ISSUE 67 ● MARCH 2012
+ Leadership THE PROFESSIONAL VOICE OF PRINCIPALS
The Establishment of an ASD Preschool Taking over as Deputy Principal…
Small Schools are in Budget Shock The absence of any vision for small schools other than amalgamations and closures demonstrates a lack of understanding of the importance of small schools and the role they play in rural Ireland. With thanks to
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Reflections of Conference 2012 Late Night Farewell Introducing School Self-Evaluation Teacher education: School placement and teachers as mentors
Small Schools are in Budget Shock by Seán Cottrell Small schools are still in budget shock. The strategy of annually increasing class size, making teaching and learning gradually more difficult, is like slow-boiling a lobster from cold water. The absence of any vision for small schools other than amalgamations and closures demonstrates a lack of understanding of the importance of small schools and the role they play in rural Ireland.
Sadly, small schools are now being coerced into amalgamations, because the Department sees small schools as being too numerous to communicate with and too small to be financially viable. Since our foundation in 2000, IPPN has been a strong advocate for small schools. Our policy has been, and continues to be, that small schools are proven to be educationally viable. If small schools close, hundreds of rural communities will disappear. Other minority communities such as Church of Ireland schools, in rural and urban settings, will be severely affected.
centralisation of management and administration, while retaining the teaching and learning in the existing schools. In an Irish context, this would mean that a cluster of two or three very small schools would agree to work over a number of years towards a formal federation. The physical buildings would not be touched. There would be one board of management, one budget, one staff, a full-time shared administrator, a full-time shared caretaker and one administrative principal. There would be one roll number and one point of contact for the DES and other agencies. These changes would be phased in over an agreed timeframe. Such change might require a carrot and stick approach. However, the Department’s approach seems to be all stick and no carrot. The main advantage of this option is that the aspects of the school that matter most to parents are retained and those that matter least are centralised. This actually works; we have seen it in action. We must learn from research and indeed from the real experiences of other countries. Seán’s full speech text is available on www.ippn.ie under CPD - IPPN Annual Principals’ Conference 2012 – Keynote Speakers
Back in 2005, IPPN anticipated pressure on small schools. Following extensive research, we published ‘Breacadh Ré Nua do Scoileanna Bheaga – New Horizons for Smaller Schools’. It detailed the challenges ahead but more importantly outlined a variety of alternative models other than forced amalgamations and closures. Sadly, small schools are now being coerced into amalgamations, because the Department sees small schools as being too numerous to communicate with and too small to be financially viable. Minister, if it weren’t for our parents, who provide approximately one third of the running costs of primary schools, your department would have three thousand three hundred financially unviable schools. Most of the very small schools are physically in good condition because local community pride has played a major role. University presidents are a powerful lobby in seeking to increase their funding. Funnily enough, I can’t ever recall being invited to a university cake sale. There is certainly an argument to be made that the governance structures of small schools need revision, and that certain economies of scale can be made. IPPN has researched how primary education is provided in remote areas of Northern Sweden, Queensland, Catalonia and Nova Scotia. A common feature in all these areas was the
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Legal Diary by David Ruddy, B.L.
Compulsory Registration and Continual Professional Development are the main ingredients in Education (Amendment) Bill 2012 The purpose of this Bill is to amend and tidy up aspects of the Education Act 1998 and the Teaching Council Act 2001. Minister Quinn introduced this Bill in the Seanad last month. The following are the main points 1. The Act amends the definition of ‘support services’ in the Education Act 1998 to delete any reference to speech therapy. This effectively transfers such responsibility from the Department of Education and Skills to that of the Department of Health and, by extension, to the HSE. 2. The Bill abolishes the Education Disadvantage Committee. This Committee last sat in 2005. 3. This Bill facilitates the commencement of Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act 2001. Only registered teachers will have a right of access to payment. Anyone not registered will need to register without delay. The Bill provides for the transfer of information held by the Council in relation to registered teachers to the Minister. 4. However in exceptional circumstances, such as those set out below, unregistered teachers may be employed: a. Urgent, temporary, or occasional staffing needs of a school b. The existence of a contract for indefinite duration (CID) c. The teacher’s application for registration is pending at the time of his/her appointment to a teaching position. The above circumstances are in recognition of the need: a. To facilitate the urgent, temporary or occasional needs of schools
b. The desirability of minimising of disruption to the education of students. These exceptional circumstances are contingent on the following conditions being met: a. No registered teacher is available to take up the position in question a. A limit is placed on the length of time the teacher is employed in the position a. The person employed has certain minimum qualifications a. The Minister consents to the employment of such a person The school furnishes evidence to the Minister that it has been unable to employ a registered teacher in the place of a registered teacher.
This Bill facilitates the commencement of Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act 2001. Only registered teachers will have a right of access to payment. Sections 23 and 24 of the Education Act 1998 are being amended to provide legal certainty on the capacity of the Minister for Education and Skills and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to ensure that redeployment arrangements for teachers can continue in a situation that teachers who are surplus are redeployed to vacancies in other schools while at the same time ensuring that the Department can fully honour the commitment in the Croke Park Agreement which provides for flexible redeployment arrangements instead of redundancy.
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To achieve this objective the bill proposes consultation with management bodies and unions rather than agreement with them as in the past. This means no individual party can impose a veto on necessary change. Section 24 of the Education Act 1998 as amended in this Bill is peppered with reference to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.The appointment procedures, numbers, and terms and conditions of employment ‘shall be determined from time to time by the Minister of Education & Skills with the concurrence of the Minister for Public Expenditure and reform’. The remuneration of the principal, teachers and other staff will require the concurrence of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. Section 23 of the Education Act 1998 has a revised text. It deals in detail with the role of the principal.This is a ‘housekeeping’ exercise given that the original Act is 14 years old.There is no evidence of any change in the role of the principal. An amendment of Section 33 of the Teaching Council Act 2001 will allow the Teaching Council to make regulations for the purpose of renewal of registration. The conditions of renewal may include conditions such as the completion of continuing programmes of education and accredited training. The suspension and dismissal of principals and teachers as dealt with in section 24(3) of the Education Act 1998 is amended to remove the necessity for agreement between the Minister and management bodies and unions. The Minister needs only consult under the amendments contained in the Bill. Again no individual party has a right of veto. This should
give greater legal certainty to Circular 60/09 which provides the procedures for the suspension and dismissal of principals and teachers. In a separate development, the Maynooth Statutes 264#2 have been abolished. This decision is effective from January 2012. The Statute stated that ‘To avoid prejudice against the management of schools a clerical manager is forbidden to dismiss any teacher or assistant or to give notice of dismissal to them until the bishop is notified, so that the teacher, if he/she so desires, may be heard in his or her own defence by the bishop’. In a statement from the Irish Episcopal Conference it was acknowledged that the procedures outlined in Circular 60/09 have superseded all disciplinary procedures in existence prior to section 24(3) of the Education Act 1998. PASSAGE OF THE BILL THROUGH THE OIREACHTAS The Bill has been published and was introduced in the Seanad on Wednesday January 25th by the Minister. A debate was scheduled for approximately 2 hours. Senators now have the opportunity to put down amendments.The Bill will then be introduced to the Dáil. After debate there, it will transfer to the Dáil Select Committee on Education. After consideration by the Committee it returns to the Dail for a final stage report.The Dáil votes to accept and then it’s off to the President for signature.
Principals should be concerned that a majority of teachers and ancillary staff still have not been vetted for child protection purposes. The Committee members include the chairperson Damien English, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Sean Crowe, John Lyons, Nicky Mc Fadden, Brendan Smith, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, and Tom Fleming. Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and
Mary Mitchell O’Connor are primary school principals. OBSERVATIONS The publication of the Bill is welcome and in particular the commencement of Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act 2001. This will ensure that only fully-qualified and registered teachers will be entitled to teach in schools. However, principals should be concerned that a majority of teachers and ancillary staff still have not been vetted for child protection purposes. The Teaching Council is set to make renewal of registration conditional on continuing professional development as it sees fit. This will mean that all teachers will need to undertake continuing professional development in order to have registration renewed. This will bring the teaching profession in line with other professions. Registration is automatically renewed without such conditions at present. The Statute of Maynooth 264#2 was abolished in January 2012.This recognises the central role of the procedures as outlined in Circular 0060/09 in relation to the suspension and dismissal of Principals and Teachers as provided for in Section 24(3) of the Education Act 1998. SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANT FAILS IN SCHOOL FALL CLAIM Circuit Court Judge Jacqueline Linnane January 2012 Philomena Allen V Cabinteely Community School A 50 year old special needs assistant lost a claim for damages for a fall at her workplace. She alleged that the fall was on a wet floor at the entrance to a classroom. The Judge stated that the claimant had failed to prove negligence against the school. The plaintiff was ordered to pay the school’s legal costs. BOARD OF MANAGEMENT PAYS SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGES IN FOOD POISONING CASE
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FACTS There was a staff meeting after school hours. Sandwiches had been ordered in as the meeting was late in the day. An outside caterer was engaged and supplied sandwiches which were delivered to the school in advance of the meeting. The sandwiches were eaten and after the meeting one of the teachers became very ill and was diagnosed with food poisoning. The teacher concerned suffered a stroke within a few days.This was linked to the food poisoning event which had left the injured partly severely dehydrated, which is a recognised means of increasing clotting tendencies and can predispose someone towards a stroke. Investigations confirmed the sandwiches were the source of food poisoning and liability rested with the caterer. However, it was revealed that the caterer did not have any insurance and in addition claimed to not have the means to deal with the claim.
Investigations confirmed the sandwiches were the source of food poisoning and liability rested with the caterer. As a result, the Board of Management was included in the High Court proceedings issued and every effort was made to prove that they were to blame, even by a small percentage. In law, if the Plaintiff succeeded in their claim and proved that the Board were just 1% responsible, the Board on foot of this judgement, being fully insured, would have to pay the entire claim and then be left to recover their outlay from the codefendant, being the caterer in this case. This is known as the 1% rule. The matter settled eventually with the Board of Management, through their Custodian School Protection Policy, having to contribute 50% to the settlement. (Source: Allianz plc) OBSERVATION Boards of Management have to ensure that any contractor used by them has their own insurance and it should be checked out fully to ensure that it is adequate and current.
Principal Advice Positivity in Action by Angela Lynch, Principal Advice Manager ‘A positive thinker does not refuse to recognise the negative he refuses to dwell on it. Positive thinking is a form o thought which habitually looks for the best results from the worst conditions.’ Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking I don’t have to tell you about all the negatives facing schools and principals, yet I think that we left our recent IPPN principals’ conference feeling hope for the future and determined to bring that hope to our school communities. In the days and months ahead, when it may be difficult to keep hope alive and equally difficult to maintain a positive atmosphere in school, you might think back to some of the moments that contributed to the positive uplifting time we spent together at Citywest. Equally I hope that the many principals who watched on the web got a sense of that positivity. You may remember some of these moments: ● Being greeted by the many retired principals who welcomed everyone with a smile and a willingness to share their wisdom and experience ● Meeting colleagues over the course of the 3 days and setting up networks throughout the country ● Sharing difficulties with experienced principals and not feeling so isolated ● The wonderful Ben Waldron who inspired and challenged us to reflect and get to know ourselves, in order to become better leaders.What an actor!
● The laughter and fun we shared, especially on Friday night ● The very worthwhile seminars, whose only drawback was our inability to attend them all ● The inspirational keynote speakers, whose messages will long remain with us. You, of course, have your own sources of inspiration which will encourage you to always be positive, from classroom to playground, during school and after school. There is always a positive way to respond to any situation. I once asked a former principal, who had gone through difficult times in her school, how she presented herself in such a positive way each day. She said that, having looked at a dismal face in the mirror each morning, she admonished herself by saying that no one wanted or needed to see that face.Then having put on her red lipstick, she left the house with a smile to face the day. Consider this week how best you can support yourself. It may be through being part of a Support Group of principals, reading some inspirational literature, finding ways of getting to know yourself and your style as a leader, asking for help when needed or any other means which uplifts your spirits and gives you a positive outlook. Consider how fun and laughter is a part of your school this week.
Taking over as Deputy Principal… by Margaret Mahon, Deputy Principal, St Conleth’s Infant School, Newbridge, Co. Kildare I was fortunate enough to be offered the post of Deputy Principal in early October 2011. St Conleth’s Infant school is a twenty five teacher school, catering for 430 pupils from junior infant stage to first class. With scarcely three months under my belt, I am ill-equipped to write this article. However, as the Editor refuses to take no for an answer and with apologies in advance to those of you who have more experience than I (most of you in fact) here goes… The context for taking on the baton was a very strong culture set by previous management; of high standards, a great team, where children were the key stakeholders and change was a constant. Both the previous Principal, Ann Dempsey and the Deputy Principal Mary Moran retired in August 2011. Our new and excellent Principal, Margaret Hartnett, was appointed in September last year. A good working relationship between a Principal and Deputy Principal based on trust is essential for effective management. The role of the Principal is to lead the teaching and learning of the school.The role of the Deputy Principal is to support the Principal in this role. The role is not necessarily defined by a list of duties, though it might be. In our case it is more of a willingness to
share the workload burden, as and when necessary, more one of supporting the Principal as she goes about her daily work. The economic environment brings its added challenges. Teacher colleagues have seen their salaries cut significantly and yet management are asking more of them, in many ways appealing to their better nature. In times of austerity this means leading by example more than ever. It gives me great hope for this nation of ours, that so many are prepared to shoulder the burden in these difficult times.The vocation is real. The objectives and goals of St Conleth’s Infant School will be adapted to reflect new ambitions, new constraints and challenges. The culture of the school may even be deepened as colleagues continually aspire to genuinely enhance the learning experience of our children. This becomes a virtuous cycle with teacher colleagues deriving emotional and intellectual fulfilment from new challenges set by themselves, which in turn drives an ever better learning experience. And when my time comes to move on, the best legacy I can leave will be that my incumbent will be as fortunate to work in a great school, with great colleagues, all working within a strong cultural context, with the learning experience of the children centre stage.
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The Establishment of an ASD Preschool by Emmett Breathnach, Principal of Scoil Charthaigh Naofa and Mochuda Preschool for ASD, Rahan, Tullamore, Offaly In March 2011 I found myself in the situation where I was going to lose a teacher as a result of being one pupil below the cut-off the previous September. Through the grapevine I heard that there was a need for an ASD preschool class in mid-Offaly. I explored the possibility through making a call to my local SENO regarding the prospect of locating the class in our school, thus solving two problems. I was informed of the need to send a letter from the board of management expressing an interest in locating the class in the school as it was apparent that there was a need for more than the six places that would be available. A board meeting was convened and in the interim I did a bit of research. I relayed to the Board that the pupil teacher ratio was 6:1 with SNA support on the basis of 3:1. The preschool would operate for a full infant day with SNAs sanctioned on that basis. I would also have to employ escorts for the buses. Following discussion, a proposal that a two classroom unit be established was agreed upon and the letter was sent to the SENO. The Board named this new facility ‘Mochuda’, after a local saint to give it a separate identity to the mainstream school and amended our mainstream enrolment policy to incorporate admission. In ‘Mochuda’, the aim is to prepare children for mainstreaming in their local school or for placement in an appropriate autism-specific setting.
materials that we could use for the children. Being April, the next big issue was the admissions and discharge policy. An appeal to IPPN networking for sample policies saw the cut, copy and paste tool on the Microsoft Word go bananas. We then arranged our Admissions meeting, including the SENO (in an advisory capacity), members of the Early Intervention Team of the HSE, staff members in the unit, and myself. The role of the SENO in getting the health professionals together was, and continues to be, very important. Our 12 spaces were filled and within a short time the 2 teacher posts were sanctioned.
Meeting teachers’ needs was the next learning curve to be scaled. I contacted local schools who catered for children with special needs and they were very helpful in allowing our teachers to visit.
The pre-school would operate for a full infant day with SNAs sanctioned on that basis. I would also have to employ escorts for the buses.
Training and finance was now tackled.We were given a ‘Start Up’ grant up €6500 per class to fund building alterations. Teaching units, an adjustable changing bench and software were funded from specific grants and good communication with the SENO ensured that if we were entitled to anything she helped us get it. Full funding for a multi-sensory room was not available with just €7000 being granted. The Board stepped up to the plate by funding the shortfall with refunds from capitation being made over time. Since September 2011 we have had a few surprise donations and we have our loan nearly paid off. Again the positivity in the community was evident.
The positive attitude of the Board was mirrored within the teaching team in the school who were eager to take on this new exciting challenge. Soon, learning support rooms were vacated, the principal’s office became a learning support room and the secretary granted squatters’ rights to myself within her office. A letter to parents was then drafted explaining the proposal and I was contacted with many offers of toys and
Meeting teachers’ needs was the next learning curve to be scaled. I contacted local schools who catered for children with special needs and they were very helpful in allowing our teachers to visit, spend time and learn with them. I also contacted the Special Education Support Service and arranged for the teachers to attend Autism specific courses which allowed them to grow into their new role. Finally, some of the €13000 we received as a PAG E 7
set-up grant was used to pay for extra training that we felt was required for the teachers. The SESS continue to offer excellent support. We were granted four SNAs for Mocuda in June, advertised and hired. I have found that the SNAs’ role here has been vital. We were very lucky that we recruited great SNAs who had experience of autism and have been great in supporting the teachers. They also afford continuity to the children when the teachers are away with the SESS. It is important to note the Department’s interpretation of Circular 19/2011 in relation to the granting of administrative status to principals of smaller schools who have an autism unit attached. It was my belief that by having 2 classes I would be granted admin status. However, the DES interpretation of an autism unit is one that consists of 2 to 3 classes with a commitment to the opening of a third class. It was only when we committed to the opening of a third class that we were granted an administrative principal’s post.
We were very lucky that we recruited great SNAs who had experience of autism and have been great in supporting the teachers. They also afford continuity to the children when the teachers are away with the SESS. I spent the summer of 2011 readying the school for the grand opening. Materials and equipment were ordered, classrooms converted, staff hired, meetings held and cups of coffee consumed. We are open over four months now and it is as if the unit and the children were always there. The preschool children and mainstream children integrate seamlessly.There is increased work on a day to day basis as a result of the opening of Mochuda Preschool. However, I am enjoying it and leading a school such as ours with Mochuda is very rewarding.
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ICT Tips ICTs in Irish schools today by Dónal Ó Ciaráin, Principal of Rushbrooke NS, Cobh, Co. Cork ICTs have indeed come a long way since I began with a BBC B and Master Compact back in the day. Floppy disks (8”, 5” and even 3.5”) are now but a distant memory. Who now remembers how to use an EPROM reader? It was leading edge stuff in 1980s classrooms.What is widely used today and what are the emerging trends In ICTs? The following is a (nonexhaustive) list. FOR THE TEACHER ● A surround sound system with a throat microphone. Available now for as little as €800 per classroom, they preserve the teacher’s voice, allow him/her to speak in a normal tone and have been shown (in New Zealand studies) to reduce the incidence of children requiring Learning Support by 25%-30%. ● An interactive whiteboard and projector ● Most schools now issue teachers with school laptops / tablets for use with the IWB ● A visualiser – an invaluable device which allows you project any page or 3D object on to a whiteboard - ideal for showing the complexity of knitting! FOR CHILDREN ● A number of PCs connected to the internet and a printer ● iPods and iPads / Tablets are beginning to appear in classrooms. They will replace PCs and laptops over the next 5 years. They come in boxes of 25-30 which allow
for charging and for synchronised software configuration. Thus you can have the same material on every child’s device. Will they replace textbooks and workbooks? ● Student response systems have been adopted by some schools to monitor the responses of students to questions and problems. FOR THE CLASSROOM ● A digital telephone to allow communication with colleagues and the office. These can act as a public address system for urgent / emergency announcements. FOR THE SCHOOL ● School server to allow for the creation of a LAN (Local Area Network) to provide teacher and classroom e-mail accounts and a dedicated Teacher Site where all policies and planning documents can be accessed by staff. ● Digital cameras – for still images and video - with tripods and remote control devices to allow for the creation of multimedia presentations ● Colour printer – for controlled use, as colour toner is still expensive ● Digital photocopier which can copy, scan and print from a USB stick, or directly from the classroom. FOR THE OFFICE ● The principal and secretary require good
quality laptops which can synch with the server daily and which can remotely access the server via the internet. Software is the key to an organised and streamlined school office. Must-have packages include: ● School Management Database Software. There are a number of good software packages now in the Irish market. Choose carefully. Compare the main contenders carefully to ensure that you get a comprehensive package – pupil data, staff communication, on-line roll book and automatic Leabhar Tinrimh generator, Census Return Generator and more. Above all, ensure that the company you choose can support you at the other end of a phone at all times. Remember: it’s easy to switch between them! You should also invest in a text to parents service. ● Finance Package. Choose one to match the size of your school and budget. There are a few which have been designed especially for schools. Commercial ones can be adapted. Ensure that you can extract the information you want quickly and in a manner which is useful and which can be incorporated into a report e.g. in Excel format. ● Scanner and OCR software. Using OCR (Optical Character Reader) software and a scanner allows for the scanning of documents into MS Word or other word processing packages and thus to create your own documents. It saves a lot of typing.
Michael Fullan Books IPPN has a limited number of Michael Fullans publications available for purchase. ● The Moral Imperative Realised €20 (plus €2.50 p&p) ● All Systems Go: The Change Imperative for Whole System Reform €20 (plus €2.50 p&p) ● Motion Leadership: The Skinny on Becoming Change Savvy €20 (plus €2.50 p&p)
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● The Moral Imperative of School Leadership €20 (plus €2.50 p&p) ● The Challenge of Change: Start School Improvement Now! Second Edition €30 (plus €2.50 p&p) ● Special Offer: Purchase all 5 titles for €100 (plus €5 p&p) If you would like to purchase any of the above titles please send a cheque (including p&p) to IPPN Support Office, Glounthaune, Co. Cork.
IPPN Annual Principals’
‘Forging a Future for those who matter most – all of our children’ by Gerry Murphy As the leaders of Irish primary schools, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that all the children in our care have equal access to quality teaching and learning in our schools. The future society we forge for them must have at its core a sense of self-worth, community, inclusion, creativity, equality, justice and respect. The challenge is to forge a sense of pride in who we are and to inspire real hope for the future for children who depend on us and for our colleagues.
It's important to acknowledge also that there are many other issues facing school leaders at this time – in special schools, gaelscoileanna, mainstream schools, in fact in all our schools. I have witnessed positive, proactive leadership on two watershed occasions in recent weeks. I was with the principals, parents and community leaders from Tallaght, Dublin 1, Dublin 8, Waterford agus muintir na scoileanna Gaeltachta in Dáil Éireann last Wednesday week. That night we witnessed the beginnings of Múintir na hÉireann getting off their knees to fight for their children. I was privileged also to have been in Dunmanway on Monday last week when the community of West Cork sought the right of their children to attend the 2, 3 and 4 teacher schools serving their communities since before Famine Times. I congratulate those school and community leaders who have lit the torch of hope in Disadvantaged and Rural communities. DEIS and smaller schools share one and the same issue – that of cherishing all the children of our nation equally. It's important to acknowledge also that there are many other issues facing school leaders at this time – in special schools, gaelscoileanna, mainstream schools, in fact in all our schools. I
have been a principal for 32 years and I know that many of your schools may have lost, or may be under threat to lose teachers and SNAs. In my own school we have lost 8 teachers and 3 SNAs. It was one of the most difficult times in my role as school leader – telling someone they have lost their job is never easy, nor is dealing with the educational disadvantage it creates for children whose future we are trying to forge. The job of school principal seems to be getting more and more challenging. In most schools, staff morale has taken a further hit over the past 12 months. IPPN is very well aware of this and will continue to inform, challenge, and support principals, as we have always done. Those of you who were appointed as Principals since 2000 will not really be aware of life before IPPN was formed, with all the supports and services that are now available. When I became principal of a new school, St. Joseph’s National School, in Dundalk, there were a number of things that helped me as a school leader in the early days. We were very lucky to have a truly enlightened Chairperson who encouraged and advised us to visit parents and meet with them in their homes. We forged strong links with parents and the community and it gave me a first-hand insight into what disadvantage actually means. We all have hope for our children’s futures, but experience has taught me that disadvantage and poverty consistently drain that hope. I firmly believe that home, school and community cooperation and intervention are critical to counterbalancing socio-economic disadvantage. Another crucial development for me as a maturing principal was the more formal training and professional development that became available. Professional development on the integration of ICT into the teaching and learning process was for many their first encounter with professional development since teacher training days. I learned so much from the likes of the late Concepta Conaty, who drove the early ideas around HomeSchool-Community Liaison and Social PAG E 1 0
Inclusion in schools. These programmes created a culture of professional and personal development for those serving disadvantaged communities. It was the word ‘Network’ that most appealed to me when I became a member of IPPN – school leaders collaborating and working together to help each other and their schools to develop. Fellow principals became colleagues rather than competitors. These groups are the foundation stones of IPPN as a network. The network has always sought to ensure that children are at the centre of every idea, that the ‘moral imperative’ is the focus for key educational reform.
The job of school principal seems to be getting more and more challenging. In most schools, staff morale has taken a further hit over the past 12 months. As an advocate and education partner, IPPN will encourage you to promote the literacy and numeracy strategy and to use the selfevaluation model and other reform initiatives as they emerge. But we will also continue to remind those who develop such programmes that the imposition of top-down only reform from the Department on schools will not work. Unless education reform is led in the school, it will not work. A good working relationship between all education stakeholders is vital. Together we will continue forging a future for those who matter most – all of our children. ‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’. Gerry’s full speech text is available on www.ippn.ie under CPD - IPPN Annual Principals’ Conference 2012 – Keynote Speakers
IPPN Annual Principals’
‘Education for active citizenship cannot begin early enough’ Excerpts of address by Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice at IPPN Annual Principals’ Conference 2012 at Citywest My most recent visit to a primary school was last February, in the Delta region of Bangladesh. The school, run by BRAC, a Bangladesh NGO, was for the poorest children, most of them displaced by flooding caused by a severe cyclone. The school itself was a happy and empowering place for the 35 pupils of different ages. They wanted to perform a short play for me: about how a cyclone came and they learned to cope, to seek shelter, and to rebuild their lives. As I watched these imaginative children play out the reality they have to cope with, it dawned on me that every primary school in the world should be encouraging children to respond actively to climate change.
These are challenging times for all involved in education in Ireland, as they are across all sectors of Irish society. These are challenging times for all involved in education in Ireland, as they are across all sectors of Irish society. However, we must not lose sight of the promise to ‘cherish all the children of the nation equally’. An education system that supports the vulnerable and disadvantaged and delivers equality of opportunity for all is central to a fair and just society. To state that primary level education should be a priority, in terms of investment and innovation, at a primary principal’s conference might be deemed populist but that does not make it any less true. Education for active citizenship, so that our children can shape the type of society they would choose to live in, cannot begin early enough. In these times of economic uncertainty it is not surprising that attention focuses on our immediate problems: cutbacks, debt and financial survival. In hard times it can be difficult to attend to the long term. Climate change can appear far away, in both time and space. And yet, it is not far away, it is what we are experiencing right here, right now. When respected institutions such as the OECD and the International Energy Agency, who are not
given to alarmist statements, warn that failure to face up to the problems posed by climate change could result in irreversible damage, we must all give the issue our fullest attention. What is climate justice? Climate Justice links human rights and development to achieve a human-centred approach, safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable and sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change and its resolution equitably and fairly. Climate justice is informed by science, responds to science and acknowledges the need for equitable stewardship of the world’s resources. Climate justice has a focus on people – it looks at the causes, the impacts and the solutions to the problem from a human perspective. The theme that you have chosen for this conference – ‘Forging a Future’ – could not be more apt for a climate justice perspective. Our work at the Foundation is informed by principles of climate justice, one of which seeks to ‘harness the transformative power of education for climate stewardship’. It is an acknowledgement of the fact that education has the power to equip future generations with the skills and knowledge they will need to meet the challenges that climate change poses.
The concept of ‘intergenerational justice’ is not too large a leap for a principal who may have had two generations of the same family pass through the school gate. The concept of ‘intergenerational justice’ is not too large a leap for a principal who may have had two generations of the same family pass through the school gate. Forty years from now, your fifth and sixth class students will be leading our society and making decisions that will have far-reaching implications for the generation that follows them. Why should the burden of unmanageable climate change fall on PAG E 1 1
those yet to be born when today, in 2012, we know what the consequences of our failure to act will be? I believe that our job, as citizens of the developed world is to minimise the impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable – both by reducing our own use of carbon and by supporting developing countries and communities to adapt their livelihoods, protect their resources and embrace low carbon development. This is the work of my foundation, the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice.
I believe that our job, as citizens of the developed world is to minimise the impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable. A new roadmap has been set for seriously addressing climate change; we should all play our part by putting pressure on the world’s leaders to take on their responsibilities. Equally, we must be cognisant of our own responsibilities – climate justice starts at home. The energy we use, the forms of transport we choose, the decisions we take for the economy, the degree to which we diagnose the consequences of our actions – should all be closely scrutinised. The Green Schools initiative is a wonderful environmental programme at primary level. It encourages a sense of personal responsibility among students and increases awareness of environmental issues from litter and waste to energy and biodiversity. I understand that a role on the green schools committee is akin to a T.D. being returned to the Dáil in her first outing. Children want to be part of the decision-making process and the Green Schools initiative allows them to do so, fostering a sense of citizenship that spreads beyond the school and into the wider community.
IPPN Annual Principals’
The Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship Education at St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra has just embarked on a research project which involves both a scoping study in teacher education colleges and the development of a climate justice resource for primary level. I will follow the progress of their research with interest. If education is in part the telling of stories, the story of climate justice has just begun. Stories told in primary classrooms have the potential to resonate long after the student has left the school building. They are brought home and shared with families over an evening meal and
homework. Children are important agents of change and they have an innate sense of social justice. As educational leaders you have a responsibility to tell your students the story of how climate change is affecting them, and affecting more severely children like those I saw in the Bangladesh primary school. You have a responsibility to explain the burdens and benefits of climate change and how it will impact on the enjoyment of human rights. Climate Justice is a valuable teaching project because it links the scientific aspects of climate change with the human dimensions. My friend and hero Nelson Mandela has said
that ‘education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’When you return to your schools, I encourage you to begin a discussion about climate justice in your staff rooms and in your classrooms. Finding a space for climate justice education in the primary school curriculum is your challenge. I hope that I have made a persuasive case for its inclusion and that together we will continue a conversation about climate change that focuses on the rights and needs of the most vulnerable. A link to Mrs Robinson’s full speech text is available on www.ippn.ie under CPD - IPPN Annual Principals’ Conference 2012 – Keynote Speakers
Teaching Principals’ Workshop by Micheál Rea IPPN has provided support to Teaching Principals in a variety of ways over the years. There has been research into the role, studies on smaller schools, advice on how to manage multi-grade classes and of course the excellent back up provided by the Support Office team. Last year IPPN started a pilot programme to address the practical needs of Teaching Principals. Kieran Healy, Diarmuid Hennessey and Micheál Rea, under the watchful and creative eye of Caoimhe Máirtín designed and facilitated a 3.5 hour workshop in the Support Office last April. It was very well received. The idea was that it would be developed into a five module programme to address the specific and practical needs of Teaching Principals. There is still work going on behind the scenes which will hopefully bear fruit sooner rather than later. The pilot moved to Monaghan last term
and again was very well received. Kieran Healy and I presented a shorter version of this pilot session at this year’s Principals’ Conference. We focussed on time Management, communication, making the most of release days and on managing interruptions. Both of us offered our experience of how we managed this complex role and then the participants were asked to consider how they spend their time each year. After this we worked in groups to consider what the ideal use of time should be. Two of the most important skills required were identified – the ability to delegate and the ability to say no. Setting boundaries for yourself was another tip that came up. If you set an end time to your day it can focus you to get more done and in the end you have to accept that you won’t get it all done anyway. PAG E 1 2
The quote “nothing would get done if it wasn’t for the last minute” came up more than once.
Last year IPPN started a pilot programme to address the practical needs of Teaching Principals. It was fantastic to see the positive attitude exhibited by the participants. We all know the difficulties being faced by small schools but the participants at our workshops were focussed on how they could improve their schools within the resources they have. Sometimes it is about working smarter rather than harder. The slides and resources mentioned at the workshop are on www.ippn.ie.
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Selecting and Preparing Our Future Teachers by Seán Cottrell The strongest asset in our primary schools [is] the calibre of our teachers. The most important part of the process is to select the right people from the outset. The methodologies used to select our student teachers require urgent attention. Principals feel that there is also much room for improvement to all the existing teacher training programmes. While private sector online programmes have many excellent features, it raises the question of whether a programme which is delivered primarily on-line can match the traditional campus-based, fulltime student experience in the formation of a primary teacher. I believe that we must take a radical look at how we are preparing our future teachers. It seems that student teachers were not prepared adequately, on time, for some new developments in schools, for example, the implementation of the revised curriculum. Similarly, the use of ICT as a teaching and learning tool was in place in many schools for several years before the colleges of education got on board the digital train. Principals report that newly-qualified teachers are well prepared to teach most aspects of the revised primary curriculum. However, principals also state that newly-qualified teachers have difficulty: ● communicating effectively with parents; ● teaching children with special educational needs; and ● addressing challenging behaviour. These interpersonal and intrapersonal skills – the
emotional intelligence skills – should be prerequisites for all teachers. Within the additional scope of the four-year B.Ed., I believe it is imperative that personal development becomes an integral part of initial teacher education. It cannot be left to the induction process or to schools that are already overloaded.
It seems that student teachers were not prepared adequately, on time, for some new developments in schools Understanding pathways to learning and the development of key skills in the classroom require much more focus in the colleges. In addition, the four-year B.Ed. itself presents a serious challenge for schools. The challenge of facilitating the placement of student teachers for longer periods of teaching practice cannot be underestimated. Schools and colleges of education share a collective responsibility to make teacher placement work. The directors of teaching practice in all colleges must agree on a single strategy in arranging school placements for students. They must take on board the fact that: ● Seven out of ten principals are full-time teachers; ● Multi-grade teaching is now the norm; ● All classrooms have children with special educational and language needs; and
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● That schools are operating with diminishing staff numbers and diminishing resources. New graduates are the lifeblood of many schools. It is crucial that their induction into teaching and learning is managed correctly. Teaching principals tell us that the induction of new teachers is extremely difficult owing to their own full-time teaching role. Mentoring and inducting new teachers cannot be left to chance. Serious consideration must be given to providing additional release time for teaching principals to carry out this essential leadership task. It also begs the question why no such induction programme exists for newly appointed principals. Probation is an important final quality check. It must not be lessened in any way by shoehorning it into the additional student placement time in schools. Teaching practice cannot be compared with teaching one’s own class. The probation of teachers seeking to enter the profession is a matter for the Teaching Council. It’s time the Teaching Council started spending our €90 in ways that will practically benefit the profession and stop off-loading their responsibilities on our schools. Seán’s full speech text is available on www.ippn.ie under CPD - IPPN Annual Principals’ Conference 2012 – Keynote Speakers
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CONFERENCE Sponsored by
Gala Dinner & Refreshments
We would also like to thank the following companies for their kind contributions:
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who you voted your Favourite Exhibitor at this years Education Expo. “We are delighted to be voted Favourite Exhibitor and would like to thank all the Principals who voted for us and for the feedback we’ve received on our “Blinds For Schools Scheme”.
IPPN CONFERENCE PASSPORT GIVEAWAY David O’Mahony, O’Mahony’s Booksellers (centre) with passport prize winners (left to right) Avril Bolton, St. Senan’s Primary School, Kilrush, Clare Kenny, Scoil Phrionnsias Naofa, Clara, Co. Offaly, Marcella McGovern, St Marys PS, Dungarvan and Eileen Stritch, Coachford NS, Co. Cork.
Paula O'Connor, Merlin Woods School, Galway accepts a prize of €1,000 from Joe Cashin and Sean Gaine from EBS on behalf of Rita Keaveney, Brierhill School, Castlegar.
Ciaran Whelan (left) and Alan Black (right), Allianz present Fiona Byrnes, St. Anthony’s SS, Castlebar with her prize of a tickets and accommodation for this year’s All-Ireland hurling or football final.
We would also like to thank the following contributing companies for the fantastic prizes they provided for our Passport Prize Giveaway this year:
Finally IPPN would like to thank our Education Expo exhibitors this year for their support in helping deliver our annual conference and contributing to its success. PAG E 1 4
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Presentations, podcasts, speeches and much more on ippn.ie Close to 1,200 Principals attended conference in January and a further 500 tuned in to view the live webcasts of the plenary sessions. We are delighted to be able to make keynote speeches and seminar materials available to all members as well as press releases, podcasts and a photo gallery. To access Conference 2012 materials go to ippn.ie and click on the CPD tab. All materials are available under the IPPN Annual Principals’ Conference 2012 section. KEYNOTE SPEECHES Choose from podcasts, speech scripts, presentations and biographies for Conference 2012 keynote speakers: ● Gerry Murphy ● Lord David Puttnam ● Professor Michael Fullan ● Seán Cottrell ● Mary Robinson ● Ruairí Quinn, TD.
SEMINARS Seminar materials prove extremely popular, not only among those who have attended the sessions, but also by Principals looking for some practical guidance on a particular issue. The following presentations are available for download: ● Boards of Management - Making them work to their full potential - Brendan McCabe ● Building Bridges of Understanding: A Whole School Approach to Childrens’ Comprehension Development - Dr Martin Gleeson ● Keeping Child Protection a Priority Maria Doyle ● Literacy in Primary Schools - Gene Mehigan ● Managing relationships with challenging adults in the school community – Dr Joe O’Connell ● Meeting the challenge of SEN Pupils in Mainstream School - Pat Goff ● Principal Leading Numeracy - Seán Delaney.
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● School Self-Evaluation – Getting Started Deirdre Mathews & Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha ● Self Assessment and Learning Folders – Guidelines for Teachers - Joan Keating ● Staff Communications - Páiric Clerkin ● Teaching Principals Practical Methodologies & Approaches - Micheál Rea & Kieran Healy ● Time Management for Administrative Principals - Aiden O'Brien. EXHIBITOR DIRECTORY When making your purchasing decisions in 2012, please consider using companies who have exhibited at Expo 2012 – their support is vital to IPPN. A full directory of the 125 companies that exhibited at Expo 2012 is available with the Conference 2012 resources. ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Press Releases Photo Gallery – dozens of photos of conference attendees are available to view in the Conference 2012 galleries which can be accessed on ippn.ie.
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My world, my little theatre of action Reflections of Conference 2012 By Olivia O’Leary, IPPN Conference Facilitator First there was our house. Then there was the parish priest’s house. Then there was the school. John McGahern asked me all this once, and when I told him, he said, shrewd countryman that he was: ’You must have been posh people so, if you lived beside the priest!’ We weren’t posh people. My Dad was the local baker and to mark the day we got our summer holidays, he would march down to the school holding aloft a big bakery tray, loaded with iced cakes, and éclairs, and fruit slices. ‘Fancies’ they were called in the trade but in our school they were simply known as ‘Leary’s buns’. Living so near the school, we used to dawdle on the way home and that could be dangerous because on our hilly street the level of the land inside the church railings was well above that of the path outside. Once I was ambushed from inside and my long plaits were pulled through the railings and used like a rope to tie me to the bars. I dangled there like a sacrificial rag doll until my older brothers brought me home and boasted to my mother about how brave they had been and how they had taken on the dastardly ambushers and beaten them to a pulp. And my little brother, Pat, who was three felt he needed to claim his bit of the action. So he pushed forward, hands in his pockets. ‘And...and....and’ he stuttered ’and I said ....and I said ‘bloody’’. ‘Bloody’ was the worst word Paddy knew. Everything that mattered in my life happened here, from Malony’s Lane which brought you under the railway down to Shea’s River, to the Big Gate to Borris House Demesne and the rhododendron road to the Barrow. And set against the blue backdrop of the Blackstairs and dominating the whole scene was the cut stone glory and distinctive belfry of Borris National School. This was my world. My little theatre of action. I could walk it. I knew its boundaries. This, along with my family, was what gave me my sense of belonging, my sense of place. When people talked of patriotism and love of country, this was the country I loved. It kept me rooted, secure. It still does, no matter what shocks life brings. That sense of place is one of the most precious things you can give to a child. Civic pride, responsible citizenship, community involvement,
a sense of interdependence and duty to others come from the sense that you have a stake in this place and that no matter where you go, its map is imprinted on your heart. The local school is central to that sense of belonging, because it ensures that the main business of your life as a child happens within your ken, within walking or cycling or at least recognition distance; happens within your community, which is an extension of your home.
However the decision about rationalising schools is made, part of that rationale must include the need as far as possible to give children a sense of belonging to their place... And OK I know I may sound like a sentimental old fool who still needs to look up the telephone directory and still says wireless and who thinks that if we all got an education as good as John McGahern and Seamus Heaney and Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill did in their small local schools, then we’d be doing well. And yes, yesterday some of my romantic notions were sensibly challenged, as often happens at this conference, over lunch when two experienced principals pointed out to me that small schools can’t offer the same broad curriculum, or care of facilities; that they can be insular; that problems can happen if you have the wrong person with too much power concentrated in his or her hands in a small school. Fair enough. I’m not one of those local yokels who believe in a hospital at every crossroads. And I accept that it is hard to justify two small schools within one or two kilometres of one another when other overcrowded schools are crying out for teachers. I know there will have to be compromise and the IPPN suggestion of centralising back office and administrative functions for a cluster of schools seems a good PAG E 1 6
one. I’m not an educator able to put the educational arguments. But at 62 I have learned to trust my gut. And my gut tells me there is something wrong about putting small children on buses to educate them miles away from all the landmarks and points of reference that mean something to them, where you can use the emotional junctions in their lives to help them better understand their world. I know of schools like Crannog Bui on Loughros Point in Donegal and I have passed schools like Newtown and Ballymurphy in may own county when kids are coming out of school and in the middle of the beautiful countryside there’s life and energy and confidence and positivity and I ask myself ‘Sweet God! Why kill all that?’ However the decision about rationalising schools is made, part of that rationale must include the need as far as possible to give children a sense of belonging to their place, a sense of ownership, a sense of local pride. So having stepped firmly off the fence on this issue, at this stage I might as well bring out all the big guns in my favour and finish with a quote from John McGahern’s Memoirs: ‘My relationship with this landscape extended back to the very beginning of my life. When I was three years old, I used to walk a lane like these lanes to Lisacarn School with my mother. Lisacarn had only a single room and the teachers faced one another when they taught their classes. On the windowsill glowed the blue Mercator globe, and the wildflowers were scattered in jam jars on the sills and all about the room. Along the lane there was a drinking pool for horses, gates to houses, and the banks were covered with all sorts of wild flowers and vetches and wild strawberries. My mother named these flowers for me as we walked, and sometimes we stopped and picked them for jam jars. There are many such lanes around where I live and in certain rare moments while walking them I have come into an extraordinary sense of security, a deep peace in which I feel I can live forever.’ That’s the produce of a two teacher local school. I rest my case.
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IPPN Annual Principals’
Dreaming as the hammer strikes the anvil Reflections of Conference 2012 By Damian White, Principal, Scoil Shinchill, Killeigh, Co. Offaly The Hammer, the Anvil and the Crafted hot plate The forging of futures has changed since ‘08 But regardless of troubles and problems ahead Principals arrive to be inspired and fed The small school, the DEIS school, the Educate Together As issues arose, it was sheer hell for leather. Ann started and welcomed the good and the great As she had for native Galway back in ‘98 And small little Carlow is much in the news Since Seán O’Brien’s rise with the great Leinster Blues. But long before Seán barged over the line A Ballymurphy lass was doing just fine With grace and with vision she could lead and pack Our Petite Générale kept us on track. And Mary Robinson, wide-eyed as she entered the hall Saw she was dressed like the Belle of the Ball As they stood side by side for a sweet conversation Perhaps Presidents past and future of our little nation President Gerry now top of the tree Har and beard neither will now nor free As in Halcyon days with the Ballyer Youths On the hallowed sod in their football boots But his words and the picture to catch the eye Were of Knockbridge School against a grey northern sky What has it seen in its lifetime of school Since before Parnell even dreamt of Home Rule The story of Knockbridge is known to us all For many still work in schools so small In valleys and hamlets with odd-sounding names The passion for learning burns just the same And every small place with a sturdy two-teacher Has treasured alumni who regularly feature Where decisions are made and products invented Were they to close now they would sure be lamented. Lord Puttnam had he gone to such a school Would never be taken to be such a fool By a teacher who told him to only aim low Offering a crushing confidence blow But if you expect a fish to climb a tree Try as he might he will never be free Thank God for his wisdom and rejections ire??? For Midnight Express and Chariots of Fire. Friday morning was buzzing and a big crowd was in For the heralded arrival of Minister Quinn A friend of the conference for 3 years or more Didn’t stop many patrons from feeling quite sore A dignified protest, a salient point made And a quiet note taken of posters displayed But regardless of politics and contrasting views Honesty helped in softening the news The podium abandoned he stood centre stage Never once glancing askance at a page We heard of third level for much of his speech And questions faced heads on with answers to each Yes Obama-like stage-craft was plain to be seen Though he didn’t sing Motown like the Reverand Al Green As he departed the stage to a decent applause
Pleased with his speech in spite of its flaws. Out stepped a gunslinger not a moment too soon When Seán Cottrell speaks, it smacks of High Noon No-one delivers a line with such grace On University Cake Sales and Jenga displaced On the scarce €90 the Teaching Council banks Like what it costs for our poor sewage tanks But the master craftsman left the best for last With his fear in the staffroom while not in the class Swords back in scabbard the old pals shook hands With a promise to talk, though the class size still stands. Choosing our drivers exercised Michael Fullan Though expected drivers may need some culling The moral imperative and whole system reform And capacity building should be the norm. Mary Robinson spoke with a dignified steel Of he changing climate and how it must feel For people with nothing but hope and love Who treat each day as a gift from above A standing ovation for her global view And life so accomplished and honest and true An interesting picture, a ??? for the nation As Virginia made Mary a presentation Beside the two red coats stood Angela proud Mná na hÉireann or Girls Aloud. Seminars aplenty were heard and discussed The Trade Exhibition a Principals’ must Two evenings of leisure and food of the best While the hotel elevator was put to the test The camel’s back broken by the last final straw Though Pat Goff blamed it on a technical flaw When Magnum PI simply entered the lift He found to his horror that the thing wouldn’t shift Put her in neutral said Jackie she’ll never stay still And from there the whole thing went slowly downhill. Contender Charlie just had to be seen With the help of some coffee and two Solpadeine Ben’s a diamond geezer he understands our pain Though Henry gave us thoughts that will surely remain. In modern day parlance, I think Abu Ghraib And the man to free us, King Brendan McCabe Gerry’s field marshall addressing the force Will one day lead us to battle, in his own right of course And hopefully still when that day comes to pass He’ll have backup from the office’s every lass For the work they do still wearing a smile Swanlike paddling like mad but gliding with style. Nob Nation was full of political satire But he stayed free of Cowen, too close to the wire For memories remain and the scars haven’t cleared Of two flame-haired women who left his afeared The Hammer and Anvil are quietening now??? For an inspirational conference you can all take a bow Go forward and strive to keep your good cheer And we’ll see you all here the same time next year. PAG E 1 8
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‘It would be funny - if it wasn’t entirely true’ By Lord David Puttnam, CBE Early in 1998, at the request of the then UK Secretary of State for Education and Employment, David Blunkett, I started making school visits. Discussing my relative experience of 'primary' as compared to 'secondary' schools the Principal of one particular primary school said something that has resonated strongly with me ever since:
Reflecting back, what concerns me most is the thought that - even if I’m only halfright - successive generations have been immensely profligate in condemning perfectly able people to live out wholly unrealised lives.
Students starting primary school this year will retire from the world of work around 2070 - assuming they can afford to! The very best we can do is prepare today’s students for a world of increasing unpredictability, equipping them with the necessary sense of compassion, co-operation and agility to anticipate and deal with the challenges of the next half-century. Addressing them is going to require, not only a well-thought-through and continuing policy of investment, but also a 'vision', or at least a 'framework' that's sufficiently coherent to ensure that every policy, right across Government, is robust enough to enable Ireland to keep pace with the progress of other technologically and scientifically ambitious nations. A study by the Boston Consulting Group recently ranked Ireland 22nd out of 50 countries in terms of 'digital inclusion'. ‘The digital economy is accounting for 5 to 7% of GDP in some countries. In the case of Ireland, the figure would appear to be a little over 3%.
‘You see dear - at Primary school we teach children, whereas at Secondary school they are taught 'subjects'.That wonderfully simple explanation of the blindingly obvious was entirely new to me.Without entering into the pros and cons of that assertion, what interests me is not so much the teaching of 'subjects' but of 'citizens', those who will shape the future of this nation. Like it or not, assembled in this hall are the people on whom rests - to an almost unreasonable degree, the future – not just of the young people in your charge – but the future of this country. The best laid plans of the Department can only be turned into reality by the degree to which you believe in them. Be it Science or Technology, Mathematics or Literacy without your buy-in and commitment - it simply won’t happen. I know the Minister sufficiently well to be certain of his passionate belief in the power of education, and the role it has to play in getting this country up off the canvas. He also knows, as you do, that there are no simple answers, no silver bullets – all we in this country have, is each other.
If all you do with technology is use it to support existing methodologies and practice, then why, and on what possible basis would you expect new or significantly better results? What we need to drive educational improvement is a much more radical approach – what advances could an entire digital pedagogy achieve - as opposed to simply 'digitising' the existing curriculum? Much of what I'm proposing inevitably challenges what we teach; as well as how it’s taught – and even, in some cases, why it’s taught! This in turn underlines the fact that significant investment in continuing professional development is absolutely critical if we’re to enable your teaching staff to develop, and remain confident, in a rapidly changing educational environment. Lord Puttnam’s full speech text is available on www.ippn.ie under CPD - IPPN Annual Principals’ Conference 2012 – Keynote Speakers
My most memorable exchange with my Physics Master, Dr Packer, came about as a result of his role as our so-called Careers Advisor. Dr Packer: Well young man, having squandered five valuable years of your own and everybody else’s lives, what do you have in mind for a career? Me: Sorry Sir, what is a ‘rep’? Him: Well, you work for one of the big packaged goods companies, and you drive around the country collecting, or fulfilling orders. Me: What - like a kind of van driver Sir? Him: No boy, you needn't have wasted our time at a Grammar school if you’d wanted to do that. That story would be funny - if it wasn’t entirely true. Reflecting back, what concerns me most is the thought that - even if I’m only half-right - successive generations have been immensely profligate in condemning perfectly able people to live out wholly unrealised lives. PAG E 1 9
Late Night Farewell By Tony Healy, as written to the networking mailing list on 16th January 2012, the night he retired from St Oliver Plunkett School, Malahide, Co. Dublin It’s 10.20 on a dark cold Sunday night. I stand there, keys in hand having just locked the school gate for the last time. All around is eerily silent in the blackness of a winter’s night. I should be elsewhere but I've just spent two days clearing out "my" office - the hoardings of 40 years. Tomorrow our new Principal, Claire, is taking over - a female so the office must be clean and tidy because females can never understand how men can work amidst clutter. As I look up the long drive to the School on the Hill, my forty years flash before me, gone in the twinkle of an eye. The thoughts of that very first day when I arrived to a wee country 3 teacher school in a Boyd Barrett Building. It was like going home to my roots in the midlands, those same roots that sustained me through my 40 years. God bless the strong traditions and values learned from my late mother in that little thatched country pub. I gaze misty-eyed at the building which is similar in age to myself but showing less wear and tear and will still be around long after I’m gone. My eyes trace the outline of the silhouette of the school, the biggest in Ireland with over 920 pupils. A village within a village, with a daily population of staff, pupils and parents outnumbering many of the towns around. The long drive seems darker tonight as it nestles in the shadow of mature native trees grown from saplings reaped from my father’s farm by this Johnny Appleseed. I'm surrounded by the ghosts of the four thousand pupils I have seen through the school and the spirit of the 70 colleagues presently in the school and the many who have left for other shores or gone to reap their eternal reward in the great white schoolhouse in the sky, the most recent and saddest our lovely Niamh Chinn Óir. My mind wanders back over the many changes that have occurred. I chuckle at the notion that we were paid for the summer holidays back then having worked a mere 6 days; the leisurely pace of life in those early days - the half days at the drop of a hat, or the drop of a ball if you were in the winning county after the All-Ireland; the full days off for the local pageant or fair, full day closures for the parent teacher meetings. Closures for weddings and
funerals, for snow and for storms - "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end".
As I look up the long drive to the School on the Hill, my forty years flash before me, gone in the twinkle of an eye. The 54 boys in my very first class will soon be celebrating their 50th birthdays no worse for the class size, or the corporal punishment, the poor facilities or the days off. They are scattered around the world but still keep in touch. As I scan the schoolyard surrounded by portacabins that are a health hazard, I think of the progress and the milestones that dotted the 40 years: ● the day in 1973 when the first phone was installed in school and the mad rush from all 3 rooms the first time it rang - now all children carry a phone in their pockets; ● the day the spirit duplicator arrived and the speed at which it was pressed into service and later the clankety-clank of the Gestetner - now every class has its own multipurpose photocopier scanner printer; ● the day I proudly unveiled my reel to reel tape recorder which I had worked part time in order to purchase - now every child wanders around plugged into their iPods and the 5000 songs they've downloaded from iTunes ● the day the first fax machine arrived, long since made redundant by email which each pupil can send from their own 3G in their pocket or on their wrist ● in 1980 the first BBC Computer arrived with its programs on tape-recorder and its Mode7 8k memory - now every child carries a 32GB computer around in their pockets and they're all Bluetooth and Wifi and the devil knows what ● the books borrowed from the local library now on each child's Kindle ● the arrival of the internet modem in the mid ‘90s and the hours spent wiring it up - now it’s wireless or bluetooth and in
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every child's pocket ● in recent days the arrival of our school’s first IWB – now superseded by the iPads each child uses which are synchronised with the Apple on the teacher’s desk. My ears are assailed with the sounds of concerts and carols, of musicals and choral recitals. All around me the sights of policies and procedures, winning and losing, Gaelic and Soccer, Basketball and Chess. I think of the hundreds of families, from the rich and famous to the pure salt of the earth; eight generations of pupils, some of the 8th class boys of the early ‘70s now back as grandparents. What an enormous honour to have influenced so many young lives. I wonder what the future will hold. I know they will survive without me, but I wonder will I survive without them. I think on those early days as Principal and the loneliness of the job. Networks - they were what the ESB were doing with the Rural Electrification Scheme. I recall the first Principal's Association in the early ‘80s and the efforts of Drumcondra Teachers’ Center to form a Principals' Study Group - but it was too heavy on academics. I think of the joy that greeted the news that Cork Teachers had formed Network Groups and the historical breakthrough in 1994 when the first National Principals' Conference was organized - the barriers broken down, the loneliness and isolation gone forever. Thank God for people like Jim and Seán and Máire Áine - people with vision. I chuckle again at the thoughts of the 900 pupils eating ice-cream last Friday, but then the silence of the night is broken by the sound of a siren. I am brought back to reality and the thoughts of legacies left and dreams unfulfilled. I look at my watch. It's 10.45. How long have I been standing here lost in my thoughts? The voices are saying "go home old man – it’s time for bed - your day is done". Ah, bed... Tonight, for the first time in 40 years there will be no schemes to write, no lists to prepare, no worries of what tomorrow will bring. The ‘Quiet Man’, the village schoolmaster can rest at last ....Good luck to the new principal. I hope she'll enjoy her 40 years as much as I have mine.
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From the side to the centre: Schools at the heart of curriculum improvement By Dr. Sarah FitzPatrick, Deputy CEO, Arlene Forster, Director, Hal O’ Neill, Director and Noel Loftus, Education Officer of the NCCA If we’re allowed some passion in these frugal times, ours in NCCA has been a desire to place schools at the heart of the curriculum policy process. Shifting our perspective so that schools move from the side to the centre has allowed us ‘…to situate the energy of educators and students as the central driving force’ (Fullan). Our goal has been to put schools back in the picture when it comes to improving primary education. This is important when we consider that the leaders of tomorrow and their mentors are living in the classrooms of today. The following resources were developed by engaging with primary school principals, teachers and children to find out what works in different contexts and why. ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING If you’re keen for children to be more involved in self-assessment, have a look at the Assessment for Learning (AfL) webpages at http://action.ncca.ie. Here you’ll find a variety of resources to support you when using AfL including podcasts, multi-media presentations, information leaflets for parents and assessment audit tools to support in-school professional development. The resources bring to life many of the ideas in the Assessment Guidelines (NCCA, 2007) and all were developed with teachers as part of the NCCA’s Primary School Network. REPORT CARD TEMPLATES NCCA report card templates at www.ncca.ie have become a focus of renewed interest as schools are now required to use them when reporting to parents on each child’s progress with learning (Circular 056/2011). In the coming months, the NCCA will work with primary schools to publish the templates online to provide greater control and flexibility to schools in customising and using the report cards across the four reporting areas. Your feedback will be valuable to us as the work progresses. Updated report templates will be available on-line at the beginning of May 2012. CURRICULUM PLANNING TOOL Are you one of several thousand teachers using the Curriculum Planning Tool each month? If not, you may be interested to look at
www.nccaplanning.ie. The video tutorial is a great way to get started. Teachers who use the planning tool suggest that new users see how the search function can be used to support linkage and integration; use the video tutorial; and look out for content objectives and try to break these down to identify the learning over the fortnight. Look out also for the planning tool in the coming weeks which will have some new additions, including sample short-term plans and video tutorials showing how teachers use the tool.
Our goal has been to put schools back in the picture when it comes to improving primary education. PLAY IN INFANT CLASSES Growing numbers of teachers are using play as a methodology for up to an hour a day (or more) to support children’s learning across the curriculum. Take a look inside their classrooms by visiting the Aistear Toolkit at www.ncca.ie/aisteartoolkit and selecting Play resources. The NCCA and the network of Education Centres have collaborated to develop a range of workshops including an introduction to Aistear for principals, and three workshops on play, one of which focuses on language and literacy. New workshops on mathematical learning through play and oral language and thinking skills are currently being developed. Contact your local Education Centre for information on Aistear workshops delivered in your area by Aistear Tutors. LANGUAGE MATTERS The Primary Language pages on http://action.ncca.ie has lots of practical resources for language teaching. These focus on supporting progression in Irish and promoting Gaeilge throughout the school. Key areas include: ● Planning for progression
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● Collecting work samples ● Identifying learning goals ● Learning activities. Watch and listen to teachers talking about what they do to support children’s language development; take a look inside their classrooms; download annotated samples of children’s work.We’ll be adding to this resource as we work with schools to develop a new language curriculum, starting with the infant years. Following publication of the Strategy last summer and the prioritisation of literacy and numeracy, it seems like the right time to ask what kind of primary curriculum we need for today’s children in tomorrow’s world. What are your curriculum priorities for primary school children today? We’re inviting you to have your say - it only takes a moment at: www.childrentheirlivestheirlearning.ie. Please take a moment to participate, to cast your vote, to share your passion… Watch out for regular updates and information on how you can become involved in the primary developments—including the new language curriculum. The NCCA wishes to sincerely thank the principals and teachers who have worked/are currently working with us to shape the curriculum and assessment developments outlined here.
Principal in Profile: ‘That sense of belonging, That sense of place’ By Tom Healy, Principal, Tirelton NS, Macroom, Co. Cork When asked to write about being a Principal in a ‘small’ school, it set me thinking. I was appointed to the principalship of Tirelton National School in 1995 and as the song goes ‘If I knew then what I know now, I’d be a wiser man’. At the time there was no IPPN, no Misneach and no induction course for NAPs. It was real ‘learning on the job’ stuff. A rural twoteacher school situated in the historic parish of Kilmichael, there wasn’t even a phone. This wasn’t because of any ‘backwardness’ but simply because my predecessor did not want to be disturbed by anyone or anything while teaching. He had a book rental scheme going before they became popular and had the most modern computers available at the time. There are many times I think how clever he really was. He left a really well run school, up to date and even ahead of its time. Five years after he retired he went to that big classroom in the sky and, if I know Michael, he has that place in order too.
I grew up in a dancing family in South Armagh. Every Sunday night my parents went dancing and my mother, at the age of 78, continues to dance two to three times a week. On my first day, I met my Chairperson at the school door around half past eight. He shook my hand, handed me the key to the school door, wished me good luck and left. To some it might look as if I was thrown in at the deep end but I always looked on it as a measure of the trust he had in me. My one fear for a long time after getting the job was ‘I hope I don’t do anything to wreck this school’. My assistant was brilliant and helped me enormously to settle in and get going. She is still in the school, now as Deputy Principal, and continues to keep me on track. That is one of the lessons that I have learned down through the years. Your staff and their support are the one thing that is vital in
running your school. A united staff, where everyone’s opinion is sought and valued, means a more committed staff and also gives the encouragement to take on challenges confidently.
I grew up in a dancing family in South Armagh. Every Sunday night my parents went dancing and my mother, at the age of 78, continues to dance two to three times a week. Small schools are all about the people. The children, teachers, parents and management. All of these schools are based in a community where its individual culture and identity is of vital importance to all the stakeholders. The children are delighted to hear about their parents, to see pictures of them when they were attending and maybe even when their grandparents and even great-grandparents attended too. Parents want to see that their children have what they got in the school too - that identity, that sense of belonging, that sense of place. But they also want their children to have the best of resources and will leave no stone unturned in ensuring those resources are acquired. Boards of Management, in my experience, are populated by people who treasure their school and their community and see the Board as a means of giving something back. I have been extremely fortunate in that my Chairperson has remained on the Board for the past fourteen years and still approaches things with the same enthusiasm, energy and, most importantly, common sense that he did on the very first day. I could never pay enough tribute to all the members of the school community who have done and continue to do so much voluntary work for the school. Over the years we have grown into a four-teacher school, built extra classrooms, a learning support room, a staffroom, a car-park, a playing field and last year, we opened new toilet facilities which at last PAG E 2 3
gave the staff their own toilet. On one occasion, on the strict instructions of anonymity, one parent made a very large donation towards the renovation of the school. The person told me, they just wanted to give something back as they felt the school had given their children so much. Those are the kind of people that make all schools such wonderful places. As with all teaching principals, time management is crucial. You find yourself torn between the classroom and the administration work and sometimes get frustrated, feeling that you are doing neither job to your own satisfaction. A trusted and reliable secretary can alleviate so many of the issues that crop up on a day to day level. I have personally found that having a secretary in the school every day was one of my better decisions.They feel more part
During the spring term each year I teach two or three simple dances to each class in our school. of the school community and staff and they also know exactly what is going on - events to be flagged, trips to be organised, bills to be paid, suppliers to be contacted and, most importantly, managing visitors you don’t need to see. Like all principals, the role I took in the mid nineties as Principal of a two-teacher school bears little resemblance to my current role. However I find that many of the same things that thrilled me as a teacher back then still remain, from playing school hurling matches to hearing a child with a fantastic singing voice to an infant telling you that she has her first loose tooth. I enjoy my job (most of the time) but remain enormously thankful that some things will never change. A native of Aghabullogue Co. Cork, Tom Healy began his teaching career in Dublin in the mideighties. He returned to Coachford School in Cork in 1991 before being appointed Principal of Tirelton National School in 1995. At present, Tirelton has four class teachers with three shared Learning Support/Resource teachers.
Teacher education: The school placement and teachers as mentors and supervisors By Neil Ó Conaill, Director of Teaching Practice, Mary Immaculate College The introduction of new teacher education programmes, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level, is most welcome and long overdue. The new four year B.Ed. is due to start in September 2012 and the two year postgraduate diploma in September 2014. Shortcomings with the current B.Ed., a degree largely unchanged in three decades, are well rehearsed and all stakeholders welcome the opportunity to reconceptualise the programme to ensure that it more closely reflects the classrooms and schools of today and develops the attributes for tomorrow’s teachers. Two policy documents, Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life, (DES 2011) and the Teaching Council’s Initial Teacher Education: Criteria and Guidelines for Programme Providers (2011) will have a significant influence on the content and structure of the programmes, thus marking the end of the autonomy colleges of education have traditionally enjoyed in terms of programme design, content and delivery. A partnership approach to the school placement is promoted by the Teaching Council and the role envisaged for the class teacher, the cooperating teacher, and the college tutor are specified in the Criteria and Guidelines document (refer to p.16 and p.17 for details of the school placement). Partnership, while new in the Irish context, is common internationally and seen as a means of bridging the schoolcollege dichotomy and as a means of formally acknowledging that the co-operating teacher can assume a productive and valuable role with the student on placement. The thirty weeks of school placement on the four year degree, twenty four weeks on the Graduate Diploma, allows colleges to replace the current model of ‘teaching practice’ with periods of school placement which recognise the school as a site for learning to teach and learning about teaching. While programmes currently strive to include a diverse range of placements, the new programmes have the scope to include placements in a range of settings. In Mary Immaculate, for example, the extended placement duration will enable the inclusion of a placement in a multi-grade setting for each student. This currently happens only if the student selects it for his/her homebased practice. The extended placement time will also ensure that more schools will have the
opportunity of hosting students and schools which regularly accommodate students should experience a reduced load. The extended duration will also facilitate longer in-school orientation and observation of classes prior to the commencement of the teaching element of each placement. The opportunity to settle into the class, to become more familiar with the routines and practices of a class will be welcomed by students. The Teaching Council’s Criteria and Guidelines for programme providers refers to host teachers providing ‘mentoring, supervision and constructive feedback’ for the student on placement. It refers elsewhere to the assessment of the students on placement by the HEI tutors. This separation of ‘mentoring and supervision’ from assessment of the student recognises that the mentoring relationship which teachers develop with students could be jeopardised if assessment was a function of the teacher. Mindful of the complexity of assessment of students on placement, the colleges have no desire to involve teachers in this process and recognise that teachers’ goodwill to supporting students does not extend to formally assessing them. Making the transition from the current system, which enables the teachers adopt an informal though nonetheless valuable role with students, should they choose to do so, to one where they will have a formal role in mentoring and engaging in a critical dialogue with the student, is a significant change. Clearly, agreement has to be reached on what is understood by
‘mentoring and supervision’, how the teacher provides it, the focus of it and how it will be documented. How the teachers will be supported in this role also requires clarification. Ireland is unique in terms of having a system of placements for pre-service teachers which doesn’t avail of the expertise of the teachers in the classroom and in the wider school. While the Teaching Council identifies a broad supportive role for the co-operating teachers, identifying a clear and meaningful role for teachers and empowering them to assume this role remains to be addressed. Teachers’ goodwill and willingness to share their expertise and insight should not be jeopardised by the imposition of such formality and regulation that makes hosting a student teacher burdensome and unattractive. While the timescale for the introduction of the four year programme has been challenging for the colleges and the Teaching Council’s communication with schools on these changes has been minimal, the principle of partnership, empowering the class teacher and recognising their expertise is to be welcomed. Neil Ó Conaill’s account of teachers and student teachers collaborating to co-teach science, A learning space: student teachers experience of teaching science, was published in Coteaching in International Contexts, Springer, 2010. Details of school placement in the four year programme in MIC can be found at www.mic.ul.ie or from email@example.com. For further information, see http://www.mic.ul.ie/education/tp/Pages/default.aspx
Left to right: Marcella Holohan, Siobhán Henry, Sr. Betty, Grace Cardiff, Elaine Fitzgibbon PAG E 2 4
Structured Collaboration between Schools, Student Teachers and Teacher Educators by Dr Bernadette Ní Áingléis, Director of Teaching Practice, St Patrick’s College whose doctoral work focuses on collaborations with schools in teacher education Over the years, many principals and teachers have expressed a view that they would like to contribute to teaching practice in a systematic way with structured opportunities to engage in dialogue around student teachers, learning and teaching. Mindful of these views coupled with a desire to strengthen relationships with schools, the Teacher Professional Development Partnership with Schools Project has developed organically over the past seven years. The partnership project has involved 22 primary schools in the greater Dublin area, student teachers, and staff at St Patrick’s College. The project has aimed to explore ways of involving schools more systematically in school placement with a view to providing a rich and varied range of schoolbased experiences for student teachers.
The partnership approach provides shared spaces ‘where teachers and teacher educators inform and contest the core knowledge that underpins their actions as professionals’ The broad context is initial teacher education within the continuum of teacher professional development. ‘Partnership’ was understood by all involved in the project to be an amalgam of processes e.g. communication, structures, and sets of roles and responsibilities. International research points to the benefits which accrue when schools and higher education institutions collaborate, share expertise and remain open to learning about how to teach and how to learn. The partnership envisaged in school placement differs from the traditional model in that it is conceptualised as a structured, school-wide experience in which school staff and college staff have complementary roles and expertise and, through the actual experience of collaboration, develop a shared understanding of what student teachers need to know, do and become over the course of a school placement. The partnership approach provides shared spaces ‘where teachers and teacher educators inform and contest the core knowledge that underpins their actions as professionals’ (Edwards et al). Student teachers were actively involved in the design and piloting
of the various project elements. PROJECT ELEMENTS Class teachers engaged in structured observation of student teachers at work in the classroom followed by feedback with structured mentoring throughout the placement period. Schools developed their own whole school policies on student teacher professional development with inputs from college staff on key mentoring skills, on how student teachers learn and on how best to support student teachers on school placement. Mentoring a student teacher is not the same as mentoring a newly-qualified teacher. In addition to having opportunities to develop classroom competence, students had weekly opportunities to observe children learning in other classrooms and teachers at work in various roles throughout the school. This enabled student teachers to develop a sense of being part of a whole school and an appreciation of what being a professional and a member of a school community is all about. A school-college link person in each school ensured that communication flowed freely to and from the school and the college. Each school had an assigned college tutor who responded to queries and provided ongoing support. College tutors met and engaged with class teachers to support the students’ progress over the course of the school placement. Class teachers were not involved in the award of grades to students. The summative evaluation process remained the remit of college tutors throughout the project. A Partnership Handbook, which evolved over the course of the partnership project, included observation and feedback templates, mentoring literature, and a broad outline of the roles and responsibilities of the various parties involving including student teachers. KEY FINDINGS Principals and teachers believed that the partnership project succeeded in heightening awareness in their schools of the learning needs of student teachers. Schools felt that their professional expertise was valued in terms of how the project structures and processes were refined and
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improved from year to year. Principals were the key agents in providing the in-school conditions necessary for partnership to thrive. CPD seminars facilitated by college tutors gave teachers the language to describe practice observed and to mentor in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. Teachers commented on how the partnership model (as opposed to the traditional model) allowed them get to know their student and college supervisors better and to play a central role in school placement experiences. Opportunities to observe teaching and to be observed were valued highly by students. The partnership model was perceived as being fulfilling and meaningful for all involved with children the ultimate beneficiaries.There were of course some challenges. Building relationships, which is core to building partnerships, is a resource-hungry and time-consuming process if it is to be done right. Partnership in school placement must also take account of a range of competing priorities and realities in schools. Accreditation pathways and ongoing CPD require further attention in the context of sustaining partnership.
Principals and teachers believed that the partnership project succeeded in heightening awareness in their schools of the learning needs of student teachers. An evaluation of the partnership project (Martin, 2011) is available at: www.spd.dcu.ie/education. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School Placement Unit, St Patrick’s College (A College of Dublin City University). REFERENCES Edwards. A., Gilroy, P. and Hartley, D. (2002) Rethinking Teacher Education. Collaborative responses to uncertainty, London: Routledge Falmer Martin, M. (2011) Teacher Professional Development Partnership with Schools Project, Evaluation Report, Dublin: St. Patrick’s College (A College of Dublin City University)
Introducing School Self-Evaluation By Dr Deirdre Mathews, Assistant Chief Inspector and Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha, Senior Inspector, who are both with the School Improvement and Quality Unit in the Department of Education & Skills. One of the most rewarding aspects of a teacher’s work is observing pupils as they make progress in their learning. For a principal, leading a professional staff to reflect on how to improve that learning should be equally rewarding. School self-evaluation is a powerful tool to assist principals in this leadership task.
leads to actions for improvement which in turn enhance pupils’ achievement and learning.
WHAT IS SCHOOL SELFEVALUATION? School self-evaluation is a process whereby schools evaluate their own performance across a wide range of criteria. It provides opportunities for principals and teachers to work collaboratively as they engage in reflective enquiry on the work of the school. It is most effective when it is focused on the quality of teaching and learning in the school, the core work of schools. School self-evaluation involves asking and answering questions about what elements of teaching and learning are working well and what could be improved. Principals and deputy principals can lead staff to reflect on their work by posing a few simple questions: ● How well are we doing? ● How do we know? What evidence do we have? ● How can we find out more? ● How can we improve? Gathering together and analysing evidence already available in the school is an important aspect of school self-evaluation. This includes assessment data such as standardised test results and teachers’ records of assessment of pupils’ progress. Opinions and views, including those of teachers, management, pupils and parents, should also form part of the evidence base. Rigorous analysis of evidence ensures that accurate judgements are made about what aspects of teaching and learning are working well and what aspects need to be improved. Once evidence-based judgements have been made, a school can be confident that they have correctly identified areas of strength and areas for improvement.This information will be vital for principals, deputy principals and teaching staff when deciding on actions for improvement. The process of self-evaluation only becomes useful and meaningful when it
WHY SHOULD SCHOOLS ENGAGE IN SELF-EVALUATION? Teachers want to provide the best possible learning experiences and outcomes for their pupils. Principals want to ensure that teaching and learning in their schools are as effective as they can be. Parents want schools to help their children to reach their full potential. School self-evaluation will help schools to judge the quality of education they are providing for their pupils within their own context and to decide on actions for improvement. As schools engage in systematic self-evaluation, external evaluation models will be adjusted to take account of the results of schools’ own judgements and of the actions that they are taking to improve teaching and learning. The Programme for Government, 2011-2016 sets out specific targets in relation to selfevaluation and school improvement. These are reflected in the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy which requires that all schools will engage in robust self-evaluation, use assessment data within their self-evaluation and have a School Improvement Plan in place from 2012/13 that sets out how they will improve areas for development, especially in literacy and numeracy.
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WHAT HELP IS AVAILABLE TO SCHOOLS? The Inspectorate has developed guidelines, School Self-Evaluation: Draft Guidelines for Primary Schools which are now available at www.education.ie . (Tá leagan Gaeilge ar fáil freisin).The Guidelines provide a framework for school self-evaluation that should guide you and your school in producing a school improvement plan. They provide practical suggestions as to where you might source the necessary evidence to make judgements about your practice and about how well your pupils are doing. They contain sample school self-evaluation tools to assist you in gathering relevant data and including the voices of pupils, parents and management as well as those of teachers and school leaders in the process. They include evaluation criteria and quality statements to guide you and your school in making judgements about the quality of your work. The Guidelines also contain a sample school self-evaluation report template and a sample school improvement plan template. These will assist you in leading your staff to record the results of the school self-evaluation process and the decisions about actions for improvement. It is important to remember that school selfevaluation is not about paperwork. Rather, it is about placing the focus on how well the pupils are learning and the steps the school needs to take to improve the standard of learning. The self-evaluation report should be used to summarise the strengths and weaknesses that have been discovered through school selfevaluation. Arising from this, a simple school improvement plan should be set in place with the main emphasis on improving pupils’ learning outcomes. Focusing on literacy and numeracy outcomes is a good starting point. We invite you to read, use and review the draft Guidelines and to send your comments to the Inspectorate by email using the address provided in the Guidelines. Your views and comments will be considered when the final Guidelines are being prepared. Support for school self-evaluation will be available to schools through the Inspectorate and the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) from September 2012.
Mentor Volunteers needed by Jackie O’Reilly, Newly-appointed Principals/Mentor Co-ordinator "The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers." Ralph Nader
mentor volunteers. If you are in a position to volunteer to assist new principals in your county we would love to hear from you.
Due to the volume of vacancies since September 2011 we now require more volunteers for this very vital service. Some counties have a high volume of applications, below are some examples. Cork x 47 Dublin x 71 Kerry x 33 Tipperary x 17 Donegal x 22
A suitable mentor is one who: ● Has five or more years as a principal ● ‘Networks’ with other principals in the normal course of his/her work ● Has a ‘common sense’ approach and a practical nature ● Can give some of their time either on the telephone or in person to a newly-appointed principal ● Is professionally approachable while being discreet and confidential ● Is a good listener ● Has a sense of professional and personal generosity ● Is competent and conversant in the areas of HR and conflict resolution ● Has been proactive in relation to their own CPD.
All of the counties have an increased number of applications for newly appointed principals and as a result we have a higher demand for
If you are in a position to mentor a newly appointed principal please email Jackie at the IPPN Support Office on firstname.lastname@example.org
Every year IPPN arranges mentor partnerships for newly appointed principals to help them through their first year as a Principal. This mentor gives the newly appointed principal independent professional guidance and advice on a one-to-one basis.
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Sraith ceithre leabhar oibre Gaeilge ó Rang 3 - Rang 6 lán le gníomhaíochtai spreagúla! Comprehensive handwriting programme available in 4 levels
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preparing the future…
www.ippn.ie – Latest resources The following are the new resources available in the different sections of the website:
SUPPORTS & SERVICES DES CIRCULARS ● 0073/2011 - Devolved Grant for Minor Capital Works 2011 ● 0072/2011 - Grievance and Disciplinary procedures for Special Needs Assistants in recognised primary and post-primary schools ● 0071/2011 - Public Service (Croke Park) Agreement - Special Needs Assistants ● 0070/2011 - Payment of Qualification Allowances to Registered Teachers in Recognised Primary and Post Primary Schools/ Íocaíocht na Liúntas Cáilíochtaí do Mhúinteoirí I mBunscoileanna agus Iarbhunscoileanna Aitheanta
POLICIES & PLANS SCHOOL POLICIES ● Child Protection Policy ● Substance Use Policy ● Safety Statement HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT ● Form ILL1 - Application for leave due to illness of a family member RECRUITMENT ● Form ILL1 - Application for leave due to illness of a family member ● Ancillary Staff ■ Caretaker Interview Questions SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT & CURRICULUM PLANNING ● Book Rental Scheme ● 3 Year School Improvement Plan
INCLUSION ● Special Needs Assistant Policy ● Special Needs Policy IV PARENTS & PUPILS ● Positivity – Share some happiness
POLICY & NEWS PUBLICATIONS ● Board of Management - Resource Pack LEADERSHIP+ ● Leadership+ Issue 66 - January 2012
CPD ● IPPN Annual Principals’ Conference 2012 – See separate article re. conference materials on ippn.ie on page 16 CPD ARCHIVE 7. Pre-retirement Seminars ● Pre-retirement Seminars 2011
On your behalf Since the last issue of Leadership+, IPPN met with the DES, education agencies and other bodies in relation to the following: January: 1. IPPN representatives met Chief Inspector Harold Hislop to discuss the department’s Literacy & Numeracy Strategy and School Self Evaluation 2. Amnesty International invited IPPN to participate in a meeting in relation to the Children's Mental Health Coalition.They are extending the work of the Coalition into the next 18 months and have developed a programme of work in relation to areas we would like the Coalition to focus on which they presented. 3. John Walshe, Minister Ruairi Quinn’s advisor in the DES met with IPPN prior to conference. IPPN raised a number of issues, including: a. The impact of the cuts on small and disadvantaged schools b. The difficulties posed by the DES’ refusal to allow schools merge learning support and resource teaching hours c. Creation of a national pupil database d. Allowing schools to hold electronic only pupil records including roll books e. Recommendations from IPPN’s research report Primary School Governance – Challenges & Opportunities. 4. The directors of teaching practice from the colleges of education met with IPPN to discuss a range of issues, including a. Curriculum / fourth year of B.Ed b. Placement and teaching practice particularly in relation to schools led by teaching principals
c. Induction and probation processes. 5. The Teaching Council - invited IPPN to participate in its Working Group on School Placement February: 1. Sarah Fitzpatrick of the NCCA in relation to developments in language, infant curriculum and curriculum priorities in the primary sector; literacy research led by Dr. Eithne Kennedy which has significant implications for shaping the new language curriculum; Primary Classroom study with ESRI which looks at teachers’ use of time and teaching methods and children’s engagement 2. Follow-up meeting with the Teaching Council on their Working Group on Student Placement 3. Launch of the National Council for Special Education policy on deaf education 4. Meeting with the NEWB in relation to strategies for school attendance 5. Eileen Flynn and Margaret Gorman of the CPSMA in relation to concerns about the amendment to the Education Act and redeployment panels and how to avoid a repeat of last summer when Principals recruiting staff got virtually no holiday 6. Meeting of the National Cross-Sectoral Consultative Group for the National Induction Programme for Teachers hosted by the Teacher Education Section of the DES. 7. Invited guests at: a. Working Together for Children hosted by the Department of Children & Youth Affairs b. IMPACT SNAs Branch Annual Delegate Meeting in Cavan.
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March: 1. Meeting with the NEWB in relation to follow up on the school attendance initiative. 2. IPPN is represented on the working group on student placement guidelines.We will update you as progress is made over the coming weeks 3. Invited guests at: a. NAPD Symposium on Vision & Values in 21st Century Ireland b. CPMSA - Annual General Meeting. IPPN Events 1. January a. Executive Committee meeting b. Annual Principals’ Conference 2012 – Citywest Hotel, Dublin. 2. February a. MonaghanTeaching Principals Clinic facilitated by IPPN and hosted by the Monaghan Education Centre b. IPPN Executive Committee representatives spoke to final year B.Ed. students at Coláiste Mhuire Marino, Froebel College, NUI Maynooth and St. Patrick’s College in relation to principalship c. IPPN delivered a lecture to the Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Management group in the Education Department at NUIM d. EducationPosts.ie stand at UCD, UL and NUIG Careers Fairs. 3. March a. IPPN Executive Committee meeting b. IPPN National Committee meeting.
And Finally… Greek Debt Bail-out Explained It is a slow day in a little Greek Village. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit. On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the village, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night. The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer. The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel. The guy at the Farmers' Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the taverna. The publican rushes to the hotel and pays off his room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note. The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveller will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town. No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole village is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism. And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how the bailout package works
by Caoimhín Ó
hÁinle, Gaelscoi l Uí Ríordáin, Baile an Cholla igh
What Starts d n a F h t i w K h t i w s d n e ith ving trouble w s Brooks, was ha M r, your he t's ac ha te w s y, as m A first-cl r asked, 'Jim he ac te he T s. nt one of her stude ?' m le ob pr My sister is for the 1st class. t ar sm o to m 'I' , I think I should Jimmy answered ter than she is! ar sm I'm d an s in the 3rd clas ass too!' be in the 3rd cl the e took Jimmy to had enough. Sh Ms. Brooks had e. pr incipal's offic acher ter office, the te aited in the ou as. The w n tio ua sit While Jimmy w l what the pa ci in pr e a test. If he th to bo explained ld give the y ou w he ks oo s. Br to go back to pr incipal told M estions he was qu s hi of y an failed to answer reed. d behave. She ag the 1st class an ere explained to e conditions w th d an in t gh Jimmy was brou st. ed to take the te him and he agre t is 3 x 3?' Pr incipal: 'Wha Jimmy: '9.' t is 6 x 6?' Pr incipal: 'Wha ' a Jimmy: '36. incipal thought question the pr y er ev ith w t And so it wen should know. 3rd class pupil 'I ks and tells her, oks at Ms. Broo lo l pa ci in pr he T class' n go to the 3rd think Jimmy ca k him some cipal, 'Let me as in pr e th to ys Ms. Brooks sa questions.' agreed. d Jimmy both The pr incipal an of that I have cow have four a es do t ha 'W , Ms. Brooks asks only two of?' oment: 'Legs.' Jimmy, after a m have but I do pants that you ur yo in is t ha Ms Brooks: 'W she ask such a not have?' red why would de on w l pa ci in The pr question! 'Pockets.' Jimmy replied: steps into?' g do that a man do a es do t ha Ms. Brooks: 'W Jimmy: 'Pants.' nging open. ith his mouth ha w d ar rw fo t sa The pr incipal oman standing up, a w does a man do t ha 'W ?' : gs ks le oo e Ms. Br es on thre n and a dog do does sitting dow hands.' Jimmy: 'Shake as trembling. The pr incipal w d ends in 'K' rts with an 'F' an sta d or w t ha Ms... Brooks: 'W citement?' t of heat and ex lo a ns ea m at th k.' Jimmy: 'Firetruc the relief and told eathed a sigh of t seven las e th t go I s, The pr incipal br the fifth-clas in y m Jim ut Teacher, 'P . questions wrong
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Published on Mar 2, 2012