ISSUE 51 ● JUNE 2009
+ Leadership THE PROFESSIONAL VOICE OF PRINCIPALS
Deputy Principals’ Conference 2009 The Vast Potential of Clustering
When people stop bringing you their problems, you are no longer their leader! Sometimes in the midst of crisis, there is opportunity. Such opportunities enable us to reprioritise what is really important and at the same time to let go of those things that are not important.
Helping to Deal with Children's Stress and Worries in a Positive Way IPPN – Picking Partners Carefully Priority Issues for Principals Child Protection Policy
Latest News CONFERENCE 2010 Citywest Hotel and Conference Centre in Dublin is the venue for next year’s IPPN Annual Principals’ Conference. It will be held from Thursday 28th to Saturday 30th January 2010. Update your diaries! IPPN MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL Membership forms will be distributed to schools in September. There will be no increase in fees for 2009/2010.
DES MEETINGS/OUTCOMES IN-SCHOOL MANAGEMENT We have been told that the revised circular is now ready for dissemination. It is unclear why it has been delayed. Perhaps it is being held back owing to the moratorium on appointments to posts of responsibility? PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT We understand that the new process has been fully designed in relation to teacher performance management. The DES is currently finalising the process in relation to Principals. Despite repeated requests, IPPN has not been consulted regarding this process. SPECIAL EDUCATION A meeting took place between the DES Special Education Section and IPPN in April. The following information was given by the DES: The Value for Money audit of SNAs in 500 schools is complete. It has now been given to two academics to collate and finalise. The report will be ready for the DES by September. NCSE REVIEW OF ALL SNA POSTS [10,000 whole time equivalent posts]. All posts are being reviewed to see if the work being done by SNAs is in compliance with the terms of the DES Circular. It is hoped to have the review completed by June. Where a school
applies for an extra SNA, this will trigger an automatic review. REVIEW OF THE GENERAL ALLOCATION MODEL All submissions have been received and the review should be complete by the end of 2009. It is unlikely there will be any change in the GAM for September. Changes in the future will be determined by available resources. IPPN has been invited to nominate two Principals to participate in a Focus Group that will be directly involved in this review. BARRY ANDREWS TD IPPN had a very constructive meeting with the Minister for Children in May. Issues such as child protection, mental health and pre-school provision were discussed. A follow-up meeting to progress these discussions will be held early in the new school year.
OTHER NEWS TEACHER TRAINING COLLEGES IPPN has presented to all final year teacher training college B Ed and Postgraduate students on the subject of applying for their first teaching post. Large numbers attended these events and attendees were very positive in their feedback. The presentation is available on EducationPosts.ie. Hopefully schools can look forward to higher quality CVs and interviews this year! LDS – SPREAGADH AND TORAÍOCHT IPPN has presented at all Spreagadh programmes this year – in Limerick, Cork, Drumcondra and Dublin West - highlighting issues of current interest to Principals. We were also represented at the Easter Panel Session of the new Toraíocht programme for Aspiring Principals in Maynooth. NPC/IPPN DRAFT PROTOCOLS The National Parents’ Council and IPPN are
collaborating on a draft protocol for Best Practice between Parents’ Associations and Principals/ Schools and this will be launched in August 2009. NAPD/IPPN – AGREED STUDENT TRANSFER FORM IPPN has been working with our colleagues in NAPD in the formulation of a user-friendly one-page Student Transfer Form which is now available on www.ippn.ie. This will significantly reduce Principals’ and Teachers’ workload in relation to preparation of children for assessment and multiple enrolments. EDUCATIONPOSTS.IE We are currently upgrading the website and hopefully the new site will be up and running by the time you read this! Its new look and features are intended to make the website easier to navigate. TEXTASUB IPPN, with the assistance of the Teaching Council, is upgrading the registration process for substitute teachers seeking employment through the TextaSub facility within EducationPosts.ie. This will involve substitute teachers having to validate their Teaching Council registration number when they wish to register with TextaSub. PRE-RETIREMENT SEMINARS IPPN hosted two pre-retirement seminars in Portlaoise in conjunction with Cornmarket and Jim Hayes in May and June. Both seminars were a resounding success. The increase in the number of Principals seeking retirement is demonstrated by the fact that both events were fully booked. IPPN was also represented at Diocesan Board of Education Patrons’ Day, the NAHT (NI) Conference and also held useful meetings with the NPC and the NCCA.
www.ippn.ie Resources Note that there are many helpful recruitment-related resources on www.ippn.ie e.g. sample interview questions, criteria for shortlisting, marking schemes as well as sample contracts for ancillary staff and SNAs.These can be found under Principal Advice – Recruitment. Resources recently placed on www.ippn.ie include:
Deputy Principals’ Conference ● NCSE, SESS, NEPS, PPDS Professional Briefing Slides ● Presentation by Dr Anita Prunty on Special Education: Implementing Best Practice
School Policies (54 currently available!) ● Swimming Policies
Events This section now has all materials in relation to the following events: ● IPPN Annual Principals’ Conferences from 2003 - 2008 ● IPPN Deputy Principals’ Conferences from 2006 - 2008 ● Your School and the Law 2008/2009 ● IPPN Bursaries from 2005.
Administration ● Budget Overview Template ● Class Preference Sheet Human Resource Management ● SNA Daily Timetable ● Managing SNAs Principal’s Role ● PR Hints and Tips PAG E 2
When people stop bringing you their problems, you are no longer their leader! As educators, both Principals and teachers are going through a bereavement process for the loss of our education system which was about to take its place internationally in the areas of resourcing and good practice. Living through the last few months has been like watching a car accident in slow motion – we know it’s happening but we can’t quite believe it. We are just getting over the initial shock but we are still in deep denial. Some of us have moved into the anger phase. The fourth stage of bereavement is acceptance but few have reached this yet. The bereavement metaphor is a useful one as it captures the confusion and anxiety that go with rapid change where there is also a deep sense of loss. Understanding this may help us to come to terms with the consequences of Ireland’s financial meltdown on our education system and on our own personal circumstances. Your role as Principal in the years ahead will be even more challenging as a direct result of the ongoing budgetary cuts. It will be a testing time and many in your school community will look to you to solve problems for which you may not have a solution. When this happens, remember the saying 'when people stop bringing you their problems, you are no longer their leader'. Not every Principal may want to hear this but it is true. So, what do leaders do in a time of crisis? While acknowledging the scale of difficulty and empathising with how people feel, leaders maintain a clear focus on reality. Leaders must above all offer direction and hope. Sometimes in the midst of crisis, there is opportunity. Such opportunities enable us to reprioritise what is really important and at the same time to let go of those things that are not important, but which have perhaps found their way into routine daily practice. Crises have a habit of producing creative thinking, surfacing new leaders with new ideas and new sources of support. But for this to happen you, the leader, must stay positive, keep an open mind and create conditions for others to lead. The influence of leadership is never greater than in a time of crisis. For this very reason, we have to be very aware of our own ‘leadership attitude’ as it has such an important bearing on how we are perceived by others. We all know of Principals who have only ever seen the glass half empty, even in the ‘good times’.The likelihood is that conversation in their staffrooms gives rise to little positive energy.We also know many Principals who successfully lead their schools through periods of difficulty by maintaining a positive outlook and concentrating their energy on matters which are within their control. Most importantly, they refuse to be distracted by those who are transfixed by matters that cannot be changed. School staffs will look to you for leadership, guidance and inspiration in these challenging times. How you behave and react to rapidly disimproving conditions does not go unnoticed. In fact your personal response has a huge influence on how others think and behave. Of course it is important that you
Director: Seán Cottrell firstname.lastname@example.org T: 353 21 452 4925 F: 353 21 435 5648 The opinions expressed in Leadership + do not President: Larry Fleming email@example.com necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Editor: Damian White firstname.lastname@example.org Irish Primary Principals’ Network Assistant Editor: Brendan McCabe ISSN: 1649 -5888 Assistant Director:Virginia O’Mahony Advertising: email@example.com Design and print: Brosna Press • 090 Irish Primary Principals’ Network, 6454327 • firstname.lastname@example.org Glounthaune, Co Cork PAG E 3
listen, acknowledge and empathise with how people feel and how they are affected. However, in your role as leader, it is critical to remember that giving your colleagues a sense of hope, not based on unrealistic expectations but based on what you know can be achieved, is a vital component of leading them through the tough times ahead. Raising and maintaining staff morale is likely to be one of the biggest challenges for School Principals during the coming school year. Providing professional guidance and personal support to enable you to achieve this will be the key focus for IPPN. One of the great strengths of our Principals’ network is the professional camaraderie and support that stretches across the country. Even in the most challenging of times, there is incredible generosity shown by experienced Principals who give of their time to advise and support their fellow Principals, and mentor the hundreds of teachers who join the ranks of Principalship each year. While the dismantling of our education system is very disheartening, we can take deep pride in the unflinching professionalism displayed by school leaders against all the odds. Is sinne le meas Larry Fleming, Seán Cottrell
IPPN Annual Conference 2009
The Future is Now …Speech by the Ombudsman (Abridged) Emily O’Reilly, Friday, 30th January As Ombudsman and as a parent I take an enormous interest in education and have a profound belief in the centrality of the education system in the struggle that lies ahead not just to rescue this country economically but to re-invent itself as a place where the intellect will take centre stage. I believe that we can and should position ourselves to be at the cutting edge of educational innovation as much for the children currently disadvantaged by their economic circumstances, or by their special needs, as for the children who could and should be achieving more in the areas of science and technology and the new creative and educational realities thrown up by the IT revolution.
I have a profound belief in the centrality of the education system in the struggle that lies ahead not just to rescue this country economically but to re-invent itself as a place where the intellect will take centre stage. I currently have one child at third level, two at secondary and two at primary and in my role as parent I am absorbed on a daily level with the Irish education system and have more opinions on it, arguably, than David McWilliams has on the economy. I'd like to begin, by commending you, the principals of our primary schools on the role you play in that system. Let's suppose I said that wouldn't it be great if every child who went to your school could play the Irish fiddle to intermediate standard by the time they left sixth class. There is a Principal among you, a teacher at a Dublin inner city school, who, without as much as a blade of grass around his school, took his girl's team all the way to a Croke Park final. The country, the world, needs leadership we are told. I have no argument with the view that the state has a profound moral obligation to fund the
education of its children, and nowhere arguably, more so than at primary level. Efforts to find out why Finland does so well in all three areas have uncovered a number of reasons, chief among them being egalitarian access to education, pedagogic freedom, masters level education for those at secondary level at least, and a socially just approach to funding in that in Helsinki, for example, schools with no particular problems give money to schools with challenging social surroundings.
Why does our education system presume that every five year old has the skills to begin successfully to learn the centrally mandated curriculum? Let's imagine a few things. Let's imagine that the school curriculum was abolished, and that every school was given permission - within certain literacy and numeracy boundaries - to design a curriculum that fit the current but also future needs of its community, a variation on the type of pedagogic freedom that works so well in Finland and which was advocated by Pearse in the Murder Machine. Let’s take school A, in an inner city, high unemployment levels, high level of non English speaking residents, and high levels of illiteracy among the parents. 97 pre-school children from local families have been offered places in a radical programme that will follow them from infancy to early adulthood. Currently, two thirds of children in that area leave school before Junior Cert and just 1% reaches degree level. A marvellous project, but the real question is why isn't this initiative taking place in the Knocknaheeny schools themselves? Why does our education system presume that every five year old has the skills to begin successfully to learn the centrally mandated curriculum? Who or what in the system is standing in the way of those children? I acknowledge and salute the increased emphasis that the Department has put on disadvantaged schools over the last few years but we still lag behind in terms of pre-school
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education and for far too many of our children, it is too late to play catch up even by the time they reach Junior Infants.
We love our children, we deeply value our schools and teachers and many of us would like to be more involved than we are now at present. Some weeks ago, through a circular sent home from school, I was invited to join a march protesting at the proposed teacher pupil ratio increases and substitution changes. My children and your children can cope with an extra child or two in the class; the education system will continue to serve our interests. What about the technological mismatch that is beginning to grow between this generation of children and the schools they go to? My youngest child gazes at the stars in real time in Google Earth and then writes laborious tracts in longhand in pencil on the solar system in school. The literally thousands of Euros I - and other parents – have spent on children's books and workbooks - the latter with their cynically builtin obsolescence - would have bought each of them a lap top at least once, if not twice. And I know, easier said than done, but if you don't, like my child, gaze at the stars from time to time, how can you possibly chart a course to get there? We love our children, we deeply value our schools and teachers and many of us would like to be more involved than we are now at present. Given that parents, teachers and children are all supposed to be partners in the education process, may I assume that next year I will find a workshop called "Principals - Help or Hindrance "or perhaps "Pupils - Help or Hindrance". Partnership between parents and schools must be strengthened, not micro managed, for the benefit of the school community and not just the school accountant. Full speech text is available on www.ippn.ie in the Events section.
2009 AnnualConference Workshop
Managing SNAs by Marcella O Conluain, Deputy Principal, St Joseph’s NS, Dundalk This workshop looked at the appointment of SNAs, their distribution within the education system, the SNA practices used in St. Joseph’s School and the issues arising from the National Value for Money Review of the SNA Scheme which is taking place at the moment. DES Circular 07/02 clearly states that “Applications for SNA support should be considered where a pupil has a significant medical need or a significant impairment of physical or sensory function or where their behaviour is such that they are a danger to themselves or others”. The application process for an SNA resource is submitted to the SENO and must be accompanied by a PPS number, parental consent and a relevant psychological report. In the case of EBD and SEBD, evidence of treatment is required along with evidence of the pattern of behaviour involved. The SENO visits the school and interacts with the pupil, teacher, principal and parent.
PRACTICE IN ST. JOSEPH’S SCHOOL St. Joseph’s National School has a core team of personnel who identify the needs of SEN students and implement a planned response to these needs.This enables the student to maximise the teaching resource that is in the school. The teacher and the SNA are in “loco-parentis”. The essential function of the SNA is to facilitate greater access to the education in the classroom.
In the course of the workshop many issues were considered and discussed including the recruitment of SNAs, flexible assignment of SNAs to other students, recording of information, training for SNAs, the Value for Money Review and so on. Issues for the Future will be the induction of SNAs, research on SNAs in the Irish system, training for SNAs and teachers and the need for recognition of the SNAs by various groups in the educational system.
It is important for schools to develop the role of the SNA in the classroom. This can involve teacher and SNA planning and evaluating educational intervention strategies together on a regular basis. It is important to include SNAs in relevant training, meetings and information sharing sessions. The SNA keeps a daily diary in which he/she records the assigned students’ behaviour and learning progress. This diary is routinely discussed with the class teacher and special needs co-ordinator. The diary is a factual record and does not include analysis or interpretation of daily events. The provision of SNA support has improved teaching and learning in the school and has decreased incidents of bullying, racism and exclusions.
Useful References and Contacts discussed at the Workshop ● DES Circular (02/07) Appendix 1 ● National Council for Special Education ● Self-esteem - The Key to Young Childs ● Education ~ Tony Humphries ● “Teaching Assistants in Schools” : Local Government Association www.lga.gov.uk ● Special Educational Support Service ● NEPS ● National Parents’ Council ● National Council for Curriculum and Assessment ● Department of Health & Children School Completion Programme.
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Deputy Principals’ Conference 2009 The IPPN Deputy Principals’ Conference 2009 was attended by 260 Deputy Principals and 40 Principals at the Glenroyal Hotel, Maynooth on 12th May. The theme of the Conference was Special Education: Implementing Best Practice. Dr Anita Prunty of St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra initially took a rapt audience through her views on best practice in teaching and learning for pupils with SEN. She talked about individualised planning and instruction; assessment for and of learning; IEPs and group planning for teaching; teaching methods and approaches in relation to memory, attention, generalisation, communication and language, social development, self-management and selfregulation. She gave her views on differentiation and the monitoring of progress. In relation to the management and organisation of SEN in schools, Anita talked about Inclusion; models of support such as in-class and withdrawal, team teaching, peer tutoring and cooperative learning and the importance of planning; collaboration with pupils, parents, teachers and other professionals; finally Anita outlined the various options available for teachers interested in gaining qualifications in teaching pupils with SEN. Anita placed a particular emphasis on the quality of teaching and the “skills and knowledge for sound instruction” which went down very well with the audience.
Jim Jordan of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) spoke about the role of the SENO, the process for applying for resources for children with SEN and the consequent review and resource allocation based on DES criteria; there was a discussion about the various professional reports required to support applications and an emphasis on describing the particular care needs of the child in the report; the role of the SNA was clarified and discussed in terms of the real needs of the child as opposed to the needs as met by the DES; Jim briefly described the current reviews being undertaken by NCSE on behalf of the DES including the Value for Money Review and the review of care needs of those currently supported by SNAs. Guidelines for IEPs and the impact of the transition from primary to post primary were discussed. The Q&A session following Jim’s input was particularly lively! Madeline Hickey of the Special Education Support Service (SESS) described the organisation and the models of support provided by SESS including phone, email, seminar delivery, in-school supports, online learning and capacity building. She outlined the various options available and how to apply for them and described the strategies in place for supporting schools in relation to Autism, Dyslexia, Hearing Impairment, Visual Impairment, Challenging Behaviour. Madeline also described the new Kids on the Block programme for communicating disability and difference.
Ann Marie Sheehan, of the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) spoke about the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments, about practical supports available in the following classifications: classroom, school and ‘school plus’ supports as provided through the ‘continuum of supports’ model. Ann Marie described the problemsolving process, the role of the NEPS psychologist and briefly spoke about the Incredible Years programme and the importance of having a Critical Incident Plan in place in schools. Seán Gallagher of the Primary Professional Development Service (PPDS) described the regional PPDS structures and how to apply for support. He described the arrangements for the planning day in 2009/10 as well as the in-class supports and after-school workshops and courses that are available. Support is available for both curriculum development and organisational development and there are specific programmes for DEIS schools and Gaeilge Tús Maith. Seán described a number of regional projects including blended learning; ICT to assist learning; oral language across the curriculum and curriculum leadership. All of the slides presented on the day are available on www.ippn.ie under Events/Deputy Principals’ Conference.
Its not too late to Claim Your Summer! It has been something of a difficult year for school Principals, I think it is fair to say, and, unfortunately, the likelihood is that 2009/2010 will pose further challenges for you – additional resource cutbacks, staff morale issues and so on. As you prepare to close the school doors for July and August, I sincerely hope you have been able to implement some of the suggestions we outlined in Issue 50 in relation to 10 Self-Care Commandments for Principals. It’s not too late to put in place at least some supports to ensure that you can take at least 3-4 weeks completely away from school. With that in mind, if you do nothing else, try to achieve the following before the end of June:
● Arrange a meeting with the BoM chairperson and the Deputy Principal to draw up a list of priority outstanding tasks and delegate as many of those as you possibly can – be ruthless! ● Ensure the school secretary or nominated other person handles all mail and deals with urgent queries (with support from the Deputy Principal or other nominated person) in your absence ● Delegate the management of keys and security-related call-outs to the caretaker or nominated member of the Board ● Where recruitment activity is unavoidable, in conjunction with the BoM Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson and the Deputy Principal, arrange a schedule of recruitment-related
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tasks which will provide cover for each other to enable all to have a decent break from school activity ● During the agreed periods where you will be unavailable to the school, screen all phonecalls and avoid reading your school email – no-one is indispensable! Remember you have done your very best for your school all year and need to relax and re-energise to face into the new school year with the necessary level of energy and positivity. Ingore any feelings of guilt and enjoy your break. With very best wishes to you from the IPPN Support Team, Virginia O’Mahony & Seán Cottrell
IPPN – Picking Partners Carefully! by Damian White, Principal, Scoil Shinchill, Co. Offaly maintenance will carry out repairs. We have never regretted the change to Energia, saving several hundred Euros per year since the switch.
IPPN chooses its partners carefully. While there are many criteria to be met and filled, two stand out: ● The partnership must result in the provision of significant savings or services for Principals and Deputy Principals and/or their schools
ScoilTel provides a tailor-made phone service to primary schools following consultation with IPPN on how best to serve school needs. Our bills have been considerably lower since the change-over 3 years ago.
● It must result in support for IPPN to help provide the high level of services members have come to expect. In order to demonstrate the savings which can be made through availing of the offers available through our partners, I would like to share the benefits enjoyed by our school and myself on availing of them.
Allianz have been our school insurers for many years. Recently we switched our Personal Accident Insurance scheme from another company to Allianz. Like the other company, we were able to renew online each year saving 20% on the cost of the premium. The advantage with Allianz is that a cheque can be posted on following registration whereas the previous company insisted on payment by credit card, requiring the Principal to use his/her own card if they wished to avail of the saving. This saving has been of enormous benefit to the school and the children. We operate compulsory 24-hour cover (the alternative being school hours only) which, in spite of regular prompting, results in less than the full compliment of children paying the fee. Those who, for whatever reason, fail to pay are still covered, paid for from the savings made by paying online.
Our school switched to Energia soon after they signed up as a partner of IPPN. Since then we have experienced savings of at least 10% on all our electricity supply bills. If there are problems with service, which we have never experienced, ESB live
We recently purchased 4 Promethean Interactive Whiteboards from Prim-Ed and have found them to be an excellent resource in the classroom. Feedback from teachers and pupils has been overwhelmingly positive. We got a €100 discount per whiteboard by being an IPPN member which is significant and have had very good service from Prim-Ed when we needed technical support.
FREE SCHOOL ART EXHIBITION • Brilliant Art Experience for all your children • Super social event for the whole school community • Fantastic fundraiser • Easy for busy teachers and principals, we look after all the details • Completely free of charge to your school
Azzurri provide excellent clothing and sports equipment to schools at a very reasonable rate. As a school which promotes hurling and Gaelic football, we have purchased many helmets, sliotars, footballs etc. from Azzurri and designed our own school jersey on their website. Azzurri have also designed an excellent school jacket for children in a range of colours as well as school tracksuits which can be tailored to the needs of any school. With any of these partnership arrangements, availing of services couldn't be easier. Each carries regular ads in Leadership+ with all the necessary details and the information is also available on www.ippn.ie. If our school can make these substantial savings – so can yours!
For further information
Freephone 1800 226699 Or contact Justin Gillespie direct on 087 2863078
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Legal Diary by David Ruddy, B.L.
Book Review - “Religion, Education, and the Law in Ireland” by Dr Dympna Glendenning BL CHURCH STATE RELATIONS The State and its citizens clearly owe a huge debt of gratitude for the tireless and selfless work of the religious institutions that provided education and health care. They provided a cost effective system of education when the State could not find the resources to do so. However, Dr Glendenning notes the closeness of Church/ State relations in education and the deference paid by the State to the churches’ role in education policy and practice in the past. A Church/ State forum in June 2008 sought to achieve a consensus on a way forward for the management of schools in a multicultural and increasingly secular society. The forum considered amongst other things the need for schools to be inclusive and the need for Admission and Participation policies to be accessible to all students. It is clear from the Pastoral Letter (Vision 08) that the Church is not moving out of education, but is rather redefining its vision and philosophy for the future. RESPECTING DIVERSITY HEADSCARVES AND TURBANS A good example of the impact of cultural diversity is in relation to school uniform policy. Minister O’Keeffe has made the following recommendations: 1. The current system whereby schools decided their uniform policy at a local level is reasonable, works and should be maintained. 2. No school uniform policy should exclude students of a particular background from seeking to enrol or continuing to enrol in a particular school.The wearing of the hijab in a similar colour to the school uniform is permitted, however the Burqa which obscures a facial view and creates an artificial barrier between pupil and teacher is not permitted. 3. Schools should consult widely with the school community in drawing up such a policy. 4. Schools should take note of the Education Act 1998, and the Equal Status Acts 2000-2004.
Dr Glendenning cautions that if Ireland is to comply with its international human rights obligations, then its recommendations on the wearing of the hijab in recognised schools must be statutory.The information conveyed to parents must be assessable, foreseeable, precisely formulated and it must be afforded a level of legal protection against arbitrary interference by public and school authorities. It would be imprudent to introduce, as the minister has suggested, recommendations in relation to religious headdress i.e. that the headdress must conform with the colour of the school uniform.
Dr Glendenning cautions that if Ireland is to comply with its international human rights obligations, then its recommendations on the wearing of the hijab in recognised schools must be statutory. ABSENCE OF ANY PUBLIC SECTOR SCHOOLS AT PRIMARY LEVEL There is no public school sector at primary level with the exception of two pilot projects. The Catholic Church accepts that for historical reasons it is over represented in School Patronage and reiterates that it has no desire to monopolise educational provision. However, it wishes to maintain the status quo in schools it owns.Whilst some individuals have called on the Church to give up control of the management of schools, there has been no concerted demand from representative parent groups that such a step be taken. Cardinal Brady has strongly defended Catholic education stating that the Church offers “A clear and unapologetic set of values based on the Gospel. It is time to recover a balance of respect in our society between those who exercise legitimate authority for the common good and the important freedom of the individual”. Clearly PAG E 8
the contribution of the churches in education is still valued and the churches will retain a key role in education in Ireland as long as parents continue to support them in that role. THE CONSTITUTION OF 1937 The effect of the Constitution was to make the state confessional in practice. As there was little demand for nondenominational education, the existing system of denominational education was embodied in Article 42 (Education) and Article 44 (Religion). Catholic social supremacy was embodied in these articles which included the doctrine of State subsidiarity. The tenet of parental supremacy in education was prioritised and the Churches, through the agency of parents and with the tacit consent of the State, assumed a central role in education. The Government of the day introduced a State-aided system of education to be incorporated in the Constitution rather than a State system. This would appear purely to preserve resources. The States obligation is “to provide for education” rather than “to provide education”. If the latter were inserted the State would be compelled to fund school transport, school buildings, equipment, free books, and requisites for children as well as the full maintenance of recognised schools. The Courts have generally held that the constitutional obligation on the State in regard to education provision is an indirect obligation i.e. to fund others (usually the churches) to provide education.This minimalist interpretation of the State’s role in education provision has been upheld by the Supreme Court in December 2008 in O’Keeffe V Minister for Education and Science. This decision illustrates that the State is not only permitted to evade full responsibility for the maintenance and repair of schools but can also avoid vicarious liability for the sexual abuse of children in national schools. In this case a woman who was sexually abused at the age of 8 years of age in a primary school by the school principal failed to make the State liable for his actions.
SCHOOL OWNERSHIP: NATIONAL SCHOOLS Almost all Primary Schools and 57 percent of Post Primary Schools are not State owned but are vested in trustees of the various churches or religious orders. Traditionally the Church provided a site plus 15 percent of the capital costs. Since 1999 the traditional model can still be used but is subject to an agreement made with the Minister concerning the operation of the school. The Patron is recognised by the Minister under part IV of the Education Act 1998. The Patron provides 5 percent of the capital cost capped at €63, 000 and 10 percent of the renovation costs capped at €31, 000. However the State will then own the building which will be leased to the Patron. Under the pre-1999 agreement, the absence of clear written agreement between Church and State has led to some difficulties where schools are sold and the proceeds have to be distributed between church and State. THE RULES FOR NATIONAL SCHOOLS AND THE INTEGRATED CURRICULUM The Rules for National Schools 1965 (the Rules) required schools to fix and timetable formal religious instruction. They required schools to separate formal religious instruction from secular instruction and to display the timetable in a conspicuous place in the school. Some 6 years later these important safeguards for liberal rights were abandoned when the integrated curriculum of 1971 was introduced. This curriculum met the long-term demands of the Catholic Church for the full integration of religious instruction with secular instruction for the first time in the history of the State. The integrated curriculum may well have been incompatible with the European Charter of Human Rights. The majority religious denominations were privileged whilst ignoring the rights of minority religions. It made it more difficult for pupils to avoid religious instruction of which their parents disapproved. The current position appears to be that the liberal rules in the Rules for National Schools (1965) have been reaffirmed and incorporated into the Education Act 1998 whereby mandatory safeguards for ensuring that the rights of children of minority religions and none are protected in denominational schools as required by the Constitution.
DEEDS OF VARIATION In 1997 the little publicised Deeds of Variation were agreed and introduced for all National Schools. The Deeds of Variation which were renegotiated and agreed with the various School Patrons, following discussions with the Partners in Education aimed to protect the ethos of the Denominational schools into the future. Effectively the Deeds as the name implies were a variation on old Leases or Deeds of Trust of National Schools which had been established with the aid of a State grant (of generally between 80 to 90 percent of building costs and were vested in the Trustees (generally Diocesan Trusts). The original Lease or Deed of Trust made no reference to the ethos or philosophy of the school but simply required that the buildings be used for National School purposes for a period of 99 years. However the Deeds of Variation vary the terms of the existing leases by revoking the existing trust and by inserting a new Deed of Variation supplemental to the existing lease.This lays down the ethos of the School Patron, and Trustees.This gives legal effect to the ethos and the protection of it into the future.
Section 30 of the Education Act provides for a period of time for religious instruction, but does not refer to content which is a matter for the Religious Authorities It would appear that the Rules for National Schools 1965 (as amended) together with the Deeds of Variation have been transposed by the Education Act (section 7). Dr Glendenning observes that this was commenced with little publicity, and that, because of the manner of their incorporation, many parents are currently unaware of the changes that they have wrought. She feels that existing arrangements for the teaching of religious instruction and worship in National Schools should ideally be incorporated into Secondary Legislation pursuant to the Education Act 1998. THE EDUCATION ACT 1998 AND RELIGION Section 30 of the Education Act provides for a PAG E 9
period of time for religious instruction, but does not refer to content which is a matter for the Religious Authorities. Section 30 allows for such reasonable instruction time as the Board of Management, with the consent of the Patron, determines for subjects relating to or arising from the characteristic spirit of the school. Section 30 inserts a conscience clause which allows the parents of a student to withdraw their child from religious instruction. To date there has been no judicial interpretation of these provisions and certain matters remain unclear. In 2005 there was a dispute between the Department of Education and Science and a North Dublin Primary Muslim School. It was alleged that the school was spending too much time teaching the Koran giving rise to” fears of extremism”. The Board of Management of the school could, however, establish that the curriculum as determined by the Minister was taught, and that the BOM could provide courses of instruction in such other subjects as the Patron considered appropriate to include matters relating to the characteristic spirit of the school. EMPLOYMENT-RELATED ISSUES The Employment Equality Act of 1998 allows denominational schools to give more favourable treatment on religious grounds to an employee or prospective employee over another person where it is reasonable to do so in order to maintain the religious ethos of the institution. It also allows denominational schools to take action to prevent an employee or prospective employee from undermining the ethos of a school. The Employment Equality Act 2004 implements EU directives. This has to some extent diluted the provisions of the 1998 Act. It will be necessary to show that a person’s religion is a determining factor in her actual ability to discharge the duties of her job, rather than simply showing the employer’s perception that such religion or belief is fitting in light of the organisations’ ethos. Furthermore it appears the religious discrimination will only be lawful provided it does not also constitute discrimination on any one of the prohibited grounds i.e. gender, racial or social origin, disability, age, or sexual orientation. Therefore the dismissal of an unmarried pregnant teacher could not now be wholly justified under this provision as it would
Is your school appointing a
New/Acting Principal in 2009? Contact IPPN on 1890 21 22 23 to arrange delivery of a Newly Appointed Principal’s Pack THIS INCLUDES ● PRINCIPAL’S INFORMATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM - PIMS A Desk Diary pre populated with essential dates as well as Planning Tools, Contact Numbers, Resource Guide and Information Management System ● CIALL CEANNAITHE On-line - Interactive pre appointment course for New/Acting Principals Publication - A practical guide for New/Acting Principals, offering the wisdom of experienced colleagues
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breach the family status ground. It also appears the dismissal of an openly homosexual teacher would be unlawful since it would breach the sexual orientation ground.
regard to admissions would discriminate on the religious ground to a degree that would deprive minority religions of access to education, which is constitutionally guaranteed at primary level.
It would be much less divisive for educational interests if such quotas were agreed by denominational schools rather than having them conceivably imposed by the Courts.
SCHOOL ADMISSION AND PARTICIPATION POLICIES To date there are a number of impending judgements in relation to the interpretation of Admission & Participation policies by parents who failed to secure places for their children in schools, and also challenges by schools to directives by the Department of Education and Science compelling schools to take children who were refused admission under their admission policies. There have been a number of referrals to the Equality Authority under the Equal Status acts 2000- 2004. These Acts prohibit discrimination on 8 substantive grounds including religion. However there is an exemption clause in relation to Denominational Schools.
Section 30 of the Education Act provides for a period of time for religious instruction, but does not refer to content which is a matter for the Religious Authorities
OBSERVATIONS Dr Dympna Glendenning is Ireland’s leading authority on educational law. She has published two important works already, “Education and the Law”, and “Implications for Schools Boards of Management” which she co-authored with Dr William Binchy.
Do Schools have an absolute right to refuse admission on the basis of preserving the ethos of Schools? “If it admits persons of a particular denomination in preference to other denominations, or it refuses to admit as a student a person who is not of that denomination and in the case of the refusal it is proved that the refusal is essential to maintain the ethos of the school”. There is a heavy burden of proof on the school to prove that any such refusal of a student was essential to maintain the ethos of the school. An absolute right on the part of the school with
ICEP IC EP
In the event of a High Court challenge to the exemption employed by Denominational Schools in section 7 (3) of the Equal Status Act 2000, the Courts would have to balance the child’s right to an education in publicly funded schools together with parental rights in Articles 42 and 44 of the Constitution against the constitutional rights of the religious denomination to manage its own affairs and to protect its characteristic spirit. It would consider the full circumstances of the case, the diversity of modern Ireland, the virtual absence of nondenominational schools. A Court would also consider EU anti-discrimination legislation and in particular EU Directives. Dr Glendenning predicts that a Court would be likely to impose quotas on denominational schools which would not unduly dilute the ethos of the school. If such a legal challenge were lost in the National Courts it would most likely be appealed to the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights.
This review concentrates on one chapter; the book also examines the relationship between Church and State in a number of different European countries and the United States of America. Dr Glendenning’s analysis of the relationship between Church and State in relation educational provision in Ireland is detailed, fair and insightful. She challenges Church and State to reflect on current arrangements to meet the needs of a changing Ireland. She urges our churches to show leadership in relation to the establishment of fixed quotas for nondenominational pupils seeking places in denominational schools. This would be preferable to the Courts imposing these quotas on such schools. Dr Glendenning is of the view that ultimately Church and State will be influenced by the wishes of parents in relation to the future direction of Irish education. “Religion, Education and the Law” is published by Tottels
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The Vast Potential of Clustering by Micheál Rea, Principal Walterstown NS, Cobh, Co. Cork Have you ever truly thought about clustering? There are some examples of clustering around the country but it hasn’t really been embraced. There is a lot of work involved in setting up one but I would suggest that the benefits have the potential to outweigh the hassle. There are some elements of clustering that could be introduced without DES approval and then there are other areas that can only work with their approval. Lots of schools use clusters for SEN hours but how many use even these connections to help with the day to day running of the school? For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts on how clustering could be used by every school in the country to maximize resources, improve and develop collegiality and benefit our school communities. Principal Release Days:There are a few clusters in existence but only on a pilot basis. Teaching Principals up and down the country continue to be driven demented by the current system. Obviously it is very important to have the administration time but the lack of continuity and the lack of available qualified substitutes is very frustrating. It is open to groups of schools to enter into informal arrangements where they would find a willing sub and commit to asking him/her to do all their Admin Days. There are several pitfalls in this system but it might work in some places. The preferred option would be for a temporary teacher to be employed to cover a cluster of schools. I don’t need to go into the obvious benefits of this system here. Seeing as the DES is already covering the cost of subs for this time, it would be cost neutral to employ a temporary teacher instead. The question of whether a cluster of schools should get this temporary teacher based on the number of Admin Days or the number of students in the cluster is for another article! SEN: This is the area of clustering that most schools are familiar with as a lot of schools cluster or have clustered with other schools for SEN teaching posts. Wouldn’t it be great if we could combine different categories to make up full posts, for example, combine low incidence hours allocation with admin days’ allocation? Cost savings: I feel there is huge potential here for schools to make real savings. Schools could join
together to increase their bargaining power and get lower prices. Oil, stationery, photocopying, books, IT, small building jobs etc could all reap the rewards and achieve substantial savings for each clustered school. To start with, schools could give a commitment to use a given provider and negotiate the price. If this proved successful then schools could enter into contracts to help agree even better prices. Schools tend to buy a lot of the same materials and services and if we could club together then there are savings to be made. IPPN has already shown that even providing access to schools can encourage lower prices so if we give a commitment to a given supplier there should be discounts available. When you join together to look at an area like cost savings you also access expertise and knowledge from other Principals and schools. A considerable added bonus!
Ultimately, we are trying to do the best we can for the children in our care. There can be some competition between local schools and this can be fun and invigorating. However, each school has particular strengths which, if we could tap into them, would benefit our schools. Sharing expertise, resources and perhaps even specialist teachers could open up new ideas and possibilities in all schools involved. We have seen in recent years how opening classrooms up has improved teaching, learning and collegiality so maybe opening our schools to other schools would help in the same way. If I have a teacher with particular talents in music and you have a teacher with a talent for IT then maybe we could work together to our mutual benefit.
Lots of schools use clusters for SEN hours but how many use even these connections to help with the day to day running of the school?
There are other possibilities too. Perhaps schools could look at shared research work to help with issues in their given area. Perhaps in your area there is the possibility of accessing community funding from local business or industry. These groups can be oversubscribed with applications but if you are speaking for all schools in the area you might have a better chance. Clustering doesn’t have to be limited to primary schools either. Secondary schools have a lot to offer and it may be of mutual benefit to discuss each other’s needs.
Ancillary Services: many schools have part time caretakers, cleaners and secretaries. It is open to schools to join together and use the Ancillary Services Grant to pay for a shared person. While you may not get more time, you may be able to pay more and get a more qualified or a more suitable person.Together you would be offering a full-time job, which might be more attractive and attract better candidates.This type of cluster would work between 2/3 schools and as such would be different than other cluster arrangements.
Clusters or networks don’t have to involve lots of meetings. They can be run by e-mail or even phone calls. If you had one meeting per term you could manage the rest by email. Once you are up and running it should make life easier rather than harder. It would probably be best to start with one area and get that working first before expanding. The size of clusters will depend on a number of factors: geographical area, size of schools, willingness to participate and the needs of the school.
Group Training:There are plenty of courses out there that would benefit our schools. However, there are often minimum numbers of ten or even twenty participants. This excludes many smaller and even medium-sized schools. By joining together with other schools with similar needs you could access these courses to help grow and develop your school and staff. This wouldn’t necessarily mean joining with the other local school in your area as you may have very different needs. This kind of school-specific CPD is attractive to everyone- teachers are more engaged as it directly impacts on their work and the BOM can see clearly what area of the school benefits.
There is some very good work being done around the country in working together but I feel that that the vast potential of clustering is still by and large untapped.There is quite a bit of organisation involved in setting up a cluster but the benefits should outweigh this. Responsibility can be rotated year to year to share the burden or duties can be divided between schools. Ultimately, I would feel that you need one person to take responsibility for an area.This can also be rotated. It is easy to see problems with all of the above but maybe they are opportunities instead. Go forth and cluster!!
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ICT Tips: Creative (and free!) resource for all your teachers by Seaghan Moriarty It’s great when you can recommend a program to your fellow teachers that is easy to use, versatile, useful for every class and completely free. The web facility at www.senteacher.org is all that your colleagues will be thanking you for, for months to come. It facilitates the quick generation of many types of resource which you can use on screen, or print out for use in class.This short article will give you a taste of what’s available. 1. CERTIFICATE MAKER This facility enables you to choose frame, font, and fill in text for the award title, recipient, date, signature and description text. Simply fill these in, on-screen – and your changes are immediately viewable. Certs and awards can be highly motivational, and pupils make suggestions for other certificates of the week/month. 2. WORD CARDS Here, you can enter a list of words to the right (for example “duine, beirt, triúir, etc.”, the dolch list, onset+rime sets – anything at all,
and the program will generate the cards for you.Choose font, card colour and number of cards as well as other options. 3. PHOTO CARDS One of my favourite tools at SenTeacher.org, is the facility which enables you to create cards with text and image. Simply type on screen the label for each card, and press a ‘change picture’ button to search the internet for an appropriate image and add it to the card. Again, the limits are endless – you can create photo cards for ‘na dathanna’, ‘things we eat’, ‘p words’, ‘famous women in irish history’, cards for the life cycle of the butterfly etc. Additionally, teachers can construct creative games to play with the photo cards you print out.
PRINTING TIPS ● Try to minimise printing in general ● Laminate any useful resources for re-use ● Set your printer to black & white to minimise costs, if colour is not required.
4. OTHERS There are 16 creation tools in all available at SenTeacher.org. It’s rare that such a useful resource remains free, so pass the word around / post this page on your notice board.
www.EducationPosts.ie A service from IPPN
All teaching vacancies now being advertised on EducationPosts.ie ● EducationPosts.ie carries more teaching jobs daily than all Irish newspapers and websites combined, making it the number one location to advertise vacancies to thousands of teachers ● Imagine an advertising service that is not only FREE but also delivers details of your job by e-mail and text message to teachers whose pre-selected criteria match your vacancy needs ● Operating since 2002, EducationPosts.ie is a user-friendly website designed by Principals for Principals ● Advertising a vacancy is a short process with clear on-screen instructions.
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PPDS supporting DEIS Schools by Dr. Mary McAuliffe, Director As part of Delivering Equality Of Opportunity In Schools - An Action Plan for Educational Inclusion (DES, 2005), DEIS Urban Band 1 and Urban Band 2 schools received intensive support from the former PCSP and SDPS regarding the development of the three-year DEIS plan and the effective implementation of the literacy and numeracy programmes described below since 2006. The Primary Professional Development Service (PPDS) subsumes and develops the work of the PCSP and SDPS and continues to provide support to these schools. Supports available to Urban DEIS Band 1 and 2 schools The support provided to Urban DEIS schools is diverse and is key to the development of schools as professional learning communities in which teacher learning is closely linked with school improvement and development and pupil progress. Services such as in-class modelling, facilitation of staff meetings and planning days, provision of training to First Steps tutors and facilitation of cluster-meetings, after-school workshops and courses are offered through the PPDS. More information regarding the nature of the support provided to schools is available on www.ppds.ie in the About Us section. Supporting literacy and numeracy in Urban DEIS schools In the DEIS Action Plan, a number of literacy and numeracy programmes were identified that would complement the actions outlined. These programmes included:
Ready, Set, Go-Maths
The PPDS DEIS team support schools in effectively implementing First Steps, Reading Recovery, Maths Recovery and Ready, Set, Go-Maths ensuring this implementation is aligned to targets schools have identified in their three-year DEIS plan. LITERACY First Steps: The First Steps literacy resource affords schools an opportunity to address literacy levels in a structured and planned way. It uses diagnostic frameworks or maps of development which effectively link assessment to teaching to accurately assess and monitor children’s competencies and progress on an on-going basis. Such information enables teachers to match children’s performance in oral language, reading and writing with appropriate and relevant activities and strategies for development.
“(Due to First Steps) ...children are reaching a higher standard of literacy at a very early stage” PRINCIPAL
Reading Recovery Reading Recovery is an early intervention designed to reduce literacy problems in any education system. The specially designed series of lessons, individually planned and delivered, provides intensive help for children who fail to make sufficient progress in reading and writing after one year in school. The goal of Reading Recovery is to enable the lowest achieving children to return, after 8-20 weeks of instruction, to working with the average band in their classes and to continue to progress successfully. Reading Recovery is delivered by teachers trained on a year-long in-service basis to administer Reading Recovery series of tests, analyse these tests to find a starting point and then design the 30 minute daily lessons according to the needs of each child while keeping within the copyright structures of the Reading Recovery lesson.
“ ...Reading Recovery has not only enabled the programme children to become readers and writers but has changed whole school planning…all teachers and classes have benefited.” PRINCIPAL
NUMERACY Ready Set Go-Maths Ready, Set, Go-Maths, developed in Northern Ireland in the late 1990s, is a programme for infant teachers that focuses on the development of early number skills.The programme, currently being implemented in at least 95% of infant classes in DEIS schools, includes a practical handbook that contains detailed guidance on a range of teaching and learning approaches to develop the key concepts and skills in early number. An important part of the support provided for teachers in the programme is to reduce the key ideas in early number to very small stages of development which guarantees success for pupils.
“(Ready, Set, Go-Maths contains) … a lot of simple and very useful teaching strategies” with “very practical ideas INFANT TEACHER for use in the classroom.”
Maths Recovery Maths Recovery is an evolving research-based programme which offers a uniquely detailed profiles-based assessment of children’s early number knowledge, understanding and strategies. Information gleaned from this assessment provides the basis for focussed instruction. Maths Recovery ensures that the lowest attainers are identified at an early age and are taught intensively by Maths Recovery teachers. Individual pupils receive intensive, individualised instruction for a teaching cycle of 10 to 15 weeks’ duration. In these teaching cycles, students are taught 30 minutes daily, for four or five days per week. Alternatively, Maths Recovery is being widely implemented as a class-based approach to teaching number. The Maths Recovery Programme not only effectively tackles pupils’ learning difficulties
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in maths but has a strong and extremely satisfying professional development aspect for participating teachers.
IDENTIFY OPPORTUNITIES FOR COLLABORATION
Principals are very innovative in identifying opportunities for teachers to collaborate with each other as they plan for and implement the various programmes. Development and regular review of a school’s three-year DEIS plan is an excellent vehicle to enhance this collaboration.
“Maths Recovery...fantastic resources and ideas for teachers; tremendous methodologies which are fun and practical; results are tangible and children are more confident... ” PRINCIPAL ROLE OF THE PRINCIPAL IN SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION Leadership is crucial to a school’s successful implementation of any professional development program and Principals play a critical role in creating an environment that encourages effective implementation. Take time to consider the following actions to support implementation and how these could be practically realised in your school:
CELEBRATE AND SHARE SUCCESSES
Principals have a fundamental role in motivating whole-school staffs to maintain efforts by recognising and acknowledging group and individual contributions to create a sense of achievement that will drive further implementation. INVOLVE AND INFORM PARENTS
The participation of the Principal in any professional development sessions positively illustrates the programme’s importance for the school community and provides Principals with the necessary understanding to effectively support implementation.
AIM FOR WHOLE-SCHOOL TRAINING AND IMPLEMENTATION Teachers who have been nominated by their Principals to attend extensive training in the programmes above are well-placed to provide high quality professional development to your staff as they action shared goals, engage with the relevant texts and reflect on practice as a whole-school staff.
Principals that recognise the importance of involving parents consciously commit to informing them of programmes currently being implemented in their schools, thus enabling parents to support literacy and numeracy development at home. CONCLUSION While it is recognised that it is unlikely any single program will address all the literacy and numeracy needs of a school, the combination of the programmes described above aims to provide a complementary “twin-track” approach to enhancing literacy and numeracy at primary level. A wonderful opportunity has been provided to DEIS urban schools to become involved in these programmes and to receive high-quality professional development in turn. If you have not nominated a staff member for this training or would like further details regarding any of these programmes, please contact: ● Mairéad Twohig/Catherine Shanahan at 01-4358595 for information regarding First Steps and Ready, Set, Go-Maths or log on to www.ppds.ie ● Noreen O’Loughlin at 061-204531 for information regarding Maths Recovery or log on to www.mata.ie ● Sr Elizabeth Connolly at 047-74000 for information regarding Reading Recovery or log on to www.metc.ie.
2009 AnnualConference Workshop
ACT AS LEARNER AND LEADER
Managing Relationships with Challenging Adults in the School Community by Joe O’ Connell The workshop focused on the challenges that present on an ever increasing basis, for school principals and deputies as they endeavour to address the management of relationships with challenging adults in the school community. The workshop considered the range of relationships; teacher/pupil, teacher/parent and teacher/teacher, that present as problematic on occasions. An overview of the varying dynamics that exist within groups was considered with possible reactions to specific situations discussed and alternative strategies for dealing with particular incidents proffered. Amongst the salient points that emerged both from the input and the ensuing discussion was the realisation that the
initial reaction to any situation has the capacity to either diffuse or exacerbate the situation. Primarily, school leaders need to reflect on their own personal style of engagement in such circumstances. They need to consider their normal style of response and review by establishing whether or not it is predominantly collaborative or competitive in nature. Conflictual situations occur in the emotive domain when rational responses are most challenged and thus they require of the leader to remain objective at all times, to focus on the incident or issue and not the personalities involved. Such situations require consistency in approach tempered with professional judgment and appropriate, considered and temperate language.The essential PAG E 1 5
components of resolution are embodied in a collaborative approach; where every incident is recognised, unpacked and addressed accordingly. It emerged that a key aspect in the successful management of any conflict was the need for all parties to be respectful of the roles and responsibilities of the others involved, to be aware of the impact of the language used and to be mindful that adopting an absolute position is the pathway of least success. It was agreed that for many school leaders, conflict and conflict management is an everincreasing reality in their working lives and that exploration of strategies and approaches is essential and critical.
2009 ONLINE SUMMER COURSES Building on the success of our 2008 summer programme of professional development, we are delighted to announce our 2009 Department of Education & Science approved series of comprehensive summer courses. These four courses have been developed to provide a greater understanding of and innovative solutions to the many challenges facing Principals. 1. Bullying – Prevention & Counteraction
2. Challenging Behaviour
A practical and engaging course to assist Principals and staff to foster an open and respectful school culture preventing bullying behavior. The course focuses on enhancing your school policy with information, insights and hands on documents and resources.
A course to enable Principals to prepare for and deal with all types of challenging behavior regardless of sourceand foster a positive and respectful culture amongst Principals, teachers, staff, parents and pupils. Modules include:
Modules include: ● Introduction & mission statement ● Incidence & dynamics of bullying ● Documenting & reporting
● Building a bully-free environment ● Bullying intervention strategies ● Cyber-bullying
● ● ● ●
Reflection on leadership Challenging behaviour Challenging situations Indicators of growing challenge ● Team building ● Listening skills
● Personal reactions to challenge ● Influencing style ● Mediation ● Life skills for leaders ● Goals and goal setting ● Time management
3. Ciall Ceannaithe for Newly Appointed Principals
4. Managing Special Needs Assistants – Promoting Best Practice
A highly practical step-by-step course built on the collective wisdom and experience of seasoned Principals including video/audio interviews and advice on what to do & when to do it. An essential course for NAP’s and indeed all Principals.
Want to get the most positive outcomes for your special needs pupils? This course presents best practice across a wide range of areas in leading SNA’s as part of your whole school team.
Modules include: ● General advice on getting ● Factual information about started your school ● Scheduling priorities for ● Professional supports Year 1 available to Principals ● Good practice for Teaching ● In addition Newly Principals Appointed Principals will ● Timetabling for Teaching be furnished with access to Principals a number of key resources
Modules include: ● Procedures for appointing, ● Responding to care needs ● Organising effective guidelines for selecting training at school and SNA ● Define the role of the SNA wider levels with special emphasis on ● Evaluation and selfthe whole school evaluation of the work of ● Developing best practice the SNA
Each course includes:
• • • • • • •
• • • •
5 modules (20 hours of study) Fully interactive online lessons with audio/visual Discussion forum moderated by expert facilitator Online reflective learning log to record progress Dedicated support team contactable by phone & email Innovative technology-enhanced learning 3 EPV Days (approved by the DES) subject to terms and conditions
To enrol, visit www.ippn.ie Fee is €95 per course Early booking is advised Courses can be completed within an 8 week period (1st July to 22nd August 2009) • Last date for Course Commencement is August 15th 2009
Happy Kids – Helping to deal with children's stress and worries in a positive way by Damian White Positive reinforcement and affirmation are more than 'buzz' words heard by Principals at job interview time. They are concepts which, in a very real way, contribute to a happy and healthy school environment where children learn for love and not for fear. In most cases, the positive messages transmitted through school reinforce those from the child's home. However this does not always apply. Having taught in schools in both urban and rural settings, of large and medium sizes throughout my career, it became clear from early on that two children sitting side by side in a classroom may have vastly differing life experiences. The positively-supported and reinforced child on the left of the desk who always has homework finished, food on the table, clothes washed regularly and after school activities every evening can contrast with the child on the right where none of these apply. I had been looking out for some product which would help to redress such imbalances for some time when I met Mags Corbett at last year’s IPPN Conference.
Mags has developed a series of CDs under the 'Happy Kids' label which have proven a major hit in our school with teachers as well as pupils. Happy Kids Relax Away focuses on confidencebuilding and imagination adventures in the 4 – 9 age group. Through four beautifully created scenarios supported by soft, soothing music composed by Steve McGrath, children are helped to relax and grow in self confidence. For example, Carnival Adventure allows children to imagine bouncing on a bouncy castle, cloud hopping and all the time shaking out any worries or fears, watching them float away. Happy Kids – Magical Animal Journeys is a programme designed to fuel the child's imagination while working on relaxation and stress management techniques. Each track lasts 8 – 10 minutes and according to Pat, our 1st class teacher, is ideal for that period just before break time when children are getting restless! Happy Kids – Feel Good is a wonderful resource for helping children to overcome issues of anger
or tension amongst children. One of the tracks Calming the Anger Fires - runs for 16 minutes and takes the children through the process of relaxing, releasing all their anger and negativity. This is done by first clenching fingers and toes really tight and slowly releasing, allowing the tension to flow away. Edel, our 3rd class teacher said that the children really enjoyed this activity and regularly ask for it to be repeated. Other titles in the Happy Kids series include Sweet Dreams, Magical Fairy Wishes, Superhero Adventures, and Mermaid Splashes. For more information on these products, visit www.ichievement.com. We have used the series in 4 classrooms and the feedback has been very positive. All teachers felt that the CDs positively reinforced self-esteem, good feelings, values and behaviours and link very well with SPHE in the revised curriculum. Happy Kids – Happy Teachers!
The Blarney Golf Resort & Spa, Co. Cork is offering IPPN members exclusive rates on breaks and the opportunity to win a two night break in every edition of Leadership+ this year.
The Blarney Golf Resort & Spa facilities include: • 62 Luxurious Hotel Bedrooms 56 Self Catering Lodges which include 2 En-Suite Bedrooms, fully serviced, Large Living room and full integrated kitchen • 18 hole Championship Golf Course Co-designed by Major Winner John Daly • 20 metre swimming pool, steam room, sauna & Jacuzzi • State of the art gymnasium • ‘Spa’ including 5 treatment rooms & Yon Ka Therapies • Inniscarra Restaurant • Cormac’s Bar • Lions Den Bar • Conference Facilities for up to 300 people.
COMPETITION: To be in with a chance to win a fabulous 2 Night break for two people (including one evening meal) simply answer the following question: Q. Who is the author of the series of articles on Retirement that has appeared in Leadership+ over the course of this school year? Answer A. Damian White B. Seaghan Moriarty C. Jim Hayes Answers by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your answer (A. B. or C.), your name, contact details and roll number. Competition deadline 26th June 2009. Winners will be notified by phone and announced in the next issue.
Congratulations to Margaret Keegan, Scoil Mhuire gan Smal, Carlow, winner of the fabulous prize of a two night luxury break to Blarney Golf Resort & Spa in the last issue of Leadership+.
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Priority Issues for School Leadership NAPD/IPPN/LDS Recently NAPD, IPPN and LDS met to discuss the priority issues that need to be addressed in relation to the role of Principal. The following 14 points outline the shared priorities of the three organisations. 1. Empirical Evidence that the role of Principal is pivotal for school-wide success ● OECD report: Improving School Leadership ● Professor Michael Fullan: Quality Leadership Quality Learning ● Professor Kenneth Leithwood: How Leadership Influences Student Learning.
If the goal is to improve student learning, investing in school leadership offers the best value for money compared with any other form of resource intervention. 2. Recruitment ● Getting the right person to lead the school is critical ● The recruitment process for Principals requires complete re-design with emphasis on the personal suitability and professional skills and competence required for the role ● Appropriate training for those charged with appointing Principals. 3. Trust & Autonomy ● The effectiveness of a school leader is highly dependent on the level of trust and autonomy given to the role ● Principals are being held increasingly accountable for learning outcomes – such accountability requires reciprocal managerial autonomy.
6. Newly-Appointed Principals ● In order to have an effective change of leadership in schools, an internship period of 3-month is required ● Enhanced mentoring and induction programmes are also needed to ensure a smooth transition. 7. Continuous Professional Development ● If Principals are to be genuine ‘leaders of learning’, the Principal’s own learning must be continuous and developmental throughout their career. ● Formal CPD opportunities are essential to aspiring, newlyappointed and experienced Principals ● Such programmes should be action-research based to accommodate the busy role of Principal ● CPD modules should be fully-accredited and accessible flexibly throughout the Principal’s career. 8. Performance Appraisal ● Successful leadership is well-served by a meaningful, structured appraisal process ● Performance appraisal is not only an essential professional development exercise which benefits the whole school, it is also benefits the Principal’s own accountability ● It is essential that those carrying out the appraisal process are appropriately skilled and qualified. In addition, they must have relevant and adequate experience as school leaders. 9. Principals as Leaders of Learning ● In order to enable Principals undertake essential functions such as instructional leadership and coaching, appropriate administrative supports must be put in place ● Most Principals admit that their current administrative workload severely limits their capacity to have any ongoing role in influencing student learning.
4. Value for money ● If the goal is to improve student learning, investing in school leadership offers the best value for money compared with any other form of resource intervention. 5. Role Attractiveness ● In recent years, teachers have been avoiding school leadership as a career advancement option ● The role of Principal is legislatively and administratively so overloaded that it is perceived to be both professionally and personally ‘undoable’ ● The current Principal’s Contract is inadequate and must be replaced to include a detailed job description reflecting current legislation and consequent accountabilities ● Many Deputy and Assistant Principals would have their salary reduced if appointed Principal ● The role is financially unattractive compared to teaching ● These fundamental barriers must be addressed if we want excellent teachers to compete for school leadership roles.
The current Principal’s Contract is inadequate and must be replaced to include a detailed job description reflecting current legislation and consequent accountabilities 10. Leadership & Small Schools ● The ‘Teaching Principal’ role is no longer educationally viable ● New models of leadership for small schools must be explored ● Alternative models such as clustering and federations need to be explored whereby a number of small schools can collectively create sufficient critical mass to enjoy the benefits of larger schools whilst retaining their own cultural advantages ● Clusters and federations of smaller schools offer a means by which practical and sustainable leadership and management structures can be delivered.
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11. Governance Challenges ● While some Boards of Management (BoMs) work reasonably well, there is widespread evidence of a growing number of dysfunctional Boards ● Most BoMs are not clear on the difference between their governance function and the day-to-day management role of the Principal ● Consequently there is an undue dependency on the Principal to deliver the functions of the Board. Principals have become ‘de facto’ managers of schools incorporating most of the Board’s functions. This is not good governance practice and inevitably leads to problems. ● Even amongst higher performing boards, it is increasingly evident that the skills and knowledge required are often unavailable to the BoM.
Most BoMs are not clear on the difference between their governance function and the day-to-day management role of the Principal 12. Professional Supports & Services ● Professional Bodies play an important role for school leaders and are best positioned to deliver certain supports and services ● Principalship is a ‘high wear and tear’ position, some of which is due to the isolated nature of the role. Consequently, the role requires specialised support structures to address personal as well as professional difficulties.
● Leadership recovery and coaching programmes are essential supports. 13. In-School Management ● Distributing leadership throughout the school is an essential practice but is severely inhibited by current ISM structures ● In-School Management in its current form is more focused on the promotional entitlement of teachers than the meaningful distribution of management responsibility and workload ● Schools need In-School Management structures which are flexible and capable of responding to the changing needs of the school.
Career structures are required which attract and enable teachers to ‘opt in’ or ‘step up’ to a leadership role for a contracted period of time such as 5 to 7 years 14. Step up & Step down ● The concept of ‘Principal for Life’ is no longer appropriate for the good of the individual or for the needs of the school ● Career structures are required which attract and enable teachers to ‘opt in’ or ‘step up’ to a leadership role for a contracted period of time such as 5 to 7 years ● ‘Stepping down’ should facilitate salary/pension recognition of the period of time spent as Principal as a proportion of overall teaching career. Length of service as Principal of the school should be included in determining ‘seniority’.
Who else wants 35 interactive tried and tested games and modules that bring the S.E.S.E. Curriculum to life? Read on to find how you can integrate and consolidate all the areas of the S.E.S.E. Curriculum in an exciting and highly engaging way. “SESE Interactive has some great activities and I really like the bright colours. I tried out almost all of the 34 games and it will be a great resource for the classroom. I can see how almost all of these activities would work on a standalone computer or even an interactive whiteboard. My class was able to learn the geography of Ireland, learn all about historical figures and perform science experiments using this software. It's great to see well-produced Irish software in our schools.” SIMON LEWIS, PRINCIPAL, CARLOW EDUCATE TOGETHER N.S., CARLOW.
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Retirement for School Leaders Saying Goodbye by Jim Hayes
The issue of leadership transition – professionally handing over to your successor - is an important area both for the newly appointed Principal and the school community that s/he is about to lead. Yet, it is an area that hasn’t garnered sufficient attention heretofore. Leadership transition has two main aspectsInitial and immediate transfer of necessary and appropriate information about all aspects of the school Suitable mutually agreed arrangements for ongoing communication between the outgoing Principal and the newly appointed Principal for as long as is deemed necessary. Good practice varies and is often dependent on the goodwill of many people including the outgoing and incoming Principals, the chairpersons and members of Boards of Management as well as teaching colleagues. Personnel in more than one school are involved if the Principal-designate is an external appointee. While I am aware that substitute release days have sometimes been used, very often leadership transition only happens because of the inventiveness of both participants, usually in their free time. I would like to see a proper, planned, practical professional structure put in place in order to enable the best possible quality of transition to occur in all primary schools. It is ultimately a matter of respect.The day for handing over in an ad-hoc manner is long past. Our schools deserve better! While saying hello to your successor, you also need to brace yourself for saying goodbye to many other people with whom you have shared your time and talents over the years. How you react to and cope with the whole process of disengaging with and gradually saying goodbye to members of the school community varies very much from person to person. Some don’t relish being the focal point of attention and would wish to take one’s leave in a quiet and low key manner while others have no problem being centre stage and, of course, there are many other personality types who fit in between. MARKING THE OCCASION Because the retirement of a Principal is a significant event in the life of a school, it is important to keep in mind that parents whose child/ren are going or have gone to school for eight years, as well as other members of the wider community, have their own varying needs. They
wish to show their gratitude for leadership shown, for personal relationships fostered, for hard work observed, for services rendered in so many different ways.They want to mark the occasion of the changing of the guard. They wish to show affection, gratitude and respect and it is important that they be given an opportunity to do so. It is also important for the pupils to realise what your role in the school means to their parents. The various members of the school community will choose to honour you in whatever manner they feel is most appropriate. The sound advice that I hear from retirees and indeed the most common practise in such situations is as follows: Go along with whatever arrangements are set in train – with a smile on your face – no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it might seem at the time.You will be glad that you did so in the long run. We know that for some it is not unusual to experience some emotional upheaval as you make your way through this final phase. However, not to co-operate with people who mean well could conceivably lead to hurt in certain circumstances. In general, a Board of Management will wish to honour and thank the departing Principal and formally say goodbye in its own special way, whether that is through having its own special event or as part of a larger function. Any Principal that I have spoken with who has personally taken the time and trouble to bid farewell to the pupils in the school has never regretted it. The general practice seems to revolve around calling to the classes and giving each of them some little token. Believe me, it will not be forgotten by them. Practice varies too from school to school with regard to how the local community and the Parents’Association deal with the event – whether that is separately or together as it often is. It is more than likely that there will be two occasions when you will say farewell to your staff – on your last day in school and at the special formal staff outing that inevitably accompanies a retirement, though it typically may not be held until some time later in the year. Many Principals have given special consideration and made special arrangements for their final day in school. Some arranged for staff to go to lunch together. Others made arrangements for some light refreshments in the school for the staff. In other situations, Principals invited the staff to their homes for refreshments after school. Naturally,
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practice varies greatly. The need for a distraction on such an occasion may be greater for some and any little distraction helps. On the other hand, it may be a time for being alone. I recall one teaching Principal saying to me some months later that she “stayed on alone in the school on the last day. I visited each empty classroom and cried many private tears.”. Ní mar a chéile do aon bheirt! Of course, there is one other task that must be carried out at some stage during the retirement process. The phrase “to clear your desk” comes to mind.You must ensure that all files, accounts and records are in order and up to date.You may have to be ruthless in dealing with over 35 years of hoarding. You may have to put aside lots of memories as you go through personal and professional items, as you decide what to take and leave. This task is often undertaken in a gradual manner over a period both before and after you finish your time in school. It is often only finally completed during holiday time. GOODBYE TENSION HELLO PENSION And so it’s a case of “I’m Retired - Goodbye Tension - Hello Pension”. In so many cases, the great difference that people notice is that real stress in life disappears. The position that you had for so many years carried various stresses and it’s only when you get off the treadmill that you fully realise the nature of the ever present condition. You are no longer carrying responsibilities with the ensuing accompanying stress. Believe me, it gives great relief.You are no longer tied to time. What you mightn’t get around to doing today can generally wait until tomorrow.You can shop and travel off peak and avoid queues and traffic jams. You can pursue your hobbies. Some retirees have plans to occupy themselves with work on some project or other while others just enjoy the freedom that comes with no commitments – they retire from work but not from life. One way or the other, you won’t be short of advice from well meaning friends and colleagues, much of it very sound, some of it unprintable! Certainly, two tips that I received work very well for me, most of the time when going to bed always have a job/project in mind for the following day and get up early and at same time each morning. The true reality about retirement of course is that you never get a day off!
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ScoilTel, a quality service from IPPN. *ScoilTel is a landline telephone service negotiated and developed by IPPN on behalf of its members and facilitated by Pure Telecom. ScoilTel's purpose is to provide IPPNâ€™s members, and Primary schools across Ireland, with a low cost quality telephony service which is regularly monitored to ensure its ongoing competitiveness and efficiency.
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IPPN Benevolent Research Fund IPPN recently established a Benevolent Research & Development Fund with a view to generating the additional funding required to develop key IPPN projects as identified by our members. We are delighted to announce Moynihan & Moynihan Chemicals as our first benefactor to this fund.When we first told Moynihan & Moynihan about our planned projects they recognised the positive effects these would have on both our members, in their capacity as school leaders, and ultimately the children and their school experience, and pledged a contribution to the fund to help us achieve our goals. One of the projects that will benefit from Moynihan & Moynihan’s kind contribution to this fund is : IPPN’S LEADERSHIP RECOVERY PROGRAMME A response to the need for support to be provided to Principals who are encountering severe difficulties in their school environment. In recent years we have noticed an increase in the number of Principals who are reporting personal and professional difficulties which prevent them from
being able to carry out their role to their satisfaction. The issues range from on-going conflict, stress, burnout, anxiety, loss of professional confidence, alcohol / drug addiction and bullying, amongst others. In order to address these issues, IPPN is building a team of recently retired Principals with a background in counselling-type skills who are available to speak with and visit a Principal in need of personal support. The Benevolent Research fund will aid the training of retired Principals who will be deployed to assist those Principals in most need. IPPN would like to thank Moynihan & Moynihan for their kind support and in return we would ask you to consider Moynihan & Moynihan when tendering for business in this area. They have been supplying hygiene and maintenance products to schools for over 23 years and their products have proved very popular and cost effective. They pride themselves on customer service to Principals and make demonstrations of products during regular visits to schools. THEIR PRODUCTS INCLUDE: Bowl – concentrated germicidal toilet cleaner
which ensures total sanitation of toilet facilities Finesse – germicidal bathroom cleaner Activate – is specifically for stainless steel urinals Sesamie – liquid drain opener which dissolves and liquefies organic matter Odoursolve – deodorising spray fluid Odaseal – floating perfumed oil sealant, for drains or any stagnant matter Scentry - pine gel disinfectant which is a high quality concentrate hard surface cleaner Grafic-graffiti remover which removes most paints, inks and dyes from non-porous surfaces Swellgel – antiseptic skin lotion cleaner which can be used as an all-over liquid soap. ‘We have been using Moynihan & Moynihan products for the last few years. We use Elbow Grease, which is very effective on white boards and table tops, cleaning and sanitising, also very economical. We use Exice for de-Icing paths rendering them safe for pupils and staff alike, and also Scentry a Pine Gel disinfectant. We find these products excellent in maintaining a high standard of hygiene & cleanliness in the school. Joe Lyons, Principal - Ballybrown NS, Ballybrown, Clarina, Co. Limerick
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Child Protection Policy (Abridged) This is an abridged version - the full document is available from the Principal Advice – School Policies section of www.ippn.ie. In all instances of suspicion or allegations of abuse or neglect, the following two resource books will be referenced. ● “Children First” – Department of Health & Children 1999 ● “Child Protection” – Department of Education & Science 2001 DEFINITION AND RECOGNITION OF CHILD ABUSE Child abuse can be categorised into four different types. ● neglect ● emotional abuse ● physical abuse ● sexual abuse A child may be subjected to more than one form of abuse at any given time. ● Definitions for each form of abuse are detailed in ‘Children First’ – (Dept of Health & Children)) Chapter 3 Sections 3.2 – 3.5 pgs 31 – 33. ● Guidelines for Recognition of Child Abuse are outlined in the longer document available on the website. DESIGNATED LIAISON PERSON (DLP) The Principal (and should circumstances warrant it, the DP) will act as DLP following ratification by the Board of Management. The DLP has specific responsibility for child protection and will represent the school in all dealings with Health Boards, An Garda Síochána and other parties in connection with allegations of abuse. All matters pertaining to the processing or investigation of child abuse should be processed through the DLP. ● Further information on the responsibilities of the DLP is included in 'Child Protection DES' – Pg 8 – Section 2.2. Action to be taken by the DLP in cases where there are reasonable grounds for suspicion or where an allegation has been made are in 'Child Protection DES' Chapter 3 – Section 3.2 pg 11 – 12. CONFIDENTIALITY All information regarding concerns of possible child abuse should only be shared on a need to know basis in the interests of the child. The test is whether or not the person has any legitimate involvement or role in dealing with the issue. Giving information to those who need to have that information for the protection of a child who may have been or has been abused, is not a breach of confidentiality. The DLP who is submitting a report to the Health Board or An Garda Síochána should inform a parent/guardian unless doing so is likely to endanger the child or place that child at further risk. A decision not to inform a parent/guardian should be briefly recorded together with the reasons for not doing so.
In emergency situations, where the Health Board cannot be contacted, and the child appears to be at immediate and serious risk, An Garda Síochána should be contacted immediately. A child should not be left in a dangerous situation pending Health Board intervention. PROTECTION FOR PERSONS REPORTING CHILD ABUSE The Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act (1998) provides immunity from civil liability to any person who reports child abuse 'reasonably and in good faith' to designated officers of Health Boards or any member of An Garda Síochána. This means that even if a reported suspicion of child abuse proves unfounded, a plaintiff who took an action would have to prove that the reporter had not acted reasonably and in good faith making the report. The act provides significant protection for employees who report child abuse. These protections cover all employees and all forms of discrimination up to and including dismissal. (Child Protection DES Book page 6.) HANDLING DISCLOSURES FROM CHILDREN ‘Child Protection’ – Pg 9 Section 2.4 gives comprehensive details of how disclosures should be approached. The following advice is offered to school personnel to whom a child makes a disclosure of abuse. ● Listen to the child ● Take all disclosures seriously ● Do not ask leading questions or make suggestions to the child ● Offer reassurance but do not make promises. ● Do not stop a child recalling significant events ● Do not over react ● Explain that further help may have to be sought ● Record the discussion accurately and retain the record. This information should then be passed onto the DLP. If the reporting person or member of the school staff and the DLP are satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the suspicion/allegation, the procedures for reporting as laid out in 'Children First' – Section 4.4 pg 38 will be adhered to. Standardised reporting forms may be photocopied from 'Children First' Appendix 8 – Pg 159. The Chairman of the Board of Management will be informed before the DLP makes contact with the relevant authorities unless the situation PAG E 2 5
demands that more immediate action to be taken for the safety of the child. Details of what should be included in the report are outlined in 'Children First' – Section 4.5.1 – Pg 39. ALLEGATIONS OR SUSPICIONS RE: SCHOOL EMPLOYEES The most important consideration for the Chairperson, Board of Management or the DLP is the safety and protection of the child. However, Employees also have a right to protection against claims which are false or malicious. As employers, the Board of Management should always seek legal advice as the circumstances can vary from one case to another. There are two procedures to be followed (Section 4.1.3 Page 15 'Child Protection') ● The reporting Procedure ● The Procedure for dealing with the Employee. Reporting When an allegation of abuse is made against a school employee, the DLP should immediately act in accordance with the procedures outlined in Ch 3, Section 3.2, Pg 11 – Child Protection. A written statement of the allegation should be sought from the person/agency making the report. The DLP should always inform the Chairperson of the Board of Management. School employees, other than the DLP who receive allegations against another school employee, should immediately report the matter to the DLP. School employees who form suspicions regarding conduct of another school employee should consult with the DLP. The procedures outlined in Section 4.2.3, pg16 – 'Child Protection' will then be followed. ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE Should the Board of Management direct that the employee absent him/herself as above, such absence of the employee would be regarded as administrative leave of absence with pay and not suspension and would not imply any degree of guilt. The DES should be immediately informed (Children First – Pg 17). BOARD OF MANAGEMENT The Chairperson should inform the Board of Management of all the details and remind the members of their serious responsibility to maintain strict confidentiality on all matters relating to the issue and the principles of due process and natural justice.
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Leadership in Action Primary School Principal and Kilkenny Minor Team Manager Richie Mulrooney Richie Mulrooney is Principal of St. Colman's N.S., Clara, Co Kilkenny. Like many involved in primary education in the county, Richie has for many years been involved in all aspects of GAA life. Success with Cumann na mBunscol teams and club underage teams led to an invitation to manage the Kilkenny Minor team in 2008. All Ireland success following a hard-fought final against Galway proved once again that leaders are well chosen in Kilkenny hurling circles! As I sit down to put pen to paper it is just a few short hours since our school Clara N.S. played St. Canice’s Co-Ed in the Roinn A primary schools league. These two schools and hurling have been a major part of my life for the last twenty two years. Having graduated in 1987 from St.Pats, Drumcondra where I spent three great years, I was offered a temporary post in St. Canice’s. I jumped at the chance as it was very close to home in Kilkenny city and a feeder school for my own GAA club Dicksboro. While I came out of Pat’s qualified to take up a teaching post, it was during those first few formative years that I ‘became’ a teacher. As Canice’s was a large school there were always two classes at each grade and I was blessed to teach opposite enthusiastic, energetic, highly organised and innovative teachers. Just by following their example I was becoming a teacher in my own right. At that stage, leadership roles rarely entered my head and when they did they were quickly pushed aside as I was extremely happy teaching whatever class I was asked to take. On the GAA front the school was in its infancy with regard to building a hurling culture. It was with great energy that Jim, James, Martin and myself coached on a daily basis, encouraging the skills of the game and bringing the school from Roinn D to B. When Jim, James and I left the school, Martin brought them to the ‘holy grail’ (and more than once!). CHANGE OF DIRECTION In 1997 thoughts of a change of direction began to surface. One Sunday afternoon, my wife Mary was reading the paper and casually stated that the post of Principal in St. Colman’s N.S. in Clara was
in the appointments section. I replied without any hesitation that I would apply for it.With my mind made up I prepared diligently for the interview process and the experiences and understanding of a happy school, which St. Canice’s always was (and is), helped me no end. My Principal Liam Moloney had one very simple philosophy with regard to school- a place where children are happy and cherished.The chairman of the BOM who appointed me was Fr. Jim Murphy, a fantastic manager to work with. He’s now chairman of the BOM in St. Canice’s!
Whether in sport or education you have to have a talented team in order to achieve success. St. Colman’s in Clara is a wonderful school community and a real pleasure to lead as Principal. It is a very standard quote to say that ‘the best schools are those in which the the three partners-staff, BOM and parents work in harmony for the educational welfare of the children’. To see it in action, to be part of it, to witness it every day I go to school is something from which I derive immense satisfaction. It has been a hectic 12 years which have flown by. Our pupil intake has increased from 130 to over 200. The staff has increased from 5 to 13 and a new extension was built in 2003. As I write, another new extension has reached roof level. During all of this, I have been heavily involved in GAA matters, being chairman of Dicksboro in 1998 and ’99 and secretary the following two years. Enjoyable as those experiences were, nothing compares to coaching, particularly school teams where all matches are played with innocence and players allowed to express their skills. On arriving in Clara it wasn’t as if I had to build up a culture of hurling or anything. County senior hurling champions of 1986, I was fortunate to become Principal at a time when the sons and daughters of these players were in the school. Even more fortunately, John Bolger had been on the staff also since 1986 doing trojan work for hurling and camogie in the parish. Together, along with tremendous work in the juvenile section of Clara GAA club, we had the human resources to encourage the skills of the game in all classes from senior infants to
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6th, with junior infants being coached from Easter onwards. Success followed with the school winning its first ever Roinn A hurling title in 2001 and three more have been added since. At the same time, John’s camogie teams have matched the achievements of the boys. In 2007, I was asked by Clara GAA club to manage their minor team (the school team of 2001).The club’s first minor ‘A’ title was a just reward for this talented bunch of players. KILKENNY As a result of this victory and years of coaching in the school I was invited by County Chairman (now County Secretary), Ned Quinn, to manage the Kilkenny minor hurling team for 2008. I saw this as a tremendous honour and couldn’t have wished for a better start to managing at this level with a last minute goal securing Kilkenny’s first minor title since 2003. Cumann na mBunscol in Kilkenny has extremely strong links with the Kilkenny County GAA board and I’m proud to assert on behalf of my teaching colleagues that it is one of the reasons, of which there are many, as to why hurling is so strong in our county. Current Kilkenny GAA chairman and school principal Paul Kinsella was Cumann na mBunscol secretary for 35 years! The aforementioned Ned Quinn (not a teacher) is a former Cumann na mBunscol chairman. Brian Cody is a primary school teacher and his selector Martin Fogarty a primary school principal. Brendan O’Sullivan, a former primary school principal and current minor selector is Chairman of the Kilkenny GAA development squads. Whether in sport or education you have to have a talented team in order to achieve success. In sport it is often measured in terms of trophies and that can be sometimes unrealistic. I’ve been lucky to have had talented hurlers to pick from. In education it can be measured by that indefinable character of any school – its ‘atmosphere’. I’ve been blessed with the teaching colleagues who form my ‘team’ in Clara. They create an atmosphere that is regularly commented on by visitors to our school. Mary has been unwavering in her support, allowing me the time to pursue my interests, while ‘managing’ our own team Katie (13), Maria (11), Niamh (10) and David (4). Life is hectic, healthy, happy and hurling.
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Published on Jun 5, 2009