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ISSUE 69 ● JUNE 2012
+ Leadership THE PROFESSIONAL VOICE OF PRINCIPALS
The last thing you want to hear?!
Principal Teacher or ‘Principal Contractor’? It’s not the first time that Principals are on the receiving end of mixed messages. The expression ‘a lack of joined up thinking’ has become a cliché and is regrettably applicable to many aspects of state and semi-state services.
Living with Autism A view from across the pond Getting ready for the new school year Good teachers are a greatly undervalued resource Tipping Point Maternity Leave
With thanks to
Sponsor of IPPN Publications
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Issue 69 - June 2012:Layout 1
Principal Teacher or ‘Principal Contractor’? By Seán Cottrell and Gerry Murphy It’s not the first time that Principals are on the receiving end of mixed messages. The expression ‘a lack of joined up thinking’ has become a cliché and is regrettably applicable to many aspects of state and semi-state services. If failing to have joined up thinking was an Olympic sport, the powers that be in this country would take gold medals in every Olympics. So what are the mixed messages? Every report, every evaluation and every policy document referring to improving children’s learning outcomes point towards the importance of the principal being directly involved in the leadership and management of teaching and learning throughout the school. Fullan, Hargreaves and many more have researched and written extensively on this point. The OECD - and indeed our own National Council for Competitiveness - all have outlined this indisputable connection between the quality of leadership and the quality of learning in schools.The Inspectorate understands this truism and the evidence is the slow but gradual shift in emphasis away from inspection to self evaluation. Every distraction that takes the Principal away from teaching and learning is a misuse of their key educational role.
Given that we all know the leadership and learning connection, why is the Department of Education landing yet another administrative nightmare on schools?
are not available there is inevitable pressure brought to bear upon Principals, sometimes stated, sometimes inferred, to fill this skills gap. The DES constitution for BoMs prohibits the Principal from acting as Treasurer to the board. On the same basis, Principals must also be ineligible to make VAT returns to Revenue. IPPN’s Executive is clearly of the view that this highly onerous accounting task is a matter for the Board of Management, the patron and the relevant management body. Elmore’s theory of reciprocity states that, ‘for each unit of performance the system demands of the school, the system has an equal and reciprocal responsibility to provide the school with a unit of capacity to produce that performance.’ Regrettably, this new statutory obligation does not come with a reciprocal arrangement. If registering for VAT for the purposes of making VAT returns permitted BoMs to claim back VAT on the schools’ expenditure, it would at least bring some benefit to cash-strapped schools. Alas this is not the case. Schools will have to continue to pay VAT like private consumers. This is an unfair reliance on volunteers to carry out the work of a state agency. What impact would this have had on the renewal of boards last November? People are great to volunteer and work for their communities. However, being taken for granted can destroy that ethic. The only VAT that principals should be concerned about is Value Added Teaching.
Given that we all know the leadership and learning connection, why is the Department of Education landing yet another administrative nightmare on schools? In essence, another government department Finance/Revenue Commissioners - have decided to address the loss of revenue to the state resulting from ‘black market’ transactions and from building firms going in to liquidation. This loss of revenue to the state is a very serious and important issue especially to the PAYE sector. However, we question the logic of enacting legislation whereby Boards of Management are obliged to take on the role of ‘Principal Contractor’ for all building works, refurbishments and upgrades. Every Principal knows the limitations of a board of management that is largely dependent on volunteerism. Is there any precedent where voluntary committees are required by law to perform such functions? The obligation for VAT returns covers items such as new schools, extensions, refurbishments, maintenance and all other school enhancements including, for example, the VAT paid on the installation of automatic security lights or the purchase and installation of interactive whiteboards! No, this is not some kind of a sour joke. By the time you will read this you will have received correspondence from Revenue regarding this latest obligation on school Boards. This initiative (perhaps unintentionally) is attempting to turn BoMs into tax collectors. According to our research last year, only 7% of BoMs stated that they had a board member with financial management skills.Where such skills Editor: Damian White Deputy Editor: Geraldine D'Arcy Assistant Editor: Brendan McCabe Comments and articles to firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising: Louise O’Brien email@example.com
The opinions expressed in Leadership+ do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network ISSN: 1649 -5888
Irish Primary Principals’ Network Glounthaune, Co Cork 1890 21 22 23 | www.ippn.ie
Design: Brosna Press 090 6454327 • firstname.lastname@example.org PAG E 3
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Legal Diary by David Ruddy, B.L.
Pupil with specific language and learning difficulties fails in action for discrimination and harassment against school MR & MRS X (ON BEHALF OF THEIR SON Y)
at the school, but because of the delay in carrying out of the assessment he did not have access to the SNA until his third year.
photograph he was threatened with serious implications for saying something which might not be truthful.
V A POST PRIMARY SCHOOL EQUALITY TRIBUNAL 2010 This action was taken on behalf of a pupil against a school on the basis that the school had failed to put appropriate measures in place to accommodate his special needs as a student with a disability.
However his parents were concerned that it took 18 months to facilitate a psychological assessment. This failure, it was alleged, resulted in the boy being denied access to support measures well into his second year at the school. THE PUPIL’S CASE The boy in question attended a post-primary school for a three-year period from 2004 to 2007, when he completed his Junior Certificate examinations.The boy had a relatively good first year in the school. However his parents were concerned that it took 18 months to facilitate a psychological assessment. This failure, it was alleged, resulted in the boy being denied access to support measures well into his second year at the school. The school, it was alleged, failed to use its full allocation of resources from the DES with regard to assessments. The pupil was entitled to avail of the services of a special needs assistant (SNA) from the outset of his attendance
The school initially failed to put in place an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for the pupil. When one was put in place it did not have the input of all his teachers (only four of his seven teachers participated in the IEP). His parents claimed that this IEP was not effective in addressing their son’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) and they were not afforded any opportunity to have any input into it. Their son was placed in higher level English and Maths classes despite the fact that he should have been following the Foundation Level Programme in those subjects. An incident was recalled that when their son received a 0% mark in a Christmas examination, his maths teacher called out the result in front of the entire class. The school failed to apply to the DES for a technology grant which would have enabled the school to purchase equipment that could have been used to provide support to their son.The boy’s parents claimed that he was the subject of harassment by the teachers during the course of his attendance at the school. Examples of his treatment included: a. Excessive recording in relation to his behaviour which resulted in him being placed under undue stress and pressure. The boy was monitored excessively following a serious behavioural incident during a trip to Italy. b. There was also an incident in the woodwork classroom when the boy was suspended for two days for the alleged inappropriate use of a hand tool. The boy’s SNA took a photograph of him on her mobile telephone. When the boy made a complaint to the principal regarding the PAG E 4
c. The boy was not selected to play on the school hurling team as punishment for the above issues. The boy did not return to the school after his Junior Certificate examinations because he had endured such a negative experience whilst attending the school during the previous three years. Structures should have been in place to meet the boy’s needs and were not provided by the school.
The boy’s parents claimed that he was the subject of harassment by the teachers during the course of his attendance at the school. THE SCHOOL’S CASE The school principal accepted that the boy had SEN. In fact, the boy underwent an internal assessment prior to enrolment which was designed to establish the nature of his learning difficulties and the level of support he would require. Based on his assessment, the boy was allocated 4 hours and 25 minutes learning support teaching per week, which was more than was awarded by the DES on the basis of his most recent psychological report. The school stated that it initiated numerous meetings and communications with the parents in relation to their son’s progress at the school, including meetings with and communication from the Principal, Year Head and Learning Support Teacher. The Principal stated that the
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boy progressed very satisfactorily in his first year at the school; however his attitude towards learning and his general behaviour deteriorated significantly during his second year at the school. The school emphatically refuted the parents’ contention that it failed to provide reasonable accommodation to their son, as a person with a disability, within the meaning of the Equal Status Acts. 1. The school Principal accepted that when the boy was enrolled at the school it was agreed that he would be psychologically assessed although he did not specify at the time when this assessment would be actually carried out. The Principal stated that the school did not have access to the National Educational Psychological
The school Principal accepted that when the boy was enrolled at the school it was agreed that he would be psychologically assessed although he did not specify at the time when this assessment would be actually carried out. Service (NEPS) when the boy commenced attendance at the school and he denied that there was any intentional delay, on the part of the school, in having his assessment carried out. The principal stated that a psychological assessment was carried out on the boy on 13th January 2006 and that it subsequently implemented the recommendations that were contained in the psychologist’s report. 2. The school stated that the Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) was facilitated in a classroom observation of the
boy, following which a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) was made available on a half-time basis for his Junior Cert year. 3. The school stated that they undertook to draw up an IEP for the boy. This IEP was coordinated by Ms A, the Learning Support Teacher (in conjunction with the SENO, the School Principal and the boy’s parents) and it was agreed that his teacher of Maths, History and Geography would become involved. It was also agreed the boy would follow a reduced curriculum. 4. The school denied the allegation that the boy’s Maths teacher called out a 0% mark in front of the class following the Christmas examination in December, 2005. The school also submitted that the boy was afforded the appropriate levels of support and tuition in English and Maths. The boy obtained a grade C in both Foundation Level Maths and English in his Junior Certificate Examinations and the school submitted that these grades clearly indicate that the curriculum at Foundation Level in both of these subjects was fully covered. 5. The school denied the allegation that it failed to apply for a technology grant to assist the boy. It stated that the school applies for assistive technology on the basis of recommendations in psychological assessments. There was no such recommendation in the boy’s assessment. The Photograph 6. The school denied that it engaged in excessive recording in relation to the boy’s behaviour and it stated that the manner in which his behaviour was recorded was no different than that of any other student. The school stated that it became aware of the issue in relation to the photograph during the course of a meeting which it had called with the parents in order to discuss a serious incident that had occurred in the woodwork room where the boy’s misbehaviour had posed a serious risk to the health and safety of both himself and other students in class. PAG E 5
7. The principal stated that the SNA informed him that the boy had been disruptive on this occasion and she had been unable to get him to apply himself to his work in the woodwork room. The SNA had cautioned the boy that she would take a photograph of him to show the Year Head if he continued to be disruptive and to desist from using the woodworking machinery which he had been requested to put aside. The SNA proceeded to take a photograph of the boy on her mobile phone and the purpose of the action was intended as a means of bringing him to apply himself to his work. The SNA informed the Woodwork teacher what she had done and that it had not succeeded. When she instructed the boy to return to his table, the boy threw a piece of wood across the table and shouted using the ‘F word’. Later in the class he got a hand-held power tool and put it on one of the other students’ arm while it was still running. The Principal stated that he investigated this matter thoroughly and that he requested the SNA to delete the photograph from her phone and advised her that her action of taking the photograph was improper and contrary to acceptable practice.
The principal stated that the SNA informed him that the boy had been disruptive on this occasion and she had been unable to get him to apply himself to his work in the woodwork room. 8. The school rejected the allegation that the boy was penalised by virtue of his failure to be selected on the school hurling team because of behavioural issues that arose during a school trip to Italy. It submitted the reason that he was not selected on the school hurling team was due to the fact that his level of performance on the field of play did not merit selection on the team.
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RULING OF THE EQUALITY OFFICER 1. The Equality Officer accepted the evidence of the Principal that the school did not have access to the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) when the boy commenced attendance at the school in September 2004.
The Equality Officer accepted the evidence of the Principal that the school did not have access to the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) 2. The level of support provided to the boy in terms of his special educational requirements was not in any way compromised as a result of the psychological assessment not being carried out prior to January 2006. 3. The school did take cognisance of the recommendations that were contained within the psychological assessment, and put further special measures and facilities in place at that juncture such as the implementation of an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and access to an SNA.
