourse to various procedures which ensure that the parties before it must firstly be encouraged to reach agreement through mediation. Should a breakdown occur and a hearing made necessary, it will be approached informally. Decisions must be reached by the Board within two months of the hearing. For Principals the workings of the new Appeals Board are as yet uncharted waters. I propose to look at one such area where regrettably the provisions of EPSEN Act are most unclear. Sect. 10(1) of the EPSEN Act empowers the NCSE to "desigate the school which a child with special educational needs is to attend for the time being". If a BOM feels it cannot meet the needs of the particular child and that the supports and services offered by the NCSE are not sufficient to do so, it can appeal the designation to the Special Education Appeals Board within four weeks and most importantly, it is up to the BOM in question to prove it cannot meet the child's needs. It is not clear from the Act what happens to the child pending the appeal. Is it the case, which usually pertains in appeals, that until the hearing the BOM is not obliged to enroll the child? The use of the words in Sect 10(1) "for the time being" suggests that the child must attend the school with immediate effect upon designation. This could place both or either the BOM of schools and children in an invidious position. From a BoM point of view, on receipt of a designation they may be obliged to enroll a child whose needs they patently cannot meet and conversly, for a child there may be a waiting period of four weeks and perhaps even up to another two months or more without a school. As is hopefully always the case where BoM of schools catering for children with special needs are concerned, common sense will prevail. However this is an apparent impasse which necessitates swift clarification by the NCSE. It is imperative that unambigous guidelines be put in place for Principals/ BsOM in relation to "designations" and many other aspects of the EPSEN 2004 Act. Michael Nolan is Principal of St Declans School, D4

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teachers, male or female, into Principalship. He quoted the Midlands school that had 372 applications for a teaching post, with only a single application for the vacant Principal's position in the same school.

SEAN COTTRELL'S ADDRESS TO CONFERENCE 2006 WAS IN THE MAIN, A STRUCTURED RESPONSE TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS

Briefly mentioning Benchmarking, he described it as a ‘last chance saloon’ for principals. The age profile of Principalship is gradually rising and the next 5 years will see a disproportionate number of retirements. With reducing numbers applying for the job, there is the inherent risk of a reduction in the quality of leadership talent available. Sean outlined the 3 main reasons for the reduction in applicants from IPPN research as:

MADE BY PROFESSOR MICHAEL FULLAN TO IPPN IN HIS PAPER ENTITLED QUALITY LEADERSHIP <=> QUALITY LEARNING.

Quality Leadership Quality Learning The Director set about outlining IPPN’s position on the issues raised by Fullan and also commented on Fullan’s challenges to the Irish Government and to individual Principals.

Fullan’s first challenge to IPPN – Quality Sean reiterated Michael Fullan’s assertion that we cannot ask for respect, we must walk the ‘quality talk’ on standards, not just talk about it. Sean welcomed WSE as an intermediate step to effective evaluation. However schools, Principals and teachers must be empowered towards self evaluation where they take ownership of their own planning based on selfevaluation, a process which is monitored externally. He said "When you own the process of self evaluation, you are more likely to implement its findings". Sean also said that WSE could stand for 'Whole System Evaluation'. As an example of system failure he cited the problem for Principals of being asked up to 15 times a year by the DES and other agencies for the same school data in paper format. Such repeated administration, he said, is both time consuming, repetitive and morale lowering. If Principals are to deliver quality leadership and learning they ought to be entitled to quality administration. Sean praised the Minster for Education and Science Mrs Mary Hanafin for being the first holder of the office to prioritise finance for Leadership Development. He acknowledged the difference this has made for newly appointed Principals in particular, who have availed of the Mentoring and the Misneach Programmes as well as the benefit of the Forbairt and Spreagadh programmes for experienced Principals. Sean referred to the quadrupling of calls to IPPN's support office for assistance from Principals during the year. He acknowledged

that this increase has been greater than the staffing capacity to service the need and this was a real quality issue that IPPN must address. He thanked the academic community in the Teacher Training Colleges for making their expertise and research standards available to IPPN. Calling it 'A Blueprint for the Future' he said the "New Horizons for Smaller Schools and Teaching Principalship in Ireland" report is particularly important and we would urge the Minister to consider the recommendations in that document again'.

Fullan’s second challenge – Lead the change process IPPN has struggled in this area until recently. However Sean acknowledged the growing willingness of the DES to listen to IPPN and to take on board the ideas and suggestions coming from the network. IPPN is now represented on a number of DES Advisory Committees and has used these opportunities to advance positive changes. In the In-School Management working group, IPPN has argued the value of a Principal's contract. Fullan says that in order to make Principalship 'do able' he recommends 5 – 7 year contracts for new appointments. Sean used the image of swans in flight to illustrate the effectiveness of rotational leadership. He castigated the current scenario whereby a Principal wishing to ‘step down’ must ignominiously become the most junior member of staff. Rotational Principalship would allow teachers to ‘opt in’ to a leadership roll for 5 – 7 years before stepping down with dignity.

“A Principal wishing to ‘step down’ must ignominiously become the most junior member of staff.” While acknowledging the campaign to bring more males into the teaching profession, Sean felt there was an even greater need to bring PAGE 15

1. The job is seen as professionally ‘undo-able’ due to role overload. 2. The imbalance between the scale of responsibility borne by Principals and the corresponding lack of executive ‘decision making’ powers. 3. Poor salary levels in comparison to teachers and the lack of a dignified ‘step down’ facility. He warned that whilst the biggest ‘losers’ from the looming leadership crisis are the children, the DES is also a major loser in such a scenario as their agenda cannot be implemented if there is not a dynamic and effective Principal in every school.

“A Midlands school that had 372 applications for a teaching post, had only a single application for the vacant Principal's position in the same school” Sean also elaborated on IPPN's proactivity on behalf of Deputy Principals and cited the forthcoming report on Deputy Principalship which is based on best practice culminating from the contributions of over 250 Deputy Principals. On teaching Principalship, he recalled his own 6 1/2 years in the role, acknowledging Tomas O'Slataras comments on the previous night that the children in the class of a Teaching Principal are disadvantaged due to the dual role of their teacher. He cited the HayGroup report which recommended that Teaching P rincipals 'should have a lesser teaching load if they are to fulfil their primary function as school leader'. He also called for Teaching Principals to be allowed to take up resource and special education roles.

Fullan’s third challenge – Engage in thought leadership Having opened a discussion on Sacramental Preparation in schools, one which received widespread media coverage in the week leading up to the conference, Sean acknowledged that whilst not universally popular as a view point, it was an issue worthy of serious debate. Sean quoted from a recent IPPN survey saying that 85% of principals who responded were unsatisfied with current Board of Management structures. He drew a distinction between management and governance, saying that the latter is about policy, direction and ethos, whilst Continued overleaf


Sean Cottrell’s address, continued from page 15 management is concerned with implementation and organisation. He cited different governance models in North America, New Zealand and the UK whilst stressing the importance of Fullan’s call to focus the role of Principal centrally in leading and managing learning. 'As Principals we are in a good position to stretch peoples thinking on matters as fundamental as this'. He felt Principals should be imaginative and innovative and not afraid of occasionally getting into trouble for their ideas and proposals. Leadership is about taking some risks. He also called for more strategic thinking on clustering, establishing a coherent approach from the current chaos of multiple clusters for various functions. Sean encouraged the term 'New Irish' for people who have come to live and work and receive their education in Ireland. He also encouraged the DES to face up to the challenges such as the need for translation facilities and improved communication with people for whom English is not the first language.

