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ISSUE 53 ● NOVEMBER 2009

+ Leadership THE PROFESSIONAL VOICE OF PRINCIPALS

Barnardos Written Out, Written Off? ICT Productivity Tips for school leaders

Circular Time: Does 60/09 address underperformance? The publication of DES circular 60/2009 marks yet another significant milestone on the rollercoaster journey for Principals. This circular provides a specific framework within which the underperformance, in relation to the professional competency and personal conduct of teachers and Principals, can be addressed.

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Circular Time: Does 60/09 address underperformance? by Seán Cottrell and Pat Goff The publication of DES circular 60/2009 marks yet another significant milestone on the rollercoaster journey for Principals. This circular provides a specific framework within which the underperformance, in relation to the professional competency and personal conduct of teachers and Principals, can be addressed. Principals have always been of the opinion that procedures in relation to underperformance were needed.There has been a procedural imbalance in existence in this regard for many years. Parents have a clear procedure through which they can process a complaint about a teacher or Principal. Staff employed by the school have a procedure which enables them to process a grievance about the Principal or Board of Management. However, unlike most employers, Boards of Management and Principals have no similar procedure with which to discipline an employee of the school. This left a clear governance gap, leaving many schools to suffer the consequences. Officially, Rule 161 of the Rules for National Schools dealt with this matter. However, due to its flawed structure it was ineffective and inoperable. Bearing in mind the context it must be said that this circular is a mixed blessing. On the positive side, it finally provides BoMs and Principals who manage schools with a defined set of procedures to deal with the unwilling and unable. While the incidence of underperforming teachers is relatively small, where it does exist there has to be a practical and effective way of addressing it. Principals live in hope that they will never be involved in a Section 24 procedure given the obvious workload, risk to positive staff relations and stress involved. However, where a problem does exist, having the procedure to address the problem is obviously a major asset. Another positive is the involvement of the Inspectorate at key stages of the process.This will bring an external objectivity which is essential given the close-knit community that exists in most schools. Unfortunately, circular 60/2009 comes with a few ‘health warnings’.The most glaring downside is the increased administrative workload for Principals.The procedures are lengthy and incur a lot of accurate record-keeping.This appears to assume that all Principals have skilled administrative support suitable for highly confidential work. Hands up how many schools can say they have such support? There is also an assumption that all Principals can make themselves available for the myriad of meetings required by the process. Are the DES, Teacher Unions and Management Bodies not aware that, of the 4,150 schools (primary and second level), 2,300 are also full-time class teachers, as well as being Principals? The role of Teaching Principal is widely perceived to be professionally frustrating and personally exhausting. We have seen a recent flight from the leadership role. It is inconceivable that the Teaching Principal is now expected to manage a disciplinary process for a colleague given the existing demands of their own leadership role.

Director: Seán Cottrell director@ippn.ie President: Pat Goff president@ippn.ie Editor: Damian White editor@ippn.ie Assistant Editor: Brendan McCabe Assistant Director:Virginia O’Mahony Advertising: adverts@ippn.ie Irish Primary Principals’ Network, Glounthaune, Co Cork

T: 353 21 452 4925 F: 353 21 435 5648 The opinions expressed in Leadership+ do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network ISSN: 1649 -5888 Design: Brosna Press • 090 6454327 • info@brosnapress.ie PAG E 3

In the private sector, where such procedures are commonplace, it is generally accepted that dealing with underperformance is a high-order skill. This can only be acquired and maintained with appropriate and ongoing training and support. There is a real risk that through the publication of this circular, and without the appropriate professional development, schools may discover that the problem being addressed has been surpassed by a greater problem arising from challenges to the implementation of a disciplinary procedure. Circular 60/2009 was produced by agreement of the DES, CPSMA and the INTO, along with their second-level counterparts. IPPN was not consulted by any of these groups.The role of Principal is precariously located between staff and the Board of Management. It is true to say that Principals, as day-today school managers, often feel compromised and vulnerable by matters of underperformance within the school staff.When developing procedures, there is no excuse for failure to consult with the professional body for Principal Teachers. This is especially true where the successful implementation of procedures depends so heavily on the school leader. Circular 60/2009 heralds the start of a new process. Like so many initiatives it currently poses more questions than it provides answers. Only time will tell.

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Legal Diary by David Ruddy, B.L.

School’s Policy on appropriate dress code for First Holy Communion Boys not discriminatory CHRISTOPHER CARR ON BEHALF OF HIS SON (A MINOR) V GAELSCOIL MHAINISTIR NA CORANN MIDLETON CO.CORK EQUALITY TRIBUNAL DECISION 2009 THE PARENTS/PUPILS CASE The pupil at the centre of the complaint was attending 2nd class and preparing to make his First Holy Communion. The school policy was that boys would wear their school uniforms and that the girls would wear a communion dress. The pupil’s father Mr Carr had a problem with the dress code and claimed he had raised the issue with the school principal eight months before the event. He was advised to raise the issue with the Parents’ Association. Mr Carr stated that he would not be raising the issue with the Parents’ Association, as it was not a parents’ policy matter. It was in fact a matter for the school Board of Management. He also advised the school principal that the policy could be in breach of the Equal Status Act. The Pupil, after discussion with his parents, decided to wear a suit instead of the school uniform. He told his parents that he was afraid that his class teacher might give out to him. Mr Carr wrote to the School Principal and stated his son would be wearing the clothing of his choice. Mr Carr was totally opposed to the school’s policy. Mr Carr put forward the following solution: (a) To allow boys wear the clothing of their choice in the same way as girls (b) To have all of the boys and girls wear the same clothing, i.e. their school uniform. Mr Carr claimed that when he informed the School Principal that his son would not be wearing the uniform that he got a look of “total dissatisfaction”. On the day of the Communion Mr Carr claimed that his son’s wearing of the suit did not go down well with the school principal. This was evidenced by “the look of

shock on her face on the day”. He claimed that while he was invited to discuss the policy with the Parents’ Association that this was not an option. He claimed that “the Parents’ Association, Cairdre, is made up of hand-picked friends of the school.” They were afraid to challenge the school on any of its policies as they would be seen as trouble-makers. He claimed that there were other parents who were opposed to the policy. Mr Carr was upset that the school’s actions were discriminatory in its treatment of boys allowing girls pick the clothing of their choice, where they would get “dressed up” for the day, whereas boys had to wear the old “drab” school uniform and did not get the same opportunity. THE SCHOOL’S CASE The school totally rejected the allegation that it had discriminated against the pupil or parent on the grounds of gender. The policy in relation to dress code was a traditional practice. When the school was first established and numbers were small the school joined up with two other schools and adopted their dress code. When the school was fully developed it held its own Communion day and continued with the dress code of previous years. This reflected the satisfaction of parents with the issue.The School Principal claimed that the issue was only raised with her a few weeks before Holy Communion day. It was felt at this stage that it was too late to change the school policy. However the Principal raised the matter with the Board of Management (BoM) and advised Mr Carr to raise the matter with the Parents’ Association. The BoM decided to leave the policy in place as it seemed to have the general support of parents. On 2 or 3 occasions, parents such as in this case decided to dress their sons in suits and nothing was made of this by the teachers or principal. The class teacher gave evidence that she never viewed dress codes as part of the preparation for Communion. She also gave evidence to say the school principal never came into the class to discuss the dress code. The student was always

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included in all of the school activities and was never singled out, sanctioned or victimised because of his choice not to wear the school uniform on the day of Communion. The action was taken against the school principal in her personal capacity and against the school BoM.The school requested that the action against the school principal personally be struck out.

“Dress codes by their nature apply different rules to men and women and it would be absurd to suggest that they should do otherwise.” EQUALITY TRIBUNAL DECISION (1) The School Principal had no case to answer in her personal capacity. The Equality Officer was satisfied that the correct respondent in these proceedings was the BoM. “Anything done by a person in the course of his/her employment shall in all proceedings brought under the Equal Status Acts be treated as done also by that person’s employer, whether or not it was done with the employer’s knowledge or approval” (2) The complaint that the school had unlawfully discriminated against the boy on the grounds of gender fails. It is not enough for the boy and his father to establish that the policy treats boys and girls differently. It must be shown that he was treated less favourably because of his gender. “Dress codes by their nature apply different rules to men and women and it would be absurd to suggest that they should do otherwise. Anti-discrimination law does not require that men and women be treated the same in every circumstance.What it requires is that they should be treated equally.”


(3) The remark that the Principal’s facial expressions amounted to a victimisation of Mr Carr was not upheld. The Equality Officer was satisfied that the principal acted admirably. (4) The school operated in a very open, democratic and consultative approach in running the school. The school, it would appear, gives opportunities to parents of pupils to offer their opinions in relation to issues pertaining to the school through the Parents’ Association. Mr Carr chose not to attend any of these meetings to raise his concerns. In failing to do so he forfeited the opportunity to raise these concerns at the appropriate forum. OBSERVATION This case highlights the lengths that parents will go to highlight and vindicate a perceived injustice against one’s child. The school in question was judged to have dealt with the issue fairly and was flexible in the implementation of the code of dress policy. In a wider context it is worth noting while most schools have a school uniform policy, schools must be flexible in the implementation of this policy. This must be considered in light of the constitutional guarantee to the State to provide for a free primary education in Article 42 of the Constitution, and the United Nations Convention on Human Rights. “School principal challenges WSE report contents in High Court action” O RABHARTAIGH V DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION & SCIENCE & OTHERS HIGH COURT 2009 HEDIGAN J This case concerned the whole school inspection process (WSE) in Scoil Oilibhéir Pluincéid Naofa, a school in the Gaeltacht in Co. Donegal. The essence of the issue was that the then school Principal was unhappy with the contents of the report and in particular the observations in relation to leadership issues. The Principal regarded this to be a direct comment on her stewardship of the school and took grave issue with these observations.

This action which she initiated was based on a breach of the rules of fairness in that there was bias inherent in the process. The local District inspector Ms Ní Grionna declined to participate in the process on the grounds that her brother was a member of the Board of Management and that his children attended the school. A divisional inspector Ms Ní Threasaigh carried out the inspection. As part of the process there was a post inspection evaluation meeting.The district inspector who had not participated in the WSE attended the post evaluation meeting. It was claimed that the participation of the district inspector compromised the objectivity of the process or that at the very least there was a perception that it was compromised. The district inspector it was claimed gave advice on the recommendations of the WSE. An action plan was proposed to strengthen particular areas. Senior counsel for the applicant Ms Ní Rabhartaigh quoted from Yeats in that “It was difficult to separate the dancer from the dance”

consequences. However this case presents an opportunity for the inspectorate to revisit protocol and procedures in relation to the conduct of the WSE process. “Parents fail to have daughter admitted to all boys primary school” MR. X AND MS Y (ON BEHALF OF THEIR DAUGHTER Z) V A BOYS NATIONAL SCHOOL EQUALITY TRIBUNAL DECISION 2009

The relief sought was to expunge from the report the offending piece in relation to the then school principal. Another option would have been to order a new WSE. After a two-day hearing both parties settled the case. The offending part of the report in relation to leadership issues will be expunged. This will facilitate the publication of the rest of the report in the normal fashion.

PARENTS’ CASE The parents of a girl applied to have their daughter admitted to a primary school. They were not satisfied with the standard of education their daughter was receiving in her existing school. Her two brothers were also enrolled at this boy’s school. Their daughter’s application was refused on the basis that the school was a single gender national school which catered for boys only. The parents submitted that the school had already admitted a girl to the school’s autistic unit. This unit operated within the school. It was submitted that in doing so the school had effectively surrendered its status as a single gender school. The applicant was seeking admission to the mainstream section of the school and not the to the Special Autistic Unit. It was argued that the school was no longer entitled to rely on the exemption that is provided for in section 7(3)(a)of the Equal Status Acts in relation to single gender schools. The parents acknowledged that they were part of an ongoing campaign for the amalgamation of the Boys national school with the Girls national school. Both schools shared the same campus. The parents claimed that they were being victimised by the school as a result of referring this complaint to the tribunal and because of their involvement in the campaign to obtain an amalgamation of the two schools.

OBSERVATION This is the first time that a WSE report has been the subject of a High Court challenge. Any divergence from due process or implication of bias can have serious

SCHOOL’S CASE The school submitted that its enrolment policy clearly outlines that it is a single gender school that caters for boys only. The policy does not admit girls to the school unless the child

The principal has since resigned and has taken up a teaching position in another school. Ms Ní Rabhartaigh alleged that publication of the full report would have huge professional implications for her. She claimed that there was no proper consultation with her in relation to the leadership issue.The applicant wrote to the chief inspector and highlighted her objections. The chief inspector considered her complaint but upheld the contents of the WSE. He did apologise for the fact that the leadership issue was not properly discussed.

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satisfies the criteria for attending the Special Autistic Unit and to date only two girls have been enrolled in this special unit. The school submitted that by admitting a girl with Autism to the special Autistic Unit it is to have due regard to her special educational needs as an autistic child and not her gender. In other words admitting a girl would be contrary to its enrolment policy unless the girl was making an application to attend the Special Autistic Unit. The school felt this action was indeed part of a wider campaign to have both the boys and girls schools amalgamated.The school denied that the parents were victimised as a result of taking this present action or indeed as a result of their

participation in the amalgamation campaign. EQUALITY TRIBUNAL DECISION It is clear that a single sex school cannot be held to have engaged in discriminatory behaviour if it refuses to admit as a student a person who is not of that gender.The Equality Tribunal rejected a reference to a section 29 appeal decision, which held against a Cork VEC school last year. In that case, a girl who was refused admission to a boy’s only school was successful on the grounds that the enrolment policy of that college did not explicitly state that the college was a boy’s only college. The Tribunal also rejected the

submission that the school may have unwittingly changed the status of the school as a single sex school catering for boys only. This was because of the admission of girls to the autistic unit. There was no evidence that the school had victimised the parents. OBSERVATION This case illustrates the creativeness of litigants who seek to test the law in relation to possible loopholes. The decision clearly demarks and supports the rights of single sex schools to maintain their enrolment policies whilst at the same time maintaining the right to admit both genders to the Special Autistic Units.

Your School and the Law 2009/2010 David Ruddy, BL and Principal of Talbot Senior School, Clondalkin, in conjunction with IPPN, will facilitate and present a series of one-day legal seminars entitled Your School & The Law. This year's series of seminars will take place on ● Saturday 14th November at the Red Cow Hotel, Dublin ● Saturday 27th February at the Greenhills Hotel, Limerick ● Saturday 27th March at the Ormond Hotel, Kilkenny.

The keynotes and Q&A sessions will be delivered by David Ruddy, Emer Woodfull and Denise Brett. The seminars will address the following issues: ● Teaching Contracts/ Employment Law ● Anti Bullying and Misbehaviour in Schools ● Revised Code of Behaviour/ Enrolment Policy & Section 29 Appeals

● Current Legal Issues. The seminars will be of interest to all those involved in primary and second-level education, including Teachers, Principals, Board of Management members and Parents. For any queries, please contact IPPN on 1890 21 22 23 or by email to support@ippn.ie. Application forms can be downloaded from the Events section of www.ippn.ie.

Latest News INTO IPPN recently met with the INTO to seek clarity on the implications for Principals arising from recent union directives on: ● Staff meetings ● WSE non-cooperation ● Section 24 non-cooperation ● moratorium on PORs. There was also discussion on threatened education cuts and the ‘day of protest’. GUIDELINES FOR EFFECTIVE SCHOOL & PARENT ASSOCIATION PARTNERSHIPS IPPN and the National Parents’ Council-Primary have recently published a set of guidelines which

are designed to maximise the benefits to schools that can be achieved through effective partnership between parents’ associations and schools. These are available on www.ippn.ie in the Principal Advice section under Parents & Pupils.

Office in Glounthaune, Co. Cork and we expect they will be completed early in the New Year.

RECENT/UPCOMING EVENTS ● IPPN County Network AGMs took place in every county in September and October. CPSMA See separate article on AGM topics. A meeting was recently held with the CPSMA to ● Your School & The Law seminars take place in discuss: Dublin on Saturday, 14th November, Limerick ● temporary contracts for teachers on 27th Feb and Kilkenny on 27th March. ● Circular 60/2009 – new disciplinary Further details and application forms are arrangements for teachers and Principals available on www.ippn.ie. ● implications for Principals and BoMs arising ● 2010 IPPN Annual Principals’ Conference takes from union directives. place at City West Hotel & Conference Centre, Co. Dublin from Thursday 28th to IPPN SUPPORT OFFICE Saturday 30th January 2010. Further details and Work is ongoing on the new IPPN Support application forms are available on www.ippn.ie

www.ippn.ie Resources EVENTS SECTION ● Principals Professional Briefing Days - presentations by the HSE on Child Protection and Child Guidance and also by Medmark, SESS, Inspectorate, NCSE and IPPN.

PRESS RELEASES SECTION ● 9th Oct - Smart Economy Undermined By ‘Dumbing Down’ Education ● 8th Oct - Private Sector Can Provide Solutions to Unspent Education Budget PAG E 6

● 1st Oct - Overcoming Swine Flu with www.TextaParent.ie ● 23rd Sep - Principal Teachers Facing Impossible Situation.

PRINCIPAL ADVICE SECTION ● Be Safe on the Web – under Parents & Pupils ● Spanish Plan – under School Development & Curriculum Planning ● Posts of Responsibility – DP duties – under Recruitment/ISM Team.


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Barnardos Written Out, Written Off? by Fergus Finlay, CEO of Barnardos Childhood is short, yet the experiences we have in childhood shape the adults we become and the lives we lead. 2009 has been a defining year in relation to educational inequality in Ireland – a year plagued by cuts in education that are having a real and unfortunately lasting affect on vulnerable children in Ireland. Barnardos launched its Written Out, Written Off campaign in May 2009, attempting to subvert the cuts announced early in the year that have eroded vital supports in education including the School Book Grant Scheme, Language Support Teachers and Special Needs Assistants. The impact of these cuts is slowly becoming clear as children, parents and schools struggle to deal with the cuts that have already happened and the fear of the further cuts proposed by the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes. Barnardos believes that any proposed reform in the education sector must be undertaken with careful and proper planning and with due regard to the best interest of the child at the core of any changes. Such a momentous task cannot be done through an economic lens only; to do so undermines the very serious inequalities that remain in the Irish education system and the continuing effects that this has on children both in childhood and as they grow into adults.

Barnardos launched its Written Out, Written Off campaign in May 2009, attempting to subvert the cuts announced early in the year that have eroded vital supports in education. Education is a proven route out of poverty and gives children the best start possible in life, allowing them to create opportunities for their future. However, without the proper supports, many children living in disadvantage simply don’t have the resources they need to get an adequate education. Educational inequality remains stark in Ireland with a child’s educational outcomes still largely determined by their family’s social and

economic status. Barnardos’ Written Out,Written Off report highlights the disturbing fact that 1 in 3 pupils from disadvantaged areas continue to leave school with severe literacy difficulties and significantly more children from disadvantaged backgrounds leave school before the Leaving Certificate than those from better-off families. Despite the ongoing efforts of the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in School (DEIS) strategy, many children living in disadvantage remain outside this system of support. The 2007 School Leavers Survey showed that 56% of children living in unemployed households and 61% of children in semi-skilled manual households do not go to DEIS schools. Cuts across the education sector are having a disproportionate and unacceptable effect on these children’s educational outcomes and life chances.

The areas of particular concern to Barnardos in the current economic climate are access to school books, class sizes and the roll back of supports that have been developed in recent years.

it.” In its pre-budget submission, Barnardos is calling for the roll-out of a compulsory national book rental scheme in all schools across the State to even the playing field for all children and ease the financial burden of back to school costs on families. In addition to difficulties with access to books, the recent changes in the staffing schedule for schools - which have seen class sizes increase to 28 pupils to every teacher in primary schools and 19 pupils per teacher in post-primary schools - will have a negative impact on children’s education. Bigger class sizes are particularly detrimental to the educational attainment of children living in disadvantage who face a number of obstacles in achieving in education and benefit from the attention that can be achieved in smaller class sizes. While the current economic situation has underpinned this change, we cannot ignore the fact that overcrowded classrooms impact negatively on a child’s ability to learn and the removal of teachers from the education system puts further pressure on already stretched school resources.

The areas of particular concern to Barnardos in the current economic climate are access to school books, class sizes and the roll back of supports that have been developed in recent years, many already under-resourced and now in danger of being abolished or severely limited.

While Barnardos supports reforms and efficiencies in systems where they’re required, any reform must be based on the needs and best interests of pupils who require specific support.

More and more families are now struggling with the cost of school books as a result of the Budget 2009 decision to save €7.5 million by removing the School Book Grant Scheme from schools which are not designated disadvantaged (DEIS) schools. The impact of this move is now being felt all over the country as parents who previously depended on discrete help from schools towards the cost of books are being refused. It is impossible for children to get the most from their education when they don’t have the most basic of tools to support them. As one father of four told Barnardos,“The School Book Grant Scheme was a great help. I am a lone parent and only earn so much. Without the scheme there’s huge pressure on me and the children. If you haven’t got it, you haven’t got

Barnardos also continues to campaign against other cuts including cuts to Special Needs Assistants, Language Support Teachers, the School Transport Scheme and the National Education Psychological Service (NEPS). Cuts to these supports target children who are among the most vulnerable in the education system and who need the most support in realising their right to an education.While Barnardos supports reforms and efficiencies in systems where they’re required, any reform must be based on the needs and best interests of pupils who require specific support, and who cannot attain their full educational potential without it, rather than simply on a need to save money. Failure to support these children in school results in missed

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opportunities and poor quality educational experience and attainment. One mother whose son’s support hours are under threat told Barnardos “my son would emphatically not have made the progress he has without the support he received – he successfully did the Junior Cert and is now heading for the Leaving. His resource hours may get cut, which beggars belief that all the effort to keep him in school may be at risk.” Both the cuts that have already been made in education and those proposed in the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes will have ongoing and lasting consequences for children in Ireland. It is not acceptable to take a short-term view of education. We must ensure that we remain committed to progressing and improving crucial supports in the education system to ensure that all children are given equal opportunities to learn, grow and develop. As one respondent to

the Written Out,Written Off survey pointed out “how can we give children the best start in life if there are no supports available?” Protecting our poorest and most vulnerable children and supporting them in school must be a priority for Budget 2010 and beyond.

We must ensure that we remain committed to progressing and improving crucial supports in the education system to ensure that all children are given equal opportunities to learn. Barnardos’ Written Out, Written Off report is available on www.barnardos.ie.

Barnardos will launch a new campaign on child poverty on 10th November 2009 ahead of Budget 2010. For more information, please visit www.barnardos.ie Fergus Finlay has been Chief Executive of Barnardos, Ireland’s leading children’s charity since 2005. Immediately prior to his appointment he was employed as Chief of Staff of the Labour Party, and as Senior Adviser to Party Leader Pat Rabbitte TD. He is the author of three best-selling books (a novel, a book about the Robinson election, and a political memoir). He has founded a number of organisations that campaign for the rights of people with disabilities, and is currently Chairperson of Special Olympics Ireland. He also broadcasts regularly on radio and television, and contributes a weekly column to the Irish Examiner.

Is Beag an Splanc a Lasann Tine Mhór! Le Bláthnaid Ní Ghreacháin Is léiriú maith atá sa nath cainte ar fhorbairt na scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge. Go minic is de bharr iarrachtaí mhacánta grúpa beag tuismitheoirí agus díograiseoirí sa phobal a fhásann na Gaelscoileanna as tús an-umhal. Téann na coistí bunaithe i ngleic go céimiúil le dúshlán i ndiaidh dúshláin – ó aimsiú suímh, páistí a earcú agus ar aghaidh go bunú agus buanú na scoile. Léirígh an córas bunaithe scoile go stairiúil feidhmiú éifeachtach an chórais daonlathaigh – córas a léirigh meas ar rogha na dtuismitheoirí agus a chosain a gcearta ar sholáthar oideachais den scoth. Beidh córas nua do bhuanú scoileanna á cheapadh ag an Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta go luath agus tá GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. i mbun plé leanúnach leis an Roinn faoi láthair chun a chinntiú go dtógfaidh an córas nua sin forbairt na gaelscolaíochta san áireamh. Beifear ag súil le go mbeidh ról lárnach ag na páirtnéirí gaeloideachais ann chomh maith. Gan amhras tá an córas oideachais faoi bhagairt i ngeall ar na cúinsí geilleagracha reatha. Anuas ar na dúshláin seo roimh gach scoil sa tír, tá na scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge faoi réir bagairtí bhreise le moltaí thuarascáil Mhic Chárthaigh, ar a náirítear go bhfaighfí réidh leis an gComhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta. Bunaíodh COGG faoi Alt 31 den Acht Oideachais le go mbeadh sainstruchtúr ann le freastal a dhéanamh ar riachtanais oideachais na

scoileanna Gaeltachta agus lán-Ghaeilge ag an mbunleibhéal agus ag an iarbhunleibhéal. Buile marfach i gcoinne forbairt taighde, áiseanna agus acmhainní do na scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge agus do theagasc na Gaeilge mar ábhar is ea an moladh seo. Cuirimid an cheist orainn féin conas leanúint ar aghaidh ag fíorú na físe do Ghaeloideachas den scoth i ré gearrradharcach? Tá an Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge le foilsiú roimh dheireadh na bliana seo, gur straitéis rialtais í don Ghaeilge ó thaobh úsáid, stádas agus cumas a chur chun cinn. Tuigtear go bhfuil an t-oideachas lán-Ghaeilge mar thosaíocht agus i gcroílár pholasaí an Stáit do chur chun cinn na Gaeilge. Ní bheadh ciall ná réasún teacht roimh an phlean seo le moltaí radachacha gearr-radharcach. Déanfaidh Comhdháil Bhliantúil GAELSCOILEANNA TEO., dar teideal ‘Ag Cothú Gaelscolaíocht den Scoth’ forbairt agus ceiliúradh ar ardchaighdeán na scoileanna lánGhaeilge. I measc sainréimsí plé na Comhdhála áirítear deacrachtaí foghlama sa ghaelscoil (dyslexia); úsáid na teicneolaíochta don mhúinteoireacht; polasaithe iontrála scoile; feasacht teanga sa scoil lán-Ghaeilge, agus go leor eile. Beidh sí ar siúl 20 & 21 Samhain 2009, Óstán Ormonde, Cill Chainnigh agus beidh fáilte roimh chách, ach teagmháil a dhéanamh le oifig@gaelscoileanna.ie.

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Eolas faoi GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. Is í príomhaidhm GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. ná an ghaelscolaíocht a chur chun cinn, a éascú agus a spreagadh ag an mbunleibhéal agus ag an iarbhunleibhéal ar fud fad na hÉireann. Tá an eagraíocht aitheanta mar Chomhpháirtí Oideachais ag an Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta. Tá 170 bhunscoil agus 38 iarbhunscoil ag cur oideachas trí mheán na Gaeilge ar fáil lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht. Bláthnaid Ní Ghreacháin Is í Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin Ardfheidhmeannach GAELSCOLEANNA TEO. Mar Ardfheidhmeannach ar GAELSCOILEANNA TEO. tá Bláthnaid freagrach as bainistíocht na foirne agus na heagraíochta ar mhaithe le forbairt earnáil na gaelscolaíochta ina iomláine. Ceapadh mar Ardfheidhmeannach í sa bhliain 2006. Roimh don cheapachán sin chaith sí bliain ag obair le Foras na Gaeilge agus 5 bliana mar léachtóir le Gearmáinis agus bliain mar Bhainisteoir Tionscadail le Fiontar, Ollscoil Chathair Bhaile Átha Cliath. I measc a cuid cáilíochtaí tá MA sa Chleachtas Dátheangach ó Ollscoil Chathair Bhaile Átha Cliath (2007) agus MA sa Ghearmáinis as Ollscoil na hÉireann Má Nuad (1997).


A:INDJGH8=DDA7J9<:I <D;JGI=:G½ â&#x20AC;&#x153;I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t believe how easy it was to switch to ScoilTel. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s great to see the end of a monopoly and the beginning of lower charges for hard pressed school budgetsâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Gerry Murphy, Principal, St Josephs NS, Dundalk, Co Louth.

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PAG E 1 0


ICT Productivity Tips for school leaders by Seaghan Moriarty ICT or not - the principles of personal productivity remain the same. If you can use technology to implement these principles more effectively, then you will be on the right track! Whether you use a diary, PIMS, email, project management software, the latest iphone GTD application – or any combination of the above, structuring your time into planned chunks in order to control priority, urgent, routine and unplanned tasks is the key to success. TIP 1: GOODBYE GADGETS! Assess the gadgets and technology that you currently use. If you spend more time managing the gadgets and entering reminders / tasks / projects etc. than the time you are saving overall – then consider ditching the gadgets. TIP 2: EMAIL MANAGEMENT Don’t check your email too often – and turn your email alerts off! Fresh emails can entice you into dealing with the easier / nicer tasks, instead of disciplining yourself to deal with the real priorities. Use the 4 Ds rule when managing email: 1. Delete it: Be realistic and delete (or file away) any emails you’ll probably never action 2. Deal with it: Delete, write a quick reply, or file for future information [For tasks < 2minutes] 3. Delegate: Assign these tasks to the appropriate person(s) 4. Defer: Assign a priority and file for future action [For tasks > 2 minutes].

TIP 3: DO A ‘BRAIN DUMP’ Many of us – the author included – spend way too much time thinking about the same things over and over again! These may be 5 or 6 things that are swimming round in your head – and you spend a couple of minutes two of three times each day thinking about these. So, over a few days, you not only waste time, but a good deal of emotional energy, as you feel guilty about not dealing with these tasks. What to do? Get these ideas out of your head and into your diary / todo list / project planner! This will help clarify and prioritise the tasks, as well as ending the negative re-cycle of thoughts in your head. TECHNOLOGY AIDS There are many great technology solutions to help you with this – one of my favourites is for the iPhone called ToodleDo at a cost of $4 – about €3. Another more comprehensive application called ‘Things’ which is about €7 is worthy of mention. It can add tasks, assign each a priority, set reminders and lots of other useful functions. Again, I’d stress to keep the technology as simple and useable as possible, so that the time taken to manage the tasks pays dividend and does not take from the time taken to action the tasks.

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On average, you might find that your emails are comprised of: ● 60 percent: deleted, filed, or dealt with in < 2 minutes ● 20 percent: delegated ● 20 percent: deferred to your To-Do List So overall, the aim is to keep your Inbox empty! In this way, you’ll develop a habit of dealing with all your tasks using the 4Ds rule.

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Buying for Schools Water costs… no matter who pays… by John Curran Every school, whether a two-teacher gem or a 1,000-pupil giant, uses water; for toilets, for drinking, for cleaning and possibly in the heating system. Despite the arguments about water charges and ‘who should pay the bill’, there are at least three good reasons why schools should look at their water usage and see if there are ways to economise: 1. you can save money 2. it is good for the environment 3. it is a good example for pupils and for the community. From January 2010, every school will have a water meter installed – if they haven’t already – and some form of charging structure will be in place to issue invoices to schools for the water actually used. There are many arguments as to whether or not schools should have to pay this bill, what rates should be charged and how these charges should be funded. Leaving these aside, it is still true to say that water is a valuable commodity and if a school can take steps to reduce usage, and therefore cost, then these steps should be considered. It is important to remember that if you cut down water consumption where water is heated by say 50% then you cut down your energy consumption by the same amount. There are three main areas to look at: 1. Are there leaks in the system leading to wasted water? 2. Can anything be done with taps and toilets to minimise usage? 3. Can anything be done to use rainwater or to recycle ‘grey’ water? Depending on the size and complexity of your school, you may have a caretaker or handyman who can look at these areas or you may have to consult with an expert company. LEAKS If you have a meter, leaks can be checked at a quiet time of the school year i.e. weekends or holidays. If everything is turned off and you still have water going through the meter, then you probably have a leak. This should be traced and fixed. TAPS AND TOILETS Urinals Urinals are left running 24/7 in some schools. In others they are turned off on a nightly basis, but

they still run for the duration that the school is open, wasting 100s of litres of water daily. It is not a good idea to turn the water off permanently. It is not acceptable from a health and safety perspective and it can also lead to uric acid buildup in the pipe work. This in turn can lead to the entire pipework needing replacement at enormous cost. By installing a ‘urinal management system’ you need not worry about the water used. One system uses ‘passive infra red’ technology to control the way the urinal flushes by simply allowing the urinal to flush while it is in use. If no-one enters the toilet then the urinal will not flush. In instances where the school is closed it will allow the urinal to flush once every 24hrs for hygiene reasons. Water should never be reduced in urinals without incorporating a hygiene maintenence programme. These usually come with a package. Payback on these systems can be less than 6 months. The cost of installing ‘waterless’ urinals is probably prohibitive owing to the capital outlay. Toilets (WCs) Most toilet bowls in schools are the old siphon front handle type.These generally flush 9 litres of water every time they are flushed. Each time a pupil has a pee, 9 litres of water disappear down the bowl.This represents a waste of approx 7 litres of water every time. In a school of 100 pupils it could lead to waste of water of upto 2,800 litres per day. There are dual flush toilets on the market. These usually have 2 buttons on the top of the cistern, one for a 3 litre and one for a 6 litre flush. Another solution is the ‘flush interruption’ device. This is added to your present siphon system and allows greater control over how much water is used in the toilets. It is designed to allow 2-3 litres of water to flush through the toilet when only urine is being flushed.When a full flush is needed you operate the toilet as normal. In case studies it has been found that this can reduce the waste of water by between 33% and 53%. There is a new toilet on the market that only flushes 3 litres per flush, every flush.This might be recommend for new installations. Devices that displace water in the cistern There is a lot of conflicting advice on how water should be displaced in cisterns. Concrete blocks/Bricks and buckets of stones can erode in time. The particles that erode then flush through PAG E 1 2

the toilet, potentially damaging the siphon and leading to costly repairs. ‘Hippo’ bags / ‘Toilet tank’ banks / Bottles of water are all ways of displacing water in the cistern. An older toilet that flushes 9 litres is designed to do so to get rid of the waste used. Sometimes there is not enough water in the cistern to get rid of the waste and this can lead to double flushing. Taps The majority of schools have the old-style twist tap installed, which can be left on, wasting water. The complete tap can be replaced by a new ‘push’ tap which automatically shuts off. A retrofit push tap is also now available.To fit this tap you simply remove the head of your present tap and replace it with the retrofit push tap. In a matter of 2-3 minutes you have an inexpensive push tap. RAINWATER A rainwater butt could be installed under drain pipes to collect water for use, for example, in flowerbeds where the use of drinking water is unnecessary. Rainwater harvesting is another way schools can greatly reduce their water consumption. In this solution, rainwater is collected in a systematic way, stored, piped back into the main system and used for toilet flushing and washing where drinking-quality water is not required. ‘Grey water’ recycling is where wastewater from sinks etc. may be re-used for watering plants, other cleaning uses etc. These two solutions probably require specialist advice. Whether you undertake a DIY solution or consult with a specialist company, it is probably a good idea to do a basic cost/benefit analysis. There are simple measures which can lead to significant savings of water and money. There are more sophisticated measures which may have to be analysed more carefully to ensure that savings will happen. In every case, a simple calculation can reveal the payback time. If you are saving x litres of water over a year, then you can calculate the cost of this water as metered to you by the local council. How much you spend to achieve this saving will give you your payback time.


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What Great Principals Do Differently - A Review of the Ideas and Writings of Dr Todd Whitaker By Damian White, Editor, Leadership+ Perhaps it takes a broad canvas, with great variety and contrasts in physical, social and cultural situations across a multitude of systems and philosophies to look for the common threads which apply when looking at quality leadership in schools. With the United States as his laboratory, Dr Todd Whitaker highlights issues almost every Principal anywhere can identify with and zones in on best practice in each situation.

Great Principals know that people, not programs, make a good school. Central to Dr Whitakerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s every recommendation is the phrase 'Raise the Praise', 'Minimise the Criticise'. Every teacher does the best they know how. Classroom management, which can give an impression of how a teacher performs, is not entirely about student achievement. It may be a selfish pursuit to look good. Every parent too does their very best, as well as they can. They bring us the children they have, not a selection of the best ones, to the school each day. If the parents do not teach the child something, we must teach it, or whine about it. Some teachers see whining as an obligation, but it is really a choice. He asks us to consider whether whining works for teachers. Do the whiners get the smallest classes, get away with not doing jobs or go on committees which other more positive people end up doing? Great Principals know that people, not programs, make a good school. In a great teacher's classroom (and in a great Principalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s school) nothing happens randomly, and all children are treated as if they are good. In weaker circumstances, everything appears to happen randomly. Great Principals know that they make every decision based on their best people. If we introduce a new idea, the best people will do it well, giving it a mandate to continue. If the weaker people do it badly, do we get rid of it because of their weakness? Should we let this happen? Weaker people whine and contribute little. Great Principals accept responsibility for the climate of the school. Weaker leaders look for cover i.e. 'Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re all in this Together'.

Great Principals know that 10 days out of 10, we treat every student with respect and dignity. We must lead by example if we want students to show respect to others. Dr Whitaker suggests that a number of behaviours should never happen if we are to preserve a good school atmosphere. He recommends reducing or cutting out the amount of times we argue. He suggests that 'one should never argue with an idiot, as they usually have far more practice at the art!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Also, a spectator to the argument may not be able to tell who the idiot is! We should not yell as those we address become immune to it very quickly. We should not use sarcasm or humiliate people, staff, students or parents. Great Principals donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have rules â&#x20AC;&#x201C; they have expectations. People know the rules, the good people in the organisation think that rules are for them and they live on guilt. Weaker people, who do the wrong thing, know it is wrong but do it anyway.

Dr Whitaker is emphatic about the importance of 'trust'. Great Principals can help change peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s behaviour towards the positive. Good Principals never deliver bad news in writing. The worse the news, the more that should be put into the delivery. Great Principals have staff meetings which staff look forward to and value. There is nothing wrong with being afraid as a Principal.The secret is not to act afraid of what issues may arise. Great Principals have a sense of humour but the not so great may be similarly gifted! Every time you praise someone, you gain credibility, not lose it.Anonymous praise works.The great teacher can get their class quiet by saying 'Thank you for being quiet'. Dr Whitaker is emphatic about the importance of 'trust'. Great Principals can help change peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s behaviour towards the positive. Behaviour isn't set, people may just need to be shown a new way. Positive behaviour, regular contact with parents to make 'positive referrals' regarding their children PAG E 1 4

helps to build this trust. It takes eight times longer to re-learn trust than to learn it. Principals should encourage teachers to visit each otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s classrooms in a non-judgemental way. Teachers will only steal the best ideas, helping to make them great. Great Principals should develop a plan to allow this to happen. Dr Todd Whitaker is a professor at Indiana State. He is the Author of several books including 'What Great Principals Do Differently', 'What Great Teachers Do Differently', 'Motivating and Inspiring Teachers ', The Educational leaders Guide for Building Staff Morale', Dealing with Difficult Teachers' and Dealing with Difficult Parents'. Clips from some of Dr Whitakerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s speeches are available on You Tube and through his website www.toddwhitaker.com

 

 

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GAA: Oral History by Ann-Marie Smith, Education Co-ordinator and Researcher Commissioned by the GAA and based at Boston College-Ireland, the GAA Oral History Project aims to record the rich, diverse and complex history of the Association through the words of local people in every parish of the country and among Irish communities overseas. It is the largest sports history project of its kind and one to which anyone can contribute. The project will record face-to-face interviews with thousands of people in Ireland and internationally, including GAA members and supporters and anyone who has ever had any contact or involvement with the GAA. As the project aspires to be the largest public history project carried out in the state since the Folklore Commission in the 1930s, the material gathered will provide possibly the richest source of material to the sociologists of the present and the historians of the future. The interviews that are conducted and the questionnaires that are completed will allow future family members of participants to hear and see their ancestors, to learn about how they lived and the place of the GAA in their lives. The project’s first publication, The GAA: A People’s History was launched in Croke Park in October. The book tells the story of how the GAA has carved for itself a unique place at the heart of Irish life and outlines how Gaelic games and the social world which revolves around the Association have shaped the lives of generations of Irish people at home and abroad. From parades and ballads to epic journeys across land and sea, this history of the GAA is as much about what happened off the field as what happened on it.

The project will run until 2012 and, during that time, the team in Boston College-Ireland will produce books on the GAA in every county, the GAA overseas and a children’s book full of their GAA quotes. To ensure that as many stories and memories are recorded as possible, we are inviting as many primary schools as possible to take part in the project. The children are the future of the GAA and their opinions and views are important. A special primary school project has been developed which links into both the History and Geography Curricula. The Geography Curriculum places emphasis on “A Sense of Place and Space” and also “Living in the Community.” We are hoping that teachers will incorporate our specifically-designed children’s questionnaire into their classroom activities. The questionnaire will facilitate children to voice their opinions on the role of the GAA and the local club, not only in their personal lives but also in the wider community. In relation to the History Curriculum, there are specific links to the strand units entitled “Personal and Local History”,“Life, Society, Work and Culture in the Past” and “Continuity and Change over Time.”The project also complements the “Story” strand which appears at all levels in the Primary School Curriculum. Children can benefit greatly by listening to, telling and retelling stories; it is a natural part of every child’s development and a fundamental part of history. Oral history has unique value as a historical source and it can be used to make the past real for children. In addition to the questionnaires, we are encouraging teachers to initiate oral history class projects, whereby pupils interview their older

family members on what it was like to support or be involved with their GAA club or county team in the past.This encourages young children to engage with older family members and also promotes two-way communication, teaching and learning between younger and older people. Family members or former players could also be invited into the classroom where the interview may be recorded. In consideration of the time constraints involved, and also meeting Department of Education standards, all the resources needed to carry out this project are provided on our website www.gaahistory.com. A step-by-step guide to carrying out the project “Participating in the GAA Oral History: Guide for Primary School Teachers” has also been produced. In addition, the GAA Oral History Project team is on hand to answer any queries and to provide additional information and support throughout.The project also provides an outreach service and the Education Officer for the project, Ann-Marie Smith is on hand to visit schools and explain the project in more detail to both teachers and pupils. Finally, this project has a lasting effect; pupils’ contributions will go beyond the classroom and will be preserved for future generations in the GAA Museum in Croke Park where your school’s place in history will be ensured. For further information and to take part in the project, please visit the project website www.gaahistory.com or e-mail smith@gaahistory.com.

Five friends, all from Roscrea, break for the tea and sandwiches on the road to Fermoy for a Munster football championship match between Tipperary and Cork, 1943. Pictured are: L.T. Maher, Eddie Guilmartin,Tom Lawlor, Jack Fitzpatrick and Jack Maher.The car was owned by Tom Lawlor, a farmer who also ran a hackney service in Roscrea. Due to the fuel shortages and general expense, few cars would have been on Irish roads at the time. (Eddie Guilmartin) PAG E 1 5

Unknown Child,Wexford. Copyright of the GAA Museum, Croke Park.


Ciall Ceannaithe Essential Guidance for Newly Appointed Principals â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;A good start is half the battleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Since 2007, IPPN has provided all Newly Appointed Principals with a dedicated publication aimed at helping them confront the significant challenge that is leading a school. The resultant document Ciall Ceannaithe â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Sound Advice and Borrowed Wisdom for Newly Appointed Principals contains a myriad of tips, management strategies and borrowed wisdom gleaned from a wide circle of experienced contributors. It is also helpful as a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;refresherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; for the experienced Principal. The following is a short extract from the publication, which is also available to download from the Publications section of www.ippn.ie. STAFF COMMUNICATIONS 1 Good communications systems serve to keep everybody in the picture and valued. Use a Whiteboard in the Staff Room to notify staff of relevant information e.g. recent DES circulars, policy documents and forthcoming events. Arrange for photocopies of key documents on a request basis or ensure that teaching staff have access to the school IT network and place important documents there. 2 Ensure that you have structures in place so that staff are up to speed about available resources and services in areas relevant to their educational needs. 3 Encourage the social side of staff relations so that people feel part of a team that can socialise

together when appropriate 4 Administrative Principals in particular should ensure that there is time set aside on a regular basis for class visitation so that pupils get to see you regularly and that you get to know the pupils as best you can. 5 Encourage teacher-to-teacher and teacher-toparent pre-arranged meetings as a first step to helping solve conflicts whilst emphasising your willingness to become involved later in a supportive way if necessary. 6 Endeavour to develop a culture whereby teachers and parents who have to meet outside parent/teacher meetings for a formal meeting should arrange to do so in an atmosphere that is removed from the classroom door and at a time mutually agreeable to both parties. 7 It is essential that you are familiar with the agreed procedures by which a staff member can lodge a grievance against a colleague or members of school management. The official agreed Grievance Procedure involves 4 stages and should be strictly adhered to in the event of a problem arising.This procedure is detailed in the CPSMA Board of Management Handbook. CHILDREN 1 Be a visible presence around the school, welcoming, acknowledging, affirming and getting to know people.

2 Give one of the senior classes a project to take a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;passport-styleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; photo of each child in the school with a digital camera and have them arranged in class groupings with names and references to siblings in the school etc. This is the most efficient strategy in getting to know every childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s name â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the most basic yet important step in establishing a relationship with the children. 3 Give time to listen to the children. Find out about their lives and enquire from them about their families. 4 Acknowledge and affirm the childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work and give genuine praise. Always try to â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;catch them being goodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. 5 Encourage both staff and children to take pride in their school and to get involved in keeping the school environment tidy, attractive and welcoming. 6 Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t allow yourself to become the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;discipline enforcerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; for class teachers. If anything, the Principal should be the mediator between child, teacher and parent. Always attempt to bring reasonable solutions that are mutually acceptable. 7 Design a simple â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;homework off â&#x20AC;&#x2122; voucher on your PC. Have a supply of these in your pocket and give the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;voucherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; in exchange for exceptional good behaviour, assisting staff with various chores, caring for younger children etc.

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In Profile Geraldine Byrne Principal, St. Joseph's Junior School, Tullamore, Co. Offaly Where did you do your teacher training and when? I did my teacher training in Carysfort College, Blackrock from 1972 to 1974 – the years of the famous strike! What attracted you to the role of Principal in the first place? I was teaching in the same school for many years and was hoping to implement changes in the way the school was run and perceived in the community. It had been a religious-run school since 1836 and I felt it should be more peoplecentred rather than institution-centred. How long have you been Principal? I was appointed Principal in June 1992, so 17 years now. What do you particularly enjoy about the role? I enjoy being with children, parents and staff in lots of different ways. I enjoy the fact that no two days are the same and boredom is never an issue! I enjoy the whole buzz of school life. If you had to pick 3 things that you would say to a new Principal to get them on the right track in their school, what would they be? To a new principal I would say: 1. Try not to worry too much and keep a work/life balance 2. Set up administrative systems that work 3. Have open communication with your staff, board of management and parents association – everyone wants the best for the children in the school and are ready to help if you ask. What steps did you put in place to optimise the effectiveness of your Inschool Management team? Our in-school management team is pivotal in the school. Each person has a curricular field of responsibility and they have the freedom to organise resources and supports as they see fit. The senior management team of assistant principals, deputy principal and myself meet each Wednesday to look at overall school issues as they arise. The full management team meet each month to look at all school activities, update policies, organise or co-ordinate school

events. It is also nice for this team to meet and share ideas and resources. How have you achieved a successful relationship with your Board of Management/Patron? There has always been a very successful relationship with the Boards of Management. A spirit of openness has always prevailed and they have been unfailingly supportive. What strategies have you put in place in working with your school’s Parents’ Association and the parent body generally? The Parents’ Association meet regularly and I attend meetings at their invitation. Again, there is a spirit of co-operation and children are put at the heart of all decisions and events. There is an open-door policy in the school and it is respected by all. Parents are genuinely welcome to call to the school at any time – particularly if they have a problem. This means that people do not have to worry over something which can usually be sorted over a quick chat and a cup of tea. The Home/School/Community Liaison scheme was the most wonderful initiative in developing an open, friendly, family-centred view of education and involving parents, teachers and pupils as genuine partners. Involvement of lots of parents in the school is on-going and positive and has meant that we have whole-school events every term organised by parents and teachers together – a Halloween parade, an Advent service, a Music Week, a Multi-cultural week, Pyjama party (adults and children in PJs!), Granny and Granddads’ day and a Fun Day, to mention just some. Any career highlights to date? Career highlights to date have been small and large successes as a school community. It has been super to see a parent decide to go back to school having become involved in HSCL activities; to see a child with serious language disorder have a speaking part in the school concert; to see a whole school recycling everything in sight before our first green flag and the fun we had the day it was raised! It has been wonderful to see parents born in other

PAG E 1 7

countries sharing their experiences with everyone through food, music and story-telling. There was great satisfaction when the school was re-furbished and an extension built. What has been your greatest challenge to date and how did you manage to turn it around? The challenge is to maintain energy in the face of ever-increasing demands on your time. Having strong support from staff, family and friends is important. One always needs others to keep things in perspective – I can get fairly worked up at times over such things as lost property which may not be at the very heart of teaching and learning – or world affairs for that matter!! It is important to keep a sense of balance and a sense of humour!

The challenge is to maintain energy in the face of everincreasing demands on your time. Having strong support from staff, family and friends is important. Which professional or personal development programmes or events have you valued the most in relation to your role as Principal? Why? I really enjoyed a course given by Noel Canavan of Marino Institute in 2000. It was a week-long, residential course in the Hudson Bay, Athlone on the theme of Leadership in the Primary School. It covered all aspects of your life – school and personal. We looked at our personality types and how we interact with colleagues, parents and children. We learned to meditate and we learned that everyone is in the same boat – sometimes sailing along happily and sometimes floundering around. The big lesson is that there are always colleagues to help you and there are many friendly ears you can fry – because they will surely need to fry yours at some stage or another! I also enjoy INTO and IPPN meetings where you can meet like-minded souls who can talk the night away about school and who can solve all problems with you late into the night!!


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Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework A NEW ‘JOURNEY’ BEGINS October 22nd saw the publication of Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework at www.ncca.ie/earlylearning. Aistear marks the importance of children’s lifelong learning ‘journey’ starting from birth. It complements both the Early Start Curricular Guidelines (1998) and the Primary School Curriculum (1999), and helps to bring greater continuity and progression in children’s learning and development as they ‘journey’ from home to crèches, playgroups and pre-schools, and on to primary school.As Aistear is suitable for all children from birth to six years, you may be interested in using it as a resource to support teachers in the Early Start Unit and infant classes in your school. If so, read on to find out what Aistear has to offer you. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF AISTEAR? Aistear describes the types of educational experiences that are important for young children and the teacher’s role in mediating these opportunities to scaffold children’s learning. It also offers practical ideas and suggestions, as well as examples of how the teacher might plan the learning environment and use various strategies when interacting with the children. Similar to the Primary School Curriculum, Aistear focuses on providing experiences for children which are relevant and exciting for them in the ‘here and now’, as well as laying good foundations for later learning. WHAT DOES AISTEAR COMPRISE OF? Aistear has four elements: ● Principles and Themes describe children’s learning and development ● Guidelines for Good Practice focus on aspects of pedagogy such as play and assessment and contain numerous examples to show what Aistear might ‘look like’ in practice ● A User Guide gives practical information on how you might begin to use Aistear in your school ● Key Messages summarise important points from research used in developing Aistear.

the subject-based Primary School Curriculum and the importance of being ‘true’ to the integrated and social nature of learning at infant level. HOW CAN AISTEAR HELP ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF CURRICULUM OVERLOAD? One of the key findings from the two phases of review of the Primary School Curriculum (NCCA, 2005; 2008) was a lack of time to ‘cover’ the curriculum content and to support the learning needs of all children. Again, building on the Primary School Curriculum, Aistear emphasises the how of teaching and learning in order to differentiate for and help all children work towards specific learning goals or content objectives. In particular, Aistear offers practical information on ● enriching learning through interactions with children ● using play to support learning and development ● assessing children’s progress and planning for future learning ● developing partnerships with parents and families. THE ‘JOURNEY’ CONTINUES… In looking at Aistear’s potential to respond to some of the challenges identified by infant teachers through the two phases of curriculum review (NCCA, 2005; 2008), the NCCA hopes to work with infant teachers in using Aistear alongside the Primary School Curriculum to support their classroom practice. If you would like your school to be part of this initiative, then we would love to hear from you at earlylearning@ncca.ie. HOW CAN I GET A COPY OF AISTEAR? Aistear is available on the NCCA website at www.ncca.ie/earlylearning. CDs of Aistear will also be available in November. Keep an eye on the NCCA website to find details of how you can get your copy. Article contributed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment 24 Merrion Square, Dublin 2. Phone 01 661 7177, email info@ncca.ie or visit www.ncca.ie.

CAN AISTEAR BE USED ALONGSIDE THE PRIMARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM? Yes.The 12 principles underpinning Aistear are similar to those in the Primary School Curriculum with some additional ones such as seeing children as young citizens. Building on the Primary School Curriculum for infants, Aistear offers some new ways to think about how young children learn by highlighting, for example, the importance of using different types of play to support learning. Aistear also focuses on the integrated nature of young children’s learning. It does this by presenting the content using four interconnected themes rather than by curriculum areas or subjects. The four themes are: ● Well-being ● Identity and Belonging ● Communicating ● Exploring and Thinking. Each theme has aims and broad learning goals which focus on developing children’s dispositions and skills, nurturing attitudes and values, and building knowledge and understanding of their world. These themes connect with, and can be used as a medium through which to ‘deliver’ some, if not all, of the subjects in the Primary School Curriculum. This thematic approach may also help to address the tension identified by infant teachers involved in the School Based Developmental Initiative on Reporting to Parents (NCCA, 2007) between PAG E 1 9


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Paul Holland FAI Schools Soccer Co-ordinator for County Meath Paul Holland is the Meath and Leinster coordinator for FAI Schools and the half-time co-ordinator for Drogheda United FC. Deputy Principal at Gaelscoil na Ríthe, Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath, Paul is married to Maria and has a son Martin aged 12. Originally from Drogheda, now living in Kells, he has produced the 2006 & 2007 DVDs for Drogheda United (in aid of The Gary Kelly Cancer Centre and Tracy Piggot's Playing for Life) and has been teaching since 1985. How did you first become involved in organising soccer competitions? I've been involved in soccer all my life and first remember organising soccer leagues in my first year at secondary school. When I first started teaching in 1985 there was little or no soccer in primary schools. In fact you could say there was an unofficial ban on the game back then! How has the game grown in schools in County Meath? Back in 1990 we started out with three Meath teams that had to travel to Blanchardstown to compete in the West Dublin section of the FAI Schools competition. Over the past few years the FAI Schools Meath 5-a-side, which is sponsored by EA Sports, has since grown to become the biggest 5-a-side in Ireland with an entry this year of 165 teams from 77 schools competing over six full days. During this time, the Navan venue has also hosted the Leinster and All-Ireland finals of the competition on numerous occasions. In Meath we have always tried to encourage as many teams as possible to enjoy the experience of playing football for their school, regardless of their ability. How did soccer become so popular in Meath's primary schools? Well, firstly the superb facilities at the Meath and District League grounds in Navan have made a crucial difference. The six all-weather pitches have been able to cater for the huge increase in participating teams over the past ten years. I'd also have to mention the tremendous enthusiasm of Noel Gannon, FAI Schools Coordinator between 1998 and 2002. But above all, the dedication and reliability of the teachers has been paramount in ensuring the Meath tournament's success over the years. The popularity of the blitz format and more recently

the assistance from the FAI's Regional Development Officers and various Sports Partnerships, are other reasons why the 5-a-side has expanded at such a rapid rate nationwide. As a sports co-ordinator, what would you consider to be important in organising an event such as the FAI Schools 5-a-side? I would always prefer to firstly send out by post the groups, fixtures and rules to all competing teams well in advance of the competition. Delegation comes next when I ask five different teachers to take charge of the five sections (three for boys and two for girls) on the days of competition. I'd also always visit the venue the

I get great satisfaction in seeing the excitement on the faces of both children, parents and managers when their team is playing at United Park or Dalymount Park day before the event, check pitch markings, availability of referees, The Red Cross and any last minute details. Our website www.faischoolsleinster.com has proven to be very useful in advising any last minute changes and The Star newspaper and local media have helped enormously in promoting the tournament. You are also very involved with Drogheda United. What is your connection with the club? I've always supported Drogheda ever since my Dad brought me to my first game when I was four years old. For the past five years I've been the half-time co-ordinator at the club. It involves inviting clubs and schools from Louth, Meath and North Dublin to play at United Park at half-time of Drogheda's League of Ireland/European games and introducing the players to the various underage teams. Has the football community responded to this initiative? We've had more than 8,000 boys and girls enjoying the experience and have welcomed local groups such as Football against Racism and the Drogheda Special Olympics Team. PAG E 2 1

Even though the club has recently had serious difficulties on and off the pitch, the half-time games are as popular as ever this season with teams still needing to book up to four months in advance! The kids continue to enjoy the thrill of playing under lights on a top quality surface, in front of a large crowd. In three years (2005, 2006 & 2007) the club managed to win their first ever League of Ireland Championship, the FAI Cup and the Setanta Sports Cup (twice). Drogheda were magnificent in bringing the players and trophies to so many schools, clubs and local organisations.The club is at the heart of the local community and even in these recessionary times, €300,000 was recently raised by grass-roots supporters, thus saving the club from certain demise. Why do you commit so much time to organising activities at Drogheda United? I get great satisfaction in seeing the excitement on the faces of children, parents and managers when their team is playing at United Park or Dalymount Park (for the UEFA Cup and Champions League games). I've also got to meet great football people all over Ireland and throughout Europe when Drogheda played the best teams from Norway, Sweden, Finland, San Marino and the mighty Dinamo Kiev (the Drogs came agonisingly close to knocking out the Ukrainian Champions). In making the two charity DVDs, my son and I also had the excuse of interviewing legends such as Henrik Larsson, Paul McGrath, Gary Kelly, Shay Given, as well as comedians Des Bishop and Ardal O'Hanlon. I’ve also been able to see at first hand how the Gary Kelly Cancer Centre and the Special Olympics teams make such a huge impact on so many people’s lives. Do you think Teachers can make a big difference in their communities? I think teachers are first and foremost communicators and, over time, learn to communicate in a simple and effective manner. Teachers are well used to organising, planning, making decisions and using their own initiative. For these reasons, I feel they can diversify quite easily into different areas of the local community and make a considerable difference. It comes as no surprise that many of the best football managers in GAA as well as many politicians have a background in teaching. Above: Paul Holland & son Martin(12) with Drogheda United's first ever League Trophy 2007


IPPN Conference 2010 Primary Education – A Human Right or a Privilege? Plans for Conference 2010 are well underway. It will take place at the City West Convention Centre in Saggart, Co. Dublin from Thursday 28th to Saturday 30th January. Application Forms will be available on www.ippn.ie and issued to all schools in midNovember. ACCOMMODATION Bed & Breakfast accommodation in standard guest rooms is available at the excellent conference rate of €100 per room, per night, whether single or double/twin occupancy. To book accommodation at this rate, please call the City West Hotel direct on (01) 4010500. Please quote IPPN 2010 on booking to avail of this rate. A dedicated IPPN Conference accommodation reservation page will also be available – look out for details on forthcoming conference-related e-scéals.

All room rates include full Irish Breakfast and VAT at 13.5%. Standard bedrooms have a private bathroom, satellite TV, radio, direct dial telephone, tea and coffee making facilities, trouser press & ironing board and a hairdryer. Terms 7 Conditions of reservations are available from City West. PREVIEW Conference Facilitator Olivia O’Leary, seminars to include: ● Mary Burke – Best Practice in Inducting Newly Qualified Teachers ● Anita Prunty – SEN – Practical Hints & Tips ● Robert Ryan – Medmark & Health Issues for Teachers & Principals – 10-year study ● Peader McKenna – The Incredible Years Programme ● Clare Ryan – NEWB guidelines for Code of Behaviour.

A conference schedule, including all keynote speakers, special interest groups and seminars, will be available on www.ippn.ie in due course. CONFERENCE EDUCATION EXPO We will have over 95 school suppliers exhibiting this year, details of which will be available on www.ippn.ie under Events/Principals’ Annual Conference 2010/Expo. This will enable you to identify the suppliers you are interested in and to arrange a meeting while attending Conference if you wish. This year the Expo will be open to teachers and other school staff and parents across the weekend in order to give them an opportunity to view the wide range of products and services available. Exhibition opening times are: ● 9am to 7pm on Thursday 28th January ● 8am to 7pm on Friday 29th January ● 9am to 6pm on Saturday 30th. Please refer to the website for further information.

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FAQs Principals’ Frequently Asked Questions FAQ’s Round Up A key resource for busy Principals is the online repository of Frequentlyasked Questions (FAQs) which is available on www.ippn.ie under the Principal Advice tab. These FAQs are arranged by Principal Advice category (as listed below) and are based on the questions asked by Principals when they call the IPPN Support Office seeking professional advice.

● What is the maximum number of children per class? ● Does a school have to enrol an autistic child, if the school has no facilities to cater for the child’s needs? ● Does the school have to enrol a child not from the catchment area? ● What is involved in a section 29 appeal?

The following are some of the many FAQs available.

PARENTS & PUPILS ● If a child has been taken from the school and has not been enrolled in another school, when is the child taken off the roll and the NEWB notified? ● Is it stated in any circular or Rules for National Schools the time a child should be in school to be marked present? ● Where there is an ongoing custody issue between separated parents, what are the procedures for dealing with this situation? ● A parent is demanding that their child be held back in 6th class for another year. How does the principal handle this situation?

HR MANAGEMENT ● What is the procedure for a teacher returning from career break? Who does s/he have to notify and by when? ● What is the entitlement to EPV days for teachers doing face-to-face and online courses? ● How is maternity leave entitlement calculated? ● How is SNA seniority determined? ● How should complaints against teachers (by Parents) be handled? ● Can teachers opt in/ opt out of yard supervision/ agreed duties? RECRUITMENT ● Should a temporary post that is being upgraded to a permanent post be advertised? ● Does the Board of Management have to re-advertise and re-interview for a temporary post? ● Can a deputy principal take up a resource post/ shared resource post? ● What are the rates of pay for a secretary, and what are their entitlements? ● If someone asks for their interview marks, how much information are they entitled to? ● Do you need to sign a contract with a part-time resource teacher for 4 hours a week? ● What is the structure of the interview panel when interviewing an SNA? Can one of the 3 be the Deputy Principal as she is also on the BoM? ADMINISTRATION ● What is the procedure regarding pupil information when they transfer to another school either primary & secondary? ● School had to close due to ESB works in the area, does the school have to make up the time? ● For how long must records be kept and who has the right to access these records? ● How many release days is a principal entitled to? ● Is assembly time mandatory? Can teachers do assembly in their own classrooms? BOARD OF MANAGEMENT ● Should school have to pay water charges? ● Can a Principal claim the allowance for Secretary to the Board of Management if (s)he doesn’t physically take the minutes?

PRINCIPAL’S ROLE ● How to divide pupils in a multi-grade class INCLUSION ● What is the procedure if the principal is unhappy with the performance of the SNA? ● Are SNAs assigned to a specific child or can they be moved within the school? ● Will a child lose their special needs allocation if they are changed from a low to high incidence? ● What duties are appropriate for an SNA? SCHOOL POLICIES ● Should a copy of a policy be shown to everyone that asks to see it (Parents, PA, BOM, etc?) ● Is Garda Clearance required for all staff, including those on work experience? ● Does the school have the right to protect teachers and other children from a disruptive or violent pupil? ● Is a school expected to provide before/after school supervision? ● What is the minimum level of supervision in the school yard during breaks?

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My first weeks as a new Principal by Jim Mc Gee, Principal, Monastery NS, Ardee, Co. Louth I am writing this article as I approach a 25th year reunion of the Carysfort class of ‘84 on the weekend of the 17th of October. Or indeed as a former college classmate pointed out to me that it was in fact a 28th year reunion as we had entered teacher training in 1981. He felt I was being rather optimistic and wondered if I had looked in the mirror lately! It will be interesting to see at my reunion how many of this generation of teachers climbed the ladder out of the trenches, blew their whistle and beckoned the troops forward. This anecdote provides me with the opportunity to reflect on my journey to Monastery NS, Ardee, County Louth and to reflect on the experience of my new role as Principal. I commenced teaching in St Joseph’s NS, Dundalk, a disadvantaged status school, in 1984 and was a member of the staff for 16 years. I worked for 7 of those years in special needs and had a keen interest in technology. In 1999 I was seconded as an ICT Advisor to the NCTE and was based at Monaghan Education Centre for 9 years. My secondment was terminated unexpectedly by NCTE late in June 2008 and I returned to St Joseph’s as a learning support teacher for one year. In June 2009 I applied for and was appointed as the Principal of Monastery NS. I formally met with my staff at the end of June and was delighted with the warm reception I received. In particular, my Deputy Principal, who had acted up as Principal for two years, has been most supportive. He went beyond the call of duty and met me several times during the summer to brief me on the administration of the school. Looking back, I believe that my experience of working initially as a teacher in a disadvantaged area and of subsequently managing an ICT support service for 2,500 primary and postprimary teachers provided me with invaluable management experience for the role of Administrative Principal. I certainly feel that teachers who work in disadvantaged areas are gaining unique career experiences and perspectives that provide the foundation blocks of leadership. They, more than any other group of teachers, should not fear the challenges that leadership presents. There certainly was also a great advantage in visiting schools in my role as

ICT advisor over the nine years. I was privileged to see many highly competent primary school leaders as they went about their work and was fortunate to have them share with me some of the challenges that they were facing on a dayto-day basis. Monastery NS in Ardee town is a 12-teacher school with a current enrolment of 211 boys. I am most fortunate in that the school has just undergone a €3 million rebuild programme that has provided the community with a 21st century school building. However, there are other challenges to be faced to make it a centre for 21st century teaching and learning. We need up to date technology such as PCs, interactive whiteboards and software. The entire school community has commenced fund-raising efforts to achieve this goal. Like many others, we lost a special duties post as a result of a retirement and this poses an additional challenge. As a school staff we are also focussing many of our efforts towards an official opening day some time in May 2010.

I’m glad to have the first month over and to have overcome the tsunami of activities that comes the way of all new principals. During the summer I visited the school on a regular basis and began the familiarisation process that comes with being appointed not only from outside the school but also from outside the town. I enrolled in IPPN’s online course Ciall Ceannaithe which provided a great grounding for a newly appointed principal and kept the mind ticking over during the summer months. I was busy in the school the last week of August and, in particular, I realised the problem that “flú na muc” would pose having had previous experience as an ICT Advisor of organising and postponing ICT course schedules during the foot and mouth crisis in the northeast.We put our swine flu measures in place and awaited the plague that hand sanitizer salesmen would have you believe was coming to extinguish the light of mankind! Word of course spread that I was in the school and I had several visitors including parents,

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support agencies, clergy, salesmen and a local secondary school principal. The impact of cutbacks was immediately felt by parents in the first few days of school. Some parents were simply not aware that the book grant was now gone and no longer available.The situation was exacerbated by the fact that the local second level school had DEIS band 2 status and had retained its book grant. Families now faced a situation where some of their children got free books at second level but those attending primary did not. Some of my colleagues with schools in north Louth have also informed me that they are losing children to schools in the north where it seems that everything is free. I’m glad to have the first month over and to have overcome the tsunami of activities that comes the way of all new Principals. The first staff meeting, the first BoM meeting and the first meeting with the parents’ association are all now in the near past. And like all great waves there is only one course to plot and that is to paddle quickly right towards it and try to get over it. Over the last month I have benefited greatly from IPPN support, both at national level via the mailing lists and at county level when I attended our county AGM. Many local Principals from Monaghan, Louth and Meath have also gone out of their way to call to wish me the best of luck and also to inquire what the best priced interactive whiteboard on the market is! I have also attended Misneach in-service over two days at Monaghan Education Centre that was excellent in its content and delivery. The Education Centre, under the direction of Jimmy McGeough, was helpful as always and I trust that the entire Education Centre network will continue to flourish for the professional benefit of all teachers. At a recent Misneach in-service day one of the speakers requested that we take a photograph of ourselves now at the beginning of our tenure as Principals and again at the end of the first year. It seemed an ominous suggestion and for this reason I’m glad that the class of ‘84 from Carysfort are meeting this second month of my principalship rather than next year!


Principals’ Professional Briefing Days Following very successful Briefing Days in Mayo and Donegal in 2008, IPPN held similar events in Cork and Dublin in September 2009. The HSE, NCSE, SESS, DES Inspectorate and Medmark outlined their services to the 400 Principals in attendance.

MEDMARK Dr Robert Ryan ● Fitness to teach

The following is a synopsis of their presentations, all of which are available on www.ippn.ie in the Events section under Principals Professional Briefing Days.

● Procedures

CHILD PROTECTION Blair McClure in Cork; Bernard Gloster in Dublin ● Definitions and categories of child abuse

● 2008 statistics.

● Reasons for making a report; grounds for making a report

● Benefits of assessments ● Teachers’ occupational health service ● Criteria for assessment ● Types of assessments ● Appeals process ● Report from Medmark ● Confidentiality

DES INSPECTORATE Deirdre Mathews ● Purpose of WSE ● WSE in the wider context

● The reporting procedure and HSE roles

● WSE models and supports

● Dealing with uncertainty; legal protection

● Engagement with WSE

● Possible outcomes and consequences for schools

● Role of principals in the probation of NQTs.

● Position of schools in supporting children ● Children First guidelines ● Confidentiality and anonymity; feedback to schools ● Sharing information with parents. CHILD GUIDANCE Dr Maura Delaney in Cork ● Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) ● Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Services (CAPS) ● Bio-phychosocial model ● 4 tiers of service ● Access to medical practitioners ● Steps in accessing help. SESS Joan Crowley-O’Sullivan in Cork; Seán O’Leary in Dublin ● Signposts resource pack for teachers ● Cahbair newsletter ● Applications for funding ● Website resources.

NCSE Nuala McDonnell (Cork) ● Role/functions of the SENO ■ Allocation of resource hours/SNAs ■ Applications for transport ■ Assistive technology applications ■ Appropriate education settings ● SENO structure ● Legislation ● Low incidence resource hours ● Purpose of the SNA and allocation of SNAs to schools. IPPN – LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT RESOURCES Virginia O’Mahony ● School policies ● Curriculum plans ● Administration templates ● FAQs ● Mailing lists ● Challenges of Principals; how can IPPN help.

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IPPN County Network AGMs IPPN County Network AGMs were held in each county during September and October. The following are the main points covered. The presentation is available to download from www.ippn.ie under Events – County Network AGM. LEADERSHIP – SUSTAINING STAFF MORALE ● Positive leadership ● Discussion on impacts over which staff

have little/no control and those which staff can take control of or influence ● Taking action with staff.

TEMPORARY TEACHER CONTRACTS ● Contract of Indefinite Duration (CID) ● Fixed-term contract ● Specific-purpose contract ● Substitute teachers ● Merit vs. Seniority; Legal advice and best

practice. IN-SCHOOL MANAGEMENT ● Circular 22/2009 ● Moratorium ● Review of duties of current posts &

redistribution. SEN & NEPS ● General Allocation ● SNA Review

● Scheme for Commissioning

Psychological Assessments (SCPA). MEDMARK – TEACHER MEDICAL ASSESSMENTS ● Benefits ● When are assessments required ● Types of assessment – occupational ● ● ● ●

health, pre-employment, ill-health retirement Criteria for assessment – discretionary and non-discretionary Medmark report Appeals process Confidentiality.

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 userfriendly website designed by Principals for Principals ● Advertising a vacancy is a short process with clear on-screen instructions.

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Leadership in Action School Principal and Chorister Ian Packham Ian Packham is Administrative Principal of Kildare Place School in Rathmines, Dublin. Part of me had always thought that somewhere down the line I’d like to be a Principal. Not yet though; I wanted to concentrate on what I enjoyed most – being a teacher. Being a proud Cork man, (although the accent is well hidden now) I never had any difficulties with the gift of the gab – it seemed a natural progression that I would take up a career that included plenty of talking. My first teaching post was in Rathfarnham Parish National School where I taught for 7 years. It was, and still is, the most wonderful place and although very happy there I began to get that “seven year itch” and sought something a bit different. So in a very whirlwind few months I suddenly found myself being an Arts Cuiditheóir for the PCSP. I remained in this position for two years, loving the opportunity of travelling to different schools everyday, meeting wonderful teachers and seeing how different each school is. I discovered how much I enjoyed working with people and witnessing so many excellent Principals really gave me the desire to head for the same role. As they say it’s funny the way things work out! After two years with PCSP, the principalship of Kildare Place School was advertised.KPS school,as it is called, was the “model” school for the Church of Ireland College of Education – the college I myself attended – and for the last 6 years I have worked as a member of the part-time lecturing staff. It seems to be a pattern of whirlwinds in my life and before I knew it I had received a letter offering me the position.

year’s events will be singing in the National Concert Hall in June.We have also entered the Sligo Choral Festival. As we say in school, you can never have too many trophies on the shelf! In a fit of madness last year I was elected as the Chairperson for the choir – at the time, in my innocence I looked forward to being a spokesperson for such a wonderful group. Very soon I realised I had just become a Principal of another type of school – suddenly my Tuesday night of fun was now filled with politics, moaning, problem-solving and organising. How did I let that happen!? Although I loved the public role and relish any chance to make a speech, I learnt a real life lesson. Sometimes we really do just need to switch off. And so I served my term and delightfully handed the role on to my best friend (I’m getting one less present this Christmas!) and went back to doing what I enjoyed most – singing. Already this year I look forward to Tuesday nights – I meet my friends, always tell them school is wonderful and then get on with the singing. It’s a chance to be myself and not to have to sort out anyone else’s problems. I can forget the stressful situations and for those few hours have a ball. Mind you, switching off is not so easy. Apparently we now need someone to source a new men’s uniform – guess who got landed with that job!

Certainly as the saying goes “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans!” And so, last September I started as Principal of a 12-teacher school.The very steep learning curve began! Thinking I could take a year to settle in and find my feet, you can imagine the surprise when we were informed that we were to also have a WSE!! Thankfully my VHI was fully paid up and I felt confident that we as a school would be ready. Truth be told, we all got on fine and emerged all the better for it. NEVER MIND THE BIG SWITCH – IT’S TIME TO SWITCH OFF! Looking back now over the past year it’s hard to believe that so much has happened. As we all know,being a Principal is one of those roles that you truly never know what is going to greet you when you arrive in the morning. So what about a work/life balance? With so much going on in my life how do I “switch off ”? Well, for me personally rather than switch off, I like to switch on to something else. I like to sing! Music has always been a huge passion of mine and I have always been involved in organisations singing or conducting at some point.About 5 years ago I joined Glória Choir and,without fail,every Tuesday night we meet to sing.We have a group of about 50 members from all walks of life and the great thing is that when you go in the door to rehearsal you can just forget all the troubles you have had that day. We are all familiar with the phrase that singing is good for the soul. I challenge anyone to sing “The Rhythm of Life” with 50 people and not feel good after it! 15 years ago Glória was originally set up as a small choir to promote a positive setting for gay and lesbian people of Dublin. From that small acorn we have now travelled across Ireland and further afield, competed in Montreal and Miami in world music festivals, and, just as important, jumping on the bus to head to the Cork Choral festival or the New Ross Choral festival. This year is our 15th anniversary and the highlight of the PAG E 2 7


Leadership+ Issue 53 November 2009  
Leadership+ Issue 53 November 2009