ISSUE 36 • FEBRUARY 2007
F E AT U R E S Growing respect for Principals – Mary Hanafin Don’t shoot the messenger Primary Education – Sound Economics David McWilliams Proper Supports Needed forAutism Units Emily Logan, Ombudsman for Children Implementing the EPSEN Act Strategies for Managing Conflict Director: Seán Cottrell firstname.lastname@example.org President: Tomás Ó Slatara email@example.com Editors: Larry Fleming & Damien White firstname.lastname@example.org Assistant Editor: Virginia O’Mahony Advertising: email@example.com Irish Primary Principals’ Network Glounthaune, Co Cork T: 353 21 452 4925 F: 353 21 435 5648 The opinions expressed in Leadership + do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network ISSN: 1649 -5888 Design and print: Brosna Press 090 6454327 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting our priorities right A Phríomhoide agus a Phríomhoide Thánaistigh Where would we be without cake sales? Race nights, sponsored walks and table quizzes have become an integral part of Irish culture over the last twenty years. Hundreds of Irish and overseas charities would cease to function in the absence of voluntary fund raising. Although this is no shock to Principals and Deputy Principals, many people would be surprised to hear that Primary Schools are also dependent on fundraising – not for anything luxurious like video conferencing or overseas educational trips – but for the essential day to day running costs. The tragedy is that not only have we grown used to a dependence on fund raising to enable our schools stay open for a full year, we actually ‘celebrate’ how wonderful parents are in supporting their local school. Recently IPPN called for an end to parental fund raising to cover basic costs in schools from September 2007. The reaction from school leaders, Boards of Management as well as parents has been remarkable. It has brought to the surface the fundamental issue of who should pay for Primary Education. If fourth, third and second level education is funded by the Exchequer why is it that the basic running costs of schools are dependent on voluntary contributions? Not only is it a huge waste of time and energy by school leaders and parents organising events and teachers counting money in classrooms brought in by children, it is an insult to the very concept of Primary Education that successive Governments place a lesser value on it. Article 42 (4) of the Irish Constitution states that ‘The State shall provide for free Primary Education’. It is not acceptable to hide behind a legal interpretation PAGE 1
of this phrase where the word ‘for’ offers an opt out clause to the State where it differentiates between providing for free education as opposed to providing free education. The net result is a situation where for every €100 the State gives towards the running costs of Primary Schools, parents must put their hands in their pockets and give their school another €100 to supplement the shortfall. In order to give this €100 parents must earn twice that amount in the first place. When you consider PRSI, PAYE and VAT returns to the state on monies fundraised, you realize that parents are contributing almost as much to the state as the state itself gives towards the running costs of schools. Could this be described as the optimum level of under funding where it is effectively cost-neutral to the State? Perhaps it is time to start a wider debate on the value of Primary Education. What does Primary Education mean in the 21st Century? Who has the right to primary education? Who should pay for it? Who will benefit? Who knows, some day we may have fully funded Primary Education and cake sales for the new Senate. We have triggered this debate for discussion along with many other issues for a ‘Changing Ireland’ at our recent very successful National Conference in Killarney. Full credit and appreciation is due to all those in Kerry, at the Support Office and on subcommittees who were involved in organizing it and who were led so capably by Conference Co-ordinator Angela Lynch. Is muidne le meas Tomás O Slatara
IPPN Presentation to Joint Oireachtas Committee IPPN appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education on 30th November 2006 following an invitation to present their findings on the recruitment and retention crisis in school leadership. This wide-ranging presentation by Seán Cottrell, Geraldine D’Arcy and John Curran lasted just over an hour. The Committee were presented with copies of the IPPN report, "Investing in School Leadership" and heard a summary of the main points and arguments from this. The format was a presentation by IPPN, followed by questions and answers from the Committee. The committee engaged fully and with some interest, asking relevant and insightful questions. It was interesting to note the presence of Senator Joe O’Toole, former INTO General Secretary, who, while not a member of the Committee, was present at the hearing deputising for other members who were engaged in an education debate in the Senate. One of the 14 topics presented by IPPN on the problems of recruitment and retention was the proposal of a Separate Salary Scale for Principals in the context of the current Benchmarking process. Incidentally, this topic took up approx. 1.5% of the entire presentation i.e. 131 words of the 8,732 in total in the hearing. A full transcript of this hearing is available on the Oireachtas website at: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/DDebate.aspx?F=EDJ20 061130.xml&Node=H2#H2
BENCHMARKING Don’t shoot the messenger IPPN has consistently consulted, researched, documented, represented and published strong views on the need for proper financial reward for school leadership roles. This has been done in the context of the crisis of recruiting and retaining school leaders in the role of Principal. The conclusions around the need for a Separate Salary Scale to properly reflect the growing importance and legislative context of the role are clear.
The Code 1. Teachers should take care of students under their supervision with the aim of ensuring their safety and welfare insofar as is reasonably practicable. 2. Teachers should respect confidential information relating to colleagues, students and families gained in the course of professional practice, unless the
While some may not like the conclusions presented in "Investing in School Leadership", it has been widely acknowledged, nevertheless, as representing a fair and supportive position for Principals within the Irish system. The arguments, the research and the conclusions are very clear and uncompromising because the paper sets out to look at the issues for school leaders. It presents a possible and realistic framework of enormous benefit to the teaching profession as a whole and as a means of establishing a more meaningful career path for all teachers.
IPPN has used any and every means open to it in its role as a Professional Association to identify and represent the views and interests of school leaders. The position paper "Investing in School Leadership" was circulated widely and has been well received as a comprehensively researched, cogent and clear argument supporting school leaders on issues of workload, the changing nature of the role, recruitment, retention and salary. There is no justification or apology required for presenting these arguments at every opportunity to those who might influence the process of determining the reward structures for school leaders.
Principals must wonder what is really happening when a clear, logical, reasoned and reasonable case for the proper financial reward of Principals attracts virulent criticism from some quarters. Criticism not only for its content, but more so for the fact that it is widely circulated, effectively promoted and publicised and presents a clear, uncompromising and supportive case for school leaders.
It is clear that the research and views of IPPN on behalf of Principals over the past number of years have been effective in prioritising this issue
Teaching Council The Teaching Council Act (2001) requires the newly established Council to publish, review and maintain codes of professional conduct for teachers and promote an improvement in standards. The aspirational code outlined below applies to all teachers registered with the Teaching Council.
since the "…outrage, frustration and bitter disappointment felt by Principal teachers relating to the outcomes of the last Benchmarking exercise." (John Carr, 2007)
wellbeing of an individual or a legal imperative requires disclosure.
A classic case of shooting the messenger when you don’t like the message?
6. Teachers should avoid direct conflict between private interests and their professional work. 7. Teachers should not practice the profession while under the influence of any substance which impairs their ability or medical fitness.
3. Teachers should act with honesty and integrity in all aspects of their work.
8. Teachers should uphold the reputation and standing of the profession.
4. Teachers should respect students, their parents, careers and colleagues and interact with them in a way which is nondiscriminatory in relation to gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race, ethnicity, membership of the Traveling Community and socio-economic status.
9. Teachers should provide complete and accurate information on any matter as requested by the Council. They should provide authentic documents to the Teaching Council including those documents relating to their professional qualifications, experience and status. They should use only their own names, as set out in the register, in the course of their professional duties. They should not counsel or assist any person who is not a registered teacher to represent himself or herself as being so registered.
5. Teachers should provide complete and accurate information and authentic documents with respect to their professional qualifications, experience and status.
Education and the National Development Plan 2007–2013
Principals leading the change Minister Mary Hanafin The Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin, T.D. was generous with the plaudits when she addressed Principals at the annual IPPN Conference in Killarney recently. She particularly emphasized the resurgence in respect for Principals, a trend that she has observed on her many visits to schools nationwide. The Minister observed that Principals are not only seen as educational leaders nowadays, but also as community leaders in a changing Ireland. Investment in Education While genuine respect for the role of the Principal hasn’t changed and indeed is growing, other areas of the educational landscape are changing enormously. Minister Hanafin cited the school building programme as a prime example. Much has already been achieved with a €2.2 billion investment in building under the last Development Plan and she was very optimistic that huge strides will be made when the €5 billion allocated to Education for building under the NDP 2007 – 2013 comes on stream. The Minister conceded that there has been under investment in ICT over the last 5 years despite the fact that Ireland is a world leader and has spread its expertise around the globe. She was happy to point out that €250m has been set aside to bolster ICT delivery in schools under the terms of the new National Development Plan, and she reminded Principals that her Department would be looking for the input of Principals into the development of an ICT strategy.
Changing Ireland Speaking on the Conference theme ‘Changing Ireland’, the Minister stated that ‘It is in dealing with people that we will see the real change’. In that regard, the Minister outlined how she has put 600 new teachers into the system in the last 15 months, with 800 more teachers due to come on stream to tackle class size, Deis, Special Needs and Language Support. The Minister paid tribute to Principals who have led the integration of New Irish into the Education system, and she affirmed those leadership qualities that have enabled schools to respond to emerging changes and challenges. A particular example would be the growth of Autism Units around the country, a development that Principals have responded to and fostered over the last number of years, so that we are now in a position where we are unlikely to replicate the mistakes of other countries in relation to Special Education Provision.
Principals, through their enthusiastic integration of children with different nationalities have led the celebration of cultural diversity in a changing Ireland. The influx in recent years has altered the pre-conceived notions of society in general. We are now educating children to respond to global rather than national issues. One of the ways the DES can support Principals in this regard, is to reduce the limits previously in place, in relation to the number of Language Support posts a school can have. The Minister went on to pledge more teachers to schools with large numbers of non-nationals, to enthusiastic applause from the attendees.
The Minister paid tribute to Principals who have led the integration of New Irish into the Education system Caighdeán Gaeilge Minister Hanafin spoke of the continuing debate on the perceived decline of Irish in schools and pledged continuing DES support as she recognizes that "schools can’t do it all on their own". To this end, she has sanctioned the appointment of 30 Cuiditheoirí to assist in the implementation of Gaeilge within the Primary Curriculum, but to date only 6 of these posts have been filled. The Minister also stated that it was a priority of hers to promote Cursaí Samhraidh and provide incentives to encourage children from disadvantaged areas to go to the Gaeltacht. The Minister then went on to state that strengthening In-School Management,a key inclusion in the second part of Sustaining Progress, would be a priority for her in her quest to ensure Principals have more supports. The Minister also pledged continuing support for smaller schools such as the clustering arrangements in relation to substitution which has been put in place over the last year. The Minister also referred to her recent initiative in establishing a small number of administrative Deputy Principal posts, emphasizing that establishing the principle is a major policy shift for her Department. Minister Hanafin concluded her address by referring to the WSE process. She stated that publishing reports has given the public the positive picture of what is happening in schools. She noted that the inspectorate, in a very public way, is recognizing and paying tribute to the role of the Principal teacher through these reports. PAGE 3
The Minister for Education and Science Ms Mary Hanafin released details of the education spend in the new National Development Plan at a press briefing during the IPPN Conference in Killarney recently. The Minister outlined that education measures would account for a significant part of the new plan. This spend would be reflected in innovation, competitiveness, enhancing social cohesion and enabling individuals to fulfil their potential in addition to ongoing capital expenditure. The last NDP (2000–2006) saw a total investment of €2.6 billion, much of this directed towards a more streamlined building programme with more than 7000 building projects delivered over the lifetime of the Plan. More than €5 billion will be invested in the school building programme over the lifetime of the new plan. Up to €2.2 billion of this will go to Primary Schools. ■ There will be an allocation of €640 million for language support teachers specifically targeted towards newcomer children with language difficulties. ■ €5.3 billion has been earmarked for children with Special Education Needs. At present almost 20% of teachers in Primary schools are dealing specifically with Special Needs. ■ €12 billion education package targeting social inclusion. ■ €360 million to tackle educational disadvantage with particular emphasis on literacy levels. ■ €17 billion towards the National Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation.
In relation to building projects the Minister pledged a pro-active approach towards the planning and delivery of school accommodation. The use of "Generic Repeat Designs" and "Design and Build" contracts will facilitate speedier delivery, she stated, and there would be a greater onus on Local authorities to speed up acquisition of sites
“If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.”Steven Wright
From past to present www.textaparent.ie Would you like to be able to send a brief message to the parents in your school at short notice? Unpredictable events e.g. enforced school closure, no heating etc Last minute timetable change e.g. cancellation of sports day Timetable change e.g. a reminder of early closing for staff meeting Happy announcement e.g. victory in sports final For large schools – reminding staff about a particular event.
How can I use 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 you that your account has been set up and is ready for use Follow the on-screen instructions which enables you to type your short message and specify the mobile telephone numbers to which the message will be sent
Tomás Ó Slatara In his address to a packed conference hall in Killarney, the President of IPPN, Mr Tomás Ó Slatara took the assembled Principals on a journey through time as he charted the very significant changes that have taken place in Irish Education over the last one hundred years or so, placing particular emphasis on the role of Principals as agents of change. The President compared the Ireland of emigration with the New Ireland that now plays host to 400,000+ immigrants, probably the greatest demographic change in Ireland since the famine and asked how ready we are at school and system to accept the challenges and opportunities that this multi-cultural society presents. How up to date, trained, resourced and supported are we in our schools and in our education system to embrace these changes, he wondered. He cited the imminent and exciting prospect of Rugby and Soccer being played in Croke Park as an example of the new ‘Changing Ireland’ one of the many changes we are witnessing and which our schools are mirroring and adapting to on a daily basis.
EDUCATION ‘CONSTANTS’ Mr O’Slatara provided a delightful trip through time as he charted the growth and development of his own school, Scoil Naísiúnta na Graínsí Cluain Meala, a school which had only 3 Principals in over 100 years of development. He wondered what his 2 predecessors would make of the seismic changes that have taken place in the meantime – the 23 volumes of the curriculum that sit on every teachers desk, the vast array of support personnel in schools, Whole School Evaluations, Boards of Management, legislative requirements, statutory agencies, etc. But the President also highlighted the ‘constants’ in education such as dedication, love of learning and respect, which we need to value and retain in our profession, regardless of the myriad of changes taking place around us and the stresses and anxieties associated with leading a school in Celtic Tiger Ireland.
DEATH BY CIRCULAR ‘One of the reasons we can feel overwhelmed at times has to do with the requests and requirements contained in circulars.’ Mr Ó Slatara explained that every circular, survey request, DES Return, reference, report and so on come with workload implications and he recommended that every new circular and initative from the DES and other agencies dealing with schools be given a ‘Principal Impact Assessment’ by the Department, Management Bodies, IPPN and the Union prior to issue. ‘This could be part of a Health and Safety Risk Assessment for Principals’ he added. PAGE 4
IN SCHOOL MANAGEMENT The President also highlighted distributed leadership and In-School Management as an area that requires in-depth analysis in the months ahead. Distributed leadership must empower and value the leadership potential of all members of staff and indeed, the potential inherent in children as well, he added. The new IPPN publication "Giorraíonn Beirt Bóthar" which focuses on the role of Deputy Principals and distributed leadership will challenge all to realise a shared vision for leadership in schools, he continued. Mr Ó Slatara went on to refer to the slow progress of the D.E.S. Working Group on Principals workload and In-School Management. This Working Group should have reported some time ago through a revised I.S.M. circular which had considerable input from I.P.P.N. However, he lamented the fact that this work will now be finalised within the industrial relations arena between D.E.S., Management Bodies and the Trade Union. "This is one circular that could really make a difference, if it addresses the need for teamwork and flexibility in sharing the day to day management and workload of the school, through facilitating and requesting best practice in relation to I.S.M. – something that is long overdue" he continued.
NATIONAL PUPIL DATABASE Mr. Ó Slatara then called for a National Pupil Database for our Primary School Children. "We have a Bovine Database to trace all cattle movements from birth to death or export, yet we have no data available to inform educational planning, policy and distribution of resources at school and system level" he said. In a changing Ireland that claims to be one of the leading countries in Europe, it is time to harness the potential of I.T. to produce a National Database for Primary children – something which already exists at second level. “As things stand at present, we can access information more easily about a calf than we can about a child”, the President continued. Mr. Ó Slatara concluded by highlighting the huge contribution made by I.P.P.N. to the educational landscape since the year 2000 and requested that I.P.P.N. be granted "Designated Status" which would require the D.E.S. and other statutory bodies to consult with I.P.P.N. as the officially recognised professional body for school leaders. Significantly, the following morning the Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin publicly acknowledged the role of IPPN in supporting and resourcing school leaders, by granting Designated Status. The President concluded by declaring that IPPN will continue to challenge, resource and support Principals in our common role as drivers of worthwhile change in a "Changing Ireland".
Challenging the system Seán Cottrell At the recent IPPN Conference in Killarney, IPPN Director, Mr. Seán Cottrell received a standing ovation from over 750 Principals after an inspiring address outlining the challenges and opportunities of Principalship in a changing Ireland. In his address, the Director examined the actions that need to be taken if we are to achieve real improvement in Primary education for the benefit of all children. Central to this is the need for all Principals to be empowered to tackle change and to assume responsibility for implementing change into the future.
availability of transport. He advocated the creation of a pre-school facility to deliver a language competency that would allow each child commence Junior Infants without disadvantage. The Director went on to identify two actions that need to be taken – the engagement of DES Regional offices in the coordination of enrolment applications and a comprehensive audit of the current enrolment of all New Irish children.
WHOLE SYSTEM EVALUATION
NATIONAL PUPIL DATABASE The National Director, using W.S.E as a template, focused on the system At present, children’s access to technology is unequal due to the itself rather than the service provider, i.e. the school. In a novel synopsis of fundraising capacity of individual schools. What is needed is a strategy that the realities of Primary education today, he identified the teaching will facilitate the delivery of the curriculum for all children profession in general as one of the main strengths through appropriate technologies, starting with one subject of the system today. "Our teachers and Principals He cited recent IPPN and expanding to cover the entire curriculum. For this to are highly professional and committed to their research which tells that happen, Mr. Cottrell identified multi-annual funding and the work" he said. He also recognised an ambitious student body, supportive parents, the research and schools are funded to the creation of a National Pupil database as essential. evaluation role of the inspectorate and a practical tune of approximately "THE ELEPHANT IN THE CORNER" Minister, who together with the visionary personnel in the D.E.S. form the major strengths of – SMALL SCHOOLS half of their actual our education system. The National Director went on to praise the quality of
EDUCATIONAL APARTHEID However, the Director was scathing about the lack of funding for Primary schools at present. He cited recent IPPN research which tells that schools are funded to the tune of approximately half of their actual running costs. "Successive Governments must stop regarding Primary education as a charity" he stated to rapturous applause. He asked why a 13 year old in a secondary school would need twice as much heat, light, insurance and cleaning as his 12 year old brother in the Primary school across the road. "Is this not a form of educational apartheid?", Seán asked. He stated the everyday running costs of Primary schools must be brought into line with that of second level schools. This funding must be based on the number of children enrolled in the current year and should be paid on a monthly basis. He also stated that secretaries and caretakers be paid directly by the Department under the same terms and conditions as SNA’s.
education in smaller schools and acknowledged the crucial role they play in their communities. He identified 3 actions necessary to protect the smaller schools – clustering to share resources and to provide mutual support, allowing the teaching Principal to assume the role of Learning Support/Resource Teacher. He also called for a change in the rules for re-deployment panels, whereby teachers who are surplus to requirements would be allocated to a cluster of five small schools to provide them with guaranteed substitute cover every week. The Director highlighted the recruitment and retention of Principals as a significant system weakness. "Why is the pivotal person leading teaching and learning in the school rewarded as a teacher with an add-on allowance?" he asked. "IPPN evidence points to the need for a Separate Salary Scale for Principals and the onus rests on our Union to deliver this time for Principals."
The IPPN Director went on to examine the role of the school in the Ireland Principals by and large love their work but have been let down by the of today – a role that is increasingly seen as a key solution to all the ills in system, where overload and suffocation are the norm. The time has come modern society. Expectations of schools nowadays to develop the Stay Safe for Principals – ‘Say No, Get away – are both unreasonable and unsustainable. There is Principals by and large Tell somebody’. He acknowledged that relieving Deputy a long term risk that families will become love their work but have Principals in larger schools is a positive step but must be disempowered through their over dependence on extended to a far greater number of Principals. The plight of schools in serving the basic needs of their children. been let down by the system, the Teaching Principal is of immediate concern to all, and the The Director stated that the time has come to retime has come to "do the right thing" rather than "doing where overload and examine the main purpose of the school, ensuring things right". As Principals, we must stop waiting for good suffocation are the norm. policy to arrive and start pioneering our own. Good policy comprehensive services are delivered but not at the risk of compromising the core function of the follows good practice. Our job is to ensure that what we do is school, which is the provision of high quality teaching and learning. In this in the best interests of the children. The leader must not be afraid to regard, he called for the restructuring of the main curriculum support "challenge the system, comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable". programmes such as SESS, SDP and PCSP into "one locally based, professional support service, offering a more coherent and less intrusive The Director concluded by praising the membership of the organization for interaction with schools." their survival instinct and leadership qualities. He invited the Minister to work with IPPN with the talents and strengths of IPPN at her disposal. He INTEGRATION OF NEW IRISH also challenged the Minister, as the one who holds the key to unlock the potential of school Principals, to have the vision and foresight to drive Mr. Cottrell highlighted the uneven distribution of New Irish children education through the challenging times ahead. "Just imagine what we among schools. A concentration of New Irish children in a particular area is could achieve!", he concluded. caused because of language groups, access to rental accommodation and PAGE 5
Primary Education – Sound Economics David McWilliams It didn’t surprise the large gathering in the INEC Centre Killarney, that David McWilliams had received ‘The Call’ to training. It was however something of a shock to discover that he was indeed old enough to have been called to Carysfort! How he would have prospered with the legendary Sr Regina and her fellow teacher training sisters and colleagues we can only speculate on. What is certain however is that his capacity to entertain, probe, create and reflect on every trend and development in Modern Ireland with humour, cynicism and critical observation would have served him well had he followed his mothers wishes and family career path to the classroom. Economists generally don’t write bestsellers. Indeed the ‘Dismal Science’ is by its very mention, a turn off to many people. How then did his book ‘The Popes Children’ become the best selling non-fiction book in 2006, spending 52 consecutive weeks in the top 5 best sellers? The answer is Cotháthú – a word David McWilliams would have undoubtedly become familiar with, had Carysfort impounded him for 3 years. His integration of Economics with Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, Mathematics and Creative Writing, sprinkled with wicked humour and observation through previously unused vantage points like delivery vans and convenience stores, led to him writing what the Sunday Tribune described as ‘the definitive guide to the Ireland we live in’. David’s self deprecating look back at his years in the Central Bank during the crisis laden mid 80’s when he was pleased just to have a job, hides the fact that he was the first Economist to predict the 1990’s Boom. His account of his trip to meet several of Europe’s top investment bankers as a one boy delegation to defend the Irish Currency in the mid 80’s, simply because he had a smattering of German was humorous and quaint even, but frighteningly reflective of how close our economy came to ruin during those dark days. Addressing the topic ‘ Primary Education Sound Economics?’ he said that the spending of €9,000 per student at 3rd level when compared with a paltry €4,700 at Primary level should be examined in the overall context. He claimed that a much larger investment should be made in Primary Education, as it is more likely to have a greater impact on the overall good of the country.
He questioned the priority which should be given to developing 4th level education. "If society invests in children", he claimed, "society will get better adults in return."
Incoming Editor of Leadership+, Damien White caught up with David McWilliams following his keynote address.
Huge changes have also occurred in the homes and families from which our pupils emerge each morning. We are now enrolling and teaching the children of the Popes children – those whose conception occurred in booming numbers in and around the time of Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1979. A staggering 44% of all mothers with children in Irish Primary Schools now have 3rd level degrees, making Principals and Teachers the guardians of the offspring of the most aspirant informed and busy parents ever anywhere in the world!
DW David you are here at the IPPN Conference perhaps addressing the people who are most interested (along with the developers and builders) in your prognosis. I want to take you back first to your own Primary schooling. Was it murder machine, or careful measured guidance through your formative years?
We are not just dealing with parents anymore, we are dealing with competitors who, as affluence spreads, are going head to head for places in crèches, schools and colleges. With the increase in population such competition is only going to get worse. These parents, particularly the mothers form the most important caucus in Irish Politics right now and we have a short time to harness their capacity to influence policy before the upcoming General Election. These are the parents who have the power to demand the changes we see as necessary in Primary Education. David McWilliams has achieved cult status for his capacity to capture in a phrase, the significance of changes which have crept into our lifestyles over the past 20 years. ‘Breakfast Roll Man’ in his ‘High Viz Jacket’ needs no explanation. ‘Decklanders’ and ‘Hibernian Cosmopolitans’ or ‘HiCos’ go head to head for the high ground in the battle between new money and the educated and environmentally concerned. We have all bumped into an ‘Articulated Stroller’ somewhere. ‘Kells Angels’ commute each day for hours wearing expressions as dour as their much follicled partners in a rhyming couplet. ‘Yummy Mummies’ are fertile for harvesting as the biggest supporters of school causes while a subsection the of ‘Hoverers’ are omni present and omni potent in small groups at the school gates, discussing how little Lir, Saoirse or Setanta is an exceptionally bright vegan. In a bright, massive and richly entertaining presentation, David McWilliams held up a mirror to society, caught the reflections and interpreted them in his own inimitable way. Roseanne O Neill – that clever Junior Infant you taught – still has a bright future!
DMcW Well its funny because my first ever teacher was there this morning - Rosanne O’Neill (then Rosanne Buckley) in a National School in Bray called St Patrick’s. My formative years, the little bits I remember from them, I really enjoyed. Your image of teacher really does stick in your head from a very young age. To an extent, the teachers in Infants and 1st class have a disproportionate impact on you because you are adsorbing so much and your brain is working overtime, so it was good to see Rosanne. My memories from school were always good. DW The Conference theme - ‘Changing Ireland’ It threw up a lot of possibilities, one which occurred to me while you were speaking earlier. Which is most significant in terms of its effect - the influence of new Irish or the changing habits of the old Irish? DMcW If you read a lot of stuff about immigration in Ireland, there is an underlying supposition, I think on the part of journalists, that within an ace of today or tomorrow there will be a racist backlash here. That’s nonsense. Think about what’s happened here in Ireland. We have gone from pretty much a monocultural society (to not so much multi-cultural) to a society hit by a wave of immigration and
“Nutrition should probably be taught in Primary Schools teaching the kids this is bad for you, but a lot of it has to do with parents saying ‘you can’t have a Twix going out in the morning’.” most of us I would say, have dealt with it in a exemplary fashion. If you had said back in 1992 or 1996 that this country would absorb more immigrants per head than any other country in the world everyone would have said there would have been huge race issues but there are not. Everyone gets on with it. We should be very
proud of the fact in our typically Irish way i.e. with no plan and no great strategy, we have dealt with a huge influx of immigration in what I wouldn’t stay exemplary but I would say in a reasonably decent way. I can’t remember the last time I heard of huge race issues anywhere and as far as I can see, unless the economy turns down we have done quite a good job. DW You spoke of America in that light. America is one of the great examples in our world of a cultural melting pot, racial melting pot, is it really of how our education system should proceed in terms of how America has gone, how our whole society should proceed? I am thinking of the word inclusion introduced by Sister Maighread here. DMcW Well I suppose what is interesting is America is what Ireland is becoming. But it’s actually not the model politically. So despite our political constituency, Irish people are displaying very American habits with the way we live, how we live, what we buy, where we live, what we watch on television, the literature we read, cultural influences from the USA, which is not surprising because the Irish ‘footprint’ in the USA has added enormously to American culture. What I always find intriguing is anti Americanism in Ireland. It’s like being anti yourself, because the Irish in America are part of the four or five big building blocks of the USA I think we are becoming more like the States. We have certainly more in common with an American than a Rumanian or Bulgarian, I have no problem saying that America is understandably closer to us than Bucharest. DW My first and only trip to the States was on honeymoon 12 years ago, I thought I was carrying a few pounds at the time but when I sat on a water slide in Florida and saw the person in front of me I had never seen a more enormous person before in my life, a boy about 15 years, very obese. In many schools today, particularly close to the ‘Kells Angel’ Belt, bicycle holders are almost obsolete, while parents are putting on pressure for extra car parking spaces, reducing playground space in the process. DMcW That is nonsense. The point is very well made if you look at surveys of obesity in Ireland. It is one of the creeping health problems. We spend 400 million euros a year on Diabetes which is largely linked except in exceptional cases to the wrong type of diet progressing through your life. So there is undoubtedly a problem with respect to obesity. All over the western world. Again when you think about in the past only the rich were fat. Now only the rich are thin. It’s a class issue and a lot of education has to go in there. Nutrition should probably be taught in Primary Schools teaching the kids this is bad for you, but a lot of it has to do with parents saying ‘you can’t have a Twix going out in the morning. You can’t have McDonalds it’s not good for you’. Parents are pestered and too busy and think it will be grand it’s what the child wants, it’s the path of least resistance. It’s a world wide problem, if you look at obesity in Germany which would be the leading light of European thinking, it is considerably worse than it is here. It’s happening all over the world. DW So the Breakfast roll phenomenon hit Germany before it hit Ireland.?
DMcW The ‘curryvurst’ phenomenon! DW ‘The Popes Children’ - the book that has put you on the shelves. There is much analysis in the book of the Decklander verus the HICO’s (Hibernian Cosmopolitans). Perhaps Primary Teachers are a good example of HICO’s - clever and well read but not rich enough to live like Decklanders and perhaps a little jealous. How would you classify the Primary School teacher now they look less like Eddie Gallagher and more like Noel Gallagher? DMcW I think they are more likely to be in the HICO Tribe from what I can see and the reason is as you say a disproportionate weakness or strength to reading. When I look at the demographic of teachers in Ireland what I found interesting is that the teaching profession here was where the smart kids went in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. If you look at teaching now we have much fewer teachers in their 30’s and high percent in their 20’s so that was when the economy boomed in the late nineties people said I don’t want to be a teacher. I want to be a IT character. Overall you probably got less smart teachers coming in the 1990’s. What has happened is teachers in Ireland are more probably intellectual than in most other countries because of economic reasons. There weren’t any other
“What I always find intriguing is anti-Americanism in Ireland. It’s like being antiyourself, because the Irish in America are part of the four or five big building blocks of the USA” opportunities so you went into teaching. You would find teachers with a huge amount of points on their Leaving Cert. This would put them into the HICO bracket. Also an appreciation of things Hibernian. The National School teacher was the educated wing of the Fianna Fáil party! DW What has caused the seismic shift in the approach to Irish culture place names, Christian names, and language? PAGE 7
DMcW I think its great. You see it in every culture, I think what happens is it’s the flip side of this Americanisation we were talking about, that when you think of teachers being the solid middle class of this country for arguably sixty years they suddenly get priced tagged out of the market by fellows they might regard as their inferior. I think its fair to say guys buying big houses, guys buying second houses, even the fellow who worked on the sites who get mature. What I love is the social anarchy, that is happening in Ireland and all the old respectable professions are having to fight for their positions. One of the ways I think that people fight for their position is if they can’t do it financially they culturally throw up barriers to the new money that the new money simply can’t surmount because they are based on things like language, like history, cultural, and reading. With this deep Hibernian stuff what I think is happening in Ireland is that it’s a very glacial process which is elevating, that which can’t be bought and delegating that which can be bought. That is a way that people achieve status. DW 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the Rising. We are doing a lot of reflecting now so we will certainly be doing a lot of reflecting then. Will we be reflecting then on a society and a country of which we will be very, very proud. If I put it another way who would be the happiest Pearse? Collins? Connolly? DeValera? or perhaps Adam Smith? DMcW I think Irish people in general run the risk of commemorating ourselves to death with everything. We are always commemorating things that happened in the past. It certainly wouldn’t be Connolly if you think about it. Ideologically this is not a Social Republic as Connolly was all about. Is it a pure Pearsean Irish Hibernian culture? No it’s not. DeValera as an immigrant may well be repeated - we could well have a immigrant Taoiseach in 20 years time. It’s a sort of hybrid Adam Smith. None the less, the vestiges of the socialist side are waning dramatically and I’m not sure if they will ever come back. They are certainly not very evident today. DW Thank you it’s been a pleasure, hope to have you back. DMcW It’s been great fun, if you have me back I will come!
Proper Supports Needed for
UNITS Many Principals throughout the country are now being asked to take on Autism Units as part of a Departmental response to the many calls for adequate provision to be put in place at as early an age as possible. At present there are 180 Autism Units attached to mainstream schools in the 26 counties. Many of these special classes operate a policy of integration and reverse integration with mainstream classes, a process which seems to be working well, and which has many benefits from a social inclusion point of view. Principals nationwide have facilitated this process and have been instrumental in ensuring the children with ASD have access to normal school routines in a welcoming and supportive environment. But Boards of Management, Principals and Teachers have been shortchanged, particularly in the areas of finance and supports on the ground.
Financial Implications The day to day running costs of a Special Class for children with Autism are enormous. Apart from an enhanced capitation grant for these children, which is totally inadequate, and a fixed start up grant of less than €7,000, all schools are left to fend for themselves in relation to financing day to day activities. An Autism class is extremely resource hungry and the provision of life skills alone can be a huge drain on the finances of a Board of Management. In fact, nearly all schools have resorted to major fund raising activities to ensure these classes remain open. Many Special Classes for ASD provide cookery and swimming programmes as part of life skills education. The provision of cookers, fridges, dishwashers, cooking utensils, cutlery, food and ingredients, not to mention additional overheads such as electricity charges, water charges and lighting costs, depletes Board of Management funds very quickly. The DES does not fund the provision of these ‘extras’, neither does it support schools in meeting day to day expenses. A typical swimming class can cost a school over €200 per day including travel costs and pool hire. A typical classroom catering for children with ASD will also
need a photocopier (not shared with mainstream), a washing machine, a dryer, laundry detergents and cleaning agents. These costs are borne by the Board and this expense is unsustainable into the future.
Administration Provision Principals must be supported properly when taking on a class for children with ASD. Recently, the Minister announced that Deputy Principals of larger schools with an Autism Unit attached would be released to perform administrative duties. What about Principals of smaller schools? Representations made on behalf of smaller schools by IPPN, in an effort to secure administrative status for Principals of these schools, elicited some interesting information. While it is accepted widely that the administrative duties performed by these Principals warrant a full time administrative role, only schools with an Autism Unit i.e. 2 Special Classes, and with at least 4 mainstream classes are eligible for Administrative Principal status. Clearly every Principal who administers a class for children with ASD, regardless of the size of the school, should be relieved of all classroom duties.
basic minimum level of service where each child with ASD has access to a the services of a therapist at least once a week for the duration of the school year. Many Principals have also highlighted the absence of NEPS support to Special Classes. In many cases provision is determined by rulings handed down by the courts and this must change. The recent announcement that 33 new Educational Psychologists are to be recruited by NEPS, while welcome is totally inadequate and is unlikely to have any impact on provision in the short term. What is required is the appointment of an Educational Psychologist to each special class for children with ASD so that assessments, monitoring and reviews can be carried out on a continual basis.
Summary Principals, teachers and Boards of Management have embraced the concept of inclusion but must be supported. Such supports could include: ■
Service Provision Major progress has been made on the ‘dovetailing’ of DES and Health Service Executive services in the last year and this is most welcome. The National Disability Strategy (2004), the EPSEN Act (2004), and the Disability Act (2005) will form an integral part of strategy from now on, and hopefully will set out a new approach to independently assessing the needs of individuals with disabilities and/or Special Education Needs for health and/or educational services. This is long overdue. Assessments of Need will be available to children with Special Education Needs by 2010. In the meantime, Principals are faced with inconsistent provision of services such as Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy. The level of provision at present is determined by what Health Service Executive area a school is located in. This situation is unsatisfactory. What is required is a PAGE 9
■ ■ ■
Strategies for integration into mainstream must be piloted and delivered by the Special Education Support Service and training provided for all teachers and SNA’s as a matter of urgency. A multi-annual grant of €3,000 per special needs pupil to defray the costs of equipment, overheads, and ancillary costs specific to Autism Units. The appointment of Special Class teachers at least 3 months in advance of the opening of a Special Class to allow for specialised training, enrolment and the development of set- up strategies and policies. Automatic provision of assistive technology grants without recourse to the local SENO, many of whom are already over worked. Continuous in-service training for teachers and Special Needs Assistants All schools to receive the same resources and services. Principals of schools with an attached ASD Class to be made Administrative Principals regardless of the size of the school.
SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANTS Performance Management The foisting of Special Education Circular 139/06 relating to incremental credit for S.N.A.'s in the run-up to Christmas, was just another example of increasing workload by stealth on unsuspecting Principals. This circular has serious implications for the Principal or C.E.O. as he/she is referred to in the circular. Delicate areas such as performance
management are laid squarely on the doorstep of the Principal who is now in the supposedly powerful and privileged position of certifying the educational qualifications of S.N.A.'s to the Department, rating conduct and performance level of S.N.A's through discussion and negotiation and in extreme cases, signing off on the deferral or withdrawal of increments.
This level of managerial autonomy is certainly not reflected in the take-home pay of the Principal or the common basis scale as it exists in its present form. What similarity do these functions have with the 100 year old contract conditions which the Principal supposedly still works by today?
Implementing the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004 The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has presented the Minister for Education and Science with a plan for the implementation of the EPSEN Act. The Minister will have the task of providing the necessary resources to roll out the Act if the plan is acceptable to her. Otherwise the Minister will have to modify or amend the Act to reflect her reservations or indeed associated financial implications. The plan highlights 42 steps which need to be taken, the responsible authorities for such implementation, and a time frame for delivery. A summary of the steps are as follows.
Undertake research, commence dialogue and develop thinking on: Pre school provision ■ Inclusive schools ■ Assessment and IEP processes ■ Funding models for SEN provision ■ Allocations process
NCSE, DES, HSE and other key stakeholders
Commencing November 2006 and continuing throughout 2007.
Commence Section 5(5) to establish Standards Body . A comprehensive explanation of this process will appear in the next issue of Leadership+.
Minister for Health and Children Minister for Education and Science
Commence Section 13 of the Act in relation to provision of funds by Ministers for Health and Education
Minister for Health and Children Minister for Education and Science
Commence Staffing Review of NCSE
NCSE with agreement of DES and D/Finance
Appoint Members of Appeals Board
Begin discussions with School Management and Unions regarding the resource provision for the implementation of the EPSEN Act 2004
Begin recruitment campaign for Educational Psychologists.
NEPS / DES
Revise the NEPS Scheme for Commissioning Private Assessments
NEPS / DES
Train all SENOs on IEPs
By March 2007
10. Provide in-service training on IEPs
SESS / NCSE
From January 2007 to September 2008
11. Agree protocols for appeals
Appeals Board / NCSE/HSE
12. Claify circumstances in which NCSE will arrange preparation of IEP
13. Develop and issue Guidelines to schools regarding operation of Section 10
14. Review of NCSE staffing completed and implementation process agreed
NCSE/DES/Department of Finance/ Unions
15. Publish agreed Standards of Assessment
HIQA/Dept of Health and Children
16. Designation of Liaison Officers and agreement of operating arrangements
17. Issue Guidelines to School Principals regarding standards for assessment
18. Begin recruiting additional staff for NCSE
19. Agree protocols for communication between schools on transfer of students
NCSE/School Management / Teacher Unions/ Parents’ Councils
20. Commence Section 10 of EPSEN Act
Minister for Education
21. Agreement on new staffing arrangements for schools for implementation of EPSEN Act
DES / School Management / unions
22. HSE to provide assessments as required by Act for 0 – 5 year olds
23. IEPs to be provided for all children with SEN assessments entering Primary School
24. New staffing arrangements begin to be implemented in schools
25. Additional NEPs Psychologists in post.
NEPS and DES
26. Undertake research on and strengthen understandings of SEN prevalence rate and its implications
NCSE, SESS, DES, Colleges of Education, DHC, HSE etc
27. Guidelines for schools regarding operation of Section 3 of EPSEN Act
NCSE and NEPS
28. Preparation of detailed regulations on mediation
29. Develop modular programme of pre-service and in service training and development for teachers, school management and leadership,
NCSE, NEPS, HSE on inclusive education NCSE, SESS, DES, Colleges of Education, Third Level Colleges, DHC, HSE, etc
30. Formal reviews and reports on implementation progress Implementation Group
December 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010
31. Provide information to schools re requirements of the EPSEN Act
Ongoing as Act is implemented
32. NCSE full staffing complement appointed
33. IEPs to be provided for all students in first year second level
34. Provision of IEPs for all children in Primary and Special Schools on the basis of the available assessment
35. Provision of IEPs for all children in Second Level Schools on the basis of the available assessment
36. Draw up and implement procedures for future planning for students leaving school
NCSE/ School Management / Teacher Unions / Parent’s Councils
37. HSE Supports for school going children up to 10 years in accordance with Act
38. Complete recruitment of additional NEPS Psychologists
39. Complete resourcing of schools
40. Complete resourcing of HSE
HSE/Dept Health and Children
41. Provision of Health Services to children with SEN and their families to support the participation of these children in IEPs
42. Annual Review and Progress Reports on Implementation
NCSE Cross-Department Group
December 2007, 2008, `2009, 2010
Almost all schools as a matter of good practice have IEPs for pupils in receipt of Special Educational Needs support.
inservice rolled out from January ‘07 to Sept ‘08. In fact the legal requirement for an IEP only comes into force in September 2009.
Are IEPs legally binding under the EPSEN Act 2004?
However many important elements of the Act will impact on schools over the next few months. Guidelines for Principals in relation to assessment (June 2007), protocols for communication
Yes! However as you will note from the chart SENOs are to be trained shortly on IEPs, and staff
between schools on transfer of students (June 2007), new staffing arrangements for schools concerning the implementation of the Act (September 2007), assessments for pupils under 5 years and all children entering Primary Schools (September 2007) will have an immediate impact on the responsibilities associated with the role of the Prinicipal in the short term. Continued on page 14.
Continued from page 12
THE EPSEN ACT 2004 What is the timetable for each of the sections to become legally operative?
DATE OF COMMENCEMENT
DATE OF COMMENCEMENT
SECTION 13 December 2006 Duty of the Minister and the Minister for Health and Children to make resources available
SECTION 4 Assessments of child by or on behalf of HSE or Council
SECTION 10 Designation of school
SECTION 17 Liaison Officers
SECTION 5 September 2009 Agree standards for assessments and composition of assessment teams
SECTION 14 Duty of schools
SECTION 8 September 2008 Preparation of Education Plan at the direction of the Council
SECTION 6 Appeals in relation to assessments
SECTION 7 Provision of services
SECTION 18 Delegation of function by Principals etc
SECTION 39 Duty of Health Boards
SECTION 11 Review of Education Plan
SECTION 9 Content of the Education Plan
SECTION 12 Appeals in relation to Education Plan
SECTION 15 Planning for future Educational Needs
SECTION 16 Implementation of relevant Education Policy by Health Boards
SECTION 3 September 2009 Preparation of Education Plan by school (including steps preliminary to such preparation) SECTION 4 Assessments of child by or on behalf of HSE or Council
SECTION 38 Provision of certain mediation services
I will outline the key sections to be implemented by law and their proposed dates of commencement in the next issue.
Observations â€“ Pat Goff Pat Goff (IPPN spokesperson on Special Educational Needs and a member of the Implementation Group of the National Council for Special Education makes the following observations;
as a place (that is, special or mainstream) rather than on what pupils achieve" (House of Commons Education & Skills Committee 2006). The core issue, according to the NCSE, is what happens in school and in the classroom and the outcomes that the system delivers for children with Special Educational Needs.
The EPSEN Act and the Implementation Report of the EPSEN Act is underpinned by a very challenging and compelling vision for future SEN provision in Ireland. There are three main components of this future vision:
Another issue for schools is the question of what is an appropriate education? Many schools operate a staged approach to Assessment, Identification and Programme Planning:
1. Children with SEN will have an enforceable right to an appropriate education in an inclusive setting. 2. Children with SEN will participate in, and benefit from, education on a par with their peers who do not have SEN. 3. Children with SEN will achieve outcomes from education which will facilitate them in transferring to the workplace, progressing to future education and lifelong learning, participating meaningfully in economic, social and cultural activity and, in effect, living fulfilled lives independently in the community. The whole premise underlying EPSEN is an inclusive education. The term "inclusive education" can invoke strong views as to its precise meaning and intent. In a recent House of Commons report, for example it was noted: "the debate over provision has for too long been focused on an unhelpful interpretation of inclusion
Stage 1: If there are concerns about academic, physical, social, behavioural or emotional development of certain pupils, the teacher should administer screening measures, and if necessary, draw up a short, simple plan for extra help to be administered in the normal classroom setting. Stage 2: If the classroom fails to achieve its desired results, the pupil can be referred to the Support Teacher for further diagnostic testing â€“ supplementary teaching can then be organized. Stage 3: Some pupils who continue to present with significant learning difficulties require more intervention, possibly an assessment from a specialist outside the school, e.g., psychologist, speech and language therapist. Many of these pupils will require an IEP. This work has been ongoing for a number of years in many schools. Some pupils require specialized intervention, for example, those pupils with ASD. Even the courts have difficulty in deciding what is the most appropriate education for some of these children. PAGE 13
The EPSEN Act is a good blueprint for the future. It should be used to evolve policy, particularly in relation to allocations and supporting inclusive schools. There will be a continuum of education for special needs pupils. There also needs to be a continuum of education for teachers. CONCLUSION The NCSE are to be congratulated on their ambitious plan for the implementation of the EPSEN Act. However they are under no illusion as to the challenges ahead. The following quotation from the implementation plan illustrates this point; "Administrations and education regimes across the world have struggled with the challenges involved in a special educational needs provision. There is no universally accepted model of best practice in relation to statutory underpinning for SEN provision, how best to fund it in a professional manner, how best to deliver it and how best to achieve value for money and effective outcomes for children with SEN from educational provision. While we can learn significantly from the experience of others, in truth, one would have to be able to mix and match features from different overseas models in order to put together an effective model of best practice for SEN provision" For further information contact NCSE @ www.NCSE.ie P.S Congratulations to Sr Maighread Ni Ghallchobhair, OP, who has been appointed to the National Council for Special Education. Maighread will bring a wealth of experience to the Council.
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EMILY LOGAN Ombudsman for Children Ombudsman for Children, Emily Logan, at the IPPN Conference 2007 gave a clear insight into the reasons for the establishment of her position and her job description. She first trained as a children’s nurse in Temple Street in the early 1980’s at a time when there was a very different culture regarding children’s rights. A major shift in global thinking came about with the ‘UN Convention on the Rights of the Child’. Children were to be thought of in terms of what they are now rather than the economic potential they represented. Children were to participate in their own childhood as decision makers. The post of Ombudsman for children both here and in other Countries was created in response to the UN Convention. Emily Logan was appointed by President McAleese following a rigorous interview process, including being interviewed by children. She was given three functions. 1. Independent Complaints Handling 2. Promoting Children’s Rights 3. Research & Policy Development She is accountable to the Public Accounts Committee and the Oireachtas. Complaints dealt with and investigations carried out can be judiciously reviewed. Every 5 years she will report, along with the Minster for Children and his staff to the UN Commission on the Rights of the Child in Geneva. They will be asked to account for progress on Ireland’s position in terms of the 45 Rights of Children enshrined in the Convention. Questions to be answered at this forum include: 1. What is Ireland doing in regard to investing in people who work directly with children? 2. Racism – what is being done to prevent racism amongst children? 3. Are children’s views taken into account? 4. How far on the Country is towards developing a data bank on the nations Children
1. Special Needs Allocation 2. Bullying issues – the office does not investigate the case itself but looks at the Board of Managements process for dealing with bullying and how the grievance was dealt with. 3. Policies and procedures of the Department of Education i.e. school transport boundaries.
EMERGING THEMES Since the establishment of the office of Ombudsman for Children, certain themes are emerging. 1. Communication – no reply or delays in replying to letters or requests for assistance from public bodies 2. Conflict Resolution – where a Principal or someone in authority is inflaming the situation. Perhaps they should stand aside and allow a colleague to deal with the issue. 3. Rural Urban Experience – Rural sensitivities are more complex. Everyone seems to know the issue which can inhibit dealing with it. 4. Governance and capacity of Boards of Management. How they work, how people are replaced etc. School governance should be closely examined and properly funded.
CHILDREN’S RIGHTS Children must be encouraged to say what is important to them. In dealing with bullying issues for example, it is important to talk to both sides and address the issues affecting both parties. The courage of one department inspector in dealing with nine ‘troublesome’ children being sent from an institution in Kilkenny to another in Limerick during the 1950’s was significant, given the atmosphere of the time. The inspector found that in all 9 cases the boys had been victims of sexual abuse. A child who is going through a difficult or life changing experience may have a perception which no adult could replicate. The Ombudsman showed a picture of a 5 year old, terminally ill child, standing in a graveyard picking the style of headstone she wanted. She was determined to influence how she would be remembered by her parents and loved ones.
COMPLAINTS The Office of the Ombudsman can accept complaints directly from children, adults or third parties with the best interests of children at heart including Principals, teachers, social workers and other professionals. There are two criteria for intervention: 1. If a child is adversely affected by either action or inaction of a public body 2. The fairness of the administration process
When addressing Supreme Court and Family Court Judges, the Ombudsman urged them not to use chronological age to determine a child’s capacity to recount detail. Capacity instead should be down to a child’s experience.
POWER OF PRINCIPALS Parents see Principals and teachers as advocates for children, people who set the tone in a school. Principals must promote a culture which is democratic for adults in the school, as well as children.
The office aims to resolve issues for individual children with the public body. The solution to many individual problems may have wider implications for Public Policy. The aim in dealing with complaints is to first seek local and informal solutions. Those making a complaint are asked to talk to the teacher, Principal, Board of Management etc. before intervention from the Ombudsman. Since May 2005, the office has processed approx 1,000 complaints. The issues which are most prevalent are:
Children’s rights are not a major academic study. From a Principals viewpoint, they are about respect, dignity and understanding the situations people are in. They are about using the power and will you have to change situations if they need to change. Principals have the power and respect necessary to challenge Department of Education and Science policies if they are seen to be irrelevant or contrary to children’s needs, and are encouraged to be courageous in pursuit of what is best for children, regardless of criticism.
COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING ONE JOB TOO MANY FOR PRINCIPALS? Q. What do the following companies have in common: Tesco, SuperValu, Dunnes Stores, SPAR, Centra, Independent Newspapers, McDonalds, ESSO, Cadbury, Coca-Cola, Renault, Domestos, Scholastic and Samba Soccer ? A. All have gained commercial exposure within Irish Primary Schools in recent times. To some Principals these kinds of commercial schemes are just something to be put up with in the Irish education system. To others, they represent unacceptable advertising to a captive audience of minors, abuse of teachers’ influence and an excuse to prolong government underfunding of key curricular areas such as ICT and Physical Education. This article represents a snapshot of commercial activity in Irish Primary Schools in 2007. It begins by looking at schools from a marketing perspective and suggests why so many companies are eager to get into the classroom. It then offers a critical analysis of the two main forms of commercial scheme, drawing on current examples and highlighting the correlation between cuts in government funding and the emergence of commercially promoted "remedies". Thirdly it looks at the regulation, or lack thereof, governing what companies can and can’t do in schools. Finally it reflects on how this trend may develop into the future.
Why Companies Target Schools A number of factors combine to make educational spaces ever more appealing for advertisers and marketers. ■ Mass Audience. In terms of audience reach, schools represent a mass audience unrivalled in any other institution (Consumers Union, 1995). Irish Primary Schools are home to 450,000 potential "consumers" who are obliged by law to attend each day. ■ Valuable consumers. Children are a much coveted consumer group as early consumer habits are proven to last into adulthood. Today’s children have more disposable income than ever before and continue to influence parental spending in areas such as foodstuffs, transport and recreation ■ Targeted advertising. As Kenway and Bullen (2001) write "schools offer convenient aggregations of age-coded children and, potentially, market segments
which can be identified according to gender, class and ethnicity as well as curriculum." (p. 94) ■ Effective Salespeople. There is a strong cultural expectation of children to pay attention in school and "do what you teacher says". This receptiveness to information, coupled with teachers’ skill at communicating to children, makes schools an especially powerful medium for advertising messages.
the footballs and pump. Roberts (1994) asks us, with tongue in cheek, to Imagine a scenario when main National Curriculum textbooks in food and nutrition were to be sponsored by, let us say, McDonald’s restaurants UK! (p. 83) One wonders how the writer would evaluate Irish schoolchildren in 3,000 schools preparing for their P.E. lesson by donning their McDonald’s bibs and inflating McDonald’s balls with a pump displaying the same logo.
Forms of Commercialism
Sponsored Competitions and Incentive Schemes. The dominant and fastest growing element of commercialism in Irish schools is that of corporate-sponsored contests and incentive programs. Roberts (1994) encapsulates the concerns around this type of promotion: The promoters are posing as benefactors of schools when in fact they are exploiting them as closed markets…Children will be pressurising their parents to make extra purchases and doing the work of the company promoter. (p. 81)
The Commercialism in Education Research Unit at Arizona State University cite 8 categories of schoolhouse commercialism (Molnar, 2006) and while evidence of all categories is to be found within Irish schools, this article will focus on two of the most prevalent forms, Sponsored Educational Material (SEM) and Sponsored Competitions or Incentive Schemes.
To some Principals these kinds of commercial schemes are… unacceptable advertising to a captive audience of minors, abuse of teachers’ influence and an excuse to prolong government underfunding Sponsored Educational Materials. Road Safety Authority / Renault Seatbelt Sheriff Since 2004 Renault have sponsored the Seatbelt Sheriff campaign to encourage children to wear their seatbelts while travelling. The materials are distributed unsolicited to schools and are intended for use in 1st and 2nd classes. All posters, teaching materials and children’s certificates carry the corporate slogan "RENAULT - The Safest Cars you can Drive". This repeated assertion is not, however, supported by the EURO NCAP Ratings which show several vehicles in each class to be as safe, if not safer, than their Renault counterparts (Euro NCAP, 2006). The Renault logo is also imprinted on the badges to be worn by young students and is even featured on the cartoon Sheriff himself. McDonald’s Catch and Kick In 2003 the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) inaugurated the McDonald’s Catch and Kick programme, with the McDonald’s logo, in a slightly altered form, displayed on the front of the bibs that children were to wear as well as on PAGE 16
Building for the Future The Building For the Future, sponsored by Independent Newspapers, claims to be the "largest and best-supported initiative ever run among Primary Schools in Ireland" and has been endorsed by successive Ministers for Education. Schools may not enter the scheme, however, unless they collect 25 tokens per child from the Irish Independent and Sunday Independent newspapers. Thus, a two-stream school requires 14,400 tokens which, assuming children collected single-token editions of the newspaper, would equate to an entry fee of over €20,000 in purchases. While there is no denying the tremendous work done by teachers and pupils in creating projects for this scheme, the commercial stipulation appears to be openly prejudicial against families / school communities who don’t purchase the sponsor’s newspapers. Tesco Computers for Schools. Irish schools collect and return 10 – 15 million Tesco Computers for Schools vouchers annually, each one representing €10 spent at Tesco. The vast majority of collecting is done by Primary Schools. This reflects both the fact that the DES have had no ICT policy or strategy in place since 2003 and that over 86% of schools report a significant proportion of their equipment to be either not functioning or out of date.(IPPN, 2006)
While Tesco benefit from up to €150 million worth of sales channelled through schools in just 10 weeks, the benefits to schools are less clear. ■ A "FREE" Apple 17inch iMac (online retail price = €1,400) requires a school community to spend €261,600 at Tesco. ■ An entry level PC (online price €818) may be obtained "FREE" by schools who generate €215,000 worth of shopping. These figures reveal the net contribution to schools from each €10 spent at Tesco to be as little as 0.04 of one cent. Aside from placing pressure on parents and teachers, this scheme may be seen to discriminate against smaller and disadvantaged schools who cannot generate such colossal revenues for Tesco, thus exacerbating the ICT divide between richer and poorer communities.
A "FREE" Apple 17 inch iMac (online retail price = €1,400) requires a school community to spend €261,600 at Tesco. SuperValu Kids in Action At present 1 in 5 Irish children between the ages of 5 -12 are overweight or obese (IUNA, 2005), yet the P.E. equipment grant to schools was cut in 2002 and schools received no regular funding for P.E. resources up until this school year when each school received a belated €2,000 with a recommendation that money be directed from this grant towards the making safe of school goalposts. Having researched and piloted Kids in Action in 109 Co. Meath schools, SuperValu launched their scheme nationwide in 2006 supported by celebrity endorsements and a major television and radio campaign. From a commercial point of view the scheme was a spectacular success with over €150 million worth of shopping being processed through Irish schools. From an educational perspective however, schools received little recompense for their promotional work, with smaller and poorer schools once more the biggest losers. ■ A FREE Gaelic Football = €3,950 worth of shopping / online retail price €18 ■ A FREE Basketball skills coaching bag = €70,000 spend at SuperValu. Super value indeed!
Regulation of Commercial Activity in Schools The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland’s Children’s Advertising Code is an 18 page, detailed and up-to-date policy regulating television and radio advertising to children (BCI, 2005). In stark contrast, there is no regulation whatsoever of commercial activity in Irish schools beyond that which schools may adopt on an individual basis. It is 15 years since the DES issued a non-committal circular requesting that school authorities "consider carefully the implications of allowing any situation to develop which would result in parents being put under undue pressure to purchase a particular commercial product." (Circular 38/91) In the interim, successive Ministers for Education have endorsed and promoted schemes such as Building for the Future while commercialism in schools has grown exponentially in its scope and sophistication.
I strongly believe that how schools leaders respond at this stage will determine whether Irish schools are reclaimed as commercial-free zones Recommendations There is an old adage in teaching that "You get what you expect" of children in school and perhaps the same is true of commercial activity. In the absence of any regulation, and with thousands of schools participating in the above schemes each year, commercial promotions have become an accepted and expanding part of school life. The political and commercial expediency of allowing the quality of ICT or physical education available to children depend on where their parents shop and how much they spend will ensure these kinds of schemes continue to proliferate into the future. The alternative is that school Principals and staff refuse to cooperate with exploitative schemes and demand something better on behalf of the children in their care. Were a sufficient number to decide, individually or collectively, that their school would be free from sponsored curriculum material carrying an overt advertising message and incentive schemes or competitions that require them to collect proof-of-purchase by children or their families, there would, of necessity, be a response. Companies who are genuinely philanthropic towards schools would
continue their schemes without a commercial kick-back, while those in search of advertising and increased sales would be forced to look elsewhere. I strongly believe that how schools’ leaders respond at this stage will determine whether Irish schools are reclaimed as commercial-free zones or whether we proceed towards the excesses of commercialism, as witnessed in the USA, with more and more educational time and space colonised for private gain. A recent IPPN survey indicating that 92% of Principals objected to product promotion in school (IPPN, 2004) suggests that the IPPN should be central in deciding which route we choose for our schools, students and profession. Joseph Fogarty is Principal of Corballa NS, Co. Sligo and chairperson of the Campaign for CommercialFree Education. This article is based on "As Good as Gold" as published in Oideas No. 52. For more information on this subject please visit www.commercialfreeeducation.com. References Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (2005) Children’s Advertising Code, Dublin: Author. Consumers Union Educational Services (1995) Selling America’s Kids: Commercial Pressure on Kids of the 90’s, Yonkers, New York: Author. Department of Education (1991) Circular 38/91, Dublin: Government Publications Euro NCAP Safety Ratings available online: http://www.euroncap.com/. Irish Primary Principals Network (Dec 2006) "ICT a key issue in Irish Education", in Leadership +, No. 35, pp 4-5. Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (2005) National Children’s Food Survey, available online: http://www.iuna.net/childrens_survey/ Kenway, J. and Bullen, E. (2001) Consuming Children: Education – Entertainment – Advertising, Buckingham: Open University Press. Molnar, A (2006) The Ninth Annual Report on Schoolhouse Commercialism Trends: 2005-2006, Arizona: Commercialism in Education Research Unit, Arizona State University. Roberts, P. (1994) ‘Business Sponsorship in Schools: A Changing Climate’, in Bridges, D. and McLaughlin T. (eds) Education and the Market Place, London: Falmer Press.
OPINION Rumours of my retirement greatly exaggerated Dear Sir/Madam, It was with a certain disquiet and growing bewilderment that I read the entry about a new appointment to the post of Principal in Robinstown N.S in the October edition of Leadership +. As the most recent holder of that post, I wish him the very best of luck. My departure from that position was certainly low key and swift, just as I always wanted it. But at the back of my mind I still felt it would have been nice if just one person had said thanks or well done! But it wasn’t to be. I had been appointed Principal just a month before the Pope’s visit to Ireland in 1979. Since then my career had been punctuated by Papal encyclicals, department circulars and morthuairiscs. Now here I was looking at another punctuating periodical with a name just like mine sitting on page 27. It read "IPPN offers its congratulations to the following newly appointed Principals….Robinstown N.S. Meath, Dan Daly." Another Daly with the same name! Amazing.It was enough to make the parents weep not to mind the children. What a remarkable coincidence. Or had I died and gone to a purgatory in a nether world where I was destined to spend 10,000 years as a teaching Principal. That thought was enough to snap me out of my reverie. Damn it, I was still Principal! I realized an error of some magnitude had been made, magnified all the more by the inclusion of comrades Willie Lyons of Dunboyne and Fergal Fitzpatrick of Bohermeen to the list of the newly condemned, neither a spring chicken in the first flush of Principalhood. I took this occurrence as an opportunity to appraise my situation. Maybe there was a certain symbolism in this "error! It was a sort of a new beginning. I was, after all, in the process of being re-conditioned. I had started on the "forbairt" leadership development course for Principals last September. I returned to school laden with files of newly minted management techniques. A hip replacement operation last year had put a juvenile spring in my step. While the operation has granted me a new mobility it has also had manifold psychological advantages. "You’re young to have that operation", I was regularly reminded. After a while I even started to believe it, so I firmly believe my psychiatrist deserves a compensatory cut from the surgeon’s fee due to the immense feelgood factor I have experienced. Is this what they mean by an integrated health system? However I live in trepidation of having the other hip done for I
fear the compliments may not be as numerous the next time round, if there is a next time. Indeed there was also an element of being re-upholstered since I got two suits in the Dunderry School car boot sale. The hairstyle was tidied and the beard was trimmed, especially the grey areas. While the image could be manipulated to a degree there were other matters over which I had no control. There were a few reminders that I wasn’t as sharp as in days of yore. The Rev. Chairman of the Board had asked me to send him the "Solas" magazines which he claimed he never received but had been sent to the school. As, no doubt, you are aware, Solas is an information booklet for Boards of Management. I eventually located them and wondered why he wanted them. I packaged the half dozen or so "Sonas" magazines. I don’t know what got into me, for as you probably know "Sonas" is an educational magazine for children. God knows where I would be today if the Deputy Principal hadn’t spotted the "n". I have forwarded a copy of your publication to the Department of Education and Science informing them of my retirement from the post and subsequent appointment to the new position. I am not sure if there is any extra money in it, but I’ll try. More to the point however is the delight and ultimate disappointment your publication caused me. There are days I don’t know if I am coming or going! To illustrate my point I walked into the classroom the other morning to greet the new and young substitute. "Good morning, you’re very welcome," I smiled. She looked at me. "And who are you?" she inquired. If there’s any money accruing to me from my strange happenstance I will be eternally grateful to you and you can rest assured of my continuing membership. If, however as I fear, the opposite is the case then the least I deserve from your (presently) fine organisation is an all-in weekend in the hotel where you plan to unveil your next inspirational and motivational speaker. I feel it’s the least I deserve for the emotional bungee jump you’ve had me endure. Yours… Dan Daly Principal 1979-2006, Principal 2006 - *, Robinstown Primary School, Navan * Negotiations with Des ongoing.
Funding I would like to comment on the funding system in schools. While I acknowledge that the funding grant was significantly increased in this year, there are intrinsic difficulties in the system. The late payment of the grant causes many schools to be in dire straits up to January. This,coupled with the large increases in services such as oil, gas, electricity. waste disposal and water rates is causing significant concern for Boards and Principals. Further, can any one explain to me why we have to hand back 20% of all our grants to the Government. If schools had an exemption from V.A.T. it would augment the income. This would not need to be additional work for the schools but would mean that a number or card would be to hand in order to claim the tax. It would be the responsibility of the various companies to account for it. Schools should also be exempt from the local charges. This would be an immediate increase in income which might not fulfil the total loss,but would help in the matter.
Fundraising is an exercise which I consider useful as a community exercise. It enables parents and interested bodies to have a focus on the needs of the children as well as providing a platform for fun, getting to know one another and contributing in a real way. However, fund raising should be for 'extras' not for the day to day running of the schools. It would be fool hardy to think that Governments will be ahead of change. It will always lag behind and it would be a pity if we as educators allowed that to hinder the development and growth of a system which is a credit to all who are involved in it. So here's to the future - no V.A.T., no local service charges and fundraising for the soft chair - with footstool - for the Principal!! Pity I won't be there to enjoy it! Maighréad Ní Ghallchóbhair, O.P. Benincasa Special School, Blackrock
SCHOOL LEADERS A step into the unknown Retirement can be an exciting untried experience where for possibly the first time in our lives, we have the opportunities to choose how we organise our own time and space. Retirement from a position of leadership has its own particular nuances. But are we competent to cope with what the future brings? The following is a brief synopsis of an excellent Pre-retirement Workshop delivered by Gus Murray, Director of the Counselling and Psychotherapy training programme at C.I.T. and Jim Hayes, former President of IPPN at the recent IPPN Conference. The full content of the workshop is available on www.ippn.ie. Retirement is a major life transition between moving out, letting go, moving on and creating a new life. We must keep in mind at all times that retirement is a huge step - one that can transform relationships with partner, friends, colleagues, neighbours and even children. It is both paradoxical and transitional. It is a time of emotional adjustment.
A ‘dunce’ in the Knowledge Society? Educating children is not for now, it's for their lives in the future. While Primary Education has changed a lot in the past generation three decades, the fundamental organisation of schooling has changed little. The pace of change has been rapid for several years now and continues not just to grow but to accelerate. Unfortunately, our education system isn't changing quickly enough to match the needs of today's young adults, not to mention the adult lives to be lived by today's children. The biggest impediment to positive change in the education system is the "sacred cow" that is the Leaving Cert. Despite three and a half decades of laudable effort to modernise Primary Education, it is still the case
Environmental factors come into play. So among the major questions are – are you ready to retire? Have you thought the process through? Do you really want to? Is your retirement voluntary or have you reached retirement age? Do you need more time? Have you planned and prepared? Are you looking forward to the prospect? Will the retirement process be gradual or will you go out with a big bang? These are among the many questions you will need to address before you take that great step into the unknown as retirement can alter your self image, your daily routines and possibly, your status in the community. To prepare adequately for retirement as a school leader, many practical schoolrelated issues need to be addressed. Examples of good practice and step by step procedures/ guidelines on managing the impact of a Principal’s retirement on a school in addition to the rituals of saying goodbye and letting go were included in the workshop and are available on the website.
that most parents, and indeed many teachers, believe in the importance of a broad and stimulating curriculum until children reach fifth class and suddenly the harsh reality of the CAO monster looms in its apparently benign form i.e. second level entrance examinations What should learning look like today for the adults of 2025? It's probably safe to predict that information recall will not be all that important. It will be more important to have sophisticated skills in how to learn new things rather than being able to regurgitate vast volumes of information. In other words, an education where "how" to learn is more important than "what" to learn, where problemsolving, creativity, innovation and analysis replace the current dominant practice which still emphasises rote learning of pre-prepared "correct answers" to increasingly predictable examination papers. In essence, the current examination system, while heralded as being fair (if you choose to forget the advantage that grind schools give to middle class children) perpetuates a required learning process more at home in the 1960s than the 21st century. PAGE 19
IPPN is currently in the process of developing a Post-Retirement Pilot Programme for school leaders. This programme, if successful and worthwhile, will seek to complement and enhance any pre-retirement courses already provided for teachers, with the emphasis in this programme very much on the retirement of school leaders. It will focus on issues such as stages of retirement, meaningful time structuring, developing a new life plan, impact on the family, individual personality factors, self worth, self direction, retirement styles, what makes retirees happy, balancing your new portfolio of activities, social relationships and other relevant issues. The pilot programme may be extended provided the demand for such a course exists. "If you are what you do, who am I once I am no longer doing it?"
Most young adults and virtually every child today either owns or has access to hand-held mobile technology. If one were to consider a developing country being offered the opportunity to access mobile technology for all its young people, this would surely translate as a valuable asset towards communication and learning. Nevertheless, the two most likely items to be banned in an Irish school today are iPods and mobile phones. This is indeed essential given that their functionality is probably ten years ahead of the curriculum and teaching methodologies for which teachers have been resourced and trained. Therefore there is little choice other than to sacrifice the future for the past. Unless of course we choose an alternative approach. Should the education visionaries explore the need to redesign and reimagine what education and learning should look like for the future rather than seek to improve the existing system with occasional revisions and bolt-on features. Any examination of an education system for the future will have to embrace the imperative and positive harnessing of digital technology. Sadly, this is a depressing subject to raise in one of the richest countries in the world in 2007.
Strategies for Managing Conflict Difficult situations and difficult people cause stress. This can lead to fatigue, headaches, high blood pressure and rashes. Stress can also contribute to heart attacks strokes, ulcers and high levels of cholesterol. As Principals you are likely to face many difficult situations over the course of your career, and it is always useful to develop strategies which can be adapted to enable you to defuse conflict at an early stage. BODY LANGUAGE The ways we act physically tells people a lot about us. Our body language may reveal the way we feel about a situation and show up any uncertainty that might exist. How can this be avoided? Using what is described as assertive body language can transmit the image we wish to convey. We can do this through: ■ Tone of voice – using a strong clear tone is important. Rushed, garbled, whispered or mumbled tone indicates uncertainty and suggests you doubt what you say. ■ Facial expression – A genuine expression indicates authority and self assurance. Smiling is helpful if giving constructive feedback. Direct eye contact shows openness and sincerity although we must be conscious that this may be considered disrespectful in some cultures.
1. Don’t react – distance yourself from your natural impulses and allow yourself time and space to see things clearly. Pause and say nothing. Ask the aggressor to repeat certain accusations. Don’t lose your temper and avoid making impulsive decisions. 2. Don’t argue – listen, acknowledge and agree. Listening offers a window into the other sides thinking. Acknowledging the other persons point of view does not mean that you agree with it, but merely confirms that you accept it as a valid point. ‘Yes’ is a powerful tool for disarming aggressive behaviour without making a concession. Avoid the ‘but’ word as it creates a barrier to listening. Focus in on issues on which you already agree. 3. Redirect – deflect the other side away from positions and towards options and areas of commonality. Ask problem solving questions such as, ‘what if?’ and use the power of silence as it is a powerful tool and gives both sides an opportunity to improve the quality of the response. 4. Build Bridges – involve the other side in devising a solution so it becomes their ideas as well as yours. Ask for ideas and offer choices.
■ Accept that the behaviours of others are rarely planned or pre-determined. Most conflicts are not the result of devious calculation. ■ Remind yourself that your adversary is unlikely to be as evil as you perceive them to be. ■ Every conflict has a history that extends beyond the present and previous patterns may taint present perceptions. ■ Most behaviour is motivated by positive intentions – mainly preservative.
LISTENING SKILLS A good listener has a better chance of defusing a potential conflict area. They will not try to anticipate what the other person is going to say, will not interrupt and will pay careful attention to what is being said. Listening skills centre around encouragement, the use of neutral words and follow up questions such as ‘can you tell me more?’ The good listener will seek clarification at regular intervals. This facilitates better understanding but also enables the opposite party to examine his or her own perceptions.
MANAGING CONFLICT – REACTION TO DIFFICULT PEOPLE
■ Keep in mind the people are rarely as benevolent as they perceive themselves to be.
Repeating what has been said also demonstrates you are interested and ensures that the facts have been established. The key to resolving a conflict lies in taking a non adversarial approach. Focus on the problem and look for a solution through dialogue. At the outset, make it clear that you would like to seek a solution that will meet the interests of both parties (win/win situation). Try to discover underlying issues and accept the best alternative to the negative argument.
Every conflict has patterns of interaction which dictates whether the situation escalates or eases. The following strategy is geared towards defusing potentially explosive situations.
■ Be conscious of the fact that people seldom spend as much time thinking about the problem as you might expect them to.
The Leadership Development for Schools (LDS) presentation at the IPPN conference and which is covered on the next page expands on the area of listening skills.
■ Posture – upright posture while facing the person is considered best. Avoid unnecessary movement and keep fidgeting to a minimum.
5. Make it hard for the other side to say ‘no’. Indicate the best option in the absence of agreement – in other words aim for mutual satisfaction, not victory.
MANAGING YOURSELF DURING CONFLICT
Emotionally literate listening Emphatic listening is fundamental to demonstrating concern as a leader. The following six negative listening habits prevent us from being good listeners. Monitor your listening habits over the next week to discern if you are guilty of using any of these poor listening habits. ■ The Faker - all the outward signs are there - nodding, making eye contact and giving the occasional... hmm. However, the faker isn't concentrating on the speaker. His/her mind is elsewhere. ■ The Interrupter - doesn't allow the speaker to finish and doesn't ask clarifying questions or seek more information from the speaker. He/she is too anxious to state his point of view and shows little concern for the speaker. ■ The Logical Listener - This person is buy interpreting and analysing what the speaker is saying so that he will have an appropriate response ready. He/she is judging the speaker's words and rarely asks about the underlying feelings or emotions attached to the message. ■ Doing One Better - When the speaker says something, the 'doing one better listener' steals the focus and changes it to his point of view, opinion, story or facts e.g. 'Oh, that's nothing, here's what my day has been like.' ■ The Rebuttal Maker - The listener only listens long enough to form a rebuttal. He/she always wants to make the speaker see his/her point of view and is quick to dismiss the speaker's views and perspectives. ■ The Advice Giver - Giving advice is sometimes helpful. However, at other times this behaviour interferes with good listening because it does not allow the speaker to articulate fully his feelings and thoughts; it doesn't help the speaker to solver his own problems. Advice given at the wrong time may be unhelpful to the speaker.
TASK Reflect on any changes you may need to make and practise listening skills which generate the following characteristics: ■ The mind of the listener is mostly quite and calm. ■ The awareness of the listener is entirely focused on the speaker. ■ The listener has little or no sense of awareness of self. ■ The listener is totally lucid and present to the person speaking. ■ The listener shows empathy and acknowledges the feelings of the speaker.
■ Listen non-judgementally ■ Attempt to identify the underlying feelings 'It sounds like you felt disappointed..' 'How did you feel when..' ■ Listen with empathy; focus on feelings Show understanding connection and 'I understand.' 'I see' 'I know how you feel.' I have felt that way, too.' ■ Clarify and paraphrase, particularly the feelings: 'So, you really felt insulted, is that it?' 'So you felt _ and _?' ■ Do not judge with your body language or facial expressions. ■ Help the person focus while showing interest: 'What bothered you the most about it?' 'What did you like the most?' Don't show disapproval ■ Don't spend your time 'preparing your response' ■ Use eye contact ■ Show interest by nodding, 'uh huh's, etc. ■ Allow long pauses before asking questions; be patient ■ Give your full attention; stop other tasks
■ Avoid: Scene stealing Advising Interrogating 'Sending solutions Correcting Debating
The listener shows empathy and acknowledges the feelings of the speaker. Remember that listening to either a child or adult helps him feel heard, understood, important, valued, respected and cared about. And remember that the best listeners focus on feelings, not 'facts'. LDS wishes to acknowledge the input of Sheelagh McGregan of the Regional Training Unit, Belfast to the development of its Emotional Intelligence Programme.
Pictured at the IPPN Conference: Far left: Fergus Finlay Left: IPPN President Tomás Ó Slatara with guest speaker David McWilliams PAGE 21
GAA Céim ar Aghaidh Step Ahead Education Pack September 2006 saw the launch of the GAA Céim Ar Aghaidh/Step Ahead Education Pack. This is a comprehensive cross-curricular resource based on the theme of the GAA and integrating all subjects of the new curriculum. Céim Ar Aghaidh/Step Ahead uses the fun of Gaelic Games to deliver an exciting range of exercises to support the senior cycle of the Curriculum for Primary Schools.It can be used to support teaching in a variety of subject areas and the exercises can be adapted to suit children of varying abilities through differentiated worksheets. Céim Ar Aghaidh/ Step Ahead provides an extremely comprehensive spread of opportunities for children.
From the archives The instructions below, as issued by the Office of Education, were recently unearthed by one of our members when trawling through their archives…
This material has been developed by practising teachers for the senior cycle of Primary Schools, Primary 7 in Northern Ireland and fifth and sixth classes in the Republic of Ireland. Teacher notes are colour coded in Section 1 with references to the photocopiable worksheets in Section 2. Modules cover subjects such as The World Around Us/SESE incorporating Science and Technology, Geography and History and SPHE/PSE. There is a comprehensive art section which demonstrates exciting lessons in a teacher friendly way. The resources section provides a comprehensive list of resources, which can be used in conjunction with this pack. In keeping with the ethos of the GAA, the material is designed to promote participation for all. In the ever more inclusive environment of the mainstream school in Ireland today, that includes a growing minority of pupils with special educational needs including gifted children. It is hoped that the material in this pack will provide relevant learning material for these pupils. An exciting follow up to the folder has also recently been announced with RTE agreeing to produce a Céim Ar Aghaidh cross-curricular DVD for use in Primary Schools. A book of teacher notes and pupil worksheets will support this. The DVD will show material in both Irish and English across a range of subjects such as History, Science, Geography and SPHE, which will form the basis of fun classroom lessons. This will be distributed to all Primary Schools in September 2007. Céim Ar Aghaidh is the concept of Wexford teacher Micheál Martin of Model Education Ltd and was designed in conjunction with Pat Daly, GAA Director of Games Development. Packs are available-free of charge- to all senior cycle teachers- from GAA games development coaches or the material is available on www.gaa.ie in the Games Development Section. Any schools that have not received packs to date should contact their local County Board. PAGE 22
Education of Children for whom English is an additional language
(E.A.L.) It is imperative that we focus on the issue of Cultural Diversity in our schools now. There is an ever-increasing migrant worker population arriving each term from many diverse nationalities. Each culture brings its own issues, which need to be addressed. However it is generally acknowledged by school Principals that the biggest single issue for all schools is communication. How can we facilitate newcomer children and their parents to access our education system where there is a serious language barrier? ■ Resources need to be in place so that intensive English language support is available to all newcomer children on arrival in a Primary School regardless of numbers already attending.
It is generally acknowledged by school Principals that the biggest single issue for all schools is communication ■ English language support should continue for as long as the newcomer child needs it in order to access the curriculum effectively rather than for a specific period of time. ■ An enhanced capitation grant, payable within the school year rather than retrospectively, would assist schools in provision of adequate resources for needy newcomer children. ■ Home / School liaison support for newcomer children would assist ease of transition for the child, school and family. ■ A fast track system to NEPS should be available to schools where it is suspected that a newcomer child may have special
learning needs. Resources need to be established whereby newcomer children may be assessed in their native language. ■ Family support structures need to be put in place, which will co-ordinate the various Government departments dealing with a newcomer family. This coordination service should assess the level of family needs, facilitate access to English language classes for parents/guardians and provide a translation service which is a necessity for all services dealing with a non-English speaking family including the local school. ■ Boards of Management need to accept their challenge for ensuring that all newcomer children have access to their local school. It is unfair and unprofessional of certain Principal Teachers to assume that a particular school in a locality should enrol large numbers of newcomer children while other schools do not share the challenge. Schools need to be conscious of applying similar enrolment criteria to all newcomer children regardless of race, creed, nationality or colour. ■ Staff Development The leadership role of the Principal will ● influence the attitude of staff in viewing the arrival of newcomer children as a positive rather than negative influence on the existing school population. ● will encourage whole staff inservice to develop an understanding of the challenges facing E.A.L. children. ● introduce staff to useful resources in order to support EAL children in the classroom. ● foster a respect for cultural diversity within the school while acknowledging the valuable learning opportunities which newcomer children can bring to the classroom.
THE FINAL WORD ON NUTRITION After an exhaustive review of the research literature, here's the final word on nutrition and health: 1. Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than us. 2. Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than us. 3. Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us. 4. Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us. 5. Germans drink beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.
“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese..” Steven Wright