"Perhaps we need to start looking again at the ‘ordinary’ child, not just the additional children who have come in over the past few years. Each child must have equal access to the level of resources required relative to his or her own needs be they ‘gifted’, ‘ordinary’, ‘special’, ‘traveller’ or ‘new Irish’". In conclusion, Sean deliberated on leadership issues generally and specifically referenced "Good to Great" by Jim Collins, which lists three characteristics of ‘great’ leaders: I. Personal humility II. No personal ambition but ruthless ambition for their organisation III. A deep ‘professional will’ about the work they are engaged in. Collins uses the image of a bus where a leader must get ‘the right people on’, ‘the wrong people off’ and ‘the right people in the right seats’. Only when you have ‘the right people in the right seats’ can you decide where you are going. This approach debunks a lot of popular thinking about the superseding importance of ‘vision’ with a greater importance being placed on the calibre and quality of the people who make up an organisation. Considering education is not about products or profit where can the argument for ‘quality people’ be more important than in a school?

A Child in the 21st Century Extracts From the Address by Fergus Finlay, Chief Executive of Barnardos to the IPPN Conference The Jamie Sinnott case established, in the words of the High Court judge presiding, that "the ultimate criteria in interpreting the State's constitutional obligation to provide for primary education of the grievously disabled is 'need' and not 'age'. The State appealed that judgement to the Supreme Court. In its judgement, as we know, the Supreme Court held that the determining factor would in future be age, and not need. It could perhaps be said that the economy won, and the people lost. The net effect of that judgement was to qualify, by reference to age, the only Constitutional right a young Irish citizen has. Bunreacht Na hÉireann refers to children as having natural and imprescribable rights, but nowhere says what they are. Until the Sinnott case it was widely believed that one unfettered right did exist, and it was that unqualified right which would be the child's foundation in life, that right which would ensure that all our children could face their futures with at least a guaranteed grounding, theirs as of right. The tragedy of the Sinnott case is that for many who need it most, the right to a basic education will derive only from the age of the child, and never from the needs of the child. Delivering Equal Rights and Opportunities In modern society you have to balance a variety of needs - the needs of a demanding and busy economy, the needs of a rapidly-changing society, and the needs of the children you work with. Principals know better than most what a huge variation in need there is among children, and how it can often be the case that the child with the greatest need is the one for whom good and decent outcomes are hardest to deliver. And the Principal’s job is made all the more difficult, in vitally important ways, when the needs of the child are not considered to be the paramount needs. When that Sinnott judgement was delivered, we were fifteen years away from the hundredth anniversary of the Proclamation of Independence. When we reach that milestone there seems little doubt that the children of Ireland will have become citizens of an affluent Republic indeed. Most of them, anyway. By the year 2016 the anniversary of the Proclamation of Independence, there will be a great many children in Ireland for whom citizenship will be an aspiration rather than an entitlement, even if they have been born here. There will be a great many children here whose colour would not have been familiar to the men and women of 1916, and whose first language may not be either of the languages of the "dead generations" from whom we received our "old tradition of nationhood". So it may be an even bigger challenge than we think, PAGE 16

to "guarantee religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally ..." Modern Society - the Risks Who will those children be, the children we are to cherish equally? And how are we to do it? They are hard questions to answer Right now in Ireland - At the time of the census in 2002, more than 90% of our children were born in Ireland, with the great majority of the rest coming from EU countries. They are being born into smaller families - the average size of a family has halved in thirty years, from four children to two. Many more of our children have been born outside marriage in recent years - nearly a third of them in 2001 - although half of those children were born to a couple who are living together. A quarter of all children born in 2001 had a father who did not live with their mother, and in most cases were not married to their mother. Teenage mothers are no longer likely to marry as a result of being pregnant. We know that one in seven children grows up with one parent only, usually a mother, and that those children are at a significantly greater risk of poverty. And we know too that one in seven of all children in Ireland now live in consistent poverty. What else do we know about our children? Over 80% of boys and girls report themselves as being in excellent health and almost 90% say they are very happy. They are key consumers. Nine in every ten young people have their own mobile phones. The last time it was measured, 95% of them send and receive text messages, at an average of 37 a week. Two thirds of them are regular internet users, and are technically literate in that medium. More than half derive a strong sense of belonging from the ownership and use of branded products. More than half want to own a car soon. Slightly less than that want to own a credit card. Around one in fourteen intend to join a political party - around a third of the number that want to experience bungee-jumping. Nearly 200,000 children in Ireland suffer some form of mental distress. One in ten children in Ireland suffers from mental illness severe enough to cause them some level of impairment, and one in fifty suffers severe and disabling mental illness. Most starkly of all, the incidence of suicide among young people has risen by a quarter in the last ten years. In the last twenty years or so, 55 Irish


Despite that, it's clear that inequality is still, to a very great extent, a dominant feature of the lives of a great many children in the 21st century in a country that is rapidly becoming the richest in the world. What are we going to do about it? Children are growing up in a society that is becoming almost entirely value-free. Most people, I believe, would accept that the day is indeed gone when control of what we learned, how we learned, and even who was admitted to certain types of school was vested in the hands of any church.

children between the ages of five and fourteen took their own lives. Cherishing Children Equally However, all the studies of children show that there is a strong link between education and a variety of different levels of fulfilment. For that reason, it would be impossible to paint a picture of Irish children in the 21st century without at least expressing the hope that at least in terms of education; we are cherishing all the children of the nation equally. Almost 1,000 pupils per year fail to make the transition between Primary and Secondary school. We think that's the figure, but we can't be sure, because in this age of databases and technology there is no tracking mechanism. 30% of children in disadvantaged areas suffer severe literacy problems, three times the national average. Early school leaving is estimated to affect nearly one in five young people in Ireland. Fifteen per cent of young people leave school without a Leaving Certificate and 3% with no qualification at all. One in five students from disadvantaged areas misses more than 20 days in Primary and Secondary school in a given year. Ireland had a pupil to teacher ratio of 19.5 at primary education level in 2001/2002. This was the third highest ratio in the EU. We spent €5,000 per pupil at primary level, €6,788 at secondary level and €8,914 at third level in the 2003 academic year. Regular national assessments of English reading levels in Irish Primary Schools have been conducted since 1972. The results of the most recent test carried out in 2004 were recently released. This has concluded that little or no change in national reading standards has occurred since 1980. In particular the levels of reading difficulties in areas and schools designated as disadvantaged remains consistently at 30% despite a plethora of reading initiatives and reports. It's interesting to note, incidentally, that a number of classroom and school factors were also found to be relevant. Permanent and experienced teachers who have attended regular in-service development and who regularly assess students were most successful. In contrast, in designated disadvantaged schools. 12% of teachers of 1st class pupils and 6% of teachers of 5th class pupils are unqualified. One third of pupils rarely had experience of using computers in their English class. Only half of those teachers designated as learning support teachers had in fact been trained in learning support and the programme is described as "disconnected from the classroom learning experiences of many pupils". So they are the children whom, by 2016, we will have spent a full century cherishing equally.

