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ISSUE 39 • JUNE 2007

F E AT U R E S On-Line Claims System Training IPPN appoints Assistant National Director Tips for Teaching Principals North and South NO Child Car Seat NO Excuse! Empowering Deputy Principals Legal Diary: Occupier’s Liability Director: Seán Cottrell President: Tomás Ó Slatara Editors: Larry Fleming & Damien White Assistant Editor: Virginia O’Mahony Advertising: 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 •

Playing Snakes and Ladders with Continuous Professional Development (CPD) A Phríomhoide agus a Phríomhoide Thánaistigh, We know the paramount importance of quality inservice and planning opportunities. Our schools have benefited so much professionally from the experience of CPD since 1999. We have had the opportunity of over 40 days of PCSP revised curriculum in- service and planning and a minimum of 1 or 2 days annual school based planning with SDPS support available. Significant time and money has been well invested and positive change has taken place in the ways teachers deliver the curriculum and develop policies. The Primary beneficiaries of this progress are the children we teach. After eight years of approximately six days professional development per annum the idea of going back to one school based day for CPD will be a significant step backwards on the ladder of progress. Where to for ‘07-’08? What days are available for planning and curriculum consolidation and planning? How will it operate? When will we know? These are questions being asked at IPPN meetings throughout the country. As of now, Principals and staffs have not received any information about planning or curriculum support options for next year and beyond. This lack of certainty is regrettable and unfair to schools looking to plan for next year. It is unfair also to those who might be keen to avail of a secondment option as a Cuiditheoir or Facilitator as PAGE 1

they are much less likely to be facilitated by their BOMs when there is such uncertainty. This situation also ignores the need for school staffs, large and small, to have agreed time for In-School planning and consolidation of the new revised curriculum and policy development. International best practice is consistent in demonstrating the need for Principals and teachers to collectively plan and evaluate everything to do with teaching and learning so that implementation i.e. classroom practice, not only improves but is consistent, coherent and cohesive throughout the school. The PCSP Cuiditheóirí and SDPS Facilitators ensure very welcome expertise is available to schools but how can this be availed of in a professionally acceptable way if teachers are keeping one ear to their class while having a hurried corridor chat with a visiting Cuiditheoir or SDPS facilitator? How many Principals are suffering the frustration of arranging for the supervision (not teaching) of classes while such meetings take place? The 'lean ar aghaidh' syndrome associated with school inspectors visits is not acceptable here when teachers want to maximise the benefits of having expert and trained professional advisors available. The idea that Cuiditheorí/ Facilitators can come in to schools where teachers are meant to ‘magic’ themselves from class rooms with no substitute cover and Continued on page 2

Playing Snakes and Ladders with Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Continued from page 1

engage in meaningful CPD is not only ludicrous, but flies in the face of existing good practice, health and safety concerns, duty of care, rules for national schools and several DES circulars. For smaller schools the culture change in working co-operatively with other schools in clusters on planning and curriculum days has been hugely significant in breaking the professional isolation of Principals and teachers. It has also facilitated the sharing of best practice and resources amongst smaller schools. Following years of progress is there to be another step backwards on the ladder of progress in ’07-’08? In an era when school leaders are constantly being called on to deliver increasing levels of accountability in their multi-faceted role surely, to quote Elmore, there should be “an equal and reciprocal responsibility (from the system) to provide you (the school) with a unit of capacity to produce that performance”. As a professional response, IPPN calls upon the DES to secure a minimum of 5 planning days per annum. The current model of in-service involving disruptive school closures must come to an end. In their place, schools should be enabled to schedule 5 non-contact planning days - one at the beginning of each term and one attached to each of the two standardised mid term breaks. Such an approach would be both family friendly and address the need for sustainable Whole School Planning. The children are the No 1 priority of every Principal and teacher. As Principals and teachers we need have the capacity to book an appointment with a professional advisor in whatever subject or planning area where support is needed and we need to know that we can benefit from that visit without having the children in our care, or the other teachers and staff in the school, educationally, or professionally, compromised.

Order your Free

2007/2008 PIMS Desk Diary We recently asked members for their feedback on the Principals’ Information Management System (PIMS) ring-binder that was sent to all schools last September and were encouraged by the large number of Principals who gave a positive response. “Until we started using PIMS, my desk was covered in scraps of paper. Now we have all the information we need in one place” We also received many helpful suggestions to improve the folder inserts which we thank you for. 2007/2008 updates Based on this feedback, we are currently redesigning the pack of inserts for the ring-binder. We have redesigned the Monthly Planning Prompter as a page per month sheet. We have also created a new Pupil Information Form and a new Important/Urgent Task Prioritisation Form as well as a replacement index tab card and updated Contacts sheets. The pack will include the 2007/2008 week per view diary, six months per view planner and annual overview 2008/2009 as well as Today’s Priorities sheets and a new Issue/Action pad. All revised forms and templates will also be available to download from the Resources/ Management Resources/PIMS section of NOTE: We plan to issue PIMS ring binders and 2007/2008 inserts only to those schools who request them! If you want your 2007/2008 version of PIMS (and a new PIMS ring-binder), please complete the enclosed Freepost postcard and return it to the IPPN Support Office by the end of June. We will post the binders and/or inserts to your school prior to the start of the new school year.

Is muidne le meas Tomás O Slatara, Seán Cottrell


IPPN appoints Assistant National Director

Virginia began her teaching career in 1969 and subsequently was appointed Vice-Principal (1984) and Principal (1993) of Scoil Chaitríona. Under Virginia’s dynamic and visionary leadership, Scoil Chaitríona has grown and flourished. The school has become an important centre for students with special education needs, catering for children with dyslexia, speech and language disorder, mild and moderate learning disabilities in an inclusive way. School projects have included EU Comenius programmes and the facilitation of structured visits of educators from Europe and USA. Virginia continues to serve as Principal of this school.

Virginia is a founding member of the IPPN which was established in February 2000 and was subsequently elected to the National Executive. Having served two years as Deputy President she played a leading role in developing the profile of IPPN as an essential component of the educational landscape of Ireland. In October 2003 Virginia was elected President of IPPN for a two year term. Virginia has brought personal enthusiasm, professionalism, experience, common sense and a wonderful sense of humour to IPPN. Virginia’s calm, measured and understated approach enables her to exemplify all that is positive about the modern philosophy of leadership. Her professionalism, hard work and dedication to advancing the cause of school leadership in Ireland has earned her universal respect amongst Irish Principals and teachers alike. Virginia understands the importance of developing relationships with international colleagues and has attended Council meetings of ICP in Ottawa and Cologne, and coordinated on behalf of IPPN, the successful organisation of the ICP Council meeting held in Cork in March 2005.

Seanad Elections The following letter has been sent to the 21 candidates on the Education Panel for Seanad Éireann


e, Dear Candidat

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IPPN is pleased to announce the appointment of Mrs Virgina O’Mahoney to the position of Assistant National Director. She previously served as IPPN’s first female president in 2004/5 and is currently an executive member of the International Confederation of Principals (ICP). She has been Principal of Scoil Chaitríona, Renmore, Co. Galway since 1993. She has previously chaired IPPN’s very successful conference in Galway in 2001 and 2002 and has chaired IPPN’s strategic planning group.

Occupier’s Liability As summer holidays approach I am including a full High Court Case for your consideration Along with two other significant High Court Cases in Summary form. “10 year old boy loses High Court Action for injuries sustained by a gate”

Ryan (Minor) V Golden Vale Co operative Mart Ltd May 2007 (The High Court) Judgement by Mr Justice Michael Peart On the evening of 30th December 2001, when this young plaintiff was ten years old, he was in the company of three of his friends of similar age. His evidence is that on this date at around dusk, which I take to mean in the late afternoon, as the four boys were making their way, by way of a short-cut, through the premises of the defendants in Rathkeale, Co. Limerick intending to get to the library which is located on the opposite side of the street to the defendant’s premises, their intention was to exit onto that street by means of a large metal gate onto the road. This gate is a metal farm-type gate made of tubular steel and consists of two halves which join at the centre. At the centre point there is a hasp and slide bolt mechanism, which the defendants say was always, and on this occasion was, secured by a padlock or a chain and padlock. When not locked together they can be opened both inwards and outwards. The top of the gate in question is about 42” above ground level, and the combined width of

both halves of the gate spans about 24 feet. Each leaf of the gate would be very heavy. The plaintiff says that on this occasion the gate was unlocked. The defendants deny that this was the case. Nevertheless that is what the plaintiff says the situation was, and he recalls that as they approached this gate with the intention of exiting through it, the other three boys were walking ahead of him. He described how one of these boys swung the gate inwards in his direction in such a way that it struck him heavily on the front of his body, causing him to fall to the ground and sustain the injuries for which he seeks to be compensated. The basis of the allegation of negligence made against the defendant is that the defendants ought to have known that this gate was an allurement for boys such as these and should have ensured that the gate was locked so that this type of incident could not happen. By way of summary of the injury, it appears that in the aftermath of the injury the other boys or at least one of them helped the plaintiff walk back to his house which was not too far away. The evidence has been that when he arrived at the house he told his mother what had happened, and that he vomited and was seen to be weak and unwell. His mother who gave evidence stated that she and another woman who was in the house at the time decided that he should be brought to the Limerick Regional Hospital and a friend of the family who was present brought him by car where he was admitted to the Accident and Emergency Department at 6.15pm. He was admitted later and underwent an operation for the removal of his spleen which had been severely damaged. This removal has left the plaintiff vulnerable to infection in the future and to address this, he is obliged to take antibiotics for the remainder of his life. Apart from the loss of his spleen, and his PAGE 4

predisposition to infection and the scar which he is left with on his abdomen, there are no other sequelae reported. As I have stated, the defendants have given evidence through the yard manager, Mr Kett that he at all times had responsibility for ensuring that all the numerous gates into the defendants were at all times closed and locked, and he states that at the date of this accident the premises was closed up for the Christmas period and he is certain that on this occasion the gate in question was locked. There is a clear conflict of evidence in this regard, and the defendants plead that injury, however it was sustained by the plaintiff on this date, was not caused in the manner alleged. At the outset of the case, Michael McMahon SC requested an adjournment of this case as it had not been possible to secure the attendance of the three boys who were with the plaintiff on this occasion. In view of the conflict of evidence in relation to whether the gate was locked or unlocked, he submitted that their attendance, or at least one or more of them, would reasonably be expected to assist the plaintiff, and he had not become aware that they would not be attending to give evidence until the morning of the hearing. It appears, according to what the Court was told, that they were working on the continent laying tarmacadam. “I refused this adjournment having considered the potential significance of the evidence any of these boys was likely to give. I came to the conclusion that in all probability each would agree with the account given by the plaintiff, and that I could proceed to hear the case on the basis of what the plaintiff might say happened. The fact that the three other boys or any one of them might say the same thing, and were not present to do so, did not in my view cause any real prejudice to the plaintiff.

“But that does not conclude the issue of liability in my view. The plaintiff must establish that the defendants owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, that there was a breach of that duty towards him, and that as a result of that breach injury was suffered. The ultimate question will be did the duty of care owed to the plaintiff extend to ensuring that the gate was locked. The questions of the extent of the duty of care owed and of the foreseeability of injury to the plaintiff must be considered.

was something on the defendant’s premises which was inherently dangerous and it was reasonably foreseeable that a child might be allured to it, then if injury results to such a child the defendants could be held liable. In such circumstances it would be incumbent on the defendants to ensure that access to their premises or at least to the dangerous object upon it was not possible. “In the present case this injury to the plaintiff did not result from contact with an object which was a trap in the usual sense. It is not a case where, for example, a dangerous and unprotected slurry pit was present and into which the plaintiff fell. It is not a case in which the plaintiff climbs up onto some inherently dangerous structure or piece of machinery, and which the defendants ought to have prevented by suitable protection of same. “In this case there was a gate which provides access into and out of the defendant’s premises. In my view there is nothing intrinsically alluring about such a gate. There is no evidence that it was in any way defective and that such a defect caused injury to the plaintiff. It did not for example fall upon him causing him this injury. It was simply a gate. I cannot regard that gate as an allurement to the plaintiff in the sense that it obliged the defendant to ensure that it was fastened with a lock at all times. As I have said, I am assuming for the purpose of this case that it was unlocked, and I am giving the plaintiff the benefit of the doubt which I have about that fact.

We must be conscious of the question of allurements which may cause children to enter a school premises when it is closed.

“In his judgment in the Supreme Court in Breslin v. Corcoran, unreported, 23rd March 2003, Mr Justice Fennelly states as follows, having first considered the well-known English authorities in the area of foreseeability of damage arising from an intervening event in Dorset Yacht Co. Ltd. V. Home Office [1970] AC 104 and Smith v. Littlewoods Organisation Ltd [1987] AC 241: ‘From all these cases I draw the following conclusion. A person is not normally liable if he has committed an act of carelessness, where the damage has been directly caused by the intervening independent act of another person, for whom he is not otherwise vicariously liable. Such liability may exist, where the damage caused by that other person was the very kind of thing which he was bound to expect and guard against and the resulting damage was likely to happen, if he did not.’ “I should follow the same reasoning in the present case in relation to the foreseeability of injury to this plaintiff. “I am satisfied that the plaintiff is within the category of person to whom a duty of care was owed, albeit that he was on the defendant’s premises without permission. He was a trespasser. In those circumstances, the defendants are under a duty to ensure that while on the premises he was not exposed to a danger which it could be reasonably foreseen might cause him an injury. If for example there

“To find that it was foreseeable that a child would be injured in circumstances where another child or children either opened this unlocked gate or found it open and then proceeded to swing it back in the direction of the plaintiff would be to cast an unfair and unreasonable burden of foreseeability on the defendants and would mean that it was a requirement that at all times all gates into premises throughout the country would have to be locked at all times to ensure that no child could open it, in order to ensure that nobody was injured by this sort of action by another child. “In my view it would be unfair and unreasonable for a duty of care to be extended so wide. It was not reasonably foreseeable by the defendants that this gate, even if left closed but unlocked or even left slightly ajar, was a trap or potential danger to someone such as the plaintiff, or an allurement as alleged. It was an inherently safe gate without defect, and was there to enable access and egress to and from the premises in the normal way. “The injury which the plaintiff sustained was serious and has left him with a permanent physical deficit. But the plaintiff must realise that simply because he receives an injury in this way does not mean that the defendants are to be blamed for it. In my view even if the gate was unlocked it did not present any inherent danger to the plaintiff which the defendant was under a PAGE 5

duty to prevent. Things may have been different if, while on the premises having entered through an unlocked gate, he had been injured by something inherently dangerous and a trap for the plaintiff, but that is not the case here. With regret I must dismiss the plaintiff’s claim.” OBSERVATION Occupier’s liability is an area of law where schools can be vulnerable, often at times ironically when a school is actually closed. This case occurred when the Mart Premises was actually locked up for the Christmas Holiday period. While Mr. Justice Peart accepted the evidence of the caretaker as being honest he was inclined to believe that the gate did swing open with the resultant injuries sustained by this 10 year old boy. However the Judge rejected the allegation of negligence against the Mart Company as he was inclined to the view that the gate was either opened or found to be open and swung back against the boy by one of his friends. It would be an unreasonable burden of foreseeablility on property owners to ensure that all times gates into premises throughout the country would have to be locked at all times and that no child could open them in order to ensure that nobody was injured by this sort of action by another child. This judgement will be welcomed by property owners, schools, and Boards of Managements. We must be conscious of the question of allurements which may cause children to enter a school premises when it is closed. If they are injured by some dangerous, unprotected or other structure then the question of liability is alive and well.

Sean O’ Cuanachain (Minor) V The Health Service Executive May 2007 (The High Court) Judgement by Mr Justice Michael Peart SUMMARY This case has been reported and widely commented on in the media. The judgement was given in two parts – one in March and the latter part in May of this year. In an action, regarded as a test case for Autistic children seeking education according to Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA), Sean’s parents sought orders compelling the state to provide funding for education according to ABA. However they lost this central part of the action when Mr. Justice Peart found that the programme of education being provided by the state for Sean – an eclectic and model A programme – was “appropriate autism – specific educational provision” In relation to the second part of the judgement the 6 year old autistic boy was awarded €61,000 damages because of “unreasonable” delay in Continued on page 6


“In spite of the conflict in the evidence given by the plaintiff and by Mr Kett I am prepared to proceed to my conclusions on the basis of accepting as a matter of probability that the gate was capable of being opened on this occasion. That is not because I do not believe that Mr Kett is an honest witness. I believe he is and I accept that he honestly and genuinely believes that this gate was locked. But I have had regard to the notes made by the medical personnel who attended the plaintiff on his admission at the Limerick Regional Hospital. Those notes taken in the immediate aftermath of the accident record that the plaintiff stated that he received an injury from a gate. That account of how the injury was sustained has been consistent from the start. I confess to being very puzzled how this could be so given the integrity of Mr Kett as a witness, but I must decide the matter on the basis of likelihood and not mathematical certainty. I have some doubts about the matter but on balance I am prepared to accept the plaintiff’s evidence.

Continued from page 5

diagnosing his condition and in providing appropriate therapies for him. According to the judge if Sean O’ Cuanachain’s autism had been diagnosed earlier and a package of measures to which he was entitled put in place sooner, his challenging behaviour might never have reached the level it had. The child would probably have been more advanced in the area of communication than he was when he began preschool in February 2006. Damages against the HSE were awarded because a period of some 12 months was lost to Sean due to the delay and the HSE had breached its duty of care to the boy.


make one more successful crossing to finish the game. In making the final crossing she was ducking and weaving and either stumbled or tripped over her own legs and fell to the ground on her left arm. She suffered a fracture of the ulna and radius. Two operations later, the girl has extensive scars on her forearm. Significantly there was no issue as to the suitability of the floor surface or indeed the premises itself. It was also acknowledged that there was no issue in relation to supervision. THE PLAINTIFF’S CASE (1) The plaintiff claimed it was her first time to play the game. (2) The plaintiff claimed there was no independent warm up

V Board of Management of St Ciaran’s National School Hartstown Dublin 15 July 2006 Mr. Justice Feeney FACTS The plaintiff was a 12 year old girl attending 6th class. An accident occurred during a P.E lesson during which a game of “dodge ball” was played. The school played a particular variation of the game. During the game the girl had to run or traverse the width of the room and had to avoid being hit by any of the sponge balls being thrown by the three classmates. The plaintiff was the last successful pupil who was un-hit, whilst crossing the room, and had to

(3) An independent expert on behalf of the plaintiff claimed that the school variation of “dodge ball” used was unsafe in that it resulted in risk of jerking of the head with the risk of a participant losing balance and tripping and falling. THE DEFENCE / SCHOOL’S CASE (1) The game was played over a period of 2 years by the girl and this was not her 1st time to play it. (The judge accepted the teacher’s evidence) (2) There was an independent warm up. (3) This was a simple straight forward game, suitable for 12 year old pupils with no significant risk of injury over and above the risk inherent in physical activity, where a


trip or fall can occur. (4) This particular game was in use in the school over a twenty year period without any previous accident history. (5) Dr Joe Lennon (Co Down All Ireland senior football final Medalist) gave evidence to support the theory that it was a safe game. JUDGEMENT Mr. Justice Feeney found that this was an accident which can arise during any physical activity. Whilst all physical activity carries some risks the court was satisfied that the chosen activity did not unreasonably or unsafely create a risk. The court found that the game was properly chosen for use and appropriately considered by the teachers, both as to use and format. There is a risk in any moving game. The risk is incidental and not inherent. Physical activity is both an appropriate and vital part of the school curriculum and the activity chosen here was a simple straight forward game that could be safely played. The court is fully satisfied that there was no negligence or lack of care on the part of the defendant and therefore dismisses the plaintiff’s claim. PS. The current law term finishes towards the end of July. This could afford you an opportunity to visit your local Courthouse or the Four courts if you live in the Dublin area. I can assure you that it is a day well spent and one which you will not regret. Happy Holidays!


On-Line Claims System Training The Department of Education and Science On-line Claims System (OLCS) provides Primary and post-Primary Schools with on-line recording and processing of all school leave and substitute payments for teachers and Special Needs Assistants. To date all post-Primary Schools are fully operational. The Department of Education and Science invited INTO (Phases 1 & 2) and IPPN (Phases 3,4 and 5) to co-ordinate the delivery of training for OLCS. The counties in Phase 1 and 2 of the Primary sector have received training and are currently operating OLCS. IPPN will be co-ordinating the training of school personnel in OLCS for the remaining Phases 3, 4 and 5 during the forthcoming school year. The following are the phases and counties involved: Phases 1 & 2 will be concluded by June 2007 and include counties: Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Carlow, Wicklow, Waterford, Wexford, Louth and Offaly

Gerry Murphy will be taking up the position of OLCS (On-Line Claims System) Co-ordinator for IPPN commencing September 2007. Gerry has been Principal of St. Joseph’s NS, Dundalk since 1979 and has seen the school grow from a two teacher to a thirty eight teacher school. Having completed an M..Sc. in Computer Applications for Education in DCU and subsequently working with NCTE on the “Schools IT 2000” initiative he has extensive experience and knowledge of the application of ICT in the modern Primary school. Gerry has served for a number of years on IPPN National Committee and Executive and is currently the IPPN North-South Coordinator. Gerry’s school went on-line with OLCS on Tuesday 5th June and already school personnel see the benefits of this system.

Phases 3,4 & 5 to be co-ordinated by IPPN and rolled out on a county basis as follows: Phase 3: Schools in counties: Cork, Limerick, Westmeath, Longford, Laois, Kilkenny, Monaghan and Sligo

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Teaching Principals 10 Steps for Sleeping Better at Night As the school year draws to a close, perhaps now is the time to evaluate the year with a view towards making life easier for yourself next September in your role as Teaching Principal. 4 The following strategies may be useful in enabling a meaningful evaluation and help lay the basis for a redefinition of your approach in the 2007/2008 school year. 1 Separate your personal and professional lives. Professional criticism stings but this can ultimately lead to improved performance and effective self evaluation. Personal criticism hurts and can destroy ones self esteem. 2 Use the Principals Information Management System (P.I.M.S) devised and distributed by IPPN and which will arrive on your desk in early September. In the meantime, if you are not already a member of a Support Group, join one now (see P.I.M.S. article on page 2). 3 Have important documentation close to hand at all times. In addition to P.I.M.S which has a section recording teacher absences / course days etc., other publications which provide quick referencing include



the Primary Education Management Manual (Roundhall Press) which is updated on a yearly basis. The C.P.S.M.A, Board of Management Handbook, the INTO Members Handbook and relevant DES circulars. Every Principal should have a laptop/computer/printer for administrative use. It is the responsible of the B.O.M. to provide these essential administrative tools. Use call answering where there is not a full time secretary. Train children to answer the door and phone when appropriate in the absence of a secretary. Every school needs at least a part-time secretary to enable the Teaching Principal remain in the classroom. Remember, 15 minutes of teaching time lost per day equates to 9 full days over the course of the academic year. List the oldest in each family when sending home circulars ect to each family. Have each class teacher draw up a list of children in their classes who do not have an older brother or sister in the school. This list should always be close to hand. Have all new pupil details by Easter at the latest. A standard form of entry can be devised including P.P.S. numbers, parent’s names, emergency phone numbers, allergies etc. Devising and ensuring a

The Evolution of Multi-Tasking It is readily acknowledged by all that properly trained and paid ancillary staff in a school would greatly reduce the administrative burden placed on the shoulders of the Teaching Principal. Unfortunately, this is a scenario that does not exist in the vast majority of smaller schools throughout the country i.e. the school of the Teaching Principal. A massive increase in paperwork, school returns, ancillary staff, etc. threatens to overwhelm the Teaching Principal in almost all small schools. We have gone from an average of one circular per month at the beginning of the new millennium to more than one per week in 2006, with no resourcing put in place to enable the Principal cope with this additional workload. Meanwhile the children in the class of the Teaching Principal continue to have their learning disrupted and are becoming the most disadvantaged children in the entire school community.

LEADERSHIP The focus on leadership in education became more pronounced in the late 80’s. The Principal was central to this new thinking although in retrospect, the lack of resourcing to support the elevation of the role was lamentable. The 1991 OECD report identified the need for ongoing training and management supports for Principals. Sixteen years later, many of these initiatives have yet to be put in place. From a curricular and organizational point of view, the preparation of a School Plan became a priority for the Principal with over 90 listed policies eligible for inclusion. Redrafted and new compliance legislation such as the Education Act, Health and Safety, Equal Status and Welfare Acts opened the floodgates with the postman delivering new responsibilities almost daily. The newly “revised curriculum” and in-service modules has added to the complexity of the role, particularly that of the Teaching Principal.

EVOLUTION OF THE ROLE Once upon a time, the main duties of the Principal were to open and close the school, send monthly returns, keep the rolls and registers in order and to administer discipline. The curriculum was subject centred and learning was largely by rote. In many ways, the Principal was distanced from staff and worked in isolation as did many of the class teachers. The introduction of the “new curriculum” in the early 70’s saw a significant increase in the scope of the Principals responsibilities. Circular 16/73 radically changed the role and responsibilities. The Principal was now expected to consult with staff on issues such as textbooks, resources, etc. New subject areas such as Art and Crafts, Nature study and P.E widened the scope of the curriculum being taught. This new curriculum demanded planning for which neither training, money nor time was provided. When the National Parents Council was established in the late 80’s, parent / teacher meetings became a natural consequence. Soon communion and confirmation meetings followed, many outside school hours. Principals were expected to be present at these ‘school activities’ without professional training or remuneration.

CONCLUSIONS 1. If Principals don’t do something to help themselves, nobody else will. IPPN is harnessing this desire to be proactive within the profession and the expertise to make things better for all Principals, whether Administrative or Teaching 2. The problems of Principalship are primarily of concern to Principals only. Other members of the school community may be blissfully unaware or in many cases, indifferent to the isolation of the Teaching Principal. 3. The vast majority of Teaching Principals love their job and feel privileged to be in a position to shape the lives of future generations, but they want to be able to do the job without feeling guilty about their classroom duties. Feelings of guilt about what has been neglected add to the stress of the job. 4. Networks and Support groups which IPPN offer, are the way forward. The greatest reservoir of knowledge, advice and support lies within our own network of colleagues where good practice and worries can be shared. Your county network and your local support group can become your professional family.



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readily available supply of these forms can become part of a post of responsibility. It is always useful to have a ready supply of stamps, school headed paper and envelopes available in the school. Retain copies of standard letters for future use. Such letters could include parental appointments, confirmation of places for junior infants, notification of parent/teacher meetings, closure notifications, etc. Look at your perceived list of duties and responsibilities. Do you have to do them all? Now is the time to prioritise. Attendance registers (leabhar tinreamh) and registers are important official school records but making data entries can be delegated as a post of responsibility. Collection of monies and receipting should not be a duty of the Principal. Should the Principal feel it necessary to be responsible for photocopying the Solas magazine and D.E.S. circulars for distribution to the Staff and Board of Management members? Should the Principal feel personally responsibility for picking up litter in the yard? The fact is that if you attempt to deal with all activities as they arise, the vital ones are neglected.

10 Share your Principalship with others. Delegate effectively but remember that while you can delegate responsibility, you cannot delegate accountability. Where possible, give back the managerial role to the B.O.M. Have designated people agreed by the Board if things go wrong or need to be attended to. 11 Support your staff. An effective Principal will prioritise the personal and professional well being of staff, because it is only with the goodwill and support of staff that a Principal can lead effectively. Lead rather than drive and attempt to cultivate a pleasant atmosphere in the school. 12 Harness the talents in your school. Respect others – children, staff, parents and visitors. All will play a role in making your job that little bit easier if they feel they are being valued. Finally don’t look for perfection. The best regarded Principals have made many mistakes and learned from them. That’s why they are held in such high regard. Pat Moore

10 Self-Care Commandments for Principals:

I Before the end of term, arrange a meeting with your BoM Chairperson and Deputy Principal to make a collective list of the main outstanding tasks for the months ahead.

VI Arrange that the school secretary handles all mail during the holiday period. If you do not have a school secretary, delegate it as a task to some member of the ISM or BoM.

II Collectively prioritise key tasks and decide which items can wait until September. Just because the school has been given a deadline, plan your response based on what you consider to be a reasonable time frame.

VII Organise a telephone answering machine. The voice message should advise parents why the telephone is not answered, where books and uniforms can be purchased, the date of school re-opening, how to apply for late enrolments etc.

III Examine each of the prioritised tasks and decide who should take responsibility for them. IV Delegate as much as possible to individual BoM members and the In-School Management team. V Where certain key functions such as recruitment must be scheduled, make a plan for July and August which facilitates the Chairperson, a Deputy Chairperson, Principal and Deputy Principal, to provide cover for each other whilst also being able to plan a family holiday etc.

VIII Delegate the responsibility to manage keys and alarm codes for summer camps, maintenance work, staff access and other unplanned events, e.g. burglary, vandalism etc. IX Take a complete break from school by organising a holiday which physically prevents you from being available. X Remember that although you are the principal you are not indispensable. Turn off your mobile phone and take a decent holiday.



Visitng Killeigh NS are (l-r): Eva Creely (NcompasS), Maura McRedmond (IPPN), Kenny Wright (NAHT), Pauline McAllister (NAHT) and Valerie Campbell (NAHT).

Principals looking to the future

NORTH AND SOUTH In May ‘07, more that twenty Primary School Principals from Northern Ireland spent three days visiting their counterparts in the South focusing on the relatively new phenomenon of working with children in Primary Schools who have recently come to Ireland. This is an issue for which there are few policy guidelines and the rate of change is dramatic but there is an enthusiasm for learning from each other and developing best practice in this area. The visits were organised by the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN) and the National Association of Head Teachers, Northern Ireland, (NAHT/NI), with funding from NcompasS as a return stage for visits made by Principals from the South last December. This time the Northern visitors had an opportunity to see the level of newcomer enrolment in the South and the practical steps taken by their fellow professionals in dealing with this. As one visitor remarked ‘ I can access official policy and guidelines anytime , but it is only when you get to see how things can be done on the ground that you get a sense of how methods can be transferred into your own practice’ . While the level of newcomer children in Northern Ireland is rapidly growing, it has not yet reached the levels in the South. In one of the schools visited in Tullamore, 50% of the intake in Junior Infants had been born outside of Ireland. This presents huge challenges to all involved; teachers, parents and children. It was apparent that the schools have taken this task on and have run with it, pressuring for additional resources and devising new programmes. What particularly impressed the visitors was the enthusiasm that was evident in the face of very rapid change.. The sharing was not confined to the theme of the visits. The context for the whole school

operation was explored as well; many practical issues such as lack of storage and sports space were found to be common and some surprising information was gleaned. In one school, the design of new classroom tables and chairs was admired and it turned out that these had actually come from a company in Northern Ireland!

This time the Northern visitors had an opportunity to see the level of newcomer enrolment in the South and the practical steps taken by their fellow professionals in dealing with this. And of course the value of sharing practice was commented on by all involved and by their school communities. School Principals, by virtue of their roles are very busy people. For many of them taking part in this exercise, the hardest part was to justify to the time away from school and the additional work for other staff which it involved. Yet they all agreed that it had been of benefit beyond the theme and area studied. One of the Southern participants who had taken part in the visits North last December had not only forged links with Northern Principals but had also followed up with other local Principals who had been part of the same cluster group. And in the case of the Northern groups a number of those visiting will be involved with the school inspectorate in the North and will be able to share some of the insights gained practices more broadly. This kind of exchange is something that could be continued and developed especially in the context of the new administrative structures in PAGE 10

the North and new North South mechanisms. The diversity of educational systems in Ireland which for so long has been seen as underpinning the separation of communities, can also be seen as a rich resource when those involved agree to share their knowledge and experience. This can be applied in the context of professional development and also in the development of new policies and practice. The visits were funded by NcompasS through its Thematic Grants scheme which is supported by the extension to the EU Peace II Programme. Additional funding and support was also provided by the Department of Education (Northern Ireland) and the North South Cooperation Unit of the Department of Education and Science. A final call for projects under the Thematic Grants scheme is now being made and groups are invited to check the website for details or to contact the co-ordinators Border Counties of Ireland Eva Creely NcompasS Co-ordinator Léargas 189 Parnell Street Dublin 1 Tel: 00 353 1 8871235 e-mail: Northern Ireland Máire Ni Threasaigh NcompasS Co-ordinator British Council Norwich Union House, 7 Fountain Street, Belfast BT1 5 EG Tel: 028 9024 8220 ext 246 e-mail:

SMS Queries In the last few weeks, the IPPN Support Office has received a number of concerned queries about a service called Primary SMS which enables schools to send text messages to parents. The service provided by Primary SMS costs 30c per message to parents to receive texts - five times more expensive than - plus a ‘membership fee’ of €1 per month per family! There is also considerable additional administration for schools required by this company. As you are aware, is a service that IPPN has researched and designed for Primary Schools in Ireland and is currently being used by approx. 750 schools. Each text sent through costs just 6c and there are no charges for parents to receive texts, nor are there any administration fees. IPPN is critically aware of the importance in providing high quality and cost-effective services to you, our members., like and, is

technically superior and less expensive than any other SMS service available in Ireland. So much so that a growing number of state agencies, commercial companies and noneducational organisations are availing of to send bulk text messages to their staff and clients. If you are interested in sending text messages to groups of people, e.g. parents of a particular class, parents of all pupils, members of the Board of Management or indeed your staff, take a look at or telephone the IPPN Support Office on 1890 21 22 23. As with everything else IPPN does, the quality of services provided is constantly under review and we depend on your feedback and ideas to help us continuously improve. Feedback on and any other IPPN services can be sent to Would you like to be able to send a brief message to the parents in your school at short notice?

How can I use textaparent to send messages to the parents in our school? Arrange for the collection of the parents’ mobile telephone numbers

Unpredictable events e.g. enforced school closure, no heating etc

Log on to

Last minute timetable change e.g. cancellation of sports day

Send cheque to IPPN to purchase “credit” for the cost of the text messages

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

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

Happy announcement e.g. victory in sports final For large schools – reminding staff about a particular event.

Register your contact details

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 LATEST RESOURCES Recent additions to the website include the following resources and materials: In the Resources/Organisational Policies section • Child Protection Policy • Commercialism Policy • Geography Policy • Science Policy In the Resources/ Management Resources section • Enrolment Application Form and Cover Letter • Class Preference Sheet/ Class Allocation Form • Caretaker Contract In the Resources/Curriculum Plans section • EU Table Quiz for Primary Schools • Tráth na gCeist • Tíreolaíocht an Aontais Eorpaigh (cluiche idirgníomhach ó Gaeil Uladh) • Europa Go Interactive Game Other resources (location specified in each case) • Deputy Principals’ Conference – Professor Jim Spillane’s Distributed Leadership Workshop slides (Events/Deputies’ Annual Conference) • Announcement of the appointment to IPPN of Assistant Director for Membership Services (News & Views/IPPN Press Releases) • IPPN 2007 Bursary Application form (Events/Annual Bursary Awards) • Latest DES Circulars (Resources/DES Circulars) • IPPN-related meetings and events (Events/Events Calendar) Please send us any useful templates and exemplars to and we’ll make them available on the site, having removed any school-specific information.

"Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils." HECTOR BERLIOZ




IPPN says 'Slán go Foill' to Anna Kleven who is returning to her native Norway in July, having spent the past year on the support office staff. Anna was principally involved in administering the query line. Her gentle manner and kind spirit made her a pleasure to work with. We wish her the very best and thank her sincerely for her wonderful dedication to her work.

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DISTRIBUTING LEADERSHIP Empowering Deputy Principals Tullamore Court Hotel, Tuesday 15th May 2007 At last month’s Deputy Principals’ Conference, keynote speaker Jim Spillane, Professor in Learning and Organisational Change at Northwestern University, Illinois led an inspiring workshop entitled Distributed Leadership Empowering the Deputy Principal. The following is a synopsis of his sessions.

designated leader (Principal) performs key organisational functions in the school and that the Principal often works with other leaders within the school. Leadership practice on the other hand, is in the interaction between leaders, followers and the situations in which leadership arises.

Does school leadership matter? It has been proven to have small but significant effects on student learning. These effects are greater in schools located in challenging circumstances. What matters is setting direction – setting out the vision, goals and expectations for the school and for each pupil in the school. In terms of human development, monitoring instruction, developing teachers and encouraging and acknowledging the work of teachers matter. As regards the culture of the school, leadership makes a difference in terms of building a culture that supports collaboration, minimises disruption and ensures resources are there when needed.

Distributed leadership is not the same as collaborative leadership, democratic leadership or transformational leadership. Professor Spillane described the concepts of the designed organisation and the lived organisation. The designed organisation uses organisational routines to organise work. Such routines include class level meetings, staff meetings, school assembly, professional development events and so on. The leadership practices applied to them shape the school and determine how they are organized and managed. They allow for efficient coordinated action, are a source of stability and can reduce conflict about how to conduct work. If allowed to stagnate, they can also cause a degree of inertia, demotivation and result in inappropriate responses. Leadership practice in leading these routines

SUPERHERO The Principal is often cast as Superhero, playing centre stage while others play supporting roles. The problem is that this perception puts pressure on the individual Principal to do it all. As one Principal puts it “I was trying to do it all and that was impossible. You cannot be all things to all people. I don’t know everything about everything.” In defining leadership, what matters is having a working definition rather than finding the right definition. Spillane’s own definition is that “leadership refers to those activities that are either understood by, or designed by, organisational members to influence motivation, knowledge, affect, and practice of others in the service of the core work”. Management, on the other hand, is about efficiently and effectively maintaining current organisational arrangements. Professor Spillane conducted a two-round card-playing activity to demonstrate the effectiveness of group work over individual work in determining outcomes. He then went on to describe the concepts of the ‘leader plus’ aspect and the practice aspect of distributed leadership. The leader plus aspect acknowledges that sometimes people other than the

Principals spend between 25% and 43% of their time leading alone. enables constant evaluation, feedback, review and updating of the routines to suit the changing needs of the school. The organisational routine itself, the staff meeting for example, focuses on school improvement, internal communications and feeds back to the leader which in turn informs the leadership practice. Professor Spillane took the attendees through a series of school-based examples outlining leadership practice and organisational routines in action. LIVED ORGANISATION The lived organization, through a tool called the social network tool, identifies informal leaders and is how people in an organization experience the organization in their day-to-day lives. This tool looks at all of the people an individual typically interacts with once a week or more in the course of their working day about work-related issues and determines which of the people generally provide PAGE 13

information/advice and which generally seek it. By mapping the organization in this way, it can clarify who are those who are considered leaders or experts in particular areas so that this leadership capacity can be tapped into for the benefit of the school. Network density measures the proportion of potential links between people that are realized. Activity logging of school Principals highlighted the proportion of time Principals typically spend leading alone, leading with others and not leading. Depending on the type of activity being conducted, Principals spend between 25% and 43% of their time leading alone, between 30% and 35% leading with others and between 22% and 45% of their time not leading. LEADERSHIP MEANS AND ENDS Leadership involves either pulling together or pulling apart in order to achieve goals and objectives. Different strategies may apply but the focus has to be on achieving the goals. Leadership practice takes shape in the interactions rather than the actions of individual leaders, whether they are interactions among leaders or interactions among leaders and followers. There are three different types of distribution of leadership – collaborative, collective and coordinated. Leadership gets distributed either by design, by default or through crisis situation. Distribution by design is where: n leadership positions are defined or refined, organizational routines are created to enable others take on leadership responsibility and to enable others develop their skills as leaders n professional development is conducted to develop leadership skill and expertise n school norms and culture are transformed. Professor Spillane ended the session by concluding that “the distribution of leadership and management greatly differs from one school to the next. Analysis suggests that the work of leading and managing the school is indeed distributed, not only involving multiple formally designated leaders and informal leaders but also demonstrated by the prevalence of the co-performance at work”.

Circular NO Child Car Seat See Sawing 'Death by Circular' – surely the most painful of all sentences for the conviction of being a hard working school Principal. A trawl through the missives emanating from Marlborough Square reveals this creeping condition which threatens to engulf unsuspecting Principals across the land. In 2006, the DES issued 166 circulars, of which no fewer than 53 related to Primary level. In 2006, there were 166 circulars issued in total, of which no fewer than 53 related to Primary level. In previous years the number of Primary Circulars per year was as follows: In 2005 - 16 circulars In 2004 - 12 circulars In 2003 - 20 circulars In 2002 - 17 circulars In 2001 - 10 circulars In 2000 - 12 circulars 1997 - 1999 - 18 circulars 1973 - 1996 - 8 circulars We have gone from an average of one circular per month in 2000 to more than one per week in 2006, with no comparable increase in administrative resources to read, understand, disseminate, discuss, determining implications and implement provisions. Perhaps its time circular 16/73 was revisited, as the role of the Principal Teacher seems now to change from week to week.


Implications for Teachers using their private Cars to carry Children For many years teachers have been concerned regarding insurance cover when using their cars to carry children to matches, local churches, sports fields, concerts, to/from school or to hospital in emergency situations. New EU Child Safety Protection laws have come into force making it compulsory for all children to travel in the correct child seat, booster seat or booster cushion. Children aged 3 years or over, who are under 150 cms in height and weighing less than 36kg (i.e. generally children up to eleven and half years old) must use the correct seat from these categories when travelling in cars or goods vehicles. Where the vehicle has no safety belts, children over 3years must travel in the rear seats. All child car seats must be in accordance with EU or United Nations – Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) standards. Drivers have a legal responsibility to ensure passengers aged under 17years use the correct seat, booster seat, booster cushion or seat belt. According to AA, ensuring that a child is properly restrained in a forward facing seat can reduce injuries by a factor of 60%. The problems for schools faced with the prospect of having to move children in staff cars is obvious. So what are the solutions? 1. Schools can ask parents to take responsibility for moving their own children to school related events. This


presents a problem however if both parents are working outside the home, where one parents has taken the only family car to work or for a myriad of other reasons. 2. A school may purchase a number of seats to fit in whatever staff members car is in use. This however, presents problems as they require storage and maintenance when not in use and the logistics of fitting and removal of seats can be laborious. 3. The school can hire a bus or minibus as the law, as stated above, doesn't concern such vehicles. The children are merely required to wear safety belts where provided in such vehicles. Taxis are also exempt from the booster seat regulation. Financial support towards the hiring of buses can be provided by the parents or the sports club or parish organisations benefiting from the children's participation. In such cases local arrangements can be made following consultation with all parties. Ireland has availed of an option to allow a child of 3 years of age or over, to wear an adult safety belt in the rear of a passenger car or LGV where two child restraints are already fitted, and it is not possible to fit another child restraint. Note:

150cm = 4ft 11ins or 59ins 36kg = 5 St 9 lbs or 79lbs

Diary of meetings held by IPPN on behalf of Principals April 2007 DEIS meeting with DES ICP Convention, New Zealand IPPN Bursary research trip to Australia Empower Óg – drug awareness DVD launch DES Operational Guidelines group meeting IPPN / NAPD meeting Dublin and Glendalough Diocesan Board of Education Seminar IPPN/LDS Spreagadh programme concludes in Wexford and Donegal Education Awards Meeting IPPN/INTO meeting on OLCS Across the Spectrum Conference

May 2007 Executive meeting IPPN/LDS Spreagadh programme concludes in Kilkenny NAHT (UK) Annual Conference IPPN/CPSMA meeting ICT Strategy Group – IPPN Oral Submission Deputy Principals’ Conference with Professor Jim Spillane Governance Management Group meeting One Teacher Schools’ Support Group Meeting NAHT (NI) return school visits for N/S Schools Leadership Project Consultation meeting re EPSEN Act Educate Together AGM

How can change the way children exercise ??

June 2007 IPPN/NAHT meeting IPPN/LDS meeting Retirement event for Maria McSwiney & Bernadette Noonan (IPPN Kerry - members of Conference 2007 Venue Committee) Governance Management Group Meeting NCCA meeting re. the Principal – “Leading Curriculum Change” IPPN Executive Committee meeting IPPN National Committee meeting

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Leadership+ Issue 39 June 2007  
Leadership+ Issue 39 June 2007