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Risk Assessment and the Safety Statement

Tacaíocht, Misneach agus Spreagadh It is in a time of adversity that leaders are tested and school leaders are being tested like never before. When we are being tested to this extent, we need support.

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Tacaíocht, Misneach agus Spreagadh By Seán Cottrell and Gerry Murphy The theme of IPPN’s conference in 2001 was Tacaíocht, Misneach agus Spreagadh. These three aims were seen as essential ingredients to build a network for all school leaders. Support for each other was essential. Not many years before, principals were secretive about their schools, their methodologies and their facilities. There was a culture of wilful isolation which thrived on secrecy and competition. Perhaps one of the biggest achievements of our network has been to transform that secrecy into the level of collegial support that has emerged in the last decade. Courage is the food of leaders. Being in a leadership role inevitably leads to challenges to the decisions you have made and to the changes you have implemented. Principals can’t afford to be afraid of such challenges, particularly when we know we are doing the right thing.We need courage and resilience in abundance. Motivation, Inspiration and Affirmation are vital to sustain anyone in a leadership role.The pace of change, the work rate across the school and the yearly cycle of calendar-driven activities drain the energy from principals unless they are highly motivated, both from within and through feedback from other members of the school community.

are currently carrying out an audit of all existing support groups. Assisted by a number of retired principals, the Executive will work towards a goal of facilitating every principal to participate in a local principals’ support group. Other principals’ associations, and indeed other sectors such as farmers, paramedics and GPs, all benefit from the practice of engaging with their peers using the support group model. No words can describe the positive impact of being involved in a support group when a serious challenge presents itself all of a sudden. Being able to tap in to a support group in such times is invaluable.

Being able to both give and receive support at the same time is a key feature of a ‘network’. The months and years ahead will strongly challenge the courage and motivation of principals. Participating in a Principals’ Support Group is undoubtedly one of the most important actions you can take to thrive rather than just to survive in your leadership role. ‘Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine’

While we may not have realised it at the time, a lot of improvement took place between 1999 and 2007. Schools encountered lots of change, most of it positive, and increased resources. Slow but steady progress was being made. Four years of unprecedented cuts in primary education has now put us back more than a decade in terms of resourcing. We now find that we are competing in a race against Formula One cars, while we are driving a ten year-old family saloon.

Motivation, Inspiration and Affirmation are vital to sustain anyone in a leadership role.

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There are many reasons why principals might feel angry or even despondent. It is in a time of adversity that leaders are tested and school leaders are being tested like never before.When we are being tested to this extent, we need support. Seeking support is not a sign of weakness. It is in fact a strength to be aware of the value of support. Being able to both give and receive support at the same time is a key feature of a ‘network’.This is why IPPN is modelled as a network rather than a traditional hierarchical ‘organisation’. This autumn has witnessed the largest number of principals attending their County Network meetings since IPPN was established twelve years ago. Following consultation with the National Committee, we have decided to put fresh energy into rejuvenating local Principals’ Support Groups. We Editor: Damian White Deputy Editor: Geraldine D'Arcy Assistant Editor: Brendan McCabe Comments and articles to Advertising: Louise O’Brien

The opinions expressed in Leadership+ do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network ISSN: 1649 -5888

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Legal Diary by David Ruddy BL, Principal of Talbot BNS, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

Risk Assessment and the Safety Statement

All safety hazards must be the subject of risk assessment and control measures. A safety statement based on hazard identification and risk assessment sets out how safety, health and welfare is being managed and secured. BOARD OF MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITY

The 2005 Act places strenuous responsibility on the Board of Management and its employees. The Board has a duty to show that it has discharged its obligations. However, the Act limits the responsibilities of the Board to do what is required to do as is ‘reasonably practicable’. This means that it is a matter of balancing the degree of risk against the time, trouble, cost and physical difficulty of the

See list of concerns

(1) Identify The Risks

When bringing the Safety Statement to the attention of employees, it must be in a form and, if necessary, in a language that can be understood by employees. It should be done annually and on recruitment.

Safety Statement

(2) Assess the Risks

A report by the Health and Safety Authority highlights the following specific risks in the education sector: ■ The poor physical condition of some schools ■ Traffic movement at the start and at the end of the school day ■ General housekeeping and arrangements in the school ■ Playground arrangements ■ Use of work equipment, including laptop and PC monitors ■ Violence, challenging behaviour ■ Students with special needs ■ Manual handling ■ School security ■ School trips ■ First Aid ■ Accident reporting ■ Contractors in the school ■ Letting school premises to outside bodies ■ Arrangements for managing safety ■ Consultation and communication with staff.