Valuing Childhood The day is surely coming when we will all regret the gradual erosion of a value system and its replacement by nothing at all, except perhaps the worship of materialism. And it's not just a value system that's gone, but even some of the traditional concepts around which we built a community, concepts like neighbourliness, for instance. Side by side with that, we have the spectacle of priests, bishops, politicians, gardai, doctors, bankers, business people, even some sportspeople - there has hardly been a profession or form of public life which has not been tarnished by the behaviour of a few, and often more than a few. The discredit into which all forms of authority have fallen in the last twenty years, caused in the main by self-inflicted wounds, has left a deep and so far unfilled vacuum.

the enabling of children to get the very most from their school years, is the key to ending child poverty These and other social, cultural and political changes have undoubtedly contributed to the emergence of a more profound individualism, where individuals are less constrained by the influence of social demands and absolutist moral codes. Some commentators have argued that the institutions most severely undermined by the new moral individualism are the traditional family and traditional organised churches. In our case, it could perhaps also be argued that a direct result of all of that has been that we have become one of those boats lifted on high by a rising tide, but desperately in need of an anchor because of a dangerous swell. But perhaps our biggest failure has been to fail to value childhood. We listen to debates all the time about anti-social behaviour, with all the recommendations about what needs to be done, from banning hoodies to criminalising young people. Of course it's a problem, but we never seem to ask how did these young people get that way? Did we not realise, when we were institutionalising and ghettoising unemployment, and condemning successive generations to it, that it would be the children who would react eventually? Virtually every enclave of poverty in our major towns and cities now is built beside a fine road, usually a dual carriage-way. In some cases the road bisects the estate, though the speed limits are only slightly reduced. It's possible nowadays to turn a blind eye to the places where poverty is most embedded, and to turn a blind eye at forty miles an hour. If we really valued childhood, we'd have a think about that. We have argued in Barnardos that it is essential to undertake a systematic public assault on child poverty, and that we have the resources to do it. We have said over and over again that early childhood development, and the enabling of PAGE 17

children to get the very most from their school years, is the key to ending child poverty. Increasingly, we are what we own. And we wonder why our children are becoming more material, why the iPod generation is utterly discontented unless it is the proud possessor of trainers with a logo on them, telephones capable of doing almost anything, their own personal DVD players. Does public policy value childhood? There are, it has to be said, some positive if belated signs in the strengthening of the Office of the Minister for Children. This year's Budget was the first in a decade where the words poverty and children appeared together in the same sentence. We have, as everyone knows, become a country where public investment in playgrounds was dwarfed by private investment in golf courses, almost as if we were as adults in a state of regret over our own lost childhoods! One has to wonder, though, if the late conversion to the cause of childhood, however welcome, has been caused by a different imperative, by the sound of door after door slamming in the face of candidates in recent by-elections. Childcare was the battle-cry that emerged from those byelections, and that will dominate the political battle up to and beyond the next general election. Does the education system value childhood? No doubt it sets out to. But there are conflicts built in right from the beginning, conflicts in terms of ethos, values, goals and objectives of the system. As children work their way through the system, the principle law with which they become familiar is the law of supply and demand, since they spend their last years in school struggling to survive in a points system that seems to have been designed by a system for whom the notion of valuing childhood was alien and hostile. Clearly, almost irrespective of status or income, the child in the 21st century is going to face a great many challenges. If we are to value childhood in our new-found affluence and prosperity, it is time that we began to debate seriously the possibility of putting the child first in everything we do. Listening to Children Promoting the rights of children is not about allowing children to ignore the rights of others, or their own responsibilities. It may be about moving away from the assumption that we alone can determine what happens in children's lives without being prepared to listen to children's own views, experiences and aspirations. It means accepting that children, even very small children, are entitled to be listened to and taken seriously. It means acknowledging that, as children grow older, they can take greater responsibility for exercising their own rights. It involves recognising that the state has explicit obligations towards children, for which it should be held accountable. At heart, and despite all the challenges, children are still children. The child in the 21st century may face many more pressures and challenges than the child of any previous generation, and may have to face them more alone than any previous child. There can surely be no stronger argument for ensuring that we should commit ourselves to valuing that child, and his or her childhood, now. The full text of Fergus Finlay’s presentation can be accessed on www.ippn.ie


Contact Seminars – Speed-Dating for Schools? Forty-eight people gathered in a room looking for partners – the recent East West Contact Seminar, held in Belfast last January, certainly had a lot in common with a speed-dating event. The participants, teachers from Ireland and the United Kingdom, had just two days to find partners for joint school projects funded under the East West Programme. Formal information sessions helped explain the technicalities involved in East West participation, but the hard work of finding a suitable partner took place during the more informal moments. Once the teachers had introduced themselves and their schools, given a synopsis of their interests, and provided a brief description of the kind of partner they were looking for, they had to use every free moment, every coffee-break and every meal-time to find the right partner school for them. The fact is, contact seminars work. By the end of the two days, most of the teachers had found potential partners, chosen possible project titles, and made plans for visits and exchanges. Probably a much higher success rate than speed-dating events! The East West contact seminar is only one of many for which full funding is available through Léargas. Contact seminars for all the Socrates actions – Comenius, Grundtvig, Lingua – have been set up to help schools and institutions

create links with partners across Europe. These themed seminars may target all educators or specify a particular teaching audience, such as primary or post-primary staff, special needs teachers or school Principals. So if the notion of Intercultural Dialogue intrigues you, there’s a contact seminar on that topic in Poland next May, whereas Primary Teachers interested in art may prefer Art Works! in Edinburgh in June. For primary schools thinking about a Comenius 1 project, the seminar on Sport and The Olympic Ideals, in Loughborough (June) could prove invaluable. Alternatively, a trip to Portugal in October might be tempting, if you are a Primary Teacher specialising in Early Language Learning. And for Special Needs Educators, Kinsale in November will definitely be the place to be. Details of these and many other contact seminars can be found on the Léargas website: http://www.leargas.ie/education/seminars.html. There is usually a deadline for registration, so if the idea of a contact seminar appeals, check it out now! One final word on the topic of dating – for those schools which prefer to make contact ‘online’, etwinning is the way to go. Details of this programme of partnerships using ICTs can be found at www.leargas.ie/etwinning

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One Teacher Schools’ Support Group Significant progress has been made by the One-Teacher Schools ’Support Group in recent months. The most impressive progress has been the securing of an additional mainstream class teacher for all schools with a minimum of 12 recognised pupils. Minister Mary Hanafin has written to the group informing them that a review of all remaining oneteacher schools will take place immediately. This review is likely to be carried out internally by the DES itself. Securing funding, to ensure a second adult is available to the Principal at all times, is now a priority for the group. Once this issue is resolved the focus will shift to developing a clear vision of what the individual Principals see as the future for their schools and for formulating a position paper on the future of schools in the group. This inevitably will involve taking on board the views of each individual school community. A worrying development in recent weeks coming from sources within the DES is that some one-teacher schools are supposedly listed for closure in August ’07.


Religion Roles, Rights & Responsibilities “It is a virtual certainty that major changes will happen in the relationship between organised religion and primary education within a short number of years. However I predict that it will be church leaders who will drive this change rather than any major secularist conspiracy. The likely change will see the clergy exit completely from the ‘Board Room’ whilst refocusing on working with parents towards their children’s religious education and formation.” Sean Cottrell, Irish Independent, Monday January 30th, 2006

There is ample evidence of this change already underway quietly, to which I will refer later, but let me begin by first examining the main interactions between religion and education at three levels: boardroom, classroom and parish. Another way of describing this tri-level interaction could be; ethos, catechetics and faith formation. Whilst this analysis may appear to reference the majority Catholic Church, the premise on offer applies to the Church of Ireland, other minority churches, and an evergrowing proliferation of other new faiths. There is of course an inescapable historical backdrop to all this. Whether we like it or not, the reality is that the two major churches in Ireland own the land and, in many cases, the buildings which house 95% of our ‘National Schools’. This brings to mind the famous "golden rule" – he who owns the gold, makes the rules. This is essentially the reason why in 1975, when moves were made to set up a local representative management structure for schools; the patron of each school retained the right to appoint their own Chairperson of the Board of Management. I imagine that this was probably seen as the best way to maintain the ethos of the school through holding control of the management structure. Interestingly, this belief is based on the assumption that ethos can be imposed. I would argue that, on the contrary, ethos is not imposable; rather instead it is a more like a cultural by-product of the interaction that takes place between people as they go about their daily work. When Archbishop Diarmuid Martin spoke at IPPN’s conference at CityWest in 2005, he stated, "the primary ethos of any school must be an educational one". This was a profound statement which I believe flagged the beginning of a new direction from the Catholic Church which will see a gradual moving of responsibility for religious education and preparation for Sacraments away from the school and back to the family where it rightfully belongs. Whilst the main churches in Ireland continue to assert their own corner, it is not surprising that they support each other in maintaining the right to establish and ‘manage’ schools of their own denomination. Conversely, the reality on the ground is quite different where the majority of clergy can’t wait to exit from Boards of Management, impeded only by the difficulty of finding lay people innocent enough to take on the time consuming, legally

onerous and challenging job of chairing a school Board of Management. The second tier of involvement, i.e. catechetics, has been traditionally left to the teacher. The teaching of religion as subject has been the norm in denominational schools made possible because of a number of assumed conditions: 1. The single denominational make up of virtually every classroom in the country. 2. Teachers are employed by the Patron of the school and the commitment to teach religion is a de facto part of their contract, even though it is not part of the official curriculum and teachers are not paid to teach it. 3. Teachers were likely to be practising the denominational faith of their employer. 4. The teachers’ role was embedded in the preparation of children for Sacraments. With a large emphasis on the "performance" element of the Church ceremony. For many decades these ceremonies have been acted out with the Class Teacher and the School Principal playing leading roles, followed by the Priest, with parents merely involved in the capacity of observational bystander. To increase any parental involvement in this process was never an option as it would negate the major advantage of the system i.e. the convenient and comprehensive service provided by the school and the added bonus that no child would miss out on their ‘entitlement’ to be prepared for Sacraments. HISTORICAL LEGACY The classrooms of today are entirely different even from a mere decade ago. Gone are the days when the Parish Priest could come in and announce that he was hearing confessions for all the children in the schools. With numbers of clergy decreasing rapidly in most of the main Churches, there must surely be a sense of a need to focus personnel towards priority areas. One of these areas would be the provision of a proper chaplaincy service for schools and the support of the family in the Parish context in the preparation of children for Sacraments. A new programme called ‘Do this in memory of me’ is already operational in two dioceses. This programme is very much aimed at placing the onus back on parents to take decisions and be completely involved in preparing their children for the Sacraments. If we step back from this historical legacy it may be useful to ask if it is still in the Churches best interest today to continue to take responsibility for the governance and management of schools and, in particular, the employment of teachers and Principals if their primary concern is the propagation of their own particular faith? Notwithstanding the crucial role the Church played in the establishment of schools; much like the Health and other Social services, there has to be a strong argument for the Churches pulling back from a front line involvement in the provision of education in what has become a modern, secular, multicultural society. The day is gone when organised religion, in denominational form, is required to Govern and manage schools. If we use the Health Sector as a

comparison, Religious Orders are handing over responsibility to the State; and not just at Governance and Management level. Fewer and fewer religious personnel are involved in clinical and therapeutic care. Those who are still available are predominantly involved in a chaplaincy capacity. Perhaps there is an opportunity for the State and the Churches who own school buildings to consider the value in trading ownership and control of schools in return for a proper State funded scheme to provide chaplaincy for all Primary Schools. Many National Schools today are in receipt of nothing more than a token chaplaincy service. This often arises from the reality that the clergy who are available at Parish level are tied up in management functions dealing with buildings, finance and employment related issues. This is not exactly the type of work that motivated their vocation in the first place. I believe this shift will happen, not just because someone will decide it’s a good idea; it will happen because certain growing realities will force it to happen. The young generation of Teachers today are themselves children of a modern Ireland, many of whom have personal reservations about teaching religion and the faith formation of children. Virtually every classroom in Ireland today has children of different Faiths and some of none. The more the school is associated with preparation for Sacraments and general faith formation, the greater the likelihood that children will cease to practice once they leave Primary School if this practice is only associated with school.

The more a school does for parents in Faith formation, the more those parents are disempowered from ever having to make a decision or to play a meaningful role in their children’s religious education. Interestingly, the only right enshrined in the Irish Constitution for children, is the right to an education. We already experience the reality in our schools where a Principal may be trying to juggle the complicated logistics involved where some children have a Constitutional right to religious education and other children have an equal right not to experience such religious education whilst in the same classroom. We all accept that parents are the prime educators of their children. The school and the teacher play a supplementary supporting role to parents. Let us stop for one moment and think about the fact that 99% of parents send their children to school to be educated by professional teachers. This, of course, is easy whether you are Jewish, Catholic or Church of Ireland. The mathematics programme is relevant to all and controversial to none. It is ironic however, that the one element of the curriculum which is unique to the values and beliefs of each individual family is the basis on which we have divided our children into different types of schools, namely religion. Surely this has to be the best argument of all why the teaching of religion and the faith formation of children must be a feature and responsibility of the family supported by the Parish/Community and not a responsibility of the school. Ironically this may lead some day to Churches that are stronger and more confident with their role in modern society as well as a State system of ‘National’ Schools which is inclusive, not just for children with special needs and ethnic minorities but inclusive in the most challenging way of all.


Developing the Electronic Substitute claim form www.educationposts.ie

The simplest way to advertise vacancies in your school Free Unlimited Advertising for Teachers, SNAs, etc. Adverts uploaded online – no paperwork

Work is continuing on the development of the Outline Claims System (OCLS). This is a web based system which will enable all schools to input claims for the payment of casual and noncasual teachers online using the school’s P.C. A basic P.C Windows 98 or better will be sufficient and the school administrator will be responsible for granting and revoking access. This new OCLS will allow for online entry of teachers absences and claims for casual and non-casual payments. It is hoped to have testing and piloting completed by May 2006 with a Nationwide roll out in 2007.

BENEFITS

Adverts automatically removed after closing date Repeat Adverts as required – service totally free! 2,711 teachers currently registered for automatic email alerts

More efficient use of time. Reduction in paperwork/workload Less details to complete once casual/ non-casual teachers are on the system. Eliminates duplication Allows for accurate records of teacher service for salary and pension Flexible input times Eliminates depending on postal service

NABMSE

TRAINING It is hoped to provide training for school personnel in January ’07 which will be conducted in centres throughout the country which have appropriate PC and internet facilities. The training schedule will allow for the training of two people per school, in groups of 12 – 14. It is likely that two days training will be required. Who is expected to input the data? This task is likely to fall to the Principal and/or secretary or a Special Duties Teacher, with responsibility for this area. Consequently I.T. training for Principals is a must and the need to address access to full time secretarial services for all schools becomes now a more pressing issue that ever. For further information please go to www.education.ie. You will find the relevant information under Education Personnel Section and Payroll Division Section. Select Education Personnel from ‘Options’ at the top of the Home Page and select Payroll Division from ‘Options’ on the left side of Education Personnel Page. Go then to the section entitled OLCS.

In-career Professional Development

for Boards of Management

Legislation The Challenge for Boards of Management Curriculum

Continuum of provision

Assessment, planning and delivery

Mainstream and Special Schools

The Central Executive Committee of the National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education plan to offer regional seminars to address the issues and concerns of Boards of Management as they face the challenge of constantly emerging legislation. Even the most experienced Boards find themselves at a loss regarding what seems like a cascade of legal requirements.

The corporate nature of Boards of Management and their collective responsibility for their schools adherence to the law across a range of areas suggests the importance of the whole boards’ attendance at one of these seminars.

In response to this need NABMSE has secured two very able speakers on this topic, Maighread Ní Ghallchobhair, O.P. Principal, Benincasa and Maria Spring, Principal, St. Clare’s Primary School, Harold’s Cross, Dublin. Both speakers have wide experience in the delivery of in-career professional development to Boards of Management and will offer an interesting programme.

The schedule for the seminars is set out below and you may book a place at the venue of your choice by contacting NABMSE, Education Centre Kildare, Friary Road, Kildare Town. Phone: 045 533753 • Fax: 045 533681 Email: nabmse1@eircom.net Remaining Seminars: DUBLIN Red Cow Moran Hotel Tues 9 May ’06 7.00pm–10.00pm CORK Rochestown Park Hotel Sat 27 May ’06 9.30am–12.30pm DONEGAL Central Hotel Sat 10 June ’06 9.30am–12.30pm

Lunch will be provided for the Saturday courses and finger food for the evening course. This seminar is free to members of NABMSE . *Non members €25.00

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IPPN DRAFT POSITION PAPER March 2006

In School Management IPPN has been part of the Working Group on Principals’ Workload during the last two years. The group is comprised of representatives from the DES, Management Bodies, (CPSMA, Church of Ireland, Educate Together), INTO and IPPN. The current focus of this group is on the drafting of a new circular on In School Management. IPPN’s draft position paper was discussed at our recent National Committee meeting where we received very valuable feedback and comments. Below is a copy of the draft paper and we would welcome any feedback /comments that you wish to forward to geraldine@ippn.ie at the Support Office. We also would welcome copies of appropriate ISM exemplars for small and large schools that can be adapted for possible inclusion in the new circular. Draft templates for feedback and drafting of exemplars are available on the IPPN website in the Network section under Policy Development. Alternatively you can just forward samples of ISM templates that you have developed for your school and we will collate the models of best practice appropriate for different school sizes.

A. Vision for In-School Management 1. The underlying philosophy of In School Management (ISM) should be one of teamwork with collective responsibility and flexibility. 2. Those involved in ISM should consider their role as a distributed leadership/management position, requiring significant input in all areas of school life. 3. They should also be involved in specific core activities across the curricular/organisational/ pastoral spectrum. 4. The primary focus of ISM should be on positive outcomes for the children and the school community. Note: Exemplars of ISM models in schools showing this vision in practice should be included in the DES Circular as was done in the Special Education Circular 02/05

B. In-School Management Structures and Procedures In-School Management responsibilities, whether on the establishment of a new school, on the establishment of a new ISM role or under the review process, should be implemented along the following lines: 1) Consultation: Each member of staff contributes to the selection of what aspects of school life need to be addressed by the ISM team. 2) Prioritisation: Under the leadership of the Principal, a prioritisation exercise is carried out to determine the schedule of roles and responsibilities. As teamwork is central to the establishment of a culture of distributed leadership in the school, the priorities can be fine-tuned in consultation with the ISM team and should be discussed and reviewed as required at staff meetings.

3) Decision-making: The prioritised schedule is brought to the Board of Management by the Principal and appropriate priorities are agreed. 4) Role definition: The Board of Management (BoM) and the Principal assign responsibilities from the agreed priorities to ISM roles and communicate this to the ISM team. 5) Delegation: The Principal discusses the roles with the ISM team members as a group initially, and then individually and subsequently assigns the various roles to the ISM team members. Note: Following the above process, depending on the needs of the school, changes to responsibilities and/or roles may be necessary and ISM team members must be open to flexibility and change. 6) Implementation: • The school’s policy on ISM is updated to reflect the current priorities. • Each ISM team member draws up a plan outlining the objectives of their area and how it is to be implemented. Note: Exemplars of simple "SMART" planning (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timebound) should be used. • Budgetary and professional development requirements form part of that plan. • Agreement is reached about the in school and additional out of school time for carrying out the ISM role/ responsibilities and for the holding of ISM meetings, including reviews. • The plan is agreed /signed by the ISM member and the Principal at the beginning of the planning year. 7) Disagreements/Disputes: • Where there is a failure to agree on any of the above steps, the matter is initially discussed with the Principal and /or the ISM team • If the matter is not resolved at ISM team level then it can be discussed at whole school level • If not resolved promptly, it is referred to the Board of Management for their prompt consideration. • Disputes should not be allowed to go beyond a month without a decision being reached with the Board 8) Under-performance: • Clear procedures need to be agreed where ISM roles and responsibilities are not being fulfilled. • The Board of Management and Principal should provide professional guidance and support for teachers who are underperforming. 9) Appeals • Procedures need to be simplified and decisions reached promptly. • Appeals should only address the specific grievance of the appellant • The reason for the success or failure of an appeal must be made clear to all concerned.

C. Professional Development Professional development, with funding provided by the DES, is an essential component of ensuring effective ongoing ISM. The Board of Management/ DES should ensure that appropriate resources are available for professional development in the following areas: • planning, budgeting, progress reporting • self-evaluation and feedback • communication and interpersonal skills e.g. teamwork, conflict resolution PAGE 21

• leadership & coaching, motivating techniques • management techniques and tools e.g. people management, time management • IT skills – spreadsheets, presentations, word processing, report formatting, website development, e-mail, on-line networking etc. • Other technical skills to enable the team member to carry out their responsibilities from a position of knowledge NOTE: TES/LDS/SDPS/INTO/IPPN may also have appropriate roles to play in providing professional development opportunities and support for the ISM team. They could foster awareness of the importance of effective ISM for the success of schools in providing quality education for the children and opportunities for those aspiring to Principalship to share in the leadership and management of the school.

D. Criteria for the ISM Roles • As the post of Principal is awarded on merit, all other management roles should be awarded on the same basis. • Length of service/ seniority is not necessary as a criterion. • If length of service is to remain as a criterion then total teaching experience, experience in other schools and other relevant experience should be included • Consideration should be given to reducing the weighting of ‘length of service’ from its current weighting of 1/3 to 1/5. The criteria for appointing to ISM posts should therefore focus on the following types of skill and ability: 1. Professional Skills: The track record of the applicant’s excellence and effectiveness as a teacher and their ability to actively manage their role responsibilities 2. Interpersonal Skills: including ability to work as part of a team/accepts the need for collective responsibility in the management of the school/ flexibility to respond positively to and anticipate the changing needs of the school/willingness to learn and develop professionally. 3. Leadership & Management Skills: Organisational and administrative skills/time management/ prioritisation skills/likely to show initiative/ motivation skills/verbal and written communication skills/ good awareness and respect for the role of Principal /Board of Management/ parents/. Note: Exemplars of appropriate marking schemes should be made available and/or included in the ISM circular.

E. Self-Evaluation & Accountability 1. ISM as a team needs to set objectives and agree a plan of work. Goals/plans should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant to the overall goals and also achievable in a given time-frame (SMART). 2. A review of progress against the plan should be carried out at least once per school year in the context of the plan agreed that year. 3. An evaluation of ISM team members’ contribution to the school should form part of the Whole School Evaluation (WSE) carried out by the Inspectorate. 4. Agreed oral and written reports should be provided to the Board of Management and as required at staff meetings 5. Primary focus should be on outcomes for the children and the school


Developing Leaders Enriching Learning

Presentation by Paddy Flood to IPPN Conference 2006 The Case for Leadership This conference is achieving a celebration of the journey that IPPN and School Leadership have taken over the past decade, and also, it is striving to acknowledge the arrival of the professional nature of School Leadership today. We, the Primary Principals of Ireland are being asked to further engage our schools, ourselves and our professional learning and development with the twenty-first century. LDS has a huge role in this process. LDS is the state's National Programme for School Leadership Development, organised and delivered by a team of 9 seconded school leaders with a further 30 practicing Principals and Deputy Principals working as Associate Tutors on a part-time basis. The influence of IPPN in having this programme launched and developed has been considerable. Over the past four years LDS has built a number of programmes that have sought to serve the development of principals and school leaders. Almost 700 principals have now had the experience of the Misneach Induction Programme; a further 207 are now participating on Forbairt, a development programme for Principals and Deputy Principals, while others are just joining Spreagadh, an evening programme that LDS and IPPN run in a collaborative joint venture. This year LDS will run substantial residential projects that will cater for the professional needs of 900 primary school leaders. This will be supplemented with evening programmes, summer courses and a Summer School. Ireland is a land where few institutions confront society in the eye-ball-to-eye-ball manner that schools do. The fabric of our society is transforming at an unprecedented pace. The profile of the family, the workforce, the faith backgrounds of pupils, security, leisure time of pupils, values and morals are continually shifting. Yet within this chaos and complexity educators strive to recognise that children remain children, that certain basics in learning are fundamentally important and we

strive to ensure that our schools provide the opportunities for young children to become well-adjusted, positive, independent young adults. Learning is a key ingredient in the development of the world today.The space race may be over, but the learning race is certainly on. We have an economy that craves the learning and the expertise that will perpetuate Ireland's claim to be a leader in the field of high-tech, upper -level industries. Not surprisingly, the learning race has resulted in unprecedented pressure on schools to provide the learning opportunities that society demands. Learning is more than ever a passport to advancement and success in life. School leaders are pivotal and central to delivering, with their staffs, the learning that is craved by society. In both England and Scotland reports from the inspectorate argue that the Principal Teacher is perhaps the single most important variable in the quality of teaching and learning in educational institutions. The case for leadership is overwhelming, but it remains vague on a number of fronts. What is absent is a truly national consensus on the role of school leaders in Irish schools and on the direction that school leaders should be taking. IPPN has more than most, pushed the case for leadership. ‘Quality Leadership – Quality Learning’ in collaboration with Michael Fullan brings the debate a significant step forward.

Moral Purpose We can all resonate with the tone of Michael Fullan's document. It challenges us at a time when so many agendas end up on the Principal's desk, so much administration is required and so much responsibility is entrusted to the school and to the Principal Teacher. Peter Drucker commented that in schools, only confusion, friction and some underperformance are natural. Everything else requires leadership. Fullan alerts us to the fact that the fog of administration, frustration and day-to day issues can easily obscure the greater purpose that we seek to serve. Yet this clear PAGE 22

sense of purpose is present in Principals and teachers who strive to overcome pupils' experiences of social and educational disadvantage, in those of you who are so focussed on ensuring that children are equipped with basic numeric and literacy skills. It is also found in the passion with which you pursue social and healthcare services for pupils. Leadership in education is certainly unique as the outcomes we pursue are so linked to the growth and development of our pupils.

Modelling LDS Programmes seek to alert school leaders to the importance of leadership at the chalk face and in the thick of the action, the Teaching Principal who, though not of the technological generation, has children learning with enthusiasm around an interactive white board - the Administrative Principal who seeks out direct teaching time in classrooms while freeing up teachers to engage in leadership and management of curriculum with colleagues. Such actions speak volumes. It is simply attempting to live the mission of our school, through the pixels of everyday school life, that go to make up what others view of us as a leader.

Intimate Knowledge of One’s Situation One critical factor in school leadership, for LDS, is that we cannot lead by templates and prescription. Sound school leadership demands courage and innovation, but it also demands a thorough knowledge and understanding of our school's past and traditions, its present culture and climate and well thought-out strategies for future development and improvement. LDS has recently been involved in a researchbased project with six schools, operating in challenging urban environments in Dublin City-North. One of the inevitable conclusions of this project is that while all of the Principal Teachers draw on a wide repertoire of skills and resources in creating better opportunities for


pupils under circumstances that are most challenging, each leader and each school adapts to the individual set of circumstances that they each face and their leadership response is appropriate to the circumstances of the school. LDS would love to see this project replicated in a rural setting, but one suspects that the local factors influencing pupil achievement will again be important in what one might do. Essentially the importance of knowing one's school, knowing the staff, knowing the environment, knowing the parents and looking attentively to the data that we have from school inspections, testing and evaluation and other sources, is of great importance in establishing the ground on which we move forward. An adult view of oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own school gives us a platform of confidence from which we can lead.

Courage to Act The fourth essential ingredient in the leadership pot has to be courage, and in particular the courage to act when the outcome is not certain. Courageous leadership is called upon daily in our schools. The ability to challenge the present status quo, in favour of a better future, requires real guts of you all. It is about making tough decisions when uncertainty prevails. It is about bringing people to make bold decisions that transform learning in our schools. It is evident when we see schools that have successfully integrated the Learning Support Teacher and the professional work of the Mainstream Class Teacher. It is evident in the school that has abandoned single class groupings in favour of mixed age groups on the informed belief that children of different age groups learn better together than a class where all children are of the same age. It is evident in the commitment of a whole school to programmes like Reading Recovery and other programmes to overcome the low literacy rates in a disadvantaged community. The courage required is about risk taking, about building support for ideas that we know are good, about saying "no" to convention and about following our informed judgement

Sustainability and Empowerment In the complex educational environment that we operate in from the small one teacher school to those of us with 900+ pupils, the imperative of leadership at all levels in the school is constant. Perhaps the greatest task is in identifying and naming for us the leaders within. I contend that such leadership comes not from formal positions of responsibility or posts, but indeed from those who are keen to exhibit the qualities, skills, values and behaviours of leadership. Crucially, it is already there and happening. It is present in the wonderful work of so many of our teachers in leading specific subject areas in our schools, in sharing lessons and good practice with others, in dealing with health boards and other agencies, in leading our liturgies and celebrations, in presenting sports

teams, quiz teams and other competitions, in participating on Boards of Management and representing the school with other agencies. The challenge as it presents itself is in building leadership like this that is infectious and becomes a team characteristic rather than the possession of individuals. One Principal delights in telling me of the team of other Principals that are in the school, another takes pride in a school that is continually creating Principal teachers for other schools.

The ability to challenge the present status quo, in favour of a better future, requires real guts of you all. It is about making tough decisions when uncertainty prevails. It is about bringing people to make bold decisions that transform learning in our schools.

transferable when the participants return to the workplace. The mentoring service that IPPN offer school leaders in conjunction with the Misneach Programme makes a valuable contribution to linking the learning of participants in residential workshops to the school life experience of the mentor. 4. Leadership for Learning requires reflection: Personal, group and peer-to-peer reflection is often the basis on which sense is made of the current dilemmas that leaders face and of the preferred strategies that may be deployed to work towards improvement. 5. As learners we need to be challenged. It is therefore imperative that leadership development programmes will bring us access to research, to practice and to expertise that we may not otherwise encounter. 6. The growth and development of leader is a continuous process, specific to the individual. The previous learning and experience of individuals must be considered in planning and providing learning experiences.