4. The aforementioned psychological assessment stated that the boy was ‘eligible for Special School placement’ and that ‘he would be in a small class with subjects which would suit his level of ability’. It is therefore clear that the question arose at the juncture as to whether or not a secondary school placement within mainstream education was the most suitable environment to cater for his special educational needs. a. Having regard to the totality of the evidence adduced, the Equality Officer accepted the school’s evidence that it was operating under certain constraints within the mainstream education sphere in terms of the resources available to it and, therefore, it did not have the required resources to accede to all the parents’ wishes in terms of the levels of support that it could provide for their son. The Equality Officer fully accepted that the manner in which the SNA acted in relation to this incident was improper and totally inappropriate in the context of a classroom situation, however he had not been presented with any evidence from which he could conclude that the actions of the SNA in relation to this incident were in any way motivated or connected to the boy’s disability but rather it was
a reaction to a disciplinary situation that arose during the course of the class in question. He therefore found that the actions of the boy’s SNA in taking this photograph did not constitute harassment within the meaning of section 11 of the Equal Status Acts.
The Equality Officer accepted the school’s evidence that it was operating under certain constraints within the mainstream education sphere OBSERVATION This case could have equally occurred in a primary school setting and demonstrates the challenges facing schools in relation to the high expectations some parents may have in relation to what they consider to be the appropriate provision for their child’s SEN.The psychological assessment stated that the pupil in question was ‘eligible for a special school placement’, yet the parents chose a mainstream setting. Schools must be vigilant in providing appropriate learning supports for SEN pupils and also to apply for technology grants if psychological reports recommend such assistance.
Maternity Leave Does the Board need to advertise? DOES THE BOARD NEED TO ADVERTISE? All vacancies of 24 weeks or more shall be advertised in accordance with the regulations governing the appointment of teachers. Maternity Leave is a substitute position and as such the leave is inputted on OLCS and claims made in the usual manner for the payment of the substitute teacher.
teacher for the duration of paid maternity leave. When on unpaid maternity leave she is replaced by a temporary/fixed term teacher. Henceforth, the full absence, maternity leave, leave-in-lieu, unpaid maternity leave etc., will be covered by the appointment of a substitute (casual/non-casual) teacher.’
See pages 38-46 Constitution and Rules of Procedure 2011 in relation to recruitment and appointment of teachers.
Page 47 of the DES publication Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure 2011, defines ‘Temporary (fixed-term)’ as being used for career breaks, secondments etc – “where the end of the contract is determined by an objective condition such as arriving at a specific date, completing a specific task or the occurrence of a specific event.”
SUBSTITUTE VS TEMPORARY (FIXED TERM)? Maternity leave vacancies must be advertised as substitute posts. Take care to ensure you select the correct status as teacher entitlements vary between substitute and temporary. Circular 32/2007 – Teacher Absences, paragraph 3 states: ‘It should be noted that with the introduction of this system some absences for unpaid leave which have heretofore required the employment of a temporary/fixed term teacher will now be covered by the employment of a substitute (casual/non-casual) teacher. For example, under present arrangements a teacher on paid maternity leave is replaced by a substitute (casual/non-casual)
CIRCULARS RELATING TO MATERNITY LEAVE ■ 91/2006 Maternity Leave Arrangements for Permanent and Temporary/ Fixed Term Primary School Teachers ■ 11/2011 Maternity Protection Entitlements for Teachers ■ 13/2005 Maternity, Adoptive and Paternity Leave For Special Needs Assistants. Ciculars can be viewed/downloaded from ippn.ie. Click on Supports & Services, then DES Circulars and select the relevant year.
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Tipping Point By Damian White, Principal Scoil Shinchill, Killeigh, Co. Offaly and Leadership+ Editor If you can remember Bill Bixby and his alter ego Lou Ferrigno, there’s a good chance your loved ones will have to break into a third box of birthday candles on your behalf. Or perhaps you watch a lot of TV at 4am, which let’s face it, as a principal, you’ve likely to do as end-of-term induced insomnia kicks in. Either way, you will know that the likeable Bill reaches his ‘tipping point’ twice per episode, and as a result of an experiment which backfired, he transmogrifies into an eight foot half-man half Munster lock forward called the Incredible Hulk. The scene always follows a familiar pattern. Bill, under extreme pressure, betrayed by his face which wouldn’t look out of place on the wrong side of a Thomond Park ruck, can finally bear it no more. His eyes turn green and, conveniently out of sight of his aggressor, he swells up, making a hanky of his shirt and roars like he’s doing the Haka. The green monster, played by Ferrigno, takes the poor baddies by surprise, chucking them over the nearest fence, bending their shotguns, and jumping from the top of a tall building before running off to cool down and presumably, into Tesco for a cheap shirt and trousers. As a Principal you often feel a bit like Bill. However, due to experience, training, breeding, yoga, coffee, Angry Birds, Desperate Housewives or whatever...... you hold your tongue. So where sits your tipping point? What are the red button issues which someday might cause you to snap? When do you become Michael Douglas in ‘Falling Down,’ driven over the edge by a traffic jam? Could it be the nice lady at the checkout who tells you how lucky you are to have 3 months holidays every summer? Or perhaps the parent queuing behind you who begins an unavoidable conversation with the words - ‘I’ve been meaning to ask you’ - and proceeds to seek answers on homework policy, split classes or how yard duty works.
chairman unhappy at his team’s position on the league table (whoops – ah no! – that will never happen will it?). Could it be the ingratitude of pupils/staff/parents/community at some act of extreme selflessness on your part? Could it be the local social commentator who expresses disappointment that nobody from the school attended a church, sporting or parish event in a week where you’ve attended several other events related to school and outside school time. Perhaps it could happen as you listen to your radio on your weary way home. It could be something Michael O’Leary spouts. Or Kevin Myers or Ivan Yates. Possibly Eamon Ó Cuiv. Maybe Dr Ed Walsh or Joe Higgins. What of Mary Lou? It could be Jedward representing Ireland, though you won’t stay mad with them for long.
Perhaps it could happen as you listen to your radio on your weary way home. It could be something Michael O’Leary spouts. Or Kevin Myers or Ivan Yates. Possibly Eamon Ó Cuiv. It might be Joe Duffy, except you are working while he earns his tuppence and don’t get to listen to him. It could be someone on Frontline, or even someone who presents it. It could be a pile of indignation from Marian Finnucane on Sunday morning which yanks your chain. It could be the annoyance you feel for young colleagues who are entering the profession with vastly reduced wages and benefits. And so principals, challenges to your temper still lie ahead. It may be while trying to sort out resource hours that your wheels leave the rails. It could be the Olympic sport of moaning about the public service at which Ireland has its best chance of a medal this year. Donegal’s mass defence (or criticism of it if you’ve from the land of O’ Donnell!) might be your issue. We all have our Tipping Point, our Achilles heel, our kryptonite.
So where sits your tipping point? What are the red button issues which someday might cause you to snap? When do you become Michael Douglas in ‘Falling Down,’ driven over the edge by a traffic jam? It might be the principal up the road with whom you have a Ted Crilly/ Dick Byrne type relationship. It might be the promotion they’ve placed in the local paper or the brochure produced in Polish extolling the virtues of their learning emporium, which pulls the tail of the wrong dog. Could it be at the long and unsuccessful attempt you’ve made at explaining to a parent that the 39th percentile doesn’t mean a child has failed an exam? Or when the school bell is like a starter gun for whole new staffroom conversations and lack of movement towards awaiting lines of increasingly giddy children? Perhaps it might be the nice PDST person who is overly enthusiastic about your need for a 3-year school improvement plan? Could it be the Minister who quotes PISA results like an impatient football
Just occasionally someone will say – ‘I don’t know how you do it.’ Or ‘How do you keep your temper?’ Having a calm demeanour is like looking at Mount Vesuvius on a summer’s day. To the casual observer, we are benign and constant but deep inside, something may be bubbling which, if it erupts, can have a catastrophic effect on the landscape. Just mention the moratorium on appointment of post holders, of which I have none left due to retirements, and am entirely dependent on great teachers to do hours of unpaid work with choirs, teams, green schools and computers – and stand back. Because if you stand too close it may be too late when you spot it – I have one slightly green eye! Grrrrrr....... Enjoy the summer.
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The last thing you want to hear?! by Angela Lynch, Principal Advice Manager In any of the literature on leadership, reflection is deemed to be an essential component. You will often hear the expression ‘the reflective practitioner’ in relation to your role as Principal. However in the frenetic atmosphere of our schools today, we hardly have enough time to do all that we have to do, let alone find time to reflect on our leadership role. The summer term brings so much activity, but it also brings the unwanted influences of stress, disharmony, tiredness, negativity and conflict. Dealing with these issues over the past week leads me to reflect on how and where we can find support.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to seek help. The greater the stress, the more you need support. SEEK HELP One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to seek help. The greater the stress, the more you need support. You spend most of your day dealing with the stress of other people. You become personally and emotionally involved in trying to ‘fix’ the problem. For counsellors, mediators and anyone dealing with conflict and stress on an ongoing basis, a system of support and supervision is put in place to prevent them from becoming enmeshed in the problems of their clients. You need someone with whom you can share some of the issues on a confidential basis and who is not involved in the life of the school. Otherwise the result can be that you take on the issues that belong to others and in the process become overwhelmed.The simplest task becomes huge. You cannot see the wood from the trees. It is all too easy to reach a place where your health is affected. If you do not listen to your body, your body will make you listen. By then, it may be too late. FEAR Thankfully we function most of the time at a more harmonious level. Yet I think that one fear is always there. Having spent many years as
a Principal, I came to the conclusion that my enduring fear was that I would ‘drop a ball’ and an important one at that. The image of the juggler comes to mind. One of the things that helped me most as a Principal was being part of a Principals’ Support Group, that and being able to seek the advice of another Principal who understood what it is like to be a Principal. The Principal Advice service is always there to support you where there is a crisis situation, a critical incident or a school tragedy. Fear can often paralyse us from taking action. Procedures and rules are there for a very good reason. We need them to guide us through difficult situations. However, these very rules and procedures can sometimes prevent us from engaging with people in a more proactive and informal manner. We fear that we may be accused of violating the rules. Concerns, complaints and issues which could have been resolved informally and at an early stage are often escalated through a formal set of procedures. We need to look at how we implement the rules and procedures. We need to establish in our schools a climate where concerns are welcomed and dealt with in a caring and respectful manner. A quote by Seán Cottrell at an IPPN Conference comes to mind – ‘Children may not always remember what you taught them but they will always remember how you treated them.’This applies to all members of our school communities.
Having spent many years as a Principal, I came to the conclusion that my enduring fear was that I would ‘drop a ball’ and an important one at that. HANDLING CONCERNS AND COMPLAINTS We need to discuss about how we, as a school community, handle concerns and complaints. Each and every member of staff, the Board of Management, parents and children ought to be involved in these discussions and the outcome clearly communicated to all. The focus of the discussions is the Mission Statement of the PAG E 8
school. Is what we say exactly what we are doing?
Any decision you make as Principal can be justified once it is made in the best interests of the children and based on sound educational reasons. Any decision you make as Principal can be justified once it is made in the best interests of the children and based on sound educational reasons. You do not need permission to do the right thing. You do the right thing. If the quality of the relationships is good, all other things will fall into place, staff and children will be happier working in an atmosphere of trust and the learning will be more effective. How do we do this? It won’t happen overnight. In fact it won’t happen without reflection, planning and continuous communication. Take an aspect of relationship building – handling a concern or complaint of any person in the school community. Discuss what people expect when they bring a concern. They need to be heard – listen carefully without interruption.They need to be understood – let them know that you understand their concerns. Ask questions to clarify if necessary. They need to know that the concern will be handled appropriately. Assure them that you take the matter seriously and will work to resolve it. Indicate when you will be in contact.They may not be always happy with the outcome but they will remember your manner in dealing with their issue.You are building trust every time a concern or complaint is wellhandled.This not only applies to the Principal. It applies to everyone. This summer, put you first. Rest, relax and reflect. Think about the relationships in your school community. Think of ways to make these discussions an integral part of your planning for next year. It will be time well spent. Tá súil agam go mbeidh saoire iontach agat i mbliana agus go mbeidh tú ar ais ar scoil i Mheán Fomhair le dearcadh dearfach.
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Good teachers are a greatly undervalued resource By Brendan McCabe, Principal of St Colmcille’s BNS, Kells, Co. Meath and Deputy Editor, Leadership+ A study by Raj Chetty and John N. Friedman of Harvard University and Jonah E. Rockoff of Columbia University, which involved a huge database of one million students followed from fourth grade (equivalent to our second class) to adulthood, has come up with some startling findings. It finds that the difference between a strong teacher and a weak teacher lasts a lifetime. Having a good teacher in second class makes a student more likely to go to college, the research suggests, and less likely to get pregnant as a teenager. Each of the students will go on as an adult to earn, on average, €20,000 more over a lifetime — or about €545,000 in gains for an average size class — all attributable to that excellent teacher back in second class. That’s right: A great teacher is worth hundreds of thousands of euros to each year’s students, just in the extra income they will earn. Conversely, a very poor teacher has the same effect as a pupil missing 40 percent of the school year. Here in Ireland this latest study has implications for the Teaching Council and the Colleges of Education, who are currently looking at the whole area of teacher formation in light of the impending 4-year degree. If a filtering system for ensuring quality teachers were to be put in place it would logically be at the pre-service stage.
for a single year between second and fourth class resulted in students earning almost 1 percent more at age 28. Suppose that the bottom 5 percent of teachers could be replaced by teachers of average quality.The three economists found that each student in the classroom would have extra cumulative lifetime earnings of more than €40,000.That’s more than €1.09 million in gains for the classroom. Increasingly, the researchers claim, we’re getting solid evidence of what reforms may help: teacher evaluations based on student performance, higher pay and prestige for good teachers, dismissals for weak teachers. Could, or should, Ireland go this route? I believe not. Using pupil tests on their own to evaluate teacher performance is an extremely crude way to judge performance where there are so many variables which should, legitimately, be included in the equation. What can be said with certainty, though, is that really good teachers should be treasured. They’re worth their weight in gold!
One of the paradoxes of the school reform debate is that teachers’ unions have resisted a focus on teacher quality. The Americans are suggesting a policy solution in the form of more pay for good teachers, (something which would be highly unlikely to find appeal in the Irish education system where there is a strong distrust of ‘payment by results’) and more dismissals for weak teachers. One of the paradoxes of the school reform debate is that teachers’ unions have resisted a focus on teacher quality; instead, they emphasize that the home is the foremost influence and that teachers can only do so much. As trade unions’ raison d’etre is protecting the pay and conditions of their members, this is hardly surprising. It must also be taken into account that some schools operate in areas of serious disadvantage and that there is need for an array of antipoverty measures, especially early childhood programs. But the evidence is now overwhelming that, even in the most difficult schools, some teachers have far more impact on their students than those in the classroom next door. Three consecutive years of data from student tests — the ‘value added’ between student scores at the beginning and end of each year — reveal a great deal about whether a teacher is working out, the researchers found. What shone through the study was the variation among teachers. Great teachers not only raised test scores significantly — an effect that mostly faded within a few years — but also left their students with better life outcomes. A great teacher (defined as better than 84 percent of peers) PAG E 9
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Vhi Healthcare WellPlus Programme for IPPN Interim Report The Vhi Healthcare WellPlus Programme for IPPN launched in September 2011 on a regional basis with over 200 members completing the Health Risk Assessment so far. Below are the key findings from Eastern and Southern Regions up to March 2012. The Health Risk Assessment has been subsequently launched in the Western Region and is now available to all regions for a limited time up to June 30th 2012.
IPPN MEMBERS – EASTERN AND SOUTHERN REGIONS COMBINED
If you haven’t completed your Health Risk Assessment yet, go the IPPN website and follow the link to take the first step to a healthier you! KEY FINDINGS ■ Fitness is the top wellness concern for IPPN members overall and in each of the Southern and Eastern Regions ■
11.4% of IPPM members have a high risk health status
Heart health is particular concern for IPPN Eastern members, with 14.2% of members achieving a high risk heart health score
Weight is a particular concern for IPPN Southern members, with 17.1% of members achieving a high risk weight score.
The top four ranking wellness concerns in each region are listed across.
% of High Risk Results
Fitness Heart Health Total Health Weight
30.35% 12.94% 11.44% 10.95%
IPPN MEMBERS – EASTERN REGION ONLY
% of High Risk Results
Fitness Heart Health Weight Total Health
30.52% 14.29% 9.09% 11.69%
IPPN MEMBERS – SOUTHERN REGION ONLY
% of High Risk Results
Fitness Weight Nutrition Total Health
29.79% 17.02% 12.77% 10.64%
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How to welcome a new teacher Very often, we take for granted new teachers joining our school coming for the first time. We may often give a distant smile, say welcome, and then hope they figure it out on their own. We forget that we have established a school culture that may just overwhelm a new teacher joining our staff. There are three things to consider: the work to be done, the culture in the school and our commitment as human beings to reach out to newcomers and make them feel welcome. As principals, we often feel that new teachers should be able to just jump in - or we may not want to micromanage them - but giving strong guidelines from the outset will help prevent future miscommunications. Here are a few steps to ensure that a new teacher will feel welcome in your school: 1. Make an announcement. This can be done either in the staff room or at a staff meeting informing the staff of the new person and their role in the school. 2. Take the time to personally welcome the new teacher and introduce them to all staff members. This includes bringing the new teacher on a tour of the school and introducing her to the other members of staff who happen to be around while they walk about – not necessarily everyone, as this can also be overwhelming.
3. Orient the teacher on the work to be done. The principal is the best person to show how the school operates, how work with a certain class is connected to the work of others in the school, what performance standards are expected of teachers in the school, and what procedures are followed in the school for routine tasks such as printing, lunch times, yard supervision, taking care of a sick child etc. 4. Give the new teacher enough information to survive the first day. The rest can be learned from the manuals or the school rule book. If there is no rule book, the principal can schedule a regular time each day within the first week to continue the orientation. A person can only absorb so much at a certain time, and the schedule will enable the principal to have a sense of how the teacher is adjusting to the work and to the school environment. 5. Give the person time to absorb the newness of the job and the school. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming when so many staff members talk to a new teacher, while all they wants is get settled in and get to work on the first day. PAG E 1 0
6. Be extra sensitive to the new teacher’s needs in the first week. While you give the person space to start, watch out when they seems lost and needs some help. Often, they may be embarrassed to ask so when you see the predicament, offer your help. 7. Talk with the new teacher during lunch or coffee breaks. How often do you see new teachers eating alone or at the edge of the group? No one really cares. “In our school, we care.” This is the message you want to give. 8. Be prepared to listen. Be there to answer a new teacher’s questions or listen when they need to just process the experience. 9. Walk around the school with them and introduce them to your colleagues as someone you value. As each teacher tries to do this, the new teachers will find it easy to get into their work and will soon be doing the same to the other new teachers. Then, the transition will no longer be difficult but will even be enjoyable. Norton, M. (2011). ‘How to Welcome a New Employee’. Retrieved from http://www.howtodothings.com
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IRELAND’S No.1 SITE FOR EDUCATION VACANCIES FEATURES: ● Advertise your job vacancies FREE of charge ● The details of the job go directly to job-seekers – registered teachers receive email alerts about vacancies matching their subjects and chosen locations ● Advertise all categories of teaching post using the simple step-by-step ‘Advertise a Post’ process
Since June 2011 more than 5,000 vacancies have been advertised.
SOME ADVICE BEFORE ADVERTISING ON EDUCATIONPOSTS.IE: ●
Are you sure that you can go ahead and advertise? Check that the post is sanctioned by contacting the DES and the Diocesan Office.
You can only advertise once the panel is cleared – check with the Diocesan Office or Panel Officer to make sure that this is the case
If you have a maternity leave post to fill remember that this is a substitute position but should be properly advertised (see article on page 6)
Remember – as a job advertiser you don’t need to log-in to EducationPosts.ie. Once you visit the homepage go straight to Advertise a Post. If you cannot see Advertise a Post you may be logged in from a previous session – just click log out and refresh the page.
Designed by Principals for Principals Visit www.EducationPosts.ie For additional queries: info@EducationPosts.ie
Irish Primary Principals’ Network Líonra Phríomhoidí Bunscoile Éireann
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ICT Tips Wireless systems in our schools will transform teaching and learning By Jim Enright, Director of Laois Education Centre In 2010 the long-awaited but very welcome announcement of €24m in grants for high-tech classrooms in 3,300 primary schools was greeted with eagerness, excitement and enthusiasm but also with a certain trepidation. Many principals and teachers feel somewhat out of their comfort zone when it comes to making strategic decisions of a technical nature that will have long-term implications for their schools. According to the NCTE advice at the time, each classroom in the school had to be equipped with baseline equipment which consisted of a teaching computer with a long-range wireless mouse and keyboard, and a fixed digital projector. Only when this equipment baseline was in place for each classroom could any remaining grant funding be used to purchase further equipment. A prioritised list was provided, which included visualisers, computers, digital cameras, digital video cameras, mobile laptop trolley, school server, networking equipment (fixed or wireless networking, cabling, switches, wireless access points, data backup systems including installation) and interactive whiteboards. If advice on the best pedagogical usage of any of the above is required, it is best to check out what CPD courses are available in local education centres or check out http://www.ateci.ie/cpd-courses. That was 2010. So much has changed since. Presuming that schools have the equipment baseline in place and have purchased and indeed are putting to effective use some of the many products from the ‘prioritised’ list, all in keeping with the school’s e-plan, it is time to consider the next generation of infrastructural supports that are required. This is driven by the advent of both Web 2.0 technologies (applications and services such as blogs, video sharing, social networking, podcasting and so on) and the advent of a more socially and educationally connected Web where people can contribute as much and as easily as they can consume. Most educational establishments from primary schools to universities are experiencing an increasing reliance on online content and virtual learning environments. Many post-primary and primary schools are already investigating the possibility of replacing heavy schoolbags with some form of electronic portable device and wish to expand the kinds of applications and services these technologies can offer. The school-going population is heavily exposed to the market explosion of smart phones, tablet devices, netbooks and other communication devices that are being used as learning and teaching tools. This leads to both students and teachers expecting wireless availability, not only in the classroom but also along the school corridors, common areas, the staffroom and at every corner of the school building. However this is not as simple as it may appear. Just think about what happens when large numbers of teachers and students log into the network simultaneously first thing in the morning, or when several teachers in neighbouring classrooms simultaneously stream video! In the age of intensive wireless usage, the wireless communication environment needs to be not just stable, reliable and robust but it must have a guaranteed performance which allows for voice, data and video to be delivered with an always-on, mobile Wi-Fi connection. Schools will very quickly outgrow the capabilities of the traditional wireless network which typically was based on 802.11G standard and could handle speeds of up to 54MB /per second.This was always slower than a wired solution.
is a major investment which may be expensive depending on the size and layout of the school. The system has to provide guaranteed standards of performance, must meet strict security criteria, provide seamless mobility and most importantly be easy to maintain. There are many solutions available which should be carefully researched but if possible take independent advice on any proposed solutions. What is required ultimately is a centrally-managed wireless solution that will control security and roaming from one area of the school to another seamlessly. This solution must provide a predictable level of service and must prevent hand-off (dropping of coverage when moving from one access point to another) and co-channel interference, which have traditionally been the problems associated with wireless solutions in our schools in the past. It is imperative that whatever solution is put in place now, these pitfalls must be avoided. As wireless technologies are ever-evolving - with the Latest Standard of 802.11N delivering up to 300MB per second - we need to be mindful of the constantly changing nature of wireless technology, its capacity, capability and vulnerabilities.While the newer standards provide higher speeds which are needed to deliver the rich media experience we have come to expect from modern technology, we must remind ourselves of the security vulnerabilities that come with providing a wireless network for our school environment. However this may be perceived, it is a very exciting time for schools as the landscape for learning will soon have changed forever. There is no standing still or going back so let’s embrace this mammoth change – the investment will pay dividends. Jim has a BA in Maths and French (UCD) and an MSc in Information Technology (DCU). He worked as an ICT Advisor from 1999 to 2008 and is very interested in the role that technologies have to play in supporting teaching and learning. He is currently working as Director of Laois Education Centre.
It is therefore essential to plan very carefully for the type of wireless LAN (WLAN) which best suits a school’s needs. It PAG E 1 2
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Hibernia College Online Summer Courses Hibernia College is pleased to announce its 20 2012 Online Summer Courses rses for teac teachers. This user-friendly system allo allows your own home, at times convenient you while llows you y ou to study fro from y mes conve enient to yo y qualifying qua for extra personal va vacation cation (EPV) days. Participants Participan nts now have com complimentary ntary access to o th the first lesson esson o of each ach course, before deciding tto e cou urse of their choice. enrol on a course
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Planning & Assessment of Literacy y & Numeracy in Primary Schools
Differen Differentiating ntiating Instruct ion: Instruction:
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Focus on n Student Understanding
Language Languag ge Learning
Englis English sh Teaching Methodologies Metho odologies in the Primary Prima ary School
English Eng glish
Infant Education Ed ducation
Strategies for f Teaching Mathematic cs in the Primary School Mathematics
Maths Beyond B Number Numbe er Exploring the t other strands
Teach Teaching hing for Understanding Under rstanding
Math Mathematics hematics Teaching Meth hodologies Methodologies
Practiical Strategies for Listening, Practical Early Reading and Spelling
Autis Autism m
Educational Edu ucational Technology
Promotin Promoting ng the Social Communication Skills of S Students with ASDs
Practtical Applications in the Practical Classroom Class sroom
Awa areness and Awareness Prev vention of Bullying Prevention
Realistic Differentiation in the Cu Curriculum rriculum
Infant Education E
Gaeilge Gaeil ge
Literacy ac across cross the Curriculum in Infants
Cumarssáid, Cluichí agus Cumarsáid, Straitéis sí don Mhúinteoir Straitéisí
Music and an nd Drama in the Classroom Cla assroom
Child Protection P in the School Sch hool
Integrating Integratin ng SESE in the Classroom Cla assroom
Creating a Positive Creating Environ nment for Environment Learning Learnin ng
Drama and and Inclusion of Pupils with SEN
Religion Religions ns of the World
Visual Visua al Arts The Visual Visu ual Arts Curriculum in Action n
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Tea Teaching aching in a Multicultural Mul lticultural Society
Lea Leadership adership for the Primary Prim mary School Principal Prin ncipal
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Leadership: Principals and Principles A view from across the pond By Rich Burchill, Principal at Belmont Day School in Belmont, Massachusetts As an elementary school principal in Massachusetts, I have always felt that nobody understands our work as well as our fellow principals. That is why I am so honored to make this connection to Leadership+ and Irish colleagues.
schools have no religious affiliation owing to the constitutional separation of state and church. Private, religious or independent schools that typically charge tuition receive virtually no obvious public financial support and establish their own standards.
Like most principals anywhere, Massachusetts principals wake up each morning facing increasing expectations with diminishing resources, the constant demand to do more with less and to do it quicker and better. After all, schools do reflect society.
As an example, in 1993 the state of Massachusetts passed an Education Reform Act aimed at holding principals, teachers and schools accountable for student learning as measured by standardized testing. The public was told that principals, rather than local school boards, would be able to hire and fire teachers and would have responsibility and authority for what went on in their schools. Local school boards would have their power reduced to ‘policy setting’. In reality, principals were removed from unions and prohibited from collective bargaining of their contracts. The standard of dismissal for teachers was raised and the standard for dismissal of principals was lowered. A great political ‘sound bite’ to the public actually amounted to an erosion of a principal’s ability to do her/his job effectively. This all follows a tradition in the United States of political and media criticism of our public schools.
Like most principals anywhere, Massachusetts principals wake up each morning facing increasing expectations with diminishing resources, the constant demand to do more with less and to do it quicker and better. Attempting to succinctly describe elementary schools in the United States is a bit of a challenge. For example, elementary school grade configurations here can vary from community to community. Some schools may span three or four grades and others nine or ten. Developmentally, that can clearly impact the dynamics in a school. In the United States we do not currently have a national curriculum, so think of fifty separate state approaches. Individual states and communities have historically developed their own curriculum, but are gradually moving toward what are known as ‘common core’ standards. Different states have different standards even under the national umbrella of the No Child Left Behind legislation of the George Bush era that has become the Push to the Top initiative of the Barack Obama administration. Funding for public schools comes from a convoluted blend of national and state support and local property taxes. Public (national)
Despite this and with overwhelmingly deadening bureaucratic and building management responsibilities that take us away from what we do best, leaders continue to aspire to become school principals. So much of this is due to principal associations like (for me) the Massachusetts Elementary School Principals Association or MESPA and (for you) IPPN, which provide needed support. A dearth of candidates for school leadership positions has been developing in recent years in the States. Teachers look at principals who are not making that much more in salary than they and who are spending innumerable hours out at meetings at night and on weekends and dealing with increasingly stressful management. Becoming a principal does not seem as appealing as it once did as a focus of career advancement. So what is it about ‘the job’ that still excites those of us who do it? It has to do with the stimulation of working with children in their formative years. It has to do with the thrill of hiring exceptional teachers to inspire these PAG E 1 4
children. It has to do with helping parents learn to parent in changing times. As we deal with increasingly meaningless yet impactful bureaucracy, it often has to do with (and we won’t admit it publically) operating as a ‘guerilla in the midst’ when protecting our schools from outside forces. And what all of those perks have in common is the juice of living in potential. Elementary school principals live in potential. Where else is potential so malleable, so formative, so dynamic? Elementary schools really are where ‘it happens.’ We deal in the future. When we are at our best we are secular pastors (in your case, maybe not so secular.) We listen, we hold confidences, we feel, we motivate, we laugh, we cry, we have difficult conversations, we advocate, we compartmentalize to survive, we connect.
As an international colleague, I say thank you for what you do each day for young children and I wish for you the constant companion of idealism. Within a short time of assuming our positions we learn that our role is nothing like we thought it would be. Bruce Springsteen’s words resonate with me when applied to principalship - ‘The great challenge of adulthood is holding onto your idealism after you’ve lost your innocence.’ And yes, many principals have lost our innocence. As an international colleague, I say thank you for what you do each day for young children and I wish for you the constant companion of idealism. Rich Burchill is currently the Lower School Principal at Belmont Day School in Belmont, Massachusetts. He sits on the board and is a former President of the Massachusetts Elementary School Principals Association. He has been an adjunct graduate school of education professor and presenter at professional conferences on a range of regular and special education issues. His parents were both born in West Cork. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Getting ready for the new school year Save yourself some hassle in September by organising yourself before the school closes for the summer. UPDATING YOUR TEXTAPARENT ACCOUNT – PARENTS, CLASS GROUPS, PRINCIPAL New pupils and families, pupils leaving at the end of sixth class, pupils moving from one class level to the next – all of these changes will require you to amend your TextaParent groups and contacts. To do this, please follow the ‘Managing My Contacts’ tutorial which you can download from the Resources menu of TextaParent.ie. If you have been considering using Paypal to purchase text units online, this may be a good time to set up a school credit card to ensure you are never caught short of text units. If the Principal is retiring or moving to another school, the name and contact details of the
Principal will need to be updated.To do this, email the details to Sarah at email@example.com. PIMS 2012/2013 The PIMS 2012/2013 templates are now available to download from the Supports & Services – PIMS section of www.ippn.ie. These can be printed off and placed in your PIMS folder. The templates include: ■ Today’s Priorities Sheet ■ Monthly Planning Prompts ■ Monthly Calendar ■ Annual Calendar ■ Appointments Diary ■ Contacts Sheet ■ Grants Details ■ Principals Report to the BoM. AIRGEAD BUNSCOILE If you use this Excel-based school finance package, you will need to set up a new spreadsheet for the new school year.There are two ways to do this:
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1. Download the latest version of Airgead Bunscoile from the Policies & Plans – Administration section of www.ippn.ie 2. Alternatively, use the ‘Save As’ function within Excel to save a new version of your current spreadsheet with the suffix ‘2012-2013’. Remember to first save your current version with the suffix ‘2011-2012’! Please note: Before using the package, please read the explanatory one page document ‘Airgead Bunscoile - Detailed Instructions & Help with Excel Versions’. DELEGATE Delegate as much as you possibly can during the summer to the secretary, caretaker, keyholder and members of the Board of Management. As a wise person once said ‘The first rule of management is delegation. Don't try and do everything yourself because you can't.’
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Living with Autism Niall and Noeleen Murphy live in Rhode, Co. Offaly. They are married almost 14 years and have 3 children. Their eldest son Ryan has autism. Niall recently completed his ‘100k for 100k ‘ challenge, running 100km non-stop to raise €100,000 for Irish Autism Action. Born in 1972, I grew up in the village of Rhode where I have lived all my life. The marathon running became centrefold in 2010 when, after been made redundant at Lagan Cement, Kinnegad, I joined the support crew for 32 Marathons in which Gerry Duffy and Ken Whitelaw ran 32 marathons in 32 counties in 32 days.
Speech and language development for Ryan was hopefully going to be the turning point in his life, but his autism is much more complex than that. Although running is a passion for me, it is also a major stress reliever and relaxation therapy but my real passion in this event was to raise €100,000 for Irish Autism Action. We titled this challenge 100km for €100k for autism and it took place on April 1st, the day before World Autism Day. The challenge was for me to run 10 laps of 10km on the day, each lap representing Ryan’s journey with autism since it was first diagnosed. The plan was to get 1,000 participants to run, jog or walk a 10km lap and raise €100 each and so far it has raised €85,000 for autism. It was not possible to do this without the help of a strong community and I linked up with the Rhode Ladies Football Club to help with this challenge. Through that strong community spirit, the challenge managed to attract over 1,000 participants. Irish Autism Action is a charity very close to my heart as, without the support of the national charity, Ryan and many more like him would not have a school placement, home support or proper infrastructure and behaviour plans.
On the 13 October 2000 in Mullingar General Hospital, Ryan Murphy was born, a beautiful 8lb 11oz boy. Ryan, like many other children on the spectrum, walked at 12 months, vocalised and performed as all other tiny tots do at that age. However, on the 13th October 2002, on the day of Ryan’s second birthday, major changes were noted in his behaviours and thus began the journey of learning what autism is. Following numerous GP visits, assessments and developmental checks, Ryan was finally diagnosed with autism in June 2004, by Prof Michael Fitzgerald. Devastating as it was for us as Ryan’s parents, a plan of action in how to deal with this was the priority in terms of moving forward. School placement was a priority but none were available close to home. Instead, Ryan’s first day at school was on the 11th October 2004 in Athboy, Co. Meath, 32 miles away from his home and 2 days before his 4th birthday. Ryan spent 10 months in school in Athboy until August 2005 before the logistics, stress and tiredness of the travel got to us all and Ryan was then taught at home until Saplings School opened its doors in Mullingar on 6th February 2006. Ryan had never spoken a word from his tiny tot days until April 22nd 2007 on an unbelievable day in Saplings School when he finally produced words to his tutor. Hearing the words ‘daddy’, ‘mammy’ and ‘nana’ after 6 and a half years was the greatest cause for celebration ever for us. Tears of joy and a great immense sense of happiness and relief overwhelmed us and the staff at Saplings School as we had finally made a small but very worthwhile breakthrough into Ryan’s world. Speech and language development for Ryan was hopefully going to be the turning point in his life, but his autism is much more complex than that. Like any parents, all we ever wanted was the best for Ryan. Unfortunately, due to the severity of his autism, his speech and language development did not expand in the way that we would have hoped. Instead the priority for Ryan changed and communication and understanding are the primary goals.
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On 20th June 2009 Ryan, along with six other students at Saplings Mullingar, made their First Holy Communion in the school, which was another massive milestone in Ryan’s developmental life. Through his six years at Saplings, Ryan has been working on his communication through PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) and his understanding of the life skills and integrating some of the school curriculum into his IEP (Individual Education Programme). Ryan’s achievements over the years include Spelling his name Writing his name Working on his numerical skills Preparing food e.g. making toast and buttering it and also cleaning up afterwards ■ Dressing himself ■ Household chores e.g. emptying the dishwasher, putting away his clothes, clearing the table, tidying up his toys etc. ■ Navigating the iPad, which is being used by many families who are affected by autism. ■ ■ ■ ■
In spite of all the bridges still to be crossed, there are many great moments when Ryan learns something new. These are massive milestone for us as parents In spite of all the bridges still to be crossed, there are many great moments when Ryan learns something new. These are massive milestone for us as parents. Just recently when emptying the dishwasher, Ryan not alone put all the forks, knives and spoons into their correct location but also tidied up the drawer with all the other utensils as well. Sounds like a small thing for an 11 year old but it was a massive for Ryan and very pleasing for us as parents. Little things like these are what keep us going.
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IPPN Deputy Principals’ Conference 2012 ‘Two Heads are Better than One’ Giorraíonn Beirt Bóthar By Virginia O’Mahony, Assistant Director On May 10th and 11th, more than 350 Deputy Principals from all over Ireland gathered in Citywest Hotel for their annual IPPN DPs’ Conference with the theme ‘Two Heads are better than one’. Although denied substitute cover this year, the Deputy Principals’ attendance spoke volumes of the importance they, and their principals, place on professional development in furthering an understanding of their leadership role. The keynote address came in the form of a Shakespearean actor, Phyllida Hancock, of Contender Charlie. She followed the travails and triumphs of King Henry 5th into the Battle of Agincourt, as described by Shakespeare. In so doing she highlighted Henry’s skills as an inspirational leader and manager of change. This powerful learning opportunity proved a very popular and exciting addition to the conference. Each Deputy Principal had the opportunity of attending three out of six workshops. Literacy and numeracy were high on the order of business this year as workshop topics. Gene Mehigan looked at
‘Leading Literacy in the Primary School’ and explored the importance of teaching vocabulary as part of an effective literacy programme. With ‘Building Bridges of Understanding’, Martin Gleeson outlined a strategic approach to teaching children comprehension. In ‘Numeracy in the Primary School’, Patsy Stafford looked at the role of play in the development of numeracy and also at the importance of cooperative group learning, particularly in relation to problem-solving. Deirdre Matthews and Marina Ní Threasaigh, of the DES Inspectorate, gave a clear outline on how to begin the process of School Self Evaluation while showing examples from schools that are already involved in the process. Joe O’Connell explored strategies and guiding principles for managing relationships with challenging adults in the school community. Karen Belshaw, in her interactive workshop on ‘Stress Management’, explored practical coping skills to deal with everyday stress and stressors by first understanding what happens in the brain and body when the stress response is triggered.
Virginia O’Mahony from IPPN provided an outline of the research done by IPPN on the Role of the Deputy Principal in the ‘Giorraíonn Beirt Bóthar’ publication issued in 2007, reflecting the views of the DPs interviewed and their understanding of the importance of distributed leadership. Following dinner, the Deputy Principals enjoyed a brief visit from President Michael D. Higgins, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Michael Noonan, Gerry Adams, Daniel O’Donnell and Eamonn Dunphy - courtesy of the comedian Oliver Callan. The attendees expressed a very high level of satisfaction with the conference programme, the organisation and venue. Note that workshop presentation materials relating to the workshops outlined above are available to download from www.ippn.ie by selecting CPD – Deputy Principals’ Conference 2012 from the menu and then clicking on ‘Workshops’ at the bottom of the page.
English Third to Sixth Classes The Wonderland English Literacy Programme for Stages Three and Four comprises of four books:
The My Read at Home Book series develops reading fluency and comprehension skills by encouraging daily and independent reading at home. The series currently consists of four books: My Read at Home Book 3, 4, 5 and 6.
+ Get Set! (Stage Three, Book 1) + Let’s Go! (Stage Three, Book 2) + Up and Running! (Stage Four, Book 1) + Racing Ahead! (Stage Four, Book 2) Each reader contains 20 extracts from published children’s literature, 10 fact units and 10 poems. The extracts have been carefully chosen by peer reviewers and cover a wide range of reading genres. Each extract is followed by a series of activities. The Teacher’s Notes that accompany each book include a comprehensive week-by-week, month-by-month scheme. ICT is fully integrated throughout the programme.
As this is an independent series, it can be used in conjunction with any reading programme. Each book consists of 120 single-page units, arranged into 30 sections (one per week of the school year). Each page is a vibrant stand-alone piece, with a variety of styles and themes to appeal to all tastes and interests.
www.cjfallon.ie PAG E 1 7
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Healthy Food for All By Gerry Murphy, IPPN President
Healthy Food for All (HFfA), an all-island initiative, seeks to address food poverty by promoting access, availability and affordability of food for low-income groups. HFFA AND FOOD IN SCHOOLS ■ Consultation event and submission on a European School Fruit & Vegetable Scheme ■ Consultation on flavoured milks ■ Good Practice Guide for School Food Initiatives ■ Collaboration with Kellogg’s ■ Consultation event on breakfast clubs in February of last year ■ Scoping study on the establishment of a national framework to support breakfast clubs – conducted in March last year ■ Research and develop a Good Practice Guide for Breakfast Clubs, which was done in April this year. WHAT IS FOOD POVERTY? ‘Inability to have an adequate and nutritious diet due to issues of the affordability of and access to food’ (Dowler, 1998) ■ One in five children go to school or to bed hungry because there is not enough food in the home (HBSC, 2009)
Weight status related to social class (Growing Up in Ireland longitudinal survey, 2011) ■ Higher levels of parental education is linked to a greater intake of fruit and vegetables and a lower intake of energy dense foods ■ Low-income families spend a higher proportion of their income (c.25%) on food compared to other socio-economic groups (17%) (HFfA, 2009) ■ In order to obtain a healthy diet, families dependent on social welfare would have to spend one third of their weekly budget on food (HFfA, 2009).
Higher levels of parental education is linked to a greater intake of fruit and vegetables and a lower intake of energy dense foods
BENEFITS OF BREAKFAST CLUBS ■ Help meet nutritional needs ■ Improve school attendance and punctuality ■ Improve concentration in class ■ Create positive links between families and the school ■ Allow for a more positive outlook towards the school, resulting in improved participation and improved interaction with parents ■ Help the development of social skills ■ Allow participants to have fun ■ Improve peer relationships. BREAKFAST CLUB STAKEHOLDER GROUP IPPN is represented in this group by Gerry Murphy. The core group is facilitated by the HFfA, meets quarterly to drive actions to progress the Breakfast Club agenda and to inform their advocacy work.The ‘advocacy group’ advocates within the agency and with relevant networks and supports and promote the Good Practice Guide on Breakfast Clubs. For more information contact Gerry by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In summary, many families are struggling to provide high quality food for their children.
Whose school is it anyway? By Seán Cottrell Whenever Principals meet, invariably they enquire about each other’s schools. A question which typically arises is ‘what size school is it’? The answer always makes me think - on two levels. First is the choice of pronoun, between ‘my’ school and ‘our’ school. I often wonder what impression this use of ‘my’ or ‘our’ makes? Second is the ‘size’ issue. A typical answer is ‘I have 18 teachers, 4 SNAs, 1 secretary and a part-time caretaker’. Not a child in sight!
Interestingly, the Principals’ allowance used to be calculated on the basis of the number of children in a school. I can’t remember what the rationale was for changing it to the number of teachers. In New Zealand and Canada, Principals are paid more or less the same salary regardless of school size (children or teachers). The rationale is that schools with a larger number of pupils have additional administrative staff, caretakers and posts of responsibility whereas
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smaller schools don’t have these extra resources therefore Principals carry a heavier workload. Drawing attention to this choice of words might seem petty. However, after it was pointed out to me, I have never failed to notice which of these words Principals choose to use. A minor issue maybe, but the question remains - ‘whose school is it anyway’?
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Principal in Profile: Hilary McNutt, Teaching Principal, Ayr Hill NS, Ramelton, Co. Donegal Ayr Hill is a small rural, currently three teacher school, with a learning support teacher based in the school and shared with another small school. The school is under the patronage of the Presbyterian Church. The greatest influence on my decision to become a teacher was my Aunt Bessie (Elizabeth Wilkinson). She was a teaching principal, mostly in a one teacher school, for her whole teaching career (1931 – 1973). Even though at times she had thirty plus pupils in a one teacher school she never seemed to be under pressure and every child was fully engaged in their work. I remember her sitting night after night working at the kitchen table – the key to her success was planning, preparation and organisation.
I always knew, with a degree of certainty, that if I wanted to return to my native Donegal to teach, I would more than likely be teaching in a small rural school. I always knew, with a degree of certainty, that if I wanted to return to my native Donegal to teach, I would more than likely be teaching in a small rural school. The challenges of multiclass teaching were highlighted and discussed during my three years training in the Church of Ireland College of Education in Rathmines. However as I walked through the college gates for the last time in June 1981 the reality was somewhat dulled by the happy haze of actually securing a job – a teaching principalship in Portarlington NS, Co. Laois, in a then two teacher school under the patronage of the Church of Ireland. What a difference those thirty one years have made to the role of principal – then the curriculum consisted of the two books which comprised the 1971 Curaclam na Bunscoile. There were less subjects to teach and policies and whole school planning hadn’t been heard of. A technology malfunction in my early days of teaching was
blowing the bulb on the Irish comhrá filmstrip projector! Many changes have been for the better – modern school buildings, great advances in technology, although in our school the internet connection is a constant source of frustration, a coat hanger out the window would probably give better connectivity! One of the greatest joys of teaching in Donegal is the beauty of the area in which I am privileged to live. Leaving my home in Downings to travel to Ramelton on a summer’s morning and travelling up along the shores of Mulroy Bay, there are few more beautiful journeys to work. Ramelton is a ‘plantation town’ dating back to the Ulster Plantation of the early 1600s. It is from this influx of Scottish planters, mostly Presbyterian, that today the congregation of Ramelton Presbyterian Church still boasts three schools under its patronage. These three small schools (two schools with two teachers and our three-teacher school currently, but with decreasing enrolment, not for long) will undoubtedly face decisions and pressure to amalgamate at some point in the future, as they have done in the past. Funding the running of all our schools is a growing challenge in these recessionary times. We were very disappointed when our school was not included in DEIS, even though our pupils come from the same socio-economic groups as other local schools which were included. One of the major drawbacks of being in a Donegal school is the distance we have to travel to events, meetings or on school tours. Usually we try to visit attractions in Donegal or in Northern Ireland. Indeed this year we went to the fabulous Titanic Belfast, well worth seeing but it involved a round trip of five hours bus travel and the cost of converting euro to sterling. Even our ‘local’ Education Centre where many of the night courses are held involves a round trip of one hundred miles from my home. Although this is a Presbyterian school we welcome and have pupils of all denominations and none. Our local minister visits our school
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regularly and holds school assemblies which all the pupils attend and we greatly welcome this spiritual support. On a practical level, the local congregation permits us to use the church hall for PE which allows us to deliver the PE curriculum throughout the year and not just in fair weather! The Presbyterian Church, in common with the Church of Ireland, takes responsibility for the preparation of its children for Confirmation. This is done through the church-run Sunday Schools and removes a huge workload of preparation which I see my Roman Catholic colleagues undertaking each year.
One of the major drawbacks of being in a Donegal school is the distance we have to travel to events, meetings or on school tours. Usually we try to visit attractions in Donegal or in Northern Ireland. Our school of fifty six pupils has a happy family atmosphere, which is often remarked upon by visitors, where parents and teachers work together to provide the best learning environment for our pupils. We watch with pride and joy as those tentative Junior Infants, over their eight years with us, become confident and accomplished Sixth Class pupils, ready for the challenges of secondary school and indeed life. The most enjoyable part of my job continues to be teaching my Fifth & Sixth Class pupils. No two days are ever the same, and I’m always learning and trying new ideas and we do have fun! My greatest challenge – time, there’s never enough of it! My greatest assets are my wonderful colleagues, and in particular my deputy principal teacher, Sandra Moore, without whose practical help, good advice and support my role as a teaching principal would be so much more difficult.
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Update on the Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People Programme By Aisling Curley, Assistant Principal Officer in the Special Education Section of the Department of Education and Skills and Michael Shemeld, member of the National Disability Unit of the HSE Education sector representation The National Co-ordinating Group (NCG) for this programme was established by the HSE in 2010. It includes representatives of the education sector and these representatives have now identified personnel to represent that sector on the Regional and Local Implementation Groups. Working groups have been established to look at various matters including: ■ Mapping current health services available ■ The interface between education and health ■ Criteria for access to services ■ Training required for health staff ■ The composition of Early Intervention and School-Age Teams ■ Standards and performance reporting. Where appropriate, the education sector is represented on these working groups. Feeding into the NCG through an education and health subgroup will be
A SENO (NCSE) and a NEPS psychologist will be also nominated as the liaison persons for the Local Implementation Groups. Ensuring the voice of schools is heard It is widely acknowledged that the reconfiguration of services is in the best interests of children and young people. The arrangements established between the sectors at local level will impact directly on schools. We are all well aware of the circumstances within which both our sectors are currently operating and we know that the process will require time and commitment. Our success in addressing issues will depend on establishing good relationships between the sectors at local level. We hope that you will make contact and get involved.
The National Co-ordinating Group (NCG) for this programme was established by the HSE in 2010.
It is widely acknowledged that the reconfiguration of services is in the best interests of children and young people. The arrangements established between the sectors at local level will impact directly on schools.
You may recall that a previous article by the Programme Co-ordinator, Caroline Cantan, explained the origins and vision of the Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People programme (issue 64, September 2011). That article pointed out that more about the programme can be found on the HSE Learning and Development website www.hseland.ie.You don’t have to be a member of HSE staff to register and log in. Once logged in, click on Practice Development Hubs followed by The Change Hub. Choose Reconfiguration of Resources from the menu across the top and then choose, Progressing Children’s Disability Services.
Regional Directors (NEPS) and Senior SENOs (NCSE) who will attend Regional Implementation Group meetings for a focussed agenda slot on educational liaison. The Regional Director and Senior SENO liaisons nominated for each of the four HSE regions are listed below.
Aisling and Michael are members of the Health and Education Working Group of the National Co-ordinating Group for the Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People Programme.
HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster
F. O Neill
HSE Dublin North East
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Grandad Bill - a teacher full of munificent blather By Billy Keane, sports columnist, author and after dinner speaker My grandfather was the principal of the two teacher school at Clounmacon, about three miles from Listowel. Granddad Bill walked in and out to school every day from his home in Church Street. He was before his time and taught the students French and Latin by way of preparing them for scholarship exams. He taught me Roy Rodgers. Roy was a famous cowboy who was a great pal of my grandfather, or so he said. Bill like all great teachers was a storyteller. He kept an up-to-date library and there can be no doubt he was a huge influence on my father.
composition which is a much better name because stories are composed just like songs or poetry with their own internal rhythm and flow. Seán asked the kids to write a composition about a football match. The next morning one of the boys missed his deadline. I’m sure he eventually took up journalism as a career. ‘Sir’, he said tearfully,’ I has no essay done’.
John B wrote so passionately about granddad. I am terribly proud of my father, Bitterly, faithfully proud. Let none say a word to my father Or mention his name out loud. I adored his munificent blather Since I was his catch–as-catch-can I am terribly proud of my father For he was a loveable man.
‘And why is that?’ asked Seán, but not in a harsh way for he was by nature a kindly man. ‘Sir’, replied the boy,’ I has no pencil’. Seán was a stickler for grammar. ‘My dear boy – it is I have no pencil, you have no pencil, she has no pencil, we have no pencil, they have no pencil.
A child with a teacher for a parent is born into a house of learning and a child born to a teacher full of munificent blather is bound to become a writer. The Keanes are a family of teachers.There are five in my generation alone and the tradition goes on. My daughter Lainey is a student at Mary I or Mary’s Eye as one of the lads in bar calls it. She is in second year and is studying primary teaching and educational psychology. With a father as cracked as me, she need never look up a text book when it comes to the psychology. There was a tear in the eye this May as I watched her walk in the front door of Scoil Réalta na Maidine here in Listowel. Bill taught there, as did his father and five generations of our family before me were students in Listowel Primary. Son John and nephew Bill were the latest scholars to attend that wonderful school. The regret of my life is that I didn’t take my dad’s advice and become a teacher. Bryan Mc Mahon was our principal and he had no bother combining teaching and writing. Ah but I knew it all at seventeen. I can remember every single primary teacher who taught me in Scoil Réalta na Maidine but only a handful of university lecturers stick in the memory. I was happy, most of the time, and to my teachers I owe a huge debt.You may be disillusioned with cuts in pay and resources but keep on going. Teaching is truly a vocation and teachers are the true architects of a nation. Teachers are more than architects for not only do they draw the plans, they provide the building materials as well. Ah but enough of the lecturing. There was a teacher by the name of Seán Ó Sé and for a time he taught in a primary school in South Kerry. He gave the kids a homework essay or a
‘Now young fella’, asked Seán, ‘have you any questions? The boy thought for a minute before responding. He pulled down his sleeves over his hands and scratched his left knee with his right foot. A sure sign of bewilderment as any anthropologist will tell you. ‘There’s somethin’ I want to ask alright, Mr O’ Shea’. The boy stalled yet again as if to clarify his thoughts and confirm to himself the profound content of his question. In other words he was tongue-tied. By now Seán was growing impatient. There were thirty seven more compositions to be read, corrected and commented upon. He prodded. ‘Go on boy, go on. Come on. Out with it.’ ‘Sir’, gasped and gushed the small boy,’ who have all the pencils?’ The teachers of Ireland have the sharpest pencils and the sharpest minds. We need practical patriotism now more than ever. Old Bill Keane was always short of money, but he was never poor when it came to donating his knowledge and giving of himself in the classroom. For he was a loveable man. Billy Keane is a sports columnist with the Irish independent and is the author of a highly acclaimed novel, ‘The Last of The Heroes’. He co-wrote ‘Rucks, Mauls and Gaelic Footballs’ with Moss Keane and ghosted Billy Morgan’s autobiography ‘Rebel Rebel’. He runs the family pub John B Keane’s in Listowel and has appeared on almost every kind of TV and radio programme ranging from Questions and Answers to Podge and Rog. He is a regular contributor to the Matt Cooper Show on Today FM.
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Are you planning to retire in 2012? If you have made the decision to retire in the coming weeks or months of 2012 we wish you every happiness and fulfilment in the future. IPPN acknowledges the importance of providing every possible support for Newly Appointed Principals and aims to contact them as soon as they are appointed. However, the greatest challenge we face is to find out the names of these Newly Appointed Principals as early as possible.
To assist the work being done in the IPPN Support Office could you please let us know of your impending retirement and also the name of the Newly Appointed Principal as soon as that decision has been made? This would be of enormous help to us and I know would be very much appreciated by the Newly Appointed Principal.
Any information that you can provide can be emailed or mailed to Jackie at the IPPN Support Office: email@example.com
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Fundraising Opportunity for your School How your school can make cents out of old coin! Special Olympics Ireland has developed a unique fundraising event which your school is invited to participate in. By collecting old Irish and foreign currencies your school can not only help charity but can also receive 40% of any funds raised. How it will work for your school and Special Olympics Ireland Special Olympics Ireland has secured all the necessary partners to run this campaign so all you have to do is:
At the end of October 2012, all the currency will be collected, sorted, and counted by our partner Coin Collection International. Your school will then receive 40% of the funds raised.
The next step 1. Receive your pre assigned coded bag from Special Olympics 2. Organise a day/week in October for students to bring in their old Irish coin/ foreign currency 3. Put all notes and coins into your coded bag
To register your school just logon to www.specialolympics.ie/coincampaign or contact Mark Hughes Email firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 01-8691634.
4. 'URSEDJLQWR\RXUORFDOGURSRĆŞSRLQW 5. Wait for your cheque to arrive
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In School Management: Where to from here? By Micheál Rea, Principal, Little Island NS, Cork
There are many people more qualified to write on this topic than me but it is growing more and more problematic for schools so here are my thoughts. In my own situation we should have two more Posts of Responsibility and also an Assistant Principal. Over the last few years our school hasn’t had a full complement of ISM due to maternity leaves etc. There is no way to plug the gap due to the moratorium so where does that leave the duties that the school has prioritised when reviewing the ISM duties? Who does the work?
Once you start paying for and listing duties you start to lose some of the goodwill. Staff are suddenly conscious of what they are doing outside of teaching… I have a very enthusiastic and interested staff and for that I am very grateful but why should I be in the position where I am going cap in hand to a teacher asking for a favour for the school when there is supposed to be a system in place to cover these jobs? The problem with a paid middle management structure is the same problem that exists with the Croke Park Agreement. Once you start paying for and listing duties you start to lose some of the goodwill. Staff are suddenly conscious of what they are doing outside of teaching, and questioning whether or not they should be doing it because someone else is getting an allowance, or being allowed CPA hours, for doing something similar. It is very unlikely that Posts of Responsibility will ever come back into the system and it may well be that the existing ones are taken away when allowances are reviewed. What do we do then? Are we to do away with consultation and shared leadership? Will it be a case that the Principal and Deputy Principal will write the policies and tell the staff at staff meeting to implement the policies? I for one am not
omnipotent and I need all the help and wisdom that I can get from my colleagues in school. Where are the opportunities in this mess? Every school is different but this is how I see it. There are people on staff who are interested in how the school runs and who would like to have a say in the running of the school. They know there is little or no opportunity for promotion so they may welcome an opportunity to be part of the school’s ISM team to improve their CV for when they apply for a Principalship down the line. They could be invited to attend ISM meetings to give their opinions and to be involved. The current ISM team shouldn’t see it as a problem as it may lighten their workload a bit. Consultation can be done by email. Policies and plans can be circulated to all staff by email thus giving them the time to look over and consider the issues in their own time. Those who can and are interested will give feedback will and those who can’t or don’t want to will have been consulted. This reduces the amount of reading and talking required at face to face meetings.
There are people on staff who are interested in how the school runs and who would like to have a say in the running of the school Consider the role of other staff members. There are plenty of instances where SNAs, secretaries and caretakers have vast experience and knowledge of the school. This can be very useful in certain circumstances. In many ways these individuals may have more invested in the school than the teacher covering a short term leave who knows they will be somewhere else in a couple of months. Staff meetings are opportunities to communicate the difficulties around getting PAG E 2 4
ISM duties done. Staff members have to be aware that cutbacks are affecting how schools are resourced. Encourage them to consider that the more they put in the more they get out. You can explain that you have to regard the whole staff as having a role to play in the management of the school and that as such you will from time to time be asking for their help. Lots of public praise, gratitude and cakes might help too!
Staff members have to be aware that cutbacks are affecting how schools are resourced. As leaders in the school we have invested heavily in the success and development of our schools with time, effort and research. It can be easy to forget that not everyone approaches school life in the same way. We have to learn what interests and excites our staff and try to use this to work for the school. There may be excellent teachers in your school who want to teach their class but not get involved in policies or future planning. Looking at the full picture, they may offer as much in the long term as others. Staff can have different priorities at different times of their lives so sometimes you have to look at their overall career contribution rather than looking at 1 or 2 years. For as long as there have been teachers we have been adapting and evolving in order to improve the learning opportunities for our students. The rate of change over the last few years has been head-spinning but we have the ability within our profession to survive and prosper. The deconstruction of ISM teams is frustrating for us but also for the next generation of teachers who see no hope of promotion. As politicians like to say – we are where we are so let’s make the best of it.
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ro n e ow
Hibernia College is now enrolling for its primary and post primary teacher education programmes. Both are academically accredited by HETAC and professionally accredited by the Teaching Council. Because the programmes are delivered through a blend of online and onsite tuition, they are ideal for anyone who wishes to structure their study around personal and work commitments.
Professional Diploma in Post Primary Education Higher Diploma in Arts in Primary Education Based on our highly successful Primary Education programme, this new programme was established to encourage a broader range of people to consider post primary school teaching as a career. The programme includes three blocks of school experience and professional practice and onsite workshops at weekends.
Established in 2003, graduates from this programme now work as primary school teachers and principals around the country. The programme includes three blocks of school experience and teaching practice, three weeks in the Gaeltacht and onsite workshops at weekends.
What Next? For more information and to apply, go to:
HiberniaCollege.com/Teach Hibernia College is a HETAC accredited online college offering quality assured, blended and online education programmes.
Telephone: +353 1 6610168 email@example.com
Ciall Ceannaithe – IPPN’s online Summer Course – has been developed to provide a greater understanding of the innovative solutions to challenges facing Principals.
IPPN’s online course for Newly Appointed Principals and aspiring Principals
A highly practical step-by-step course built on the collective wisdom and experience of seasoned Principals. The course is designed to professionally support Newly Appointed Principals through the first day, first week, first month and first year of your principalship. It is also a very suitable refresher course for experienced Principals who wish to reflect on current practice.
Modules include: ● Accessing professional supports & key resources ● Getting started in your role ● What to do… what not to do! ● Scheduling priorities ● Good practice & timetabling for Teaching Principals
Course includes: ● 10 modules (20 hours of study) ● Fully interactive online lessons with audio/visual ● Discussion forum with expert moderators & facilitators ● Online reflective learning log ● Innovative technology-enhanced Learning
Registration: ● Course registration will be open in June with the course commencing in July ● Full details will be available on www.ippn.ie in the coming weeks ● Access to broadband is a necessity
For further information contact Jennifer McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Homophobic bullying, suicide and the primary school – Part II By Gerard Farrelly, Principal of Goresbridge NS, Co. Kilkenny
Homophobic bullying has been found to be a major issue in an Irish context, as the work of Dr. James O’Higgins-Norman in DCU testifies. I am in the process of completing my doctoral studies on the topic of homophobic bullying in Irish primary schools. Primary school principals were the main focus of my research and I set out to determine whether there was evidence of homophobic bullying in Irish primary schools today. 100 principals completed questionnaires and I also interviewed principal teachers to ascertain their level of knowledge and understanding relating to this issue. All principals questioned recognised the effects of bullying as being extremely harmful and 98% believed that bullying behaviour would be identified in some form in Irish primary schools. It should give us great solace to know that principal teachers have a very good understanding of bullying in general. I found the data pertaining to homophobic bullying and sexuality alarming and further research evidence will be collected and collated in the coming months. 92% of principals questioned had experienced children in their care being called gay and, in more than a quarter of cases (27%), their pupils had experienced violence because others had perceived them to be gay. 89% of principals recognised the harm caused by homophobic derogatory labels being directed towards children yet only 50% of principals want homosexuality to be dealt with in SPHE and RSE. Sexuality is a fundamental part of our human condition yet only half of principals surveyed feel comfortable including it in the curriculum. BULLYING OR BANTER? I was always curious as to why the word ‘gay’ is bandied about so readily in the yard, and why as educators we sometimes accept its use. If young children use the term ‘gay’ consciously as a term of abuse or even as friendly ‘banter’, does this perpetuate the view that being gay is a bad thing? Does our sexuality only become an issue once we enter secondary school? Do our children really not understand what is being said to them? Is sexuality relevant for us as primary school teachers and principals? Where primary teachers challenge the use of the term, is it to silence it
rather than to try and address any negative connotations? The question I am posing to us all as principal teachers is this: Do our school children endure stress and misery as homophobic abuse and name-calling go unnoticed or unchallenged or do we tackle it head on like any other form of bullying behaviour? Is it possible that homophobic name-calling is passing into everyday parlance, including in our primary schools? You may well feel this is not an issue in your school, in which case I am genuinely delighted. But almost two thirds (61%) of the principals I questioned believe that homophobic bullying is an issue in primary schools. If we were to generalise these figures then over 1,900 primary schools in Ireland are facing this difficult issue.The key issue is - how do we deal with it?
Is sexuality relevant for us as primary school teachers and principals? School children often say being called gay is the worst possible insult that can be thrown at them. Why is that? A recent survey conducted recently by the UK charity Beatbullying among some 1,200 primary and secondary children showed that 81% of primary age respondents saw the use of the word ‘gay’ as a way of attacking or making fun of someone. THE LAST TABOO Why is human sexuality such a difficult issue for so many of us? Sexuality is still to my mind the great ‘unsaid’, the last taboo. Do we choose our own sexuality or is it part of our genetic make up? Whichever answer we choose to give, I personally feel that this affects how we perceive this type of bullying behaviour. In my view, a societal and cultural reluctance to fully accept homosexuality creates a diffusion and displacement of responsibility, where the consequences of bullying are attributed to the fact that not everyone fully accepts the equality of homosexual relationships and this lends itself to bullying behaviour.
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International research shows that many teachers don’t challenge this form of bullying behaviour at all, because they are unsure how to go about it, or frightened of the association between sexual identity and sexual activity. I don’t believe any teacher consciously ignores such behaviour. 50% of respondents to my research stated that teachers don’t ignore this behaviour but international research unfortunately suggests that a percentage do. Perhaps even worse than taunting and abuse is silence. If your lifestyle, your family, your friends or your own identity are simply not represented anywhere in your school environment, it makes it a very lonely place indeed. It is not just in terms of the children in our care but teachers too. Teachers in our schools may identify themselves as being gay but are afraid to be open about their sexuality for fear of rebuke, ridicule or worse. 42% of principals stated they were happy to discuss their sexuality with staff while 52% were not. I’m not suggesting that there should be a great ‘love in’ in our school staff rooms but it is food for thought! Bullying is an age-old issue that schools take very seriously. Homophobic name-calling is something that needs to be challenged at every airing, and this includes the off-the-cuff remarks at matches and on the school yard. If casual antihomosexual remarks or ‘humour’ are tolerated, inevitably harsher language becomes more acceptable. Homophobic language needs to be struck from usage to protect our children from the despair experienced by the likes of John, Paul, Dominic and their families, as I described in my article in issue 68. This is not about political correctness. Eradicating prejudice actually saves lives. On one level this is not about whether someone is gay. When someone is identified as being ‘different’ in any way, it often justifies the actions of others in labelling them in a derogatory way. For every young person driven to the extreme act of suicide, there are many more left scarred by homophobia and by the failure of adults to tackle it and challenge the language used. You can contact Gerard email@example.com.
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Karamoja, land of mystique By Frank Oâ€™Meara, retired principal of Clocha Rince NS, Kildare
After his retirement inAugust 2010, having completed 41 years teaching, 37 as principal, Frank was sent to Uganda as part of Irish Aidâ€™s Rapid Response Corps. We arrived at Kjansi, a grass airstrip 10 km from Kampala up a dirt road. As we turned off the main road we were confronted by columns of young men â€˜exercisingâ€™ in the pre-dawn gloom. As the election looms one is told to be careful of groups of men so naturally thoughts of the white man, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, surface. My driver, Joseph, assured me that â€˜these guysâ€™ were being trained to be employed for security duty. So the white man settled back into his seat, visions of hostagenegotiations fading from my mind. As the dawn broke it revealed a dirt air strip not far from the shores of Kampala. Three Cessna Caravan light aircraft sat in readiness. The checkin area comprised of a waiting room-cum-sitting room complete with weighing scales where our bags were weighed and tagged to ensure the plane was properly trimmed. Then we were weighed but not tagged! Our pilot explained that there would be a delay and I noticed through the window a landing wheel being changed.The pilot explained that there was a slight loss in wheel pressure so a new wheel. No â€˜f*** it, it will doâ€™ here! Then we were escorted to the plane by the pilot while the wheel changer shepherded guinea fowl off the runway. As we belted in, 5 passengers in a 12-seater, the pilot announced that since this was a Christian company he would say a prayer! As I undertook my first flight in a small aircraft I thought that it wouldnâ€™t be a bad idea to get as much help on your side as possible!
Take off was uneventful and as the land fell away we were afforded magnificent views of Lake Victoria off the port side. I thought with a sense of satisfaction that this must be the best job ever, full of exciting sounds and sights. Whoever said that retirement can be dull! And, this is the best bit, Karamoja is yet to come. Karamoja is a province in the N.E. of Uganda. It is remote (11 hours from Kampala by car) and inhospitable (it is a semi-desert area, inhabited by proud independent pastoralists to whom the cow is king).These pastoralists are nomadic and move their herds to follow grazing. Indeed all rivers in Karamoja flow westward and the Karamajong graze an area that stretches to the Province of Teso, 300 km to the west. If challenged, they will indignantly claim that â€˜We are just following our waterâ€™. If they happen to come across other herds of cattle they will indulge in cattle raiding to augment their herds. The weapon of choice used to be the spear but has been replaced by the AK47. The government is pursuing a disarmament campaign with reasonable success and the security situation is improving daily. So how can education be tailored to meet the needs of these nomadic people? This is the challenge since scarce resources, climate change and an over-reliance on cattle mean that the life of the Karamajong must evolve to reflect current realities.
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www.ippn.ie – Latest resources CPD DEPUTY PRINCIPALS’ CONFERENCE 2012 ● Workshop Materials ● Dealing with Challenging Relationships Dr Joe O’Connell ● Literacy - Building Bridges of Understanding Popular - Martin Gleeson ● Literacy in Primary Schools - Gene Mehigan ● Mathematics in the Primary School - Patsy Stafford ● School Self Evaluation - Deirdre Mathews
● 0013/2012 - Combined Post-Graduate Diploma Programme of Continuing Professional Development for Teachers involved in Learning Support and Special Education – 2012/2013 ● 0014/2012 - Graduate Certificate in the Education of Students with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) for teachers working with Students with ASDs in Special Schools, Special Classes or as Resource Teachers in mainstream Primary and PostPrimary Schools / Teastas Iarchéime in Oideachas Scoláirí le NSUanna orthu i Scoileanna Speisialta, i Ranganna Speisialta nó mar Mhúinteoirí Acmhainne i mBunscoileanna agus in Iar-Bhunscoileanna sa phríomhshruth – 2012/2013
● Stress Management – Karen Belshaw
SUPPORTS & SERVICES DES CIRCULARS ● 0008/2012 - Scéim Aisíoctha Táillí Múinteoirí Do 2011 / - Teacher Fee Refund Scheme For 2011 ● 0012/2012 - Panel access for fixed-term (temporary), substitute and part-time teachers / Rochtain painéal do mhúinteoirí ar chonradh téarma socraithe (sealadach), do mhúinteoirí ionaid agus do mhúinteoirí páirtaimseartha
● 0017/2012 - Reduction in the rate of the fee payable to schools and Vocational Education Committees for the administration of the Supervision / Substitution Scheme / Laghdú i ráta na Táille atá iníoctha le scoileanna agus le Coistí Gairmoideachais le haghaidh reáchtáil na Scéime Maoirseoireachta / Ionadaithe ● 0018/2012 - Supporting Assessment: Standardised Testing in Primary Schools / Ag Tacú le Measúnú: Trialacha Caighdeánaithe i mBunscoileanna ● 0019/2012 - Revised Rates of Pay in respect of Supervision /Substitution for the 2011/2012 school year
POLICIES & PLANS ● 0015/2012 - Post-Graduate Certificate/Programme of Continuing Professional Development for Teachers working with Students with Special Educational Needs (Autistic Spectrum Disorders) / Clár Teastais/Dioplóma Iarchéime um Fhorbairt Ghairmiúil Leantach do Mhúinteoirí ag obair le Scoláirí le Riachtanais Speisialta ideachais (Neamhoird Speictrim Uathaigh)
SCHOOL POLICIES ● Data Protection & Record Retention Policy
POLICY & NEWS LEADERSHIP+ ● Leadership+ Issue 68 - April 2012 PRESS RELEASES ● RedC Poll April 2012 – Patronage
On your behalf Since the last issue of Leadership+, IPPN met with the DES, education agencies and other bodies in relation to the following:
MAY: ● Presentation and Q & A session facilitated by IPPN in conjunction with PDST at Misneach 1 in Monaghan, Kilkenny and Portlaoise. ● IPPN’s Annual Deputy Principals’ Conference 2012 attracted 332 Deputy Principals at Citywest Hotel, Dublin ● Meeting with the Healthy Food for All advisory committee. See separate article on page 16 ● Meeting with National Parents’ Council – Primary ● IPPN Organisational Review – meeting of the Executive Committee ● School Placement Working Group of the Teaching Council
● NAHT AGM and education conference ● Anti Bullying Forum held by the Department of Education & Skills ● Launch of findings of Department of Children and Youth Affairs Oversight Committee.
JUNE: ● IPPN Executive Committee planning session, including IPPN organisational review ● IPPN National Committee planning session ● NPC annual conference – theme ‘Parental involvement in their children’s education’ ● School Placement Working Group of the Teaching Council
● DDA – Disability Discrimination Act
● Meeting of the Teaching Council in relation to Initial Teacher Education: Criteria and Guidelines for Programme Providers.
● IPPN represented at Anti-Bullying Forum
JULY: ● Healthy Food for All (HFfA) Advisory Committee Meeting.
IPPN was represented at ● Seminar held by the UN Committee Campaign for Children and the Children’s Rights Alliance on how the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child leads to better child protection PAG E 2 8
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A simple online texting system that allows you to quickly and easily send instant text messages to targeted groups of people within your school community e.g. parents, staff and students
Over 2,200 schools in Ireland use this service regularly TextaParent.ie allows you to instantly convey messages such as:
Designed by Principals specifically with schools in mind
Emergency Closure of School e.g. swine flu pandemic,
No set-up costs or monthly standing charges
bad weather etc
4 cent per text message
Last minute changes e.g. cancellation of sports day
Send single or group text message
Celebration announcements e.g. victory in sports final
Tá Gaeilge líofa ag TextaParent.ie
Timetable change e.g. early closing for staff meeting
Online Credit card or cheque payment facilities available
Reminders e.g. Football matches, choir rehearsals etc.
Visit www.TextaParent.ie For additional queries: info@TextaParent.ie
Irish Primary Principals’ Network Líonra Phríomhoidí Bunscoile Éireann
IPPNPREFERREDSUPPLIER EMSarepleasedtooffferthefollowingexclusiveely EMSarepleasedtoofferthefollowingexclusively to toIPPNmembers:Ͳ IPPNmembers:Ͳ
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PAG E 2 9
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Transition to Secondary School: Challenges and Opportunities By Michelle Crowley
In Ireland it is normal to transfer to second level aged 12 or so. More than 50,000 pupils do so annually.This is often a difficult process which is not made easier by a lack of continuity between primary and post-primary education. The immediate challenges are moving from a system which values effort above results to a system which seeks results above all else. This is a time when many parents as well as pupils begin to doubt if standards achieved in primary school will transfer to second level. Other practical issues like transport, local tradition and the sporting, academic or cultural profile of particular schools make this a time of worry and stress for both pupils and parents.
A key issue in the transition process is simply the physical displacement of pupils with associated changes in the teaching they receive and the expectations made of them. Key Transition Issues A key issue in the transition process is simply the physical displacement of pupils with associated changes in the teaching they receive and the expectations made of them. This is described by E Sheehan in ‘Transfer at 12+’ (1977) as adapting to an environment ‘where learning emanating from teachers or books requires picking up fragments of information at 35 to 40 minute intervals’. This is a major change from one teacher, one class, family and friends and child-centred teaching methods. Research identifies anxieties at the transfer stage which may include the size of the new school, getting lost, new teachers, new subjects, bullying, homework and separation from friends. In contrast to the concerns of pupils, the major area of concern for parents is normally academic achievement. At this stage in the educational process many parents are beginning to focus on subject choices with an eye on future careers or CAO applications. International research
indicates that there is often a decline in achievement following transition. British, American and Australian studies have also reported student disillusionment at the lack of academic challenge in their early secondary school experiences. Other studies have blamed a lack of progress on the lower expectations of teachers vis-à-vis first year pupils or on their teaching practices which could, in some cases, be more of the ‘filling a pail approach’ rather than the’ lighting a fire’ style of the typical primary teacher.
second level by continuing to use childcentred teaching methods for some or all of first year and to maintain some links with the primary sector on a project basis. Why is noone calling for this modest change?
In New Zealand, Wylie & Chalmers (1999) reported that some teachers felt that students couldn’t concentrate for long, a legacy, perhaps, of the activity-focused, child-centered teaching style adopted by primary teachers. Some of that might also apply to the Irish context. We sometimes hear second level teachers bemoaning falling standards and poor literacy skills and wondering why the traditional benchmarks of a good education are no longer visible in their students. Maybe they are right and the primary curriculum really is a mile wide and an inch deep!
Perhaps a ‘transition year’ at the critical phase of transfer between primary and secondary is a possible solution.
Current transition practice does not appear to take any substantial measures to promote or maintain academic achievement. Summary Current transition practice does not appear to take any substantial measures to promote or maintain academic achievement. There appears to be a focus on the social aspect of transition and often new entrants to second level are seen as a blank canvas. Dialogue between primary and second level teachers on academic achievement is unusual. Perhaps a ‘transition year’ at the critical phase of transfer between primary and secondary is a possible solution. Currently, transition occurs at a time when students are well assimilated into the second level culture. Arguably it would be more useful to ease pupils into PAG E 3 0
Educational reform often fails when the status quo is threatened. Change brought about by legislation or by policy pronouncements from on high are often the initial steps in the process. Teachers must become the agents of change and voice their opinions on these matters.
The prospect of a dramatic review of the transition process is unlikely. That does not mean that dialogue as an essential first step should not take place between primary and second levels. Machiavelli hinted at the difficulty of change when he said, …’there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain of success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.’ Michelle Crowley holds an honours B.A in Early Childhood Studies from UCC and a M.Sc. in Applied Social Research from Trinity College. Her Master’s thesis, completed in 2007 was entitled, ‘A pre-transitional evaluation of the perspectives of current sixth class students, with regard to their impending transfer to post-primary school.’ Michelle teaches Childcare and Psychology to Post Leaving Cert. students in Cork College of Commerce and is currently studying for the Higher Diploma in Primary Education with Hibernia College.You may contact Michelle at e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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10 Self-Care Commandments for Principals
And Finally… SCHOOL TOURS! A class went on a school trip to Rome. On the Sunday they all went to church and when they came out the teacher said, `I hope you all behaved.'. `Oh, yes, sir,' said one girl. `A kind man offered me a plate full of money but I said, ‘no thanks’. A party of schoolchildren from the city went on a trip to the country. One of them found a pile of empty milk bottles and shouted, `Look, miss, I've found a cow's nest!' Where's the worst trip you're likely to go on? To the headmaster's office. Fred came home from school looking a bit worried. `Today our teacher said, ‘We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the airfields, we shall fight on the streets’ 'Ali, yes,' said his father. `Those are the words of Winston Churchill.' `Oh,' said Fred, looking relieved. `I thought he was talking about our school trip to France.' Pupil: Am I going on the school trip, sir? Teacher:Yes, if you don't behave yourself.
what would you say if I Teacher: What a glum face, like yours? came to school with a face ntion it! Pupil: I'd be too polite to me ing? Teacher: What are you read Pupil: I don't know aloud? Teacher: But you’re reading ! Pupil: But I'm not listening mething important that Teacher: Can you tell me so didn't exist 100 years ago? Pupil: Me! e the world is round? Teacher: How can you prov Pupil: I didn't say it was! PAG E 3 1
1. Before the end of term, arrange a meeting with your BoM Chairperson and Deputy Principal to make a collective list of the main outstanding tasks for the months ahead. 2. Collectively prioritise key tasks and decide which items can wait until September. Regardless of a deadline, plan your response based on what you consider to be a reasonable time frame. 3. Examine each of the prioritised tasks and decide who should take responsibility for them. 4. Delegate as much as possible to individual BoM members and In-School Management team members, if you have any left... 5. Where certain key functions such as recruitment must be scheduled, make a plan for July and August which facilitates the Chairperson, a Deputy Chairperson, Principal and Deputy Principal to provide cover for each other whilst also facilitating family holidays 6. Arrange for the school secretary to handle all mail during the holiday period. If you do not have a school secretary, delegate it to a member of the ISM team or BoM. 7. If you don’t already have one, purchase a telephone answering machine. The voice message should advise parents why the telephone is not answered, where books and uniforms can be purchased, the date of school reopening, how to apply for late enrolments etc. Place the same information on the homepage of your school website, if you have one set up. 8. Delegate the responsibility to manage keys and alarm codes for summer camps, maintenance work, staff access and other unplanned events, e.g. burglary, vandalism etc. 9. Take a complete break from school by organising a holiday which physically prevents you from being available 10. Although you are the principal, you are not indispensable.Turn off your mobile phone and take a decent holiday.
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