(4) Write the Safety Statement

Schools that don’t have an up-to-date Health & Safety Statement are leaving themselves wide open to compensation claims in the event of accidents. One of the first acts of a solicitor representing an injured pupil is to seek a copy of the school Health & Safety Statement. A weak or outdated safety statement will give encouragement to injured parties to seek compensation.

The Whenlikelihood bringing the Safety of the Statement harm to the attention occurring of employees, it and must the be inseverity a form of the and, if nconseecessary, quences if it in a language that does arise from can be understood those hazards by employees. It should be done annually and on recruitment.

(3) Select the Control Measures Select appropriate measures to eliminate the hazards and where that cannot be done reduce the risks.

measures necessary to avoid it. This is similar to the concept of reasonable ‘Duty of Care’ which exists in compensation cases. Boards of Management are obliged to appoint a competent person to play a key role in the management of Safety and Health in a school. A competent person means someone who is able to give informed and appropriate advice on Safety & Health to management (rather than a person with technical knowledge). CROSS-REFERENCING THE SAFETY STATEMENT WITH OTHER POLICIES

It is highly desirable that schools should cross refer the Safety Statement with other mandated policies like the Code of Discipline and Admission Policy. If a school had to suspend / PAG E 4

expel a pupil on the grounds of Health & Safety, both the Code of Discipline and the Health and Safety Statement would need to cross-reference each other in relation to the proposed action. If the school were to refuse admission to an applicant on the grounds of Health & Safety, both the Safety Statement and the Admissions Policy would need to be cross-referenced with each other. Relevant professional advice should be sought in such circumstances. CONCLUSION School Principals should insist that their Board of Management have robust Safety Statements, Codes of Discipline and Admission Policies. These documents should not be drafted in isolation of each other. Failure to have

The following is an example of how the safety statement might be structured.

Safety Hazards Low

Risk Assessment Medium High

Control Measures


Tree roots through tarmac


Remove Roots and patch surface with tarmac

Objective achieved in August 20xx

Torn and curly edge carpet


Caretaker to fix and glue carpet

If problem persists replace carpet

Spillages – slips and trips


Areas to be sealed off and ‘wet’ cones/ signs put in place

Working satisfactorily once caretaker is informed of spillage

Running in corridor


‘No running’ rule to be strictly enforced. Teacher always leads the class out of the room

Need for signs on corridor Principal to carry out spot checks

Wet floor inside main door when raining


Install heavy duty mats

Working well

Refuse/ defer admission pending safety audit & professional advice

No such application to date

Admission requests from pupils with a history of violence in other schools towards pupils and staff


Children outside the office


Must have a written note to be kept out of yard

How effective at lunchtime was the written note?

Children being collected early from school


All children must be signed for in advance

Working well

Fire windows in classrooms must be signposted


Get relevant labels

To be done

All staff informed in writing of prohibition of parking on exits

Problem with volume of cars in car park

Caretaker to check yard in advance each day

Working well

Parking cars on fire exits


Broken bottles on yard


Ice / Snow


Caretaker to come to school early and salt / clear areas

Significant snow for last few years – ensure adequate supplies

Hot water / Drinks on corridor


Written memo prohibiting carrying of drinks in corridors

No problems

AV Equipment is subject to regular maintenance checks


Annual electrical inspection

Not done

Accidents on yard


Appoint First Aider

Need for more First Aiders

Traffic at the beginning and end of each school day


Double yellow lines, traffic cones, lollipop service

Works well most of the time

Unauthorised access during school day


Coded access, intercom, closed circuit cameras

Working well

Closed circuit cameras, adequate fencing, alarm light sensors

Damage to windows over the holiday periods

Unauthorised access after school day when school building is at risk



HEALTH & SAFETY EXECUTIVE ADVICE – PREVENTING SLIPS, TRIPS AND FALLS Note: this is intended to cover both primary and second-level schools: AREA


External steps, paths

• • • • • • • Playgrounds and all– weather sports surfaces

• • • •

Building entrances

• • • • • •

Sports halls

• • • •


Suitable lighting – replace, repair or clean lights before levels become too low to be safe. Ensure steps and parking areas and paths are suitable for the volume of pedestrian traffic. Ensure paving slabs are secure and tarmac paths are in good condition to give a flat even surface. Maintain parking area so that it is free of potholes. Mark the nosing of steps using anti- slip coating, as smooth, gloss paint will make the surface slippery under wet conditions. Provide handrails where appropriate and maintain in good condition. Discourage short cuts across grass/ muddy areas. Clean leaves, mud etc from surfaces. Remove algal growth. Put in place effective procedures to deal with snow or ice.

• • • • • • Preparation rooms,

• • •

• • •

Classroom areas

• • •

• • Kitchens

Ensure surface is flat and wellmaintained to avoid surface water. Remove accumulations of mud/water. Remove algal growth. Ensure users wear appropriate footwear for the surface. Ensure adequate supervision at all times. Provide suitable non-slip, water and exits absorbing mats at entrances. Maintain mats in good condition and change when saturated. Ensure that temporary matting does not pose a trip risk. Display signs warning of hidden steps/ changes of level. Display signs warning of risk of slipping when appropriate. Site door catches and door-stops safely.

• • • • • • • • • • •

Canteen areas

Avoid over polishing of floor surface. Ensure suitable footwear is worn. Maintain floor mats in good condition and ensure they remain flat. Keep smooth floors clean and completely free of wet or dusty contamination.

• • • • • • •

Ensure a staggered release of students and onto heavily used traffic routes. Put in place measures for traffic streaming and flow management up and down stairs and along corridors. Mark nosing of steps using anti slip coating, as smooth, gloss paint will make the surface slippery under wet conditions. Provide handrails. Lighting – replace, repair or clean lights before levels become too low to be safe. Apply appropriate anti-slip coatings of areas of smooth flooring which may become wet.

• • • • • •


• • •

Educational visits

Avoid trailing cables from equipment and tools. Provide storage racks for pupils’ bags. Provide coat hooks/racks for drying wet clothing – consider siting on specialist antislip flooring as even drips of rain water on smooth surfaces can be enough to result in slips.

comprehensive policies exposes schools to litigation and possible prosecution. If you have concerns about any of these policies not being in place or if you feel they are inadequate, these concerns must be notified to your Board of Management. The Health & Safety authority and Allianz have some excellent publications. They also are very helpful if you wish to seek advice. Boards which are pro-active (even if they

• • •

Offices Internal stairs corridors


• • • •

Provide specialist anti-slip flooring in potentially wet areas. Do not store materials or equipment below tables / benches. Avoid over-crowding of rooms. Control the entry and the exit of people from classes. Display art work, practical work etc. safely. Clear away toys in early years’ classes. Provide suitable storage for goods and technician areas equipment. and storage areas. Keep containers of bulk liquids in secure areas. Clear area around machines, kilns and other equipment. Use slip-resistant flooring around machines. Remove floor contamination e.g. sawdust , clay, oils. Provide suitable equipment to avoid spillages (from cooking washing etc.). Provide work surfaces edges to contain spillages. Ensure good ventilation to avoid smoke / steam condensation. Ensure staff wear suitable footwear. Clean spillages and pick up food waste immediately. Dry floors effectively after cleaning. Ensure good housekeeping around the bins. Provide suitable floor surface. Clean floors with appropriate products for surface after work has finished. Display suitable warning signs re. wet floors/stairs while cleaning is in progress. Remove warning signs when cleaning / drying is complete. Ensure staff wear suitable footwear. Clean spillages immediately. Use safe cleaning methods. Provide suitable floor surface. Clean floors when pupils / students have left. Display suitable warning signs re. wet floors/ stairs while cleaning is in progress. Remove warning signs when cleaning / drying is complete. Avoid trailing cables/ use cable covers. Provide adequate storage. Avoid storage of materials on floors. Ensure good house-keeping around photocopiers, printers etc. Replace worn or damaged carpets/tiles. Provide secure storage for bags etc. Ensure temporary cabling is routed safely and protected from damage. Provide sufficient lighting during setup / dismantling. Use temporary matting / straw coverings on grassed areas. Review access to the location and anticipated weather. Modify visit depending on local conditions when on site. Wear suitable footwear. Ensure effective management of the visit (see UK Department for Education website: and search for their publication Departmental advice on health and safety for schools: Role of the Educational Visits Coordinator (EVC)

make some mistakes) tend not to get into trouble. It is the Boards that do nothing that can have the real difficulties. Boards should seek relevant professional advice if they feel it is necessary.

RESOURCES The following are available at the Health Safety Authority website

This article is a revised version of the Legal Diary which was originally published in Issue 42, Leadership+ in December 2007.


A Resource List for Schools - (2010), see– Publications section Guidelines on Managing Safety and Health - Post Primary Schools (2010) – see Education section.

The changing of the guard By Brendan McCabe, Principal, St Colmcilles BNS, Kells, Co. Meath and IPPN Deputy President The last three or four years has seen a huge number of Principals retiring, a minority having reached the mandatory retiring age, but the majority leaving well before age 65. Is this a good or a bad thing? On the positive side, when I see my own image looking back at me in the mirror I realise that the present crop of Principals are infinitely fitter, leaner and better-looking than the elderly, decrepit, bone-aching crew they are replacing. It’s like Óisín’s return from Tír na n-Óg in reverse.

The younger Principals bring with them the enthusiasm, optimism and energy of youth, though, mind you, the term ‘youth’ might be just stretching it ever so slightly. Academically many of them have more qualifications than the NTs of old, quite a number having come in to teaching from other walks of life with greater life experience than those of us who commenced teaching careers fresh from training college before we were 21 years of age. (I myself was just 19 when I was let loose on my first unsuspecting class and, boy, had I a lot of learning to do!) This extra maturity they bring to the game may, upon entering the pitch, leave them just a little more steady when fielding the high ball. The HR, IT, communication skills, and financial know-how some of them bring from their experience in the business world may give them an extra little edge in captaining the team in their school. They have drunk from a different fountain of knowledge where the water may have been sweeter, if not quite as intoxicating as that experienced by those who came straight from Training College. In fairness though, many of that older generation did embark on BAs and Masters soon after leaving training college or did go back to further studies in later life.

The younger Principals bring with them the enthusiasm, optimism and energy of youth, though, mind you, the term ‘youth’ might be just stretching it ever so slightly. They are fully up to date with the latest trends and fashions and their pupils probably look on them as being more like their parents than grandparents. They tweet and twitter happily, and mobile phones they see as an essential rather than a bloody nuisance. On the negative side though, experience doesn’t come without experience! I’m reminded of a story a Garda friend told me, of his early years in a Garda station in a provincial town, when a call came in late one night about a ferocious fight taking place outside a local pub at the other end of town. He went rushing out the back to get the squad car. “Hold on” said his older colleague. “We’ll walk”. The teaching profession has, in just a couple of short years, lost an enormous bank of talent and experience. In time this will, of course, resolve itself, but for the next few years many schools will be in the hands of quite inexperienced people. This is compounded in many places where both the Principal and the Deputy Principal resigned together. Some schools also lost experienced chairpersons of BoMs. This can leave newly appointed principals sailing down the river towards the rapids in a canoe without a paddle. I would strongly recommend Principals in this position to avail themselves fully of an IPPN mentor and to ensure that they join a local IPPN Support Group.

The teaching profession has, in just a couple of short years, lost an enormous bank of talent and experience. Another change that has come about in teaching, almost by stealth it seems, is the number of providers of teaching qualifications. Fadó, fadó, when God was a garsún, all primary teachers were trained in St. Pats, Carysfort, Mary I. or the three smaller colleges: Froebel, Marino and C of I, Rathmines. Now


the single biggest provider of primary teachers is Hibernia. I was astounded to read recently that the Minister for Education is going to reduce the number of providers of teaching qualifications in Ireland from 19 to 6. Nineteen! And that doesn’t even include the hoards of teachers being registered with the Teaching Council who have trained everywhere from Tasmania to Alaska! Yes indeed, the global village has truly arrived. The days of most teachers coming from the western seaboard, from Cork right up to Donegal, are gone forever. Diversity will though, I believe, do nothing but good. It’s like opening up the bedroom windows early in the morning to give the place a good airing.

Principals of yesteryear would have very much encouraged Gaeilge and they were also conscious of passing on cultural tit-bits: seanfhocals, phrases, traditions, Irish songs. In saying this, one of the little things that concern me is the extent to which the Irish language is slipping in daily usage. Maybe it is due to an overcrowded curriculum, the migration of all the Irish-speaking teachers into Gaelscoileanna (where of course Gaeilge is thriving) or simply changing cultural values in a modern Ireland, but certainly one does not hear Irish casually spoken among teachers as much as formerly. Most of the Principals of yesteryear would have very much encouraged Gaeilge and they were also conscious of passing on cultural tit-bits: seanfhocals, phrases, traditions, Irish songs. While Ireland has undoubtedly matured into a more multi-cultural society it would be a pity to see this go. To conclude, two short quotes, one very old, the other more recent: “Nothing endures but change.” (Heraclitus, 540 BC to 480 BC) and “The more things change, the more they remain… insane” (Michael Fry and T.Lewis, Over the Hedge 2004)

Croke Park Agreement A Different Ball Game Entirely By Larry Fleming, Principal of Ballinamere NS, Tullamore, Co. Offaly and IPPN PRO The Public Service Agreement of 2010, commonly known as the Croke Park Agreement, continues to exercise the minds of many in the print media. Over the last few months, public servants such as nurses, teachers and gardaí have been subjected to relentless bombardment in relation to pay scales and allowances. However, little attention has been given to the fact that the Agreement is delivering both pay and non-pay savings through increased productivity right across the public service. In the primary education sector, most schools & teachers are now contributing to enhanced efficiencies and productivity through the provision of an additional 36 hours of non-contact working time. How these 36 hours are utilised varies from school to school. However, it is broadly envisaged that the additional time be directed towards the implementation of curricular change, holistic self-evaluation processes, improved whole school planning and continuous professional development. While the ideal scenario would be to have the full teaching staff working together for as many of these hours as possible, there is scope for sub groups of staff such as special education or in-school management teams to work separately on particular school-related projects.

students work, report writing and attendance at religious ceremonies are other examples of work for which Croke Park hours are not appropriate. TIME BLOCKS Croke Park hours may be used in blocks of one, two or three hours. These time blocks would not normally apply to before and after school supervision, however, where shorter time periods suffice to do the work in question. With agreement from the Board, a school may also carve up the time into 1½ hour blocks with the whole school staff meeting fortnightly. The time can also be aggregated into full day blocks subject to a maximum of the equivalent of 2 full days. In many schools, Croke Park hours are planned in such a way that the months of December, January and February are avoided - to reduce the risk to staff members driving home in dark, hazardous conditions. CROKE PARK AND THE SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANT Circular 71/2011 now provides for the implementation of the Croke Park Agreement in relation to SNAs. Prior to the issue of this circular, SNAs

VOLUNTARY WORK Many principals and teachers have been engaged in providing voluntary hours outside of school for many years. It is not expected that the 36 hours agreed under Croke Park should be additional to these voluntary hours, but rather complement them in a structured way. After hours voluntary work done by teachers are not intended to be counted towards the 36 whole school hours. However, refusal to acknowledge an agreed number of these hours as valid towards Croke Park may alienate some of these dedicated teachers, sour personnel relationships and have a decidedly negative impact on whole school routines for some considerable time to come.There is no doubt that further clarification is required from the DES as to a school’s flexibility in allowing for voluntary extra curricular work. It is not desirable that a scenario is allowed to develop whereby one school allows football coaching or carol singing be considered as acceptable Croke Park Hours and the school down the road does not. HOW SHOULD THESE HOURS BE USED? Ideally, these 36 hours should be used to reduce the instances of contact or tuition time being lost to students. Therefore, it is advisable to facilitate staff meetings, in-service courses, staff professional development, school policy review, school self evaluation, school improvement planning, literacy and numeracy strategy, assessment etc. as part of these hours. Circular 08/2011 outlines that these 36 additional hours are separate from the existing arrangements in relation to parent / teacher meetings. Schools are also allowed use some of the additional hours to remove the ‘half in, half out’ element of staff meetings. The circular also clearly states that, where schools require supervision immediately before or after school, Croke Park hours can be used to meet this requirement. A teacher’s individual planning, which may include weekly / fortnightly notes, cúntas miosúil / yearly scheme / IEPs etc. should not be used to make up the additional hours as this work was always considered part of the terms and conditions of employment of individual teachers. Correction of PAG E 8

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were required to provide an additional 12 days non-contact time to their school. Under these new arrangements, SNAs will now engage in providing 72 hours non-contact work to their school. Duties already done by the SNA before and after school such as the reception and dispersal of children and the preparation and tidying up of classrooms cannot be considered as part of these hours. The Croke Park hours requirement for a fulltime SNA are 72 hours. Hours for part-time SNAs are calculated on a pro rata basis, using the number of hours they work as a fraction of 32 hours. Example: If an SNA works 16 hours a week: 16/32 x 72 = 36 hours. Similarly, the Croke Park hours for an SNA who is on maternity leave are calculated based on the number of weeks she has been at work. Example: School year: 36 weeks Maternity Leave: 26 weeks Time at work: 10 weeks Croke Park Hours: 10/36 x 72 = 20 hours. Many principals have reported some difficulties in getting SNAs to engage satisfactorily with Circular 71/2011 and IPPN has met Impact on a number of occasions in the last year with a view to agreeing on a strategy for full engagement. Generally speaking however, a majority of schools report satisfaction with the

manner in which SNAs have bought into the Croke Park Agreement. See E-scéal 318 - SNA Croke Park Hours – Do’s & Don’ts issued on 18th October.You can view it on – Supports & Services – E-scéals.

Correction of students work, report writing and attendance at religious ceremonies are other examples of work for which Croke Park hours are not appropriate. STRATEGIES Because the additional 72 hours are classed as non-contact hours, it can be challenging for principals to engage SNAs productively for a full 72 hours in the year. Many schools have successfully used some or all of the following strategies: Invite SNAs to attend part of the mainstream staff meetings when areas relevant to their role are up for discussion. These areas could include Child

Protection, Health and Safety, Fire Drill Policy, Accident Policy, Critical Incidents, Anti-Bullying, Code of Behaviour,Yard Supervision etc. Get staff with particular expertise in areas such as challenging behaviour, First Aid or conflict resolution to give whole school talks to staff. SNAs can avail of CPD courses outside of school hours organised through the local education centres. Many of these courses are either free or offered for a nominal fee which can be covered by the BoM. An allowance should also be made for travel time. The Special Education Support Service (SESS) also offer a range of Special Education courses. Principals can use the Croke Park Agreement to greatly enhance the planning structures in their school. For years, principals bemoaned the lack of uninterrupted planning time to work with whole school staff. Much important school planning was done during lunch breaks in the staffroom. It was almost impossible to adequately address areas such as policy development and school planning without impinging on either children or staff. The Croke Park hours now offer principals a great opportunity to progress important school procedures in a whole-school environment and this must inevitably lead to improved teaching and learning outcomes in school.

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. PAG E 9

Principal Advice Spelling it out by Angela Lynch, Principal Advice Manager For years Ann had arranged the family holiday but now, with their 25th wedding anniversary looming, she thought that it would be good if Con were to make all arrangements. She was delighted when Con agreed to this. She suggested a trip to Marbella and warned him that she didn’t want to stay in a budget hotel. Again, Con agreed. On the day of the trip, Con arranged to have a friend drop them off at the airport in his not-so-clean pick-up truck. Not the best start! The flight with a budget airline, with a five year old kicking her seat from behind for most of the flight, was not the relaxing first class trip she had anticipated. Having arrived in Malaga, they were taken in a coach to self catering apartments some miles outside of Marbella. Later that evening they walked to a local supermarket and bought the ingredients for dinner.Where was the five star hotel, fine dining and luxury trip Ann had imagined? The lesson of this story is simple. Firstly if you know exactly what you want, you need to spell it out clearly.Ann had a very clear picture of her ideal holiday. Con was very willing to accept that this holiday was important and he was willing to plan it. Ann was disappointed with the way things had turned out and Con was disgruntled that his efforts were not appreciated.

It is easy to see how this story could be replicated in schools when tasks or projects are delegated. An important leadership skill is delegation. When you need help, ask for it. Delegate tasks. However, bear in mind that you need to: ■ Begin with the end in mind ■ Have a clear, detailed vision of how you want the project to look ■ Spell out the vision in detail – clear communication between all parties is essential ■ Check and ensure that your understanding is the same as those to whom you delegate ■ Identify together the resources needed to advance the project ■ Offer support ■ Be enthusiastic about the benefits of the project ■ Establish a timeframe for completion ■ Set up a reporting and evaluation mechanism ■ Acknowledge the work of those working on the project ■ Celebrate success. Remember: In all that you do, articulate your thoughts.

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The More Things Stay The Same, The More Things Change By Damian White, Principal, Scoil Shinchill, Killeigh, Co. Offaly Con Houlihan said that a man who misplaced a comma was capable of anything. The Castle Island giant (and this was how he insisted on spelling his native town) whose woollen clothes and silken words were synonymous with the heady days of the late and lamented Evening Press, worked on his articles at ungodly hours. He presented them sometimes on voluminous pages or on brown paper in his own handwriting, which required decoding by a sub-editor long accustomed to his unique presentations.

The New Testament of 23 politically correct books is sometimes seen as the attempt to finally achieve what was first sought through the 1971 epiphany. Not many people get to write their own epitaph. Robert Emmett’s is still not written, by his own instruction from his dock speech over 200 years ago. Con however had the good fortune to see his carved in stone beneath his bronze bust close to Castle Island’s iconic Latin Quarter. His own words, stark and poignant, list his calling cards in the order he wished, beginning with ‘Fisherman’ and ending with ‘Writer’. Squeezed in before writer was ‘Teacher’, reflecting his time as the fountain of knowledge from which the lucky children of Clogher NS drew water. Clogher NS is no more. Amalgamation saw it’s reclaiming by the forces of nature. A documentary on Con which saw him revisit his former place of work showed that time and ivy had made it the ultimate green school. I can only imagine what Con’s class might have been like. All I know is I’d love to have been there, hanging on his every wise word. In considering the towering scribe, I’ve tried to imagine the young Con as a newly-appointed school principal in today’s context. Would he have seen a place for dealing with Relevant Contract Tax in his list of duties as a school principal? Where would file upon file of objective-based planning have fitted into his

schedule? Like all literacy aficionados, I’m sure he would pithily condense the contents of such files into 2 or 3 words. ‘The last time’ according to Con, formed the saddest combination of 3 words in any language. How would ‘whole school evaluation’ compare? Or the ever dwindling ‘in school management’ team? I can’t imagine using the phrase ‘objective-based learning’ in front of his hulking frame without a retort about what constitutes a classic oxymoron and how close that phrase comes to it. ‘Whose objective?’ he might ask. Is it the child’s objective to learn or is it the teacher’s objective to teach? Surely it’s both. If it’s the teacher who is planning, then its objectivebased teaching. The Old Testament for teachers like me, for whom baldness and greyness are neck and neck to the finish, was two orange books. The objectives outlined in the 1971 curriculum, volume 1, page 12, bottom right corner, still have the ‘Love God, Love they neighbour’ effect on me. These joint commandments told us to enable the child to have a full life as a child and to equip him (sic) to avail himself (more sic) of further education so that he (sic – but that was then!) may go on to have a full life in society. Those are the objectives which I believe underpin our profession and have never been surpassed as expressions of what we aspire to do.

how lessons should be taught and in truth reflect the mind blowing changes in the world since 1971. Yet the two commandments cushioned in those old books shine through to inform us what our job is about. Adulthood now, which we seek to prepare children for, is different from 1971 and will be different again in 2030. A software engineer might have made beds in 1971. A company representative asked me today if there was any move in primary education towards eBooks, which hinted to me that the publishing companies are thinking that way and readying themselves for the push. A three-year plan might be out of date before the ink is dry. Con Houlihan would scarcely disagree with the two commandments, though I suspect he’d shorten them. Today’s Con, as he sets out as a leader of a primary school, can expect a very different epitaph. In a list of their jobs and achievements, one wonders what words will describe a full life lived.


A company representative asked me today if there was any move in primary education towards eBooks, which hinted to me that the publishing companies are thinking that way and readying themselves for the push. The New Testament of 23 politically correct books is sometimes seen as the attempt to finally achieve what was first sought through the 1971 epiphany. Those 23 books are beautifully illustrated, fleshed out with exemplar parables of PAG E 1 2

See For details and to order your copy

Your School and Printing Buying a Photocopier One of the best and most used tools in the school, the photocopier may also be a significant cost both at initial purchase and in ongoing costs. What factors do you need to know and think about before you buy? This is not an exhaustive list nor will it make you an expert on photocopiers, but it will help you to make sense of the sometimes confusing information and options. In the next issue, we will cover copy-printing (risograph), lease or buy, copy cost and consumables. CAPACITY Get the right size machine for your needs. Copiers are rated in “Copies per Minute� (CPM), also a monthly recommended volume. Get a higher capacity machine than you think you need because usage always increases! Don’t buy a small capacity machine and work it flat out all the time. This is a false economy. Get a copier with a paper tray that takes a full ream (500 sheets) at a go. This means you can load a full ream at a time and not have loose pages lying around.

FEATURES The trend in copiers is towards multi-functionality - printer, copier and scanner. This is useful for a small office set-up but you probably do not need many extra features for a workhorse copier. Most school or class copying will be straightforward one-sided A4. A document feeder is useful if you regularly copy from loose A4 originals. The ability to handle copying on to larger A3 paper is also useful and if you think you will use this, then it is probably worth having a second paper tray for A3 paper. Other features like copying from double-sided originals or making double-sided copies should be thought out carefully in terms of cost and how often you think you will use these features. However, note that a single sheet of paper costs around half a cent, so try to print on both sides of the page where possible. There are a range of optional extras available – by definition they will depend on the specific needs of each school and range from additional paper cassettes, to finishers that collate and staple multi-page output, which

can also incorporate booklet makers. The greater the number of facilities on a device, the more complicated it is to use – be careful not to avail of extras that you cannot/will not use. Consider getting the copier linked to your computer network to function as a network printer. This can be a very effective way to quickly produce copies of something that originates on your own or a teacher’s PC. It is also much cheaper than using smaller classroom printers that have a high usage cost.You can also scan copiable resources and store these on a school PC for use by all. EMS COPIERS EMS Copiers are the preferred supplier of copiers, printers and multi-function devices to IPPN’s National Support Office in Cork.You can contact EMS Copiers on 1890 770 770, by e-mail to or online at

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        PAG E 1 3 – a wealth of resources at your finger tips Did you know that has more than 7,000 resources that are regularly used by schools and principals? These include school policy exemplars, curriculum plans, circulars, template letters and forms and seminar presentations. If you are looking for something, the likelihood is that you will find it on During the summer months, IPPN’s Executive Committee undertook a review of the school policies available on with a view to providing the most up-to-date versions that reflect best practice. The following are the new and revised resources available in the different sections of the website. A re-organisation of the menu tool bar on was undertaken in October to make the site more user-friendly and intuitive and help you find resources more easily. Please refer to the New Menu Toolbar on page 15 which is a full site map of the website. You might like to keep these two pages for future reference.

RESOURCES School Policies ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Access Rights to Children (revised) Anti-Bullying Policy II – Adults Anti-Bullying Policy III Anti-Bullying Guidelines for Pupils & Teachers Attendance Strategies Attendance Strategies (DEIS Plan) Car parking Class Size Code of Behaviour/Conduct/Discipline I (revised) Code of Behaviour/Conduct/Discipline III Code of Behaviour Review Checklist Code of Conduct – Sports Code of Conduct – Sports (Pupils) Code of Conduct – Sports (Outside Agencies) Communication Methods Critical Incident Policy II Critical Incident – Student Contact Forms

● Critical Incident – Team, Contacts & Process ● Diabetes Policy (revised) ● Equality & Gender Equity Policy ● Ethos Statement (Catholic school) ● First Aid (moved) ● Friendship Week (Bullying Prevention) ● Headlice Policy ● Healthy Eating Policy ● Home School Community Liaison (HSCL) Scheme, including DES HSCL Guidelines ● Lunchtime Rules ● Mission Statement (two versions) ● Multi-Grade Classes/Double Classes Points to Consider ● Nut Allergy Plan ● Phone Policy – Staff & Pupils (revised) ● Physical Intervention with pupils (revised) ● Polasaí Obair Bhaile ● Polasaí Scoile Ar Thabhairt Amach Leigheas ● Reception, Assembly and dismissal of pupils/ Arrival and Dismissal Policy (revised) ● School Booklet II (key information for parents/guardians) ● School Transport Policy ● SNAs - Policy and Guidelines for Special Needs Assistants ● SNA Daily Logsheet ● Straitéis Tinrimh ● Substance Use Policy II ● Supervision Policy (revised). ★ All policy documents can now be found in this section. Inclusion-related documents that were previously stored under Inclusion have been moved to School Policies. ★ All Child Protection-related documents and circulars are now collated into a new page within School Policies. Click on the Child Protection link at the top of the School Policies page.

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Recruitment – SNAs ● Notification of SNA Leaving ● Interview Techniques ● Electronic Applications.

Forms & Templates ● Foirm Aistrithe do Dhaltaí (Transfer form - to second-level) ● Contract for rental of school hall ● Enrolment Form I (revised) ● Enrolment Form II ● Monthly Planner ● Standardised School Year 2012-2013 & 2013-2014. ★ All forms and templates can now be found in this section. ★ This section was formerly called Administration.

Curriculum & School Planning ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Book Fair Policy Choir Plan Drama Plan I (All class levels) Drama Plan II (All class levels) Learning Support Policy Learning Support Policy – Cluster Schools Literacy Policy (high level) Music Plan II Pupil Report Form – Guidelines for Teachers (revised) SPHE Plan II SESE Plan Visual Arts Plan II. ★ Individual Education Planning-related documents that were previously stored under Parents & Pupils – IEPs have been moved to Curriculum & School Planning.

★ The Staff Managment section was previously called Human Resource Management

● Deputy Principal – Sample Contract and Schedule of Duties (revised) ● Duties that may be delegated to postholders (revised) ● EPV Days/Course Days Policy ● Grievance Procedure ● Guidelines/Welcome Pack for New,Visiting and Substitute Teachers ● ICT Acceptable Use Policy (Staff) ● In-school Management (ISM) Policy ● Job Sharing Policy (Revised) ● Leave of Absence & Career Breaks Policy (Revised) ● Parent/Teacher Meetings – Guidelines for Teachers ● Physical intervention with pupils ● Principal’s right to allocate classes ● SNA Policy (revised) ● Staff Induction Pack ● Staff Meetings Policy ● Stress Management Policy ● Substitute Teachers – Procedures ● Teachers and ancillary staff ● Teacher school policy sign-up sheet ● Who picks the team? Professional Guidance ● Work Experience Policy (Revised) ● Working Alone in the School Policy.

★ Seachtain na Gaeilgerelated documents that were previously stored under Parents & Pupils – Seachtain na Gaeilge have been moved to the Curriculum & School Planning section. ★ This section was formerly called School Development & Curriculum Planning

Board of Management ● Creating & Maintaining a Positive/Effective School Environment

Parents & Pupils ● ● ● ●

Code of Conduct – Parents (revised) Letter to parents – nut allergy (revised) Letter to parents – Rearranging Classes Parents - Issue Resolution Process Overview ● Parental Consent Form (revised) ● Parental Complaints Policy (revised) ● Parental Involvement Policy (revised). Parents Association ● Working Effectively As a Parent Association (NPC Publication).

Staff Management ● Ancillary Staff ● Class Allocation – Staff ● Code of Conduct for External Agencies for Sports & the Arts

SUPPORTS Leadership+ ● Leadership+ Issue 70 – September 2012

EVENTS Principals Professional Briefing Days Tullamore 2012 ● Brendan O'Dea (The Teaching Council) Codes of Conduct & Student Placement ● Hubert Loftus (DES) - Teacher Allocations & Redeployment Process ● Joan Crowley O'Sullivan (PDST) - Changes within the Education Agencies ● Yvonne Keating (DES Inspectorate) School Self Evaluation & WSE ● Madeline Hickey (SESS) ■ SEN services available to schools ■ Behaviour Resource Bank ■ Application for In-school Professional Development ■ Online Book Borrowing Application Form. ARE WE MISSