ISSUE 37 • APRIL 2007
F E AT U R E S Circular 0139/2006 Draft Codes of Professional Conduct for Teachers Coping with Change School Management Research Project The Most Important Skill of a Principal? Picking the Team Class Allocation: A Guide to Best Practice Who Actually Employs Teachers and Principals – the DES or the BoM? Growing Lack of English Hurts Schools Dispute Resolution: The Essential Skills Growing Up In Ireland Study Remembering the Late Patrick Greene 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
PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT A Step into the Unknown A Phríomhoide agus a Phríomhoide Thánaistigh Performance Management is not a phrase that trips off the tongue in schools around the country. However, you may have come across reference to it in the media recently whereby discussions are taking place between our Union, Management Bodies and the DES on this issue. It seems that the National Agreement between the social partners known as Towards 2016 has specified the implementation of Performance Management systems in Primary Schools. We have learned from the DES and the INTO that discussions are underway towards Performance Management systems under two headings – Disciplinary Procedures and Managing the Performance of teaching and learning throughout the school. It appears that the DES now take the position that the Inspectorate will no longer have a function in assessing teaching performance in schools – the responsibility instead resting on Boards of Management. When you also factor in the recent PAGE 1
DES circular requiring Principals to ‘sign off’ on the performance of SNAs and the imminent requirement of Principals to take responsibility for the probation of newly qualified teachers, it begs the question – ‘Does anybody out there have the faintest idea of what goes on in our schools?’ To add to the surreality of all this ‘progress’ as we march towards 2016, the professional body for school Principals – IPPN – has not been invited to the table which will determine procedures and practices that will impact on Principals most of all. Given the Department of Education’s recent statement advising victims of child abuse to focus their litigation on BoMs and the added responsibility for performance management also being shifted to BoMs, it looks like this Autumn will an interesting time as 3,300 schools seek to attract parents, members of the community and teachers to participate in a school management structure which looks more and more like modern day ‘cannon fodder’. Is muidne le meas Tomás O Slatara Seán Cottrell (See Professional Guidance: Class Allocation, page 22)
Diary of meetings held by IPPN on behalf of Principals JANUARY 2007
Deputy Principals’ Conference May 15th 2007 This year’s Deputy Principals’ Conference will take place at the Tullamore Court Hotel on Tuesday, May 15th 2007. The theme of this year’s Conference is Distributed Leadership. The Keynote Speaker is Professor Jim Spillane, Northwestern University, an expert on educational and distributed leadership. A strong view was expressed by the majority of Deputy Principals at last year’s conference that, in order to gain maximum benefit, Principals and their Deputies jointly participate in any Professional Development that is focused on shared or distributed leadership. In response, this Conference will be open to Principals to attend based on a joint application with a Deputy Principal. Application forms will be available on www.ippn.ie and sent to all schools after Easter. Places are limited and will be allocated on a ‘first come – first served’ basis only. We will send you a text when the application forms are available on-line.
Executive meeting Strategic Planning Review meeting IPPN presentation at LDS Tánaiste Programme Meeting of President with Wexford Principals’ focus group IPPN Conference 2007, INEC Killarney
FEBRUARY 2007 National Committee meeting Executive meeting IPPN/LDS Spreagadh Programme started in Donegal, Kilkenny and Wexford IPPN meeting with IBEC and education partners re. ICT Launch of "The State of the Nation’s Children" Report DES meetings Barnardos - Case for Constitutional Change
MARCH 2007 Executive meeting Presentation of OECD Background Report on ‘Improving School Leadership’ Retirement Function for former National Committee member Doreen McHugh Consultation meeting on ‘Future Leaders’ with LDS and education partners Official opening of the Cork Education Support Centre NAPD Symposium on ‘Civic Republicanism - Vision and Values in 21st Century Ireland: What Ireland needs from its Education System’ Launch of ICEP Europe/St. Patrick’s College Special/ Inclusive Education diploma IPPN/INTO meeting National Association of Head Teachers (Northern Ireland) Conference Meetings with DES CPSMA AGM and Dinner Launch of Teaching Council Professional Code of Conduct Represented at One-Teacher Schools meeting On-line Claims System (OLCS) Management Committee meeting Special Education Needs Council launch International Confederation of Principals’(ICP) Convention Educate Together, Launch of "The Future Starts Here Every Day"
IPPN Confidential Query Line How does it work? The IPPN Confidential Query Line has become one of the most important services offered to IPPN members over the last year. It is organised by experienced Principals who have very kindly volunteered their services to be part of the query team in order to assist their colleagues. The main focus of the service is to provide professional and personal support for Principals. The Query Team is available to assist with a broad range of situations ranging from conflict management, day to day school management problems, building queries, SEN issues, etc. A
follow-up service is provided if required and confidentiality is assured.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
makes contact by telephone and generally a phone conversation suffices unless follow-up is required. The Query Team makes every effort to respond as quickly as possible.
A Principal with an issue to be resolved contacts the IPPN Support Office (1890 21 22 23) providing their roll number, full contact details and a brief outline of the particular issue about which they require advice. It is advisable to provide home contact details as it is not always possible to deal with queries during the school day. Queries are automatically transferred to the designated Query Team personnel with particular expertise and experience in the area concerned. A member of the Query Team
As the Query Team are busy Principals, we encourage members to submit queries only where a solution is not readily available by accessing educational websites, the relevant DES Circulars, the Primary Education Management Manual or the CPSMA Board of Management Handbook. It would greatly help the Query Team if you could return their calls as soon as possible; occasionally, queries remain open longer than necessary, causing undue follow-up and administration
Ongoing performance monitoring, appraisal and certification of SNA staff Since this circular issued in December 2006, IPPN has expressed deep concern over the implications for Principals. Neither IPPN nor the INTO were consulted prior to or since the issuing of this Circular. IPPN sought clarification on the Circular, on the detail of how such a performance monitoring and appraisal scheme might operate and on the implications for Principals. Subsequently, discussions took place between the INTO and DES. From the information available, we understand that these discussions clarified matters as follows: 1. Sign-off and certification procedures are standard for a variety of schemes and grants – e.g. salary returns, claims for substitute payment etc. 2. The Circular is addressed to management authorities and not Principals 3. The annual certification referred to in the Circular can be implemented in the same way as other certification procedures by the school 4. Sign-off can be referred to the Chairperson or any other Board member nominated for that purpose. IPPN continues to have deep concerns about this Circular, its operation and the implications for Principals. Having taken advice, we would draw your attention to the following points: 1.
Sign-off on this Circular is not the same as signing off for attendance (like salary form) or receipt and expenditure of a grant or claim for payment of a substitute. It involves judgement and certification of an employee’s satisfactory or unsatisfactory performance of their duties This certification and sign-off would have to be by someone who is familiar with or directs the work of that person. Can any or every Board member do this? Signing off or certification assumes a. That there are clear agreed criteria for performance, b. That there is a procedure to monitor, appraise and feedback to the employee on performance - both satisfactory and unsatisfactory. c. That there is a procedure for the employee to contribute to these procedures Even if someone else from the Board were to sign off, it would have to be as a result of a process of monitoring, feedback and recording by someone who directs the work of that person. This measure to formally monitor, appraise and certify an employee’s performance is new in schools Neither Boards nor Principals have been trained for this nor are they aware of the implications. No processes or procedures have been suggested or advised.
CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING SCENARIOS: Scenario A A Principal or Board member signs off on the work of an SNA as being satisfactory. There are no procedures in place in the school to determine the criteria for satisfactory performance, to monitor this performance or to feedback to the employee. The
parents of the child involved are not satisfied that their child’s needs are being met. They eventually take a case against the school. Part of this case deals with the support available to the child from the SNA. During the case, it emerges that while there is a certification procedure for the work of the SNA, there are no corresponding criteria, monitoring or feedback procedures in place. The case is successful for the child. The school are found to have certified performance as satisfactory without any procedures or processes in place to support this assertion.
NB Whether or not we agree with it, this Circular has introduced a certification process without any associated monitoring, recording and feedback processes. This leaves Principals vulnerable because they are the ones who directly manage the work of these employees. It leaves Boards vulnerable because, ultimately, they are responsible for certification under the terms of the Circular. It also leaves SNAs vulnerable because they are subject to a certification process without defined procedures to support it.
Scenario B There are 3 SNAs employed in a school. Sign-off on their work as being satisfactory is done every year for three years by the Chairperson of the BOM as a matter of routine. Two of the three SNAs are very conscientious and committed to their work. The third is less so. At the end of the year, one of the SNAs is due to be made redundant because of a child leaving the school. The most junior SNA, due to leave, is one of the more conscientious ones. She is aggrieved that she has to leave and considers that her work is satisfactory while the work of her colleague is not. She is angry that she should lose her job while someone else who, in her opinion, does not give satisfactory service, is kept on. She decides to take a case against the school. The basis of this case is that a system of performance certification is in place which is not being fairly and transparently administered. The court find against the school and award damages. They point out that there are no agreed criteria for satisfactory performance, there is no monitoring, recording and feedback process and she has not had any opportunity to contribute to or respond to the certification.
It is not possible for Principals to be removed from the loop in the administration of this Circular as it stands. No matter who certifies, it will be assumed that this certification is on the basis of information supplied by the person responsible for directing the work of the employee in question.
Scenario C Mary is employed as SNA in the school. She has been working for 7 years and, each year, she has been certified as being satisfactory as a matter of routine. There are some aspects of Mary’s work that the school are not really happy with and think could be improved. However, there is no process for monitoring, recording and reviewing performance with Mary. Eventually, the school decide to tackle these issues with Mary. However, because the school has routinely certified her performance as satisfactory for a number of years, Mary objects to participating in any review process. She claims that because the school has operated the certification process routinely over a considerable time period, there cannot be any change to this now. Scenario D Tom is employed as SNA in the school. The time for certification of his work is coming up. Some teachers and parents on the staff have expressed concerns about Tom’s work and his attitude to the children. The Principal is also concerned. The Chairperson and the Principal decide they cannot certify Tom’s work as being satisfactory. However, because they have not dealt with these issues through any formal process by bringing these matters to Tom’s attention, warning him, agreeing desired performance criteria and reviewing this with Tom; they cannot certify his performance as unsatisfactory. Neither have they any such procedures in place for the other SNAs, whose performance they are happy with. What do they do? PAGE 3
Certification for either satisfactory or unsatisfactory performance requires the same rigour and adherence to fair and transparent procedures. The same defined procedures will have to apply to all employees covered by this Circular and will have to apply from the time the Circular is first implemented in a school. It is not feasible to take a view that procedures can be established when and if a problem situation arises and that routine satisfactory certification will be sufficient until such a problem situation arises. ADVICE IPPN reiterates its considered advice to Principals which was issued recently by E-Scéal. Some Principals may already have completed and returned the required forms while others have not yet done so. There has been no satisfactory clarification available from the DES, INTO or Management Bodies on this matter. One course of action open to all Principals is to raise this matter formally at a Board of Management meeting and to request the Board to write to the DES, and their own management body seeking clarification and guidance. The following wording could act as a starting point for a letter from your BoM. We are deeply concerned about the implications for the Principal and for the Board of Management of implementing the terms of Circular 0139/2006. This Circular deals with the performance appraisal of staff in a manner which has not been done before. There has been no clear information, guidance or training on this matter for Principals or for the Board. We would respectfully request that clear information, guidance and training be provided on this matter before it is implemented in this school. We consider that implementing such a new measure without an understanding of the implications it contains may lead to anomalies and difficulties in the future. IPPN’s advice is that you should raise this matter with your BoM and to have recorded in the minutes your concern about the implications of this Circular for your role as Principal and also for that of the Board. We also advise that SNAs be kept informed by the Board of relevant developments.
Draft Codes of Professional Conduct for Teachers This is the text of IPPN’s submission to the Teaching Council: IPPN welcomes the publishing of the Draft Codes of Professional Conduct for Teachers and also the opportunity to submit for consideration by the Teaching Council the collated views of the IPPN National Executive and Committee. These codes are very clear in their message. The codes are easily understood in their layout dealing with the core values that underpin the teaching profession in Ireland: the Code of Professional Practice & the Code of Professional Conduct. These codes have the capacity to promote real improvements in teaching and learning in schools. At present they are aspirational and indeed inspirational. The real task will be to make them operational. IPPN believes that the role of the Principal in this regard as the day-to-day manager and as leader in the school is pivotal in this. Following consultation with our National Executive and National Committee we wish to have the following comments and recommendations considered by the Teaching Council.
1. Inclusion of the Principal’s Role
will be required. This positive aspect will arise primarily from good leadership in schools. While leadership is not exclusive to Principals, nevertheless, Principals are the teachers who by virtue of their role and statutory responsibility, are required to show such leadership. Principals are required to support and develop other teachers and to maintain and develop good practice in schools. Conversely, a code of practice by definition acknowledges that misconduct may occur. In such cases, again by virtue of role and statutory responsibility, the Principal is required to deal with such situations in ways which other teachers are not.
2. Professional Misconduct The Teaching Council Act 2001, Section 41, refers to professional misconduct by a registered teacher "engaging in conduct which is contrary to a code of professional conduct established under Section 7(a)(b)" Who is to establish what constitutes professional misconduct? We would like this question addressed and clarified. Again it refers to "any improper conduct in his or her professional capacity or otherwise by reason of which he or she is unfit to teach" This section has direct implications for the Principal on whom there would be a moral imperative to act, but is this backed by adequate supports and legislation? It has been suggested that implementation of the codes is covered by Grievance/Complaints procedures and that systems exist at local level to deal with such issues. These however, have often been found wanting in dealing with cases of professional misconduct and non co-operation.
The code speaks of teachers as "active partners with school management and parents in the development of a school ethos and culture conducive to a positive environment for teaching and learning". It goes on to state, "teachers work with management, students and parents in establishing and maintaining policies which are necessary for a safe and supportive working environment". IPPN is concerned that there is no Within the teaching recognition by the Teaching profession, where high Council within the Draft Codes of the dual role of the standards of practice Principal as teacher and as part and conduct are desired, of school management. This needs to be recognised, positive support, acknowledged and included.
IPPN recommends that the Council initiate a review of local procedures. The Teaching Council will have the ultimate decision in deciding on a teacher’s fitness to practice, it would seem logical then that the procedures at local level and at Council level should be linked. The role of any person or group involved should be clearly stated, i.e., teacher, Principal, Board of Management, Inspector, Teaching Council.
While it might be argued that development will be Principals are teachers and are therefore included in every required. aspect of the code, this approach does not sufficiently recognise the unique 3. The Codes and Schools role of the Principal Teacher. This leadership role, The Teaching Council has already been proactive in and the unique responsibilities attached are highlighting the Draft Codes to teachers and enshrined in legislation and in Ministerial decree. schools. Further work needs to be carried out to Any code of practice for teachers which fails to encourage schools to be proactive in promoting mention or take account of this leadership role and open and frank discussion about the codes. Each responsibilities is weakened and less effective than it school needs to adopt the codes in a manner that might be. will have a real influence on teaching and learning; otherwise the codes will remain aspirational. In Within the teaching profession, where high order to be effective, we have to frame a standards of practice and conduct are desired, professional development continuum to make positive support, encouragement and development explicit what was always implicit. These codes will PAGE 4
make a difference if teachers see that they will make positive practical changes to the school in which they work. Addressing and clarifying the roles, rights and responsibilities in relation to the codes of all those involved in schools could help greatly to achieve best practice and consistency in their implementation. IPPN will encourage and support Principals and Deputy Principals in developing good practice in their schools around the codes. The following are crucial questions for all schools that need discussion and clarification in relation to these codes: 1 (a) what can I as Principal expect of my colleagues? (b) What can my colleagues expect of me? 2 (a) what can I as a teacher expect of my colleagues? (b) What can they expect of me? 3 (a) what can I as a teacher expect of my pupils? (b) What can they expect of me? 4 (a) what can I expect of parents? (b) What can they expect of me? Principals are the people who will lead the discussion and development of the Codes in schools, but this needs to be recognised and supported by the Teaching Council. Developing a Code of Good Behaviour/Practice in a school will be ineffective unless there is an implementation plan and mechanisms for sanctioning behaviour contrary to the code. This raises a number of key questions for all schools: 1. Who is to implement the code? 2. Who is to decide on misconduct/behaviour contrary to the code? 3. What sanctions/consequences are in place, or will be put in place, to deal with misconduct/behaviour contrary to the code?
4. Professional Development One of the core values of the draft code (P 12) is that ‘teachers reflect on and continue to improve their own professional practice and are provided with opportunities to engage in professional development and the process of curriculum development’. Would the Council consider making it mandatory for a teacher/Principal to undertake professional development within an agreed period of time? Should this become part of the codes?
5. IPPN Recommendations 1.
IPPN fully supports the draft codes, but would like to see the dual role of teacher and Principal/day-to-day manager recognised and reflected in the codes. (See recommended wording in Appendix 1)
2. Local procedures need to be reviewed and clarified as part of the code. 3. Roles of all involved in implementation of the
Codes in relation to professional conduct and misconduct need to be specified, especially that of the Principal and the Inspectorate. 4. Procedures and agreed professional development opportunities for discussion and implementation of the codes in schools need to be established and supported. 5. Consideration should be given to including in the codes an expectation for a teacher/ Principal to undertake regular professional development within agreed periods of time with the full support of the Boards of Management and DES. 6. The Principal has a key role in helping a school develop and implement codes of professional conduct and practice. In recognition of this, the Principalâ€™s professional associations at first and second levels, IPPN and NAPD, should have representation on The Teaching Council as designated bodies as is the situation in other countries.
responsibilities, play a key role as the leaders of teaching and learning in their schools. The Local Community Effective teaching requires the support and positive collaboration of the wider community. Teachers, through their schools, utilise the community as a learning resource. The community, in turn, is enriched by its interaction with teachers who have a tradition of contributing to a range of community activities.
mention deputies or other teaching posts. But are there things in a code and indeed enshrined in legislation (see Education Act) that require some teachers to behave differently to others? Yes. Principals are leaders and also fulfil a dual management and code does not teaching leadership role".
"If this mention Principals specifically and recognise the unique role and responsibilities out of some sense of false egalitarianism, then it will fail to be as effective as it might be".
Learning in the School Community Teachers are educational leaders who contribute to creating and sustaining learning communities in their classrooms, in their schools and through their professional networks. Principal Teachers, by virtue of their additional regulated and statutory responsibilities, exercise a unique leadership role as educational leaders in their schools.
APPENDIX 1 Recommended wording for inclusion in the Code:
Feedback received from IPPN members on the Draft Codes:
Teachers act in a spirit of collegiality with professional colleagues, both as team members and as team leaders. They motivate and inspire by sharing their vision, expertise and reflections and they acknowledge and celebrate effort and success.
The Teacher, the State, the Community and the School Statutory and Regulatory Requirements Teachers in their professional role work within the framework of relevant legislation and regulations. They work in partnership with the Inspectorate of the Department of Education & Science and other statutory educational services.
"Having read the codes, I am impressed by their aspirational nature and see them as the first time common best practise in our schools has been documented". "While teachers as a body recognise the value of on-going professional development, can the Council reinforce (a) the RIGHT of all teachers to continuous professional development and (b) the RESPONSIBILITY of Boards of Management to support teachers in this area by affording them time to attend, time to study, financial support etc." "A REAL as opposed to "verbal" cohesion / cooperation / communication / is essential among all bodies involved in the provision of education in relation to these Draft Codes if they are to be successfully implemented".
Parents, School Management and Co-professionals Teachers work to develop positive relationships with parents, school management and co-professionals. Teachers are "Are there things in the code Teachers in their active partners with school that require or imply that one, management and parents in the professional role work rather than all or some development of a school ethos is required to take within the framework of teachers, and culture conducive to a action?" positive environment for teaching relevant legislation and learning. Teachers work with "The code applies to all management, students and and regulations. teachers. Principals are parents in establishing and teachers, therefore there maintaining policies which are necessary for a safe seems to be an acceptance in the formulation of the and supportive learning environment. Principal Codes that there is no need to mention principals Teachers, by virtue of their statutory role and specifically in the same way that there is no need to PAGE 5
There is an implied responsibility in code that some would take more care or responsibility than others. That some would lead. That some would monitor and, by virtue of their role, act differently â€“ model, lead, monitor"
"Principals are teachers but teachers are not principals. Legislation requires different things. Principals are responsible for the actions of other teachers by law. This needs to be reflected in the Codes". "If this code does not mention Principals specifically and recognise the unique role and responsibilities out of some sense of false egalitarianism, then it will fail to be as effective as it might be". "While the positive, aspirational aspects of this proposed code may be written by only referring to all teachers, inclusive of Principals, and may not need to refer to the unique situation of Principal Teachers, this will certainly not be possible when dealing with misconduct. It is impossible to imagine any document or process which would comprehensively deal with the question of misconduct by a teacher without referring to the role, responsibilities and expected behaviour of the Principal" "Teachers work in a context. This context is the school. Every school has a Principal teacher with unique responsibilities and a unique role set down in legislation and Ministerial decree. Any code of conduct must recognise this and acknowledge that all teachers are expected to behave in certain ways in their professional lives. At the same time, some teachers (namely Principals) by virtue of their additional role and responsibilities, have a role in both encouraging and leading this conduct and also in dealing with misconduct where it arises. This is inescapable. A code which fails to recognise this is doing a disservice to all teachers and to Principals in particular." "While I welcome the code I am a little anxious of all the talk of "aspirational" guidelines. Where will that leave the principal who, as usual, will have to deal with the fall out of poor performance etc. at local level?" Clearly, it is very important that we have IPPN representation on Teaching Council.
READY FOR THE FUTURE An Overview Maighréad Ní Ghallchóbhair, O.P. What are we talking about? IPPN, NEPS, NCSE, DES, EPSEN, EWO, SENO - I could go on and on talking in capital letters. And where is it going or is it of value?
a hen house in Northern Ireland a child of around 14 years was found having been reared by the hens because of the shame felt by the family.
and dependent. Indeed that is a good thing in many ways. Many of the children of the past were denied a real childhood, having to be prepared for work by 12-13 years old. Imagine any of the children of that age now, being able to start work at a sewing or jam factory often to provide the only income to the family. This level of responsibility and indeed the self esteem it brought with it cannot be underestimated. But with this there was the underbelly of society which few of us knew about - the overcrowding, hunger, abuse and general deprivation were considered as something to be overcome but often it was felt that school was helpless in its face.
I began teaching at a time when the 'Blue Book' The curriculum was, to put it mildly, not clear and 'The Department' were all that mattered. but basics were well known and largely dictated We left College - Mary Immaculate in my case by the Primary Cert. The 3Rs had priority and armed with a lot of common sense - gleaned the rest depended on the expertise or the flair mostly from our parents and a copy of notes for of the teachers. Music, poetry, creative writing each subject in A5 format. After that, we had and conversation flourished but were taken for ourselves, the clairín and the cailc! It is hard to granted and derived from the pleasure gleaned believe that the first school I taught in – or did I? by those who delivered. The children could knit – was a two teacher school where the Principal and sew; even the boys at times made scarves! had just left his college and I was a greenhorn. And there were failures. Children left school at School was a dilapidated two room edifice with 12 for the work market without ever learning to a turf burner in each room. There was no inside read. This was not due to the struggle of the And now ... Things have improved radically. We toilet and the staff shared the outside facilities staff but these children had all the difficulties have more courage to fight for the rights of all. with the children - the likes of which I had never now given specific names but were neither This is not without its practical difficulties. The seen in my life. Lunchtime was held in the identified nor catered for. Remember that Education Act has set us a programme which is classroom and when the lunch was psychological services in my often overwhelming making us paranoid about Are we going to over, the resident mice came from the early days were minimal the onerous task presented to schools. It is wainscoting to feast on the remains - continue to pack the and for the wealthy. It was interesting that the government has included that was feet on the desk time. I don't only from the early the little words 'where practicable' for itself but curriculum so that seventies that some access no such phrase exonerates the schools. The remember anyone doing supervision. every student teacher for other children became willingness of schools to make education In early October on a Monday available. I noticed this in influential in the lives of all children cannot be morning, only the 'Infants' turned into will ultimately be able Benincasa when in the early underestimated. Every effort is made to school and a few better off, older to take the place of the years of the school, the communicate and co-operate with all the children. Talk about disadvantage! The register identified the partners and they are multiple - not only the absentees had gone to thin beet for family in the learning occupations of parents as three main recognised bodies but all the the surrounding beet farms - one of professionals. Only children peripheral ones - HSE clinics, appeal boards, of the child? the important sources of income for in care other than the GAA, unions, professional bodies and the list the families. I think that one of the significant better off had an assessment. goes on. And Principals - or indeed staffs - do indicators of poverty is shoes and these children not stint on time given outside school. The mostly wore wellies to school. Uniform? Never And now, what have we gained and where are delivery of a holistic education in schools is heard of in those days except in private schools. we going? Much has been done, supported by in-service Probably the most training but that is only the I have to admit that I did not last in that school much remains to do. But are we in for very long. My departure was precipitated by danger of throwing out the baby significant change start of it. To become really a chasing down the road by a goose and later by with the bath water? Is it better to proficient, staffs need to in our educational continue ongoing input so that a goat and the fact that I had to put up an have two years to be monitored as a umbrella over my bed at night when it was learner teacher? Is it fair to expect system is the inclusion the development never ceases. raining. When I left, I managed to remedy this anyone to be competent in such a And is it interesting? Of course for the landlady by way of 'pull'. vital profession in a short time? Are of children with special it is but it all comes at a price to we going to continue to pack the needs as the norm. the individual and the school Ah, the good old days!! We had classes of over curriculum so that every student where there is an exhortation 60, no access to materials or equipment - except teacher will ultimately be able to take the place to develop staff, but no finances to support this spools on cord and conkers - the classrooms of the family in the learning of the child? Is this development. were colder than bearable, the Diploma took 2 possible or even ethical? years, only by special permission could English Probably the most significant change in our be used as the working language in the Infant Let's look at the environment. Why have we had educational system is the inclusion of children classes, music and choirs thrived, PE was to become involved in green schools? Have we with special needs as the norm. In the past there running round the yard before school, no one forgotten the value of wool as a warmer or do was indeed inclusion - we called it integration heard of ADHD, ADD, ODD, Autism, Aspergers we heat our rooms so that children and adults then, if we called it anything at all. At one stage, etc. Mental Handicap was the term used for wearing only t-shirts with short sleeves are I took it on myself to write an article on learning disability. During my time in my second almost comatose in the classroom. Have we 'Inclusion versus Integration', noting that school, I had a child with Down's Syndrome in disremembered our own reserves? integration meant that the child had to adapt my Junior Infant class with 24 other children. while in inclusion the system needs to do so. I Wasn't that ‘of the future’? At the same time in Our children have become much more needy sent the script to the Inspector - maybe I was PAGE 6
influential! In the past the children in the system were there, without assessment and often without any support. Now there is hardly a school in the Primary system where a child with special needs has not been included with at least some of the needs being addressed. That is not to say that the process is easy. In any system where decisions are left to the discretion of individuals, there will be significant discrepancies. The training and background of those making the decisions are broad ranging and on occasion leave the schools struggling to understand how decisions are reached. Presumably it all comes back to finance but I sometimes wondered during my career if there was not a suspicion in relation to demands being made by schools for children. We are after all professionals - how many times have we heard people say 'The Professionals...' inferring in our presence that it was the other professionals in the room who were the real professionals who could enlighten us as to what
we should expect for the child. Our qualifications, skills, wisdom and our knowledge of the pupils should be sufficient to warrant provision of services. Like everything else, there could be abuses but why set up a system which operates on the hermeneutics of suspicion.
the NCSE report to the Minister indicates very clearly that there is a place for special schools in the system. But this should not take from the richness that the inclusion of children with special needs offers to mainstream children who are the parents of the future.
Here I have to put in a call for the continuum of provision for children with special needs. It is clear that not every child is capable of benefiting from mainstream situations and that for at least some of the child's education, some children need to source special units or schools in order to compensate adequately. Section 29 of the Education Act has crippled the system to some extent and children are being kept in mainstream schools with staff at their wits end and the other children in the classrooms being deprived of a full, rich curriculum because of the time expended on the child with special needs. It is interesting that this area of the Act is at the moment being looked at for amendment. And
And where to in the future? Knowing where we have come from is of great value. Deciding what we want... that is the problem. We certainly have some idea of what kind of citizens we want to see for the future. Well educated, confident, spiritual, sensitive, upright, articulate, creative would be a start. This is all in the lap of the gods and the politicians. Their willingness to support modern methods and thinking as well as giving the necessary resources to fund the presentation of education to our children is vital to the future of our already excellent though groaning system. And there is a general election looming…
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 PAGE 7
COPING WITH CHANGE
Courageous and Principled Leadership Fergus Finlay
Leadership throws up some surprises for even the most capable leaders.
Fergus Finlay had only opened his delivery at the IPPN Conference when he asked the question – this room is full of people in Leadership positions – but how many are Leaders? As leaders we are coping now with new relationships, changed relationships and changing technologies.
Michael Porter lists seven surprises encountered by leaders upon elevation.
Having garnered a comprehensive list of leadership qualities from attendees, he encouraged them to look critically at world acclaimed leaders Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and Michael O’Leary, assigning characteristics to their leadership. Each brought particular gifts to bear on their organisation or country as leader. However when it came to results – could the country or organisation be said to be well led?
1. You can’t run it alone. 2. Giving orders can be costly! 3. You don’t always know what is really going on – who has another agenda, who is a ‘stirrer’. What is the message hidden in the information given? 4. You’re always sending out a message – how you dress, your body language, your reactions. 5. You’re not the boss! 6. Short term goals don’t really matter. 7. You’re still only human.
According to Daniel Goldman, there is no ‘one type fits all’ leader. He explores six different leadership styles – Visionary, Coaching, Collegiate, Democratic, Pacesetter and Commander.
Over time a good leader develops good working habits. Steven Covey has come up with seven good habits for all leaders.
There is a place and time for each type of leader – A Commander will be more likely to succeed than a Democratic leader in a war situation but not in a school. In fact attendees, marking out of ten, gave the Democratic style of leadership the highest mark, with the collegiate style in second place. Goldman out lines four key competencies of leadership: 1. Self Awareness – Don’t believe you’re the only one with an answer but know when you have to make a decision. Instinct is important (this is the area where leaders fail most often). 2. Self Management – Objective over ego. Handling our emotions, the ability to ‘get over it’, and learn from mistakes. Perseverance, self control and trustworthiness are key. 3. Social Awareness – Appreciation of, and empathy towards other people’s feelings. Service orientation. 4. Social Skills – Capacity to persuade, lead, negotiate, communicate, influence. Developing the skills and capacities of others.
1. Be Proactive. 2. Begin at the end – ask where do we want to go before figuring out how to get there. 3. First things first – urgent and important aren’t the same. 4. Think Win/Win. 5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. 6. Synergise – bring all the talents and skills together. 7. Sharpen the saw! Always be willing to learn. Leaders need followers who share their vision. According to the Harvard Business School, there are nine steps to team building. 1. Helping people see the purpose of what you’re doing. 2. Expect a lot. 3. Don’t dictate how. 4. Be really available. 5. Break the golden rule – so what is needed to be done. 6. Get the word out quickly. 7. Make sure people have what they need. 8. Say ‘Thanks’. 9. Have as much fun as possible!
NEPS SERVICE In the last week of March, IPPN learned from some Principals that NEPS had removed service from their schools. We investigated and learned that 29 primary schools in Wicklow and South Dublin were to have their NEPS service withdrawn as part of a “re-ordering” of services. There was dismay and shock at this announcement. Considerable media attention was drawn to this matter after IPPN issued a press release with an article in the Irish Independent and radio coverage on national and local stations. On 30th March, it was then announced that this “re-ordering” was not now to take place and that the NEPS service would resume in these schools. IPPN welcomed the reversal of this decision and issued the following statement: “IPPN welcomes today's announcement from the Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin, TD restoring the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) service to primary schools in the Wicklow and Dublin areas. Twenty-nine schools had been told recently that they were to lose their NEPS service as a result of a re-ordering. We also welcome the commitment to the continued expansion of this service. Every child in every school should be able to access the NEPS support service when it is needed. The excellent NEPS service needs to be available in every school as soon as possible. We highlighted this issue because of the deep concern felt by those Principals whose schools had been told they were to lose this service. Over 5,000 children would have been affected”.
YOUR CHANCE TO HAVE A SAY: IPPN/OECD Research Project on School Management IPPN is currently engaged in an important, relevant and timely research project which focuses on an exploration of the practices, issues, concerns and possibilities that present themselves for management/governance of Primary schools. The term ‘governance’ is a lesser used term in the Irish context. Schools are currently operated by a ‘Board of Management’, the term itself giving rise to some confusion as to the delineation between the role of the Principal who manages the
school on a day-to-day basis, and the Board that is responsible for the overall effective governance of the school.
you – if you are selected – to complete and return the questionnaire and to ensure that your Board does so also.
IPPN’s research work is part of a wider OECD project on Improving School Leadership. The research will include the distribution of a questionnaire to the Principals and the Boards of Management of 500 randomly selected Irish Primary schools. These questionnaires will arrive in schools after Easter and IPPN urges
A follow-up interview will take place with representatives of a section of schools, also randomly selected, and a small number of case studies of school types will also take place. IPPN acknowledge the interest of the Department of Education and Science in supporting this important work.
Implementing the EPSEN Act 2004 (continued) The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has presented the Minister for Education and Science with a plan for the implementation of the Education for Persons with Special Education Needs (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 42-step plan (outlining the actions to be taken, by whom and when) was printed in Issue 36 of Leadership+. The following table shows the actions required to facilitate commencement of each section of the EPSEN Act not yet commenced and proposed commencement dates.
SECTION TO BE IMPLEMENTED
SANCTIONS NEEDED TO FACILITATE IMPLEMENTATION
PROPOSED COMMENCEMENT DATES FOR ACT
Section 3 Preparation of Education Plan by school (including steps preliminary to such preparation)
1. Notice to school Principals regarding action to be taken on being notified by parents or otherwise forming the opinion that a student is not benefiting to the extent expected from the education being provided (Section 3(1)).
2. Issue of guidelines to Principals as to matters that should be taken into account in deciding whether to arrange an assessment or to request the Council to arrange an assessment. (Section 3 (8)).
3. Establish body to determine the standards that assessments under the Act must conform to (Section 5(5)). And publish these standards.
Minister for Health and Children
December 2006 to May 2007
4. Prepare and issue guidelines to Principals in relation to the standards for assessments and composition of assessment teams (Section 5(1), 5(5)).
5. Recruitment of sufficient professional personnel to enable assessments in accordance with the set standards to be completed within the timescales set out in the Act.
Minister for Education and Science, Health Service Executive
To begin immediately and full complement of required staff to be in place by September 2008
SECTION TO BE IMPLEMENTED
Section 9 Content of Education Plan
Section 10 Designation of School process of designation of schools
Section 14 Duty of Schools
Section 18 Delegation of functions of Principals etc
SANCTIONS NEEDED TO FACILITATE IMPLEMENTATION
6. Issues of guidelines to Principals / schools regarding the preparation of IEPs.
Done September 2006
7. Provide training to Principals and teachers on the preparation, monitoring and review of IEPs
Beginning January 2007 completed September 2009
8. Review staffing requirements in schools to ensure that teachers have knowledge and time to deliver education plans within a timescale.
Begin December 2006 to September 2007
9. Appoint additional staff to schools.
September 2007 to September 2009
10. Clarification of the circumstances in which an IEP will be prepared under direction of the Council and issue ofnotification to schools.
11. Appointment of the Appeals Board and clarification of the appeals process.
DES / Appeals Board
December 2006 to May 2007
Issue Guidelines on the form of an IEP
Develop and issue specific guidelines in relation to provision for particular students
Agree protocols for communication between schools
Draw up guidelines in relation to the preliminary consultations and notification
Agree appeals process with Appeals Board
Appeals Board/ NCSE/HSE
Provide information to schools on their obligations under the Act
Sections 14(1)(a), 14 (1) (c ), 14 (2), 14(3), 14(4) already commenced
Address school staffing issues
Agree protocols with schools on the exchange of information
Adequate resourcing needs to be made available to schools to facilitate delegation
September 2007 to
SENOs need training on the provisions of the Act
PROPOSED COMMENCEMENT DATES FOR ACT
Special Education The current reality, pending the full implementation of the EPSEN Act Observations by Larry Fleming, IPPN Deputy President Current Criteria regarding pupils for whom the NCSE can allocate SNAs are as follows: ■ A pupil must be assessed by the relevant professional (as named in the most recent DES circulars) as meeting the DES criteria for either ‘high incidence’ or ‘low incidence’ SEN (as defined in Circulars 08/02, 01/05 and 02/05). ■ A school cannot apply for, or be allocated, additional SNA hours or posts without a recommendation from the appropriate professional. ■ The application is then processed in terms of the criteria set out in Circular 07/02 (ie ‘care needs’ or ‘a danger to him/herself or others’). Care needs must be clearly set out in the application. Pupils with Emotional Disturbance and/or Behavioural Problems (EBD) (in accordance with the relevant circulars) must have a report from a psychologist or psychiatrist stating that they have EBD or Severe EBD as well as evidence of continuing treatment in order to be eligible for allocation of SNA hours. ■ Where a pupil meets the criteria for ‘high’ or ‘low incidence’ disability under DES criteria and meets the criteria set out in Circular 07/02, it is recommended that NEPS psychologists clearly set out the needs of the pupil in terms of SNA support. The NEPS psychologist may also wish to outline the SNA’s role in addressing those needs. However, the number of SNA hours required should not be specified by the psychologist as that will be established by the SENO in the context of the individual school. Note On receipt of an application from a school for additional SNA allocation for a pupil, the SENO may: ■ Visit the school and observe the pupil’s classroom context to establish what additional SNA resources, if any, are needed in addition to what the school already has to address the needs outlined in the psychologist’s (or professional) report. ■ To address the needs outlined in the psychologist’s (or professional) report. ■ Meet with the parent of the pupil to explain the allocation and the rationale for it. ■ Allocate enough SNA support to enable the school to meet the needs outlined by the psychologist. Observation of a pupil by the SENO is not for the purpose of assessing the pupil’s needs, or contradicting what is recommended by the professional report, rather it is for the determination of the level of SNA support required by the school to meet the needs of a child in light of the current resources in the school (eg can the needs outlined by the professional be met by the allocation of SNA time already available to the school or will additional SNA allocation be required?)
Recommendation of Resource hours:
■ For pupils in primary schools, resource hours may be allocated to pupils who have significant special educational needs that meet the DES criteria for ‘special needs arising from a low incidence disability’ in circulars 08/02, 01/05, 02/05. ■ The SENO is not in a position to allocate any more than the hours set out by the DES in
Circular 01/05 for pupils with low incidence disabilities ■ It is recommended that NEPS psychologists outline the type of additional teaching support needed by an individual pupil. It is then up to the school to either use its resources under the general allocation to provide the support, or to apply for additional resource hours from the NCSE on the basis of the recommendations for pupils who meet the DES criteria for low incidence SEN. Circular 02/05 sets out the various ways in which a school may deploy its additional teaching staff to cater for pupils’ needs either in groups or individually. Note: NEPS psychologists should not state the number of hours Resource teaching a pupil with low incidence SEN should be allocated. The SENO will allocate hours to the school in accordance with DES criteria.
Current practice regarding parental consent: As part of the application process for resource allocation (resources hours or SNA), parents sign consent for reports on their child to be made available to the NCSE. The forms completed by the school to make application for resources require proof that parental consent is obtained; SENOs will not process applications without such consent. NEPS psychologists require signed parental consent in order to work with an individual pupil, to make reports on individual pupils available to other agencies or to access reports from other agencies.
Specific Speech and Language Disorder Because the WISC-IV does not have the same structure as the WISC-III, the following criteria apply in terms of non-verbal IQ: The term ‘Perceptual Reasoning Index’ from the WISC-IV should be substituted for Performance IQ on the WISC-III and may be considered to be a measure of a pupil’s non-verbal ability for the purpose of diagnosis of Specific speech and language disorder and for the allocation of resource hours. To meet the current DES criteria for SSLD, a pupil must score in the average range on a measure of nonverbal cognitive ability. Language scores, either Receptive or Expressive, must be at, or below the 2nd percentile. A small NEPS-NCSE working group has been set up to consider provision in this area.
Emotional Disturbance and/or Behavioural Problems (EBD): Reports required: (a) A report from a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist is needed that a pupil has a diagnosed Emotional and/or Behavioural Disorder with supporting evidence that it is ‘impairing his/her socialisation and/or learning in school’ (in accordance with circular 01/05). Or (b) A report from a NEPS/Educational psychologist which states that a pupil has significant and persistent Emotional and/or Behavioural PAGE 13
Difficulties which are ‘impairing his/her socialisation and/or learning in school’ (in accordance with Circular 01/05). And The report should describe the emotional and/or behavioural difficulty clearly and should include indication of many or all the following: ● Information on the frequency and intensity of the behaviour/s ● Information gained from structured observation of the pupil in school ● Information gained from interview/s with teachers, parents and relevant others ● Information gained from checklists of behaviour ● Information gained from standardised assessment of behaviour (eg on the Achenbach, Connors, Child Behaviour Checklist) which indicates that behaviour is in the clinically highly significant ranges of difficulty ● Information on interventions put in place for the pupil by the school using all current resources available to it ● Information on the pupil’s view of his/her behavioural response
Definition of treatment: In addition to a report which establishes that the pupil has significant EBD, it is required by Circular 02/05 that the pupil is receiving treatment. Medication alone is not an adequate treatment for the purposes of meeting the DES criteria for allocation of resources in terms of ‘low incidence’ EBD. Treatment needs to address the behaviours of concern over a period of time (eg ongoing professional input external to the school’s staff). Severe EBD: The criteria for Severe EBD are that the pupil is in the care of a Psychiatrist or Clinical Psychologist for a severe clinical disorder. A very small number of pupils would be expected to fall within this category. A small NEPS-NCSE working group has been set up to consider provision in this area. Dyspraxia: In order that a pupil’s needs meet the criteria for Resource/SNA allocation in terms of low incidence SEN, the following are required: 1. Diagnosis of severe dyspraxia by an Occupational Therapist and/or Neurologist or multidisciplinary Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD) team. And The pupil has significant difficulties that are significantly impairing learning in school. Evidence is required that a pupil’s attainments in reading or maths are at or below the 2nd percentile on standardised tests (from the list set out in Appendix 1). If the pupil has significant self-help/mobility difficulties, eg with toileting, dressing, feeding and/or serious safety issues, access to the support of an SNA may be required. Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Reports required:
(a) For placement in a mainstream class setting: Certification by a psychiatrist or psychologist that the pupil has been assessed as having Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder in accordance with DSM-IV or ICD- 10 criteria. OR Certification by a multi-disciplinary professional team (of which a psychologist or psychiatrist is a member) that the pupil satisfies the criteria for Autistic Spectrum Disorder. (b) For placement in a special school/special class: For placement in a dedicated autism educational provision, an assessment by a psychologist or a multi-disciplinary team, which includes a psychologist, will be required. All such reports will be considered in the light of the DES/NEPS guidelines.
Note: There is currently no provision for the allocation of resources/SNA on the basis of an ‘interim diagnosis’.
Use of the General Ability Index (GAI) in place of Full Scale IQ (FSIQ): The WISC-IV is composed of four factors, two of which can influence the FSIQ of pupils with specific difficulties in working memory or processing speed. Because of this it will now be necessary to accept both the FSIQ and the GAI as acceptable measures of intellectual ability for pupils with Specific and General Learning Disabilities. The choice of which is
the most appropriate will depend on a careful analysis by the psychologist of the factor scores and or inter-factor differences.
Statements of IQ in reports: Psychologists often don’t state exact IQ scores in reports. For the purposes of resource/SNA allocation SENOs will require that the pupil’s ability is either: (a) At or below the IQ score specified by the DES criteria (b) Within the range of ability specified by the DES criteria (eg a statement that the pupil’s assessed overall intellectual ability is in the Mild General Learning Disability range) A statement that a pupil’s assessed overall intellectual ability is between ranges is not acceptable according to DES criteria – eg a statement that the pupil’s FSIQ or GAI is in the Mild/Moderate Range of General Learning Disability, or is between 56 or 65 based on the 95% confidence interval, is not acceptable for the allocation of Resource hours in terms of low incidence SEN. Standardised tests for use in the reporting of attainments where stated in the criteria for high or low incidence SEN:
Literacy: Any of the following at or below the 2nd percentile: ■ The Wechsler Objective Reading Dimensions (WORD):
● Composite score or Basic Reading score ● Spelling and Reading Comprehension ■ The Wechsler Individual Attainment Test, 2nd edition (WIAT-II): ● Reading Composite or Written Language Composite ● Word Reading or Pseudo Reading ● Spelling and Reading comprehension ■ The British Ability Scales-II (BAS-II): ● Word Reading The Neale Analysis of Reading Ability – Revised (NARA-II): ● Accuracy ■ Drumcondra Primary Reading Test ● Micra-T (2004 edition)
Numeracy: Any of the following at or below the 2nd percentile: ■ The Wechsler Objective Numerical Dimensions (WOND): Composite score ● Numerical Operations or Mathematical Reasoning ■ The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, 2nd edition (WIAT-II): ● Mathematics Composite ● Numerical Operations or Mathematical Reasoning ■ The British Ability Scales-II (BAS-II): ● Number Skills ■ Drumcondra Primary Mathematics Test (or DPMT-revised)
MOANERS OR WHAT? IPPN has asked Principals to describe how they feel as they go to work in the morning.
value the school could offer, then we have to look to the other issues – resources, structures, professional development among others - to answer the question.
Principals’ main feelings are those of being challenged in the job, yet enthusiastic and happy about their work. Most Principals feel valued and supported but are also tired, stressed, anxious and somewhat overwhelmed by the challenges of the post. (Half of the Principals are full-time Teaching Principals which of course is an added factor).
Where do Principals see the fault-line in holding back on success in the job? An overwhelming 93% of Principals have said that IPPN has made a difference to them and has supported them in their role as Principal. They also feel that IPPN as an education partner should have representation on all relevant key committees. The announcement by Minister Hanafin that IPPN has been awarded Designated Status is very welcome and should ensure greater collaboration with school leaders. However, 92% of Principals feel that the Department does not understand or support the needs of Principals.
When you see some of the remainder of the survey (e.g. Principals’ disillusionment with NEWB, funding for ICT and other matters), it explains some of the challenges they face. The ‘shock-factor’, however, is that only 3% of Principals felt that they were being ‘successful’ in their job. Now, what’s wrong Minister? If we have a cohort of leaders who are largely very positive and enthusiastic about their work but 97% do not feel they can realise their potential as leaders, or the potential of the educational
So the conclusion is that Principals are a happy, enthusiastic bunch who unfortunately feel no great success in their job because the system has not just failed some children, but failed many Principals as well.
YOU MIGHT BE A TEACHER IF... You want to slap the next person who says "It must be nice to have all those holidays!" You can tell it's a full moon without looking outside. When out in public, you feel the urge to talk to strange children and correct their behaviour. You can 'hold on' until after lunchtime playground duty. You can go to the loo, take a phone call, have a conference with a colleague, tend to first aid and have a cup of coffee in 20 minutes. You check for spelling and punctuation errors in every piece of writing you see. You walk around shopping centres wearing face paint, stickers and a daisy chain, and don't even notice the stares. You look 50 before you are 30. You can't pick a name for your unborn child as every name reminds you of a student. When you can't get your friends to listen to you, you put your hands on your head. You rate the educational value of cartoons. You count your life in periods of ten weeks (depending on term length). You can sing all of the words of the National Anthem (in both languages!) You can't go anywhere without thinking 'what a great place for an excursion!' You cringe at the way bank tellers grip their pens. You don't know the date, but you know it's day 5, week 4, term 4. You believe the staffroom should have a Valium salt lick. You believe 'shallow gene pool' should have its own box on the new reports. You believe that unspeakable evil will befall anyone who says "Gee, the kids are great today." Meeting a child's parents instantly answer 'why is this child like this?' You get a warm inner glow when just one child says "thank you for helping me." PAGE 15
Resource Pack for Teaching Principals Your chance to contribute IPPN's research into the role of Teaching Principal has clearly identified many of the challenges the dual role poses, not least of which is the administrative workload burden. We are currently working on a Resource Pack for Teaching Principals which will provide hints, tips, tools and recommended practices and procedures that are aimed at making the most of the limited time available for administration. We invite Teaching Principals who are interested in contributing to this project to share their innovative practices, systems and tools - particularly in the areas of delegation, timetabling, time management, administration practices and class teacher allocation. Don't be shy! What may seem simple or basic to you may be an invaluable, creative tool to a fellow Teaching Principal. Please submit documents or information to email@example.com by the end of April.
textasub tex-asub.ie .ie
The fastest way to find a substitute teacher for your school. Simply log on and upload the contact details of the school, the nature of the vacant class and the minimum duration for which the sub is required. This information is then automatically sent by text message to all substitute teachers who have registered their mobile phone numbers with www.textasub.ie Hundreds of teachers, in all counties, registered to receive text-a-sub notifications Only the substitute teachers that are available will receive your text message. The Principal / DP can offer a school, home or mobile number to receive a call from subs The Principal / DP then chooses from the most suitably experienced / qualified teachers that reply. This service is totally free!
The implications of Section 80 of the Sa and Welfare at Work Act 2005 for Senior The following is offered as a guide for Principals and Deputy Principals so that they might have some understanding and information regarding the implications of the new legislation for senior management in schools. It is not a definitive guide and further information is available from the Health and Safety Authority on their website: www.hsa.ie Legislation recognises that individuals are protected under a "company" structure, but with the introduction of the 2005 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, directors and senior managers can be prosecuted under Section 80 if they fail in their duties in relation to health and safety. This is a new development because even though the Act places responsibilities for occupational health and safety on all the stakeholders within an organisation, it makes special reference to the importance of the role of directors and senior management. Before dealing with the specifics of Section 80 it is important at this stage to define a "Director" and an "Undertaking". These are defined in Section 2 of the Act (Interpretation). A director is defined as including a person in accordance with whose directions or instructions the directors of the undertaking concerned are accustomed to act. With regard to senior managers the Act seems to apply to those managers and other officers who have an input into corporate policy, that is those who have executive functions in an organisation. It suggests that the director or senior manager is a figure within the organisation who has a defining role and input into policies (including health and safety) and implementation of same within that company. An "undertaking" is defined as a person, being an individual, a body corporate or an unincorporated body of persons engaged in the production, supply or distribution of goods or the provision of a service – this would indicate that Section 80 applies to both the public and private sector and to profit and non–profit organisations (i.e. schools). Section 80 of the Act details the liability of directors and officers of an undertaking. Most prosecutions under the 2005 Act and regulations will continue as in the past, to be against the employer as a corporate body (in our case the Board of Management) rather than any individual. However Section 80 provides that in certain circumstances senior managers and officers in the organisation can be prosecuted and convicted.
Section 80 provides that: When an offence, under health and safety laws is committed by an undertaking and the acts involved were authorised or consented to or were attributable to connivance or neglect on the part of a director, manager or similar officer in the undertaking or a person acting in such a capacity both the person and the undertaking will be guilty of an offence and liable to be proceeded against and punished as if the person was guilty of the offence committed by the undertaking. Accordingly, for a director or senior manager to be prosecuted or convicted it must first be proven that they: ■ authorised the offence ■ consented to the offence or that ■ the offence was as a result of the director’s/manager’s connivance or neglect. However, Section 80 (2) introduces a new presumption that the director or senior manager consented or was neglectful, unless he/she can disprove this. This underlines the need for directors and managers to be proactive in their position. The crucial question is who is in charge at a high level within the organisation? The answer is that it includes the Board of Management and other persons who control the affairs and property of the organisation, namely any person whose duties include making decisions (within a school context it could include Principals and Deputy Principals). There have been a number of Irish and English cases on this issue and it seems that Section 80 of the 2005 act only applies to directors/ managers who have had an input into corporate policy, that is, those who have executive functions in the organisation. It is also clear that if a person has no real responsibility for the matter in question they cannot be prosecuted under Section 80 of the 2005 Act. Section 77 states that a person having duties under the Act, is guilty of an offence if another person suffers a personal injury as a consequence of them breaching their statutory duties. This Section sets out the full range of offences applicable under the Act. PAGE 16
Section 78 provides for a fine under summary jurisdiction not exceeding €3,000 for a person guilty of an offence under the first category of offences set out in Section 77(1). A person found guilty of any other offence set out in Section 77 is liable, on summary conviction (in the District Court) to a fine not exceeding €3,000 and/or up to 6 months imprisonment. Charges brought on indictment (in the Circuit Court) may lead to a fine not exceeding €3 million and/or 2 years imprisonment. Failure to comply with the duties results in criminal prosecution for breach of duty and can lead to: a) difficulties obtaining a travel visa b) being unable to serve on state bodies c) a criminal record. Section 79 will allow the Minister to introduce regulations prescribing a range of offences as being liable for on-the-spot-fines up to €1,000 payable within 21 days. Payments will be made to the Health and Safety Authority and a receipt issued, which should be kept as proof of payment. Section 85 provides that the Health and Safety Authority may, from time to time, compile and publish lists of names and addresses and the description of business or other activity of persons on whom a court under safety and health legislation imposed fines or other penalties. The list must include details, as the Authority thinks fit, of the matter involved and the fine, penalty, notice or order concerned. This would be negative publicity for both the organisation and the individual and may affect an individual when making future career changes as companies will be able to refer to the published lists when checking out potential candidates when filling vacancies. The company may also suffer when seeking new contracts with large organisations that have exemplary safety records and may not wish to be associated with a company that has failed in this area. Irish case law has established detailed principles that apply when imposing a fine on a company or a director and has also identified a list of aggravating and mitigating factors that would influence the court (DPP V Roseberry Construction Limited and McIntyre; DPP V Oran Precast). In Ireland there have not yet been any convictions of manslaughter to an individual in
afety, Health r Managers a company or organisation but it is very likely that this will change in light of new legislation. If an employee covered by this Section becomes aware that he or she is suffering from any disease or illness likely to expose him or her or any other person to an increased risk of danger in connection with any work activity, he/she must immediately inform their employer or a registered medical practitioner nominated by the employer. If the employer is informed of any such risk by either a nominated registered medical practitioner or the employee, immediate action must be taken by the employer to comply with the general duties under Section 8 as regards the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work of his/her employees. Section 27 of the Act states that an employer may not penalise or threaten penalty against an employee for: a) complying with legislation b) performing duties (such as safety rep or safety committee) c) refusing to work in a situation of serious and imminent danger. Note: Penalties can include suspension, demotion, transfer of duties, or change in working hours. Sections 28–31 (new) contain detailed provisions on dispute resolution about Safety and Health. So where the employer breaches Section 27, the employee has rights under Section 28 to appeal such decisions.
Senility Prayer Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, The good fortune to run into the ones I do, And the eyesight to tell the difference.
Who actually employs teachers and Principals – the DES or the BoM? The child sexual abuse cases covered on the RTE Prime Time programme on Thursday March 21st highlight clearly the anomaly regarding who is the real employer in schools - the DES or the Board of Management. An employer/paymaster might be expected to control, regulate and deal with serious issues and situations. Yet the DES, which has all the major functions of an employer, chooses not to get involved. They say it is a matter for the employer – the Board of Management. IPPN contends that ■ It is unfair to expect voluntary BoMs to deal with serious and complex issues relating to employer / employee responsibilities. ■ Volunteer members of BoMs are very often not aware of, or familiar with the complexities and responsibilities of being an employer. ■ People will be unlikely to become members of BoMs when they know they can be held liable as employers. ■ Principals are the only constant and nonvoluntary members that cannot step down from BoM responsibilities. The real test of employer responsibility emerges in cases where there are serious difficulties and issues in relation to children or staff, such as the cases highlighted in the Prime Time programme. This breach of trust between parent, teacher and child has been rightly condemned. IPPN, as the professional association for Principals and Deputy Principals, will continue to support the implementation of the ‘Children First’ Guidelines and ‘Stay Safe’ programmes to prevent any form of child abuse in our schools and communities.
“There are a number of issues to be borne in mind in considering the implications of what happened to Louise O’Keefe, the young woman at the centre of the Prime Time story, who lost her case against the State. The State denied all liability for the actions of the teachers on the grounds that the teachers were hired by the local structures then in place. When that tactic succeeded in court, the State then decided to pursue the courageous young woman who had iniated proceedings for the the full cost of the action. Firstly, the State made a deliberate and conscious choice to use the strategy it used against her. Precisely the same legal defence could have been mounted by the State, for instance, against survivors of institutional abuse, but the State made a different choice in that case. Secondly, in adopting the legal strategy it did, the State has sent out a powerful message about the degree to which it is prepared to accept that teachers are indeed public servants. And thirdly, and this is an area at which many school boards must now be looking anxiously, the State appears to be saying to everyone who volunteers to be involved in management of a school, they are doing so at their own risk. If an issue of serious liability arises in their school in the future, the question will have to be asked – is the State, the primary funder and manager of the system, prepared to accept liability”.
Fergus Finlay, CEO of Barnardos, dealt with this issue recently:
www.educationposts.ie The simplest way to advertise vacancies in your school Free Unlimited Advertising for Teachers, SNAs, etc. Adverts uploaded online – no paperwork Adverts automatically removed after closing date Repeat Adverts as required – service totally free! 2,711 teachers currently registered for automatic email alerts PAGE 17
Growing lack of English hurts schools IRISH schools are getting lost in translation as teachers struggle to cope with increasing numbers of non-English-speaking pupils. Schools are having to slow the pace of lessons and show greater caution when disciplining pupils because of language limitations and cultural barriers.
Enrolments have become an ordeal in many areas as head teachers and non-Englishspeaking parents struggle to communicate with each other. A conference of Primary School Principals recently heard that enrolments have become an ordeal in many areas as head teachers and non- English-speaking parents struggle to communicate with each other. Tomás Ó Slatara, the President of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN), said: “My first experience of this was two years ago, when two Polish children and their parents arrived at my school on August 31, the day before term started, with not a word of English between them. “They brought along a friend and I spent half an hour getting him to explain and interpret so I could find out as much as I could about the children. It was a challenging situation.” The Department of Education says 22,200 foreign students, now officially being termed “newcomers”, enrolled in Primary Schools in the 2004/5 school year. These include the children of asylum seekers, refugees and migrant workers from EU accession states. The highest concentration is in urban areas and an estimated 60% are from non-English-speaking backgrounds.
St Thomas’s Junior school in Lucan has 463 pupils, 30% of them foreigners. The school has 32 nationalities and uses three languagesupport teachers. Michael Maher, its Principal, said that in a class of 28, up to 10 pupils may have very little English. Many of these children, particularly from Eastern Europe, come from families where neither parent speaks English, or it is rarely spoken in the home. “These children are landing straight in school at junior infant level without a single word of English,” Maher said. “There is a good case for some sort of early-learning start, or nursery structure, in the year prior to starting Primary School. It would also be a good opportunity to integrate the parents of those children into society in terms of normal customs or practices. Occasionally we’ve had cases where parents see the use of physical correction as okay if their child has misbehaved. We have to explain to them that they just need to sit down and talk to the child.” IPPN wants better translation and interpretive services for schools to help newcomers overcome the initial language barrier when enrolling. “All of a sudden schools are 10%, or in some cases 50%, international,” said David Ruddy, legal adviser to the IPPN. “We’re at a stage where we need to have enrolment forms in the languages of popular interim countries such as Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. I should be able to welcome parents of pupils in their own language. Translating basic school policies such as anti-bullying booklets or school signs would be a starting point.” The Department of Education allocates language-support teachers to schools according to the the number of pupils with English-language difficulties. Schools with 14 or more non-English-speaking students are automatically entitled to a language-support teacher for up to two years. Schools with 28 or PAGE 18
more are entitled to two, but the maximum available is three. In the current school year there are 1,100 language support teachers employed, 802 of them in Primary Schools. The 2007 budget estimates make a provision for 200 more. A further 350 posts will be provided between 2008 and 2009. From next September, language assessment kits to determine the level of English of newcomers will be distributed to all schools. Bunmi Salako, a special education teacher in Dundalk, moved from Nigeria in 1999. Emmanuella, her 18-year-old daughter, found it difficult to settle into her new surroundings. The school suggested she give a presentation on Nigeria to her classmates to help her explain the culture and traditions. “She wore a costume and told her class about Nigeria and they loved it,” said Salako. “It worked because she was telling them all these new things about herself and she made friends immediately. The problem for children who move is that they don’t have a sense of belonging and find it difficult to mingle.”
We need to have enrolment forms in the languages of popular interim countries such as Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. Teachers also want help in tackling situations where a child’s reactions could be misinterpreted because of cultural differences. Salako said: “An Irish child will make eye contact with their teacher without any problem, but an African child, out of respect, will not look at an adult. So on the one hand you have a child at home being told by their parents, ‘Don’t look at me when I am talking to you’, and then in a school, ‘Look at me when I am talking to you’.” Courtesy of Sunday Times.
REMEMBERING THE LATE PATRICK GREENE June 6 1900 – February 22 2007 The news that former principal, local folklorist and historian Patrick Greene, known to one and all as Master Greene, had died last month at the age of 106, was greeted with profound sadness not just in Co. Longford but far beyond. Longford’s oldest citizen had a special place in the hearts of most Longfordians who saw him as a link to a time gone by, a preserver of the past. The much loved and admired scholar died a peaceful death at his home in Ballinalee. Master Greene was born in Culleen in Legan on June 6, 1900. He started attending the local national school at the age of six and it was to be the beginning of a love of education that would last 100 years. After attending the school, he became a monitor there and at the age of 18 entered St Pat’s in Drumcondra to become a teacher. Upon attaining his degree, he joined the teaching staff at Ballinalee National School. His late wife Helena resigned her teaching job when they were married as there was no such thing as married women teaching in those days. Master Greene came from a long line of teachers. His great grandfather was the first national school teacher in the parish of Ballinalee. Master Greene retired 42 years ago in 1965, though he taught in St Mel’s Training Centre up to 3 years ago. Speaking on his 100th birthday, he remarked that he must have been costing the Department of Education a fortune in pension payments! It was for such selfdepreciating humour, combined with an incredible recall, that Master Greene will be fondly remembered. In 2003, he received an honorary Master degree from NUI Galway in recognition for his contribution to education.
Feted folklorist While Master Greene may have officially left the chalk-face over four decades ago, he never stopped
learning – or teaching. He joined the Irish Folklore Society in 1927, shortly after it was formed. He said of his early experience in folklore that: "I'm sure I didn't even know what folklore was, but the work of collecting the oral traditions and stories was described to me early on by one of my informants as 'graveyard work’." Patrick would become one of Ireland’s greatest folklorists. He collected most of the material for the collection "To shorten the Road: Traveller Folktales of Ireland," and his work is also included in "The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing." He was best known nationally for his work with the Irish Folklore Commission. He has collected stories, fables and descriptions of customs, in particular those of the Travelling community. He contributed at least 1,000 pages to UCD’s Folklore Department archives, as well as rare Ediphone recordings from the 1930s, many of them featuring members of the Travelling community where today his legend as 'The Master Green' is itself part of the embedded cultural memory of the Wards, Joyces, McDonaghs and Powers.
Preserving the cant tradition It was as part of his folklore studies that Master Greene became an expert in the Traveller language, Cant, which he taught in St Mel’s Training Centre to young people from the Travelling Community. He recalled how he had first started collecting amongst Travellers when he introduced himself to a Mrs Ward in a roadside camp near Ballinalee, and found himself fascinated by the secret language of Travellers. As a guest speaker in UCG in 2004 he described his first meeting experience of ‘Cant’: "One Summer’s day in 1931, I came upon a little old travelling woman sitting in front of a small tent (a lobán, in ‘Cant’) on the roadside. She had a small fire of sticks in front of the tent. Something prompted me to dismount from my bicycle and talk to her. She said her name was Oney Power, a widow,
and that her maiden name was Ward, a native of Mayo. I asked her if she know any Irish. She knew no Irish except an odd word. "But" she said "we could be talking about you and you wouldn’t know what we were saying". She pointed to the fire and said "You call that a fire, we call it a cherra". She lifted a stick and said we call that a chimma, the field was a sark, the road was the tobera. My interest was whetted and I started to collect cant." He wrote down many long folktales, wonder-tales, stories of magic and legends of the supernatural, as well as prayers, riddles and beliefs. In doing so, he brought the language of Cant and its accompanying folktales to a whole new audience. Since his 100th birthday, Master Greene enjoyed a sort of celebrity status in Longford, something he bore with his usual humility and good humour. He was interviewed in the local press and on local radio a number of times and featured on RTE radio and television. He also received many honours. As well as his Master degree, he also received an honour from St Mel’s Training Centre for his contribution to the centre and he was awarded the Freedom of Longford town. The latter came with a permit which allowed him to park anywhere in the town. He is survived by his children, Roisín, Maureen, Sr. Mel, Anne, John and Tom; sons-in-law, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, friends, kind carers and neighbours. In remembering Master Greene, it is appropriate that we finish with a note in Cant, the language he worked so hard to preserve. At his funeral Mass, a Prayer of the Faithful was read, firstly in Cant and then in English. One sentence from it is as follows: "His jeel will ni-dash be sueneed again" which translates to "His like will not be seen again". Courtesy of Longford Leader
MASTER GREENE 106 YEARS OF WISDOM Patrick Greene attended St Pat’s College in Drumcondra from 1918 to 1920 and his first teaching appointment was in Horseleap, Co Westmeath. He was Principal in Lislea National School from 1923 to 1958 and retired as Principal of Coole National School in 1965. Until last year, Master Greene taught in St Mel’s Traveller Training Centre as a voluntary tutor for a half day each week. That he continued to make a contribution following his retirement was motivated by his love of teaching but also by another passion in his life – his commitment to preserving the old traditions of story telling and language among the Travelling community. Master Greene was exceptional in that he brought his students gently down the road of learning through their own heritage and their own ancient language of ‘cant’ which is derived from the Irish word ‘caint.’ The hundreds of students who have gone through his classrooms remember him with admiration and affection. A truly learned and independent man, Master Greene has made a long and lasting contribution to Co Longford both inside and outside the classroom. Co Longford VEC will always be indebted to Pádraig for his commitment to making a difference and will hold his name in high esteem and will remember him with much affection.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis. Josephine O’Donnell CEO, Co Longford VEC
A man with a profound sense of the priorities Ms Bairbre Ní Fhloinn, from the School Of Irish, Celtic Studies, Irish Folklore and Linguistics in UCD has fond memories of Patrick Greene and his contribution to UCD’s folklore archives. "Patrick was an extraordinary man, and he was still very much a man of the present, he was always in touch with contemporary society," remembers Bairbre. "He had a fantastic sense of humour and had no time for anyone of pomposity. He was a man would who had a profound sense of the priorities of life. He was also a very elegant man with an uncanny memory and ability to recall. "He unfortunately will bring a lot of his knowledge to the grave, and that is sad considering he so vehemently wanted to keep the past alive. He had a great fondness for the Longford area and surrounds. PAGE 19
He would have known people involved in the battle of Ballinamuck and knew the brother of Michael Collins well," Bairbre stated. "I last saw him at his bedside last December and he sang a song for me. He had a fantastic voice. He was fully compus mentis and both he and his knowledge of the oral tradition will be greatly missed." Courtesy of Longford Leader
DISPUTE RESOLUTION The Essential Skills The last two issues of Leadership+ have featured articles providing strategies for conflict resolution. The final article in this issue explores the techniques and processes that enable Principals to achieve and implement win/win resolutions as quickly as possible in their schools. Principals spend a lot of time resolving disputes. Different people have different ways of dealing with conflict. Usually, we are not aware of how we act in conflict situations. We just do what comes naturally. The ideal outcome of dispute resolution is to balance achieving personal goals with maintaining a relationship with the other person whilst at the same time basing resolutions on objective standards.
Dialogue, not debate Conflict resolution should be principle-based not power based. The key to enabling this process is to first and foremost adopt a nonadversarial approach. Look for solutions as opposed to apportioning blame and focus on change rather than control. This method is much more likely to disarm potential conflict before it spirals out of control. Trust in dialogue rather than debate - focus on the problem rather than the person, but at all times, be conscious that conflict resolution may be a long and laborious process. The quick fix may not endure and in many instances can lay the bases for a more serious breakdown in communication into the future.
Promoting Dialogue Always encourage engagement. Convey interest from the outset and promote interaction. This can be done through the use of neutral words and avoiding the temptation to either agree or disagree. Use probing question to convey interest and extract further information such as "Can you tell me more about that?". Restate at regular intervals
to show that you are listening and understand what is being said, for example, "So you would like your views to be taken into account, is that right?". Always ask questions to clarify what is said and to get more information. Above all, acknowledge the worthiness of the other person and the significance of their issues and try to show appreciation for their efforts and actions to date. It is always useful to summarize the more important issues and ideas discussed at the end of the conversation. This pulls together the relevant facts and establishes a basis for further discussion.
Responding to Conflict Some people respond to conflict through confrontation such as abusive, sarcastic or loud behaviour. These people tend to conceal information and feelings, dominate exchanges and be poor listeners. Other people tend to be passive in a conflict situation and allow themselves to be interrupted and subordinated easily. They tend to avoid the main issues and apologise too easily. Neither of the above make for speedy resolution to conflict. A merging of the above styles in a problemsolving approach is much more likely to ensure progress in the short term. A problem-solving approach demands good listening skills, good eye contact, full disclosure of information and the ability to adopt clear policies on issues. At the outset, do not look for early solutions but aim towards seeking compromises on specific issues. Look for positions on which all parties can agree. Actively listen to the other’s story to establish needs and interests. Focus on common interests, brainstorm possible solutions, choosing those that meet everyone’s interests. Having achieved this, develop an action plan.
Elements of Negotiation
■ The first principle of negotiation is to separate the person from the problem focussing on communication with the person rather than to the person. This process is likely to establish the issues that are most important to the other party, the interests, motives and reasoning behind particular courses of action, and the most obvious possible solutions. ■ It is important to focus on interests rather than on positions. Interests such as economic well-being, security, control over one’s life, status etc should be sometimes openly discussed and acknowledged as part of the problem, if relevant. ■ A variety of options should be devised and explored. The most promising ideas should be first listed and improved upon. The emphasis must at all times be a mutual gain rather than a win/lose mentality. All participants must be aiming towards seeking common ground and setting interests based on objective criteria. ■ When basing outcomes on objective criteria use standards to move towards a principled position. Reason and be open to reason, but never yield to pressure. In moving towards outcomes, don't attack positions but rather look behind them. Refrain from personal attacks and ask plenty of questions. Be prepared for criticism and use it for self improvement. Above all try to balance achieving your personal goal with maintaining a relationship with the other party, - this often proves to be the greatest indicator of success in any conflict resolution process.
Growing up in Ireland Major study to examine the development and well-being of Irish children The first phase of Growing Up in Ireland – the National Longitudinal Study of Children is now underway across the country. The first of its kind ever to be carried out in Ireland, this major study will examine the development and wellbeing of Irish children. IPPN was invited to review the questionnaire for this study and was instrumental in reducing the number of questions by half, ensuring that the study meets the needs of the ESRI while minimising the time and energy of Principals and teachers in completing it. The initial part of the study will focus on 8,000 nine-year-old children who are now being selected randomly from national schools around Ireland. To ensure a complete picture of each child is created, information is being sought from the children themselves as well as their parents, teachers and Principals. The main objective of the study is to paint a full picture of children in Ireland today and to understand what factors affect children’s development in the current social, economic and cultural climate. The results will be used to help shape related policy and the provision of services to improve the lives of all children and ensure they can have the best start in life. Underlining the key role which Principals and teachers will play in the study, Professor James Williams, Principal Investigator and Co-director of Growing Up in Ireland, said: "In recent weeks we have invited 750 randomly-selected schools from around Ireland to take part in the study. It is essential to stress the significant role which these schools will play and the importance of their cooperation and participation. Although participation is voluntary, given the potential of this study to shape the lives of children for years to come, I would urge all schools to support us in our work." "Mindful of the ever increasing workload which Principals and teachers now face we understand that a study such as this can be an intrusion into an already busy schedule. In light of this the study has been designed to minimise as much as possible the additional work on the part of the school. A specially trained study researcher has been designated to each school to further ensure participation has a minimal impact."
"I would also like to assure participating schools that all the information provided as part of the study will be treated as strictly confidential. The study is being carried out under the Statistics Act 1993 and all information collected will be used only for the statistical purposes of Growing Up in Ireland. It is important to highlight that the information provided by Principals and teachers cannot be accessed by the child’s parents and will not be available under the Freedom of Information Act." Professor Sheila Greene, Co-director of the study, based in the Children’s Research Centre, TCD, added: From an educational perspective Growing Up in Ireland will look at what role the education system plays in a child’s development with a view to developing policies to encourage positive educational outcomes for as many children as possible. Most importantly we will also be able to relate a range of personal, family, community and school characteristics to a child’s success in the educational system." "We have already seen huge benefits from similar studies conducted in other countries. In the UK, for instance, a funded pre-school year was implemented for children based on a finding that this has a significant impact on a child’s development. And in Canada, targeted language support was introduced for immigrant children, which led to higher academic achievement within two years" "Growing Up in Ireland is the most significant study of its kind ever to be undertaken in this country it is only through carrying out studies such as this that we can improve our knowledge of children and childhood in Ireland and make real and lasting improvements in the lives of all children." A Government funded initiative, Growing Up in Ireland is being jointly carried out by the ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) and Trinity College Dublin. If you would like any further information or have any queries you can contact Jillian Heffernan, Communications Officer, at 01 896 3378 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively log onto www.growingup.ie
Class Allocation A Guide to Best Practice IN THE WORDS OF A RECENTLY RETIRED PRINCIPAL "WE CAN’T ALL TEACH 3rd & 4th CLASS".
For many Principals the annual challenge of which teachers will teach which classes often proves to be problematic. To be clear from the outset, this function of allocating teachers to classes is both a duty and a responsibility of the Principal Teacher. This means that the Parents, the Board of Management and the staff of the school cannot and must not be part of the decision making process. This time last year and again this year, there have been many enquiries seeking advice and guidance in this critical aspect of a Principal’s role. It may be helpful first to understand some of the reasons why the process is often a reason for conflict in schools. Perhaps the Principal does not clarify his or her role in this area, which may result in teachers misunderstanding the process and as a consequence feeling aggrieved when the desired outcome does not emerge. The following steps offer an approach to the process of deciding teachers’ class allocation in a way that is both transparent and informative to all those concerned: When a suitable opportunity arises, teachers, parents and Boards of Management are informed that this is a function of the Principal. Cf Education Act ’98 Section 22 & Circular 16/73 and Primary Education Management Manual
Facilitate a whole staff discussion on the notion of staff rotation. Such a discussion should be guided by factors such as (a) The professional value and benefit to individual teachers when experiencing teaching the different levels within the school (b) The importance of all teachers acquiring an understanding of the curriculum throughout the school in the context of whole school planning and the cohesive teaching of the revised curriculum. (c) The importance of teachers experiencing different levels and areas of teaching in order to enhance their career opportunities in the future (d) Generally accepted wisdom that new and inexperienced graduates would not be required to teach Junior Infants during their induction period as teachers.
Prior to the allocation of teachers to classes, it is important to clarify how classes will be divided for the following September. In smaller/multi-graded schools and many larger schools where there is a necessity to have multi-grade classes, it is useful to consult with teachers and where appropriate, to involve teachers in deciding the most appropriate division of classes Circulate to teachers a page requesting him or her to indicate their teaching preferences for the subsequent school year. Each teacher is required to indicate his or her first, second and third preference. The sheet circulated may offer the various options from Junior Infants to Sixth Class in addition to various learning support, resource teaching roles etc. or alternatively the exact division of classes as planned for September with the details of numbers of children and breakdown of class levels etc. Discuss with each teacher individually the reasons for their preferences and the various background issues which may be relevant. Having consulted with all, the Principal then pieces together the jig-saw in the best possible manner, bearing in mind teacher preferences, relevant experience, suitability of teaching style, the length of time a particular teacher has taught a particular group of children, or a specific class, the length of time teachers have spent in unsuitable accommodation such as prefabs, the educational needs of a group of children or of a specific child within a group, extra curricular talents and attributes possessed by different teachers should be considered. Once the Principal has made his or her decision, inform each teacher of his or her PAGE 22
allocation of class for September and the reasons why this is so. Some schools have a policy of informing parents about the allocation of teachers to classes in advance of the school holidays, on the day of the school holidays or on the return to school in September. This is generally a matter of custom and practice and varies a lot. There are merits and demerits for the various options. Specific consideration has to apply to Teaching Principals. One of the key recommendations of The HayGroup Report on The Role of Primary Principal illustrates the importance of Teaching Principals allocating to themselves a teaching workload which reflects the dual role of Principal and Class Teacher. In recent years many Teaching Principals have refrained from teaching the senior classes of the school, for reasons associated with the preparation of transfer to Post Primary School and in many cases the preparation for sacraments and other extra curricular events. Teaching Principals are frequently undertaking middle/junior classes in the school. Furthermore there are instances of Teaching Principals allocating themselves a single grade class, e.g. Rang 3 or Rang 4, whilst teaching colleagues may as a direct consequence have somewhat larger classes. This is a direct reflection of one of The HayGroup recommendations. Teacher seniority and/or holding a post of responsibility does not give any staff member any additional rights or priorities when it comes to the allocation of teachers to classes.
Some further considerations: This process should not be left until the end of June. Ideally it should be commenced in the month of March and substantially completed by the end of April, leaving a period of time between initial request for class preferences, consultation and discussion. This is a useful way of preparing people for change. It is not a good idea to impose radical change on a teacher who has perhaps taught the same class level for several years or maybe even decades. In such an instance, where change is necessary for the good of the children, the school or even the teacher, conflict can be best avoided by informing the given teacher that whilst he or she will get their choice of class this year, next year a change will happen and that there is a year in the meantime to prepare for that change. Such preparation is made easier in recent years with the involvement of all teachers with in-service training for the revised curriculum, where in effect, all teachers are updating their professional knowledge across the entire curriculum. In addition, by giving plenty of advance notice, a teacher should be capable of consulting with colleagues and perhaps team teaching with a colleague for a limited period of time, on a weekly basis throughout the year to prepare for an impending change. In communicating the allocation of classes to each individual teacher, it is worth reminding people that inevitably some teachers will not get their preferred teaching area in a given year. By keeping a simple record of teaching preferences and actual allocation, it should be easy enough to ensure balance from year to year in terms of preferences to actual allocation. The time and effort put into the allocation of classes in a way that is transparent and accountable, is of benefit overall for staff. It leads to teamwork and harmony. If moving from a situation of little or no change from year to year to limited rotation, final allocation may not be achieved within the first year or two. Like the implementation of any other change, gradual rather than radical implementation is often the most sustainable in the long run. Eventually everybody wants some of it! Sample Class allocation request forms are available in the Management Resources Section on www.ippn.ie
The most important skill of a Principal? PICKING THE TEAM In sport, the manager’s ability to select the best team formation from the panel of players available is often the difference between winning and losing. While education is not about winning or losing, as Principal you can certainly identify with the role of the team manager, or in the case of Teaching Principals, player-manager. Other than the wisdom needed to recruit the best people, the skill of allocating teachers to different teaching roles is probably the most important function a Principal has in determining the overall quality of learning in the school. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins says that first you should get the ‘right people on the bus’, next get the ‘wrong people off the bus’, and the ‘right people sitting in the right seats’, then and only then do you all decide ‘where you are going’. Whole-school planning, curriculum development and evaluation require a team approach if they are to be effective and relevant. Picking the right team of teaching and non-teaching staff is vital. There is always the danger of falling into the trap of thinking ‘if only I had better teachers’. There is, of course, a strong likelihood that if you are thinking like this, your staff may also be thinking ‘if only we had a better Principal’! The panel of players available to you is all you have; the skill is in how you balance the team for the year ahead with the priority being the quality of the education provided for the children. The key to getting this right is to start the process early, consult with everyone, encourage staff to think in cycles of two to four years, facilitate team teaching and new initiatives to help prepare for change, and above all to treat everyone with professional fairness and personal respect. Principals, like everyone else, earn respect by showing it. In recent years there have been a number of challenges from BoMs and teachers to the Principal’s right to allocate teachers to classes. Section 22 of the Education Act sets out clearly the ‘Functions of the Principal and teachers’, stating that: ‘in the case of the Principal…carry out those duties that are assigned to him or her by the Board’ and that…‘teachers shall carry out those duties…. that are assigned to them by or at the direction of the Principal’. A key question arising from the Act is - if the Principal has his/her duties assigned by the
Board of Management, can the BoM then overrule the Principal’s teacher–class allocation decisions? Legal advice suggests that Section 22 of the Education Act should be interpreted as follows: The BoM appoints a Principal teacher to manage the school on ‘a day-to-day basis’ with specific duties and responsibilities as outlined in Circular 16/’73, which includes amongst others, ‘the delegation of teaching duties to staff’. Given that a BoM ‘employs’ a Principal to carry out a managerial function with a job description containing specific functions, it cannot then proceed to effectively retain some of those functions without under-mining and usurping the Principal’s role. There are however three exceptions where a BoM may rightfully overrule a Principal’s decision: 1) where due process is not followed e.g. no meaningful consultation/radical unnecessary last minute changes 2) where perverse decisions are made e.g. going against established education best practice without good reason/ consistently refusing to offer an individual staff member an opportunity to experience other roles where such opportunities exist 3) allocation decisions based on a vindictive motive e.g. where there is obvious discrimination against a staff member for personal reasons. Other than these three exceptions, a BoM cannot interfere with a Principal’s function to allocate classes as it is central to the school leadership role (s)he fulfils in the school community.
IPPN seeks Assistant Director Applications are invited for the post of Assistant Director of IPPN. IPPN is a professional body for the leaders of Irish Primary Schools.
OUR VISION: QUALITY LEADERSHIP
OUR GOALS: ■ Resourcing the professional needs of school leaders ■ Representing school leaders with a credible, professional voice ■ Influencing educational policy as an education partner Since its establishment in 2000, IPPN’s membership has reached 6,000 Principals and Deputy Principals. Reflecting the planned expansion of IPPN’s supports and services to our members, we are now extending our support team by appointing an Assistant Director. The role of Assistant Director is offered as a three-year contract. The role is a full-time senior management position, reporting to the Director. The Assistant Director will have a key role in implementing IPPN’s strategic plan to achieve our three main goals. The successful candidate will have: ■ Appropriate experience as Principal teacher in a primary school ■ A commitment to IPPN’s vision for leadership ■ Relevant experience in the professional development of school leaders ■ Proven interpersonal and team leadership abilities ■ A successful project management track record ■ The ability to work on own initiative ■ Excellent oral and written communication skills ■ Strong negotiating skills ■ Essential ICT skills This recruitment process may lead to other membership service contract appointments. IPPN is an equal opportunities employer. Canvassing will disqualify. Application by e-mailed letter and Curriculum Vitae in strict confidence to: Seán O’Driscoll, Athrú Consulting email@example.com not later than Wednesday 25th April 2007. This advertisement appeared in the national newspapers on Thursday, 29th March and Friday, 30th March
Published on Apr 7, 2007