Learning for Leadership

Growth and Development

The core business of the Leadership Development for Schools Team is to walk the journey with school leaders in developing the leadership required for our schools today. The next challenge is to have an equally sound understanding of how school leaders learn best. All of our programmes are informed by our own model of leadership development that is based on assumptions:

Over the coming year LDS, in partnerships with all of our stakeholders including IPPN, propose to bring forward significant steps towards strengthening, deepening and widening the service that we offer programme participants. In particular we are very pleased to announce that in the school year 20062007 the programme proposes to:

1. Leadership is a social activity: School leadership is a lonely and often solitary role. LDS seeks to ameliorate the isolation of the role in the development programmes that we provide. Strategies involved in dealing with this include the setting of programmes in residential settings where leaders have the optimum opportunity for collaboration and networking, the development of action learning groups who can work together and assist each other as they develop, the jointparticipation of Principal Teachers and Deputy Principals on the Forbairt Programme, thus enhancing the opportunity for leadership issues to be shared and distributed. Leadership development is best achieved when you the participants are afforded high-quality opportunities to work together. 2. Leaders are active in their own learning. One of our core challenges in LDS is to listen attentively to the needs of programme participants so that the development opportunities that we present are what the participants believe they need. Again rigorous formative evaluation and flexibility are hallmarks of our programmes. 3. Leadership development is linked to the real lives of schools: LDS programmes are linked to the case studies, the reflections, the templates and the best practice that are to be found in your schools. These provide the platform for reflection and learning that will be PAGE 23

1. Expand the number of places available on the Forbairt Programme from 200 to 300 and to invite the Principal Teacher and the Deputy Principal from all schools to learn and grow together. 2. Introduce an online learning environment that will ensure that the support and learning of the workshop will not be left in isolation: 3. Bring forward proposals for a programme of Leadership Development that will aim to provide support and development for middle leaders, and teacher leaders in our schools. 4. Develop a greater capacity within IDS to respond to very specific leadership challenges that you face such as Teaching Principal, leadership of people and emotionally intelligent leadership. 5. Provide support specifically designed for leaders of Special Schools.

Conclusions Leaders, through their representative groups must strive to articulate the type of leadership that they wish to engage in and to campaign for the job descriptions, and the working environment wherein they can exercise that leadership. LDS and IPPN have similar aims and goals: it is our responsibility to synergise the work that is going on so that we can achieve maximum benefit to you and to pupils and communities as we move forward.


North-South Exchanges Do Make A Difference The North-South Exchange Consortium (British Council, Léargas, and Youth Council for Northern Ireland) has been charged by the Department of Education (Northern Ireland) and the Department of Education and Science (Ireland) to make recommendations for future policy on North-South school and youth exchanges and cooperative activity. To inform the recommendations, the North South Exchange Consortium (NSEC) is currently undertaking consultation to seek views on issues raised in two research reports - Research on Current Provision of North South School and Youth Exchange and Cooperation and In Their Own Words. The reports plot the extent of North-South youth, school and cooperative activity over the period 2000-2004 and the impact this was having on the lives of young people, viewed through their eyes, and the eyes of their teachers and parents. On completion of the consultation, the NSEC will present detailed proposals to both Departments on policies, programmes and structures for future school and youth exchange and cooperative activity. The consortium would welcome your opinions on the research findings and other issues relating to North-South school and youth exchange and cooperative activity. To express your views, please visit http://consultation.nsec.info and take part in our online surveys.

"The support from the Principal is vital…you are gone so much in the past year it was 21 days away from the school. Support of the school and support of Cooperation Ireland is vital in this regard especially for substitute cover." (Focus Group, Teachers, Cross Border)

Sustainable Approaches Developing a more strategic and sustainable approach to work at various levels was also identified as a means of enhancing the experience for all concerned. "The European Studies programme is ongoing… young people communicating throughout the year…we link North/South and schools in Europe… that takes time to build up relationships." (Focus Group, Teachers, South)

Barriers to Participation Respondents cited both general structural and practical barriers to participation and, specifically, an apparent lower level of desire or an opposition within the Protestant community to engage in North-South exchange and cooperative activity. "On this programme there isn’t one Protestant group. Sometimes you feel a fake because it’s supposed to be about change" (Focus Group, Youth Workers and Teachers, Cross Border) The Future The main themes to emerge from the research on the development of future school and youth activities included a need for

Experience of exchange and cooperative activities The research shows that young people, teachers and youth workers generally hold very positive views of North-South exchange and cooperative activity. Teachers highlighted the "hugely positive" impact on children and the opportunity to meet and discuss issues with other teachers. They regarded exchange and cooperative activity "as a good way of enhancing the curriculum", particularly in relation to citizenship or social and political education.

"It challenges the general apathy young people have towards politics and the political system. Young people are referring to Civic Link and to the fact that they got things changed…the overall project challenges the young person. They research, make presentations, make phone calls, analyze results."

more sustained contact and co-operation, effective development of a whole school or organization approach stronger efforts to maintain a balance between the theme/curriculum and the North/South dimension development of measures to generate greater impact at local community and group/school levels exploration of measures to overcome structural and practical barriers to participation addressing particular barriers to participation from within the Protestant community support for the work of structurally cross-border organizations.

(Focus Group, Teachers, Cross Border)

The benefits of sharing good practice were highlighted and teachers described the value of learning about a different education system. "I gained a valuable insight into another curriculum, a vastly improved understanding of the ‘Troubles’, an understanding of how socio economic status affects education/life opportunities" (North Schools Programme Final Report) They also discussed benefits such as opportunities for professional development, engaging with others from a different background, and the range of skills that participants developed, including sports, communications, teamwork and ICT skills.

Level of integration of programmes into schools The impact sometimes extends beyond participants and into their schools and youth groups. The research, however, reflected most strongly a concern for the importance of senior management commitment and for support and recognition of the involvement of teachers and youth workers. Overall, there was strong support for the development of a more holistic approach within schools and organizations and for greater emphasis on the mainstreaming of initiatives into the curriculum and work plan development.

The research reports are available in full on the NSEC’s web site www.nsec.info. A digest summary of the research findings is also provided.

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Leadership and Hope Professor John West-Burnham, Senior Research Adviser at the National College for School Leadership U.K and co-ordinator of the European School Leadership Project, delivered a fascinating insight into Leadership Development as personal growth in his address to the IPPN Conference at City West last month. Becoming a Leader The process of becoming a leader is much the same as the process of becoming an integrated human being. Leadership is a metaphor for centredness, congruity and balance in one’s life. In other words, effective leadership is rooted in personal authenticity i.e. the capacity to act prudently over time, developing a personal integrity as we progress. This authenticity is the overlap between language, value and actions. In modern society leadership is judged through public accountability and performance, but how you are as a person is more important than how you are as a Principal. If you want to be a leader you have to be a real human being. A sense of uniqueness and self-worth is essential. The good leader must have innate personal sustainability, with the ability to balance theory with practice. Becoming a leader involves change, in almost all situations.

real self and answer the question ‘Who am I?’ The key focus from the aspiring leader’s perspective should then shift to developing strategies to reduce the gaps between the ideal and the real self. This involves experimenting with new behaviour, being open to change to facilitate development and achieve mastery. This will inevitably involve forming supportive and trusting relationships to make change possible and identifying those who can help. Professor Burnham concluded by quoting Seamus Heaney to illustrate the legacy of the authentic leader.

Scaffolding Masons when they start upon a building Are careful to test out the scaffolding. Make sure the planks won’t slip at busy points Secure all ladders, tighten all bolted joints. And yet all this comes down when the jobs done Showing off walls of sure and solid stone. So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be Old bridges breaking between you and me, Never fear. We may let the scaffold fall, Confident that we have built our wall.

Strategies

Seamus Heaney. From ‘Death of a Naturalist’

The aspiring leader must discover the ideal self and be able to answer the question, ‘Who do I want to be?’ This will enable a clearer understanding of the

The full text of Professor Burnham’s address can be accessed on www.ippn.ie

A Light For Kibiko "The Planet" Newspaper is a periodical publication which raises awareness of environmental issues and sustainable living. The May issue of "The Planet" will carry a children’s supplement. It will be circulated and promoted in every national school throughout the country in an attempt to raise funds for Third World Aid. The Kibiko Committee in Ballyboy, Co. Offaly have connections with this area through the "Institute of Charity" who have undertaken the develop-ment of Kibiko town and Ewuaso Enkidongi parish, Kenya, East Africa. This is a vast area 90km squared, populated mainly by the Maasai and Kikuyu tribes. However, it is extremely underdeveloped and poor. The existing infrastructure is negligible to non-existent; water schemes, schools, medical facilities and community centres are needed to improve the lives of the people who live there. To this end the Kibiko Committee in Ballyboy have begun a fund–raising campaign. Our present initiative aims at raising the 50,000-euro necessary to build a Community Centre at Kibiko, Kenya. In conjunction with "The Planet" we hope to publicize the plight of the parish of Ewuaso Enkidongi. For every copy of the May issue of "The Planet" sold the publishers have agreed to donate 50 cents to the building project in Kenya. This project has been endorsed by a number of celebrities notably Pat Shortt. What are we asking you to do? Encourage your school community i.e. pupils, teachers, parents and friends to buy the May issue of "The Planet". Organise a fund raising event e.g: bag packing, no uniform day etc. Order or donate now and be in with a chance to win numerous fabulous prizes for you and your school – iPods, MP3 Players, Laptops, Weekend Hotel breaks sponsored by Kinnitty Castle, The Great Southern Group Hotels, Temple Spa Health Farm and Bord na Móna. All teachers’ names to be included in draw. Cheques/donations welcome to: AIB Bank 65/67 O Connell St, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. A/C No: 40016297 Sort Code: 935379 • A/C Name: IPIC Ewuaso Account • CHARITY NO: 3695(1960) PAGE 25

textasub tex-asub.ie .ie

www.

The fastest way to find a substitute teacher for your school. Simply log on and upload the contact details of the school, the nature of the vacant class and the minimum duration for which the sub is required. This information is then automatically sent by text message to all substitute teachers who have registered their mobile phone numbers with www.textasub.ie Hundreds of teachers, in all counties, registered to receive text-a-sub notifications Only the substitute teachers that are available will receive your text message. The Principal / DP can offer a school, home or mobile number to receive a call from subs The Principal / DP then chooses from the most suitably experienced / qualified teachers that reply. This service is totally free!

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MULTI-Culturalism The Emerging Challenge The influx of migrant workers into Ireland over the last 8 years from countries in Eastern Europe, Africa and South America has presented a new challenge to schools. Some of these challenges can be summarised as follows:

The school may need to be aware of and guard against discrimination/ racism towards new children. Provision of cultural awareness programmes will assist in creating understanding and tolerance and encourages a celebration of the unique value of all cultures, whether minority or majority.

Challenges Teaching of international pupils may present many difficulties as a result of their poor English Language skills. Assessment of their knowledge and educational experience can be difficult. Communication difficulties are frequently exacerbated when other problems arise e.g. physical injury or emotional distress. Communication with the child's parents/guardians may also prove impossible due to their lack of fluency in English. Behaviour in the classroom/playground may deteriorate as the child experiences frustration in communicating with his/her teachers and peers. The child may become disaffected from learning and from participating in activities as a result.

Organisation of School Supports The needs of the individual child and the particular circumstances of each school may dictate the type of support given. Levels of support will vary depending on the length of time particular children have lived / attended school in Ireland. School principals may need to adopt a creative and pragmatic approach to fostering inclusion e.g. Is it possible to use part of the DES grant for children with English language difficulties to engage the services of a bi-lingual assistant on a part-time basis? Time must be ring- fenced for teachers to liaise with each other in order to develop a plan of work for the newly arrived pupil. It may prove beneficial for some time to be allocated at Staff Meetings to plan positive initiatives within the school day to encourage integration of non-English speaking pupils. For example teachers could focus on the development of particular phrases/ sentences in their contact with the pupil in question on yard duty or when sent on a rehearsed message. All staff could identify short-term achievable goals, which would lead to a sense of achievement for both the adults and children concerned. Frustration with the enormity of what needs to be achieved is often reflected in the school's approach to the newly arrived non-English speaking child. However the celebration of minor achievements in communication along the way may assist in buoying the confidence of all concerned. Sometimes the initial contact with parents of nonEnglish speaking children may deflect their concerns. Frequently, parents of non-English speaking children comment later on the positive atmosphere they experienced when they enrolled their children in particular schools. Their trust in our schools as they are forced to catapult their children into this strange environment without the necessary language skills is admirable.

Smaller Schools In smaller schools: Pupils may have less exposure to children of other nationalities and may need to be introduced to the concepts of inclusion and tolerance when international children enrol. Staff members may need to be encouraged to participate in relevant in-service in the area of interculturalism in order to engender enthusiasm and increase their confidence in their own ability to teach in a pluralist society. PAGE 26

Perhaps the Principal could organise speakers etc. through the local Education Centre. DES grants for children with low levels of English language ability may assist to cater for this. It might prove possible to include a workshop/ seminar on inclusion and the specific challenges posed by non-English speaking children and parents in the School Development Planning day. Opportunities may be offered to the Support Teacher to spend some time sourcing teaching materials/ resources to assist class teachers. SNAs, engaged in the school to work with children with specific disabilities, may have free periods when the children to whom they are assigned are working with the Support Teacher or with the Class Teacher. It may be possible to schedule short periods of communication with the non-English speaking child during this time under the direction of the child's Class Teacher (e.g. 15 mins on a daily basis or more regularly if resources permit.) This approach may be very useful in smaller schools, which have one or two pupils but do not receive grant allocation towards resources from the DES. Bilingual parents might also be invited to assist in Home /School communication with the consent of the parents involved.

Recommendations to the DES The DES provides grant aid to all small schools with non-English speaking pupils regardless of whether they attain the magic figure of three pupils or not. The DES remove the system of "capping" the number of Resource Teachers available to provide language support to pupils as the numbers increase in larger schools. The DES tackle the issue of class size significantly in order to facilitate teachers in the education of the wide variety of pupils now integrated into mainstream classes. The DES provide a weighted system whereby schools with large numbers of non-English speaking pupils have a reduced pupil-teacher ratio. That Education Organisers be appointed to co-ordinate support services available to Principals in a similar way to which SENOs have been appointed in the area of Special Needs. This service would greatly reduce the workload of Principal Teachers by a) sourcing the services of translators to promote positive Home/School links. b) Ensuring the child has access to assessment in his/her native language if it appears that learning difficulties may be impeding the child's access to education. c) Providing continuity of support should children move schools or transfer from Primary to Post-primary. d) Creating a team of support personnel who would be skilled in the field of intercultural education to offer advice and in-service educational provision to teachers and Principals.


Leadership+ Issue 31 April 2006  
Leadership+ Issue 31 April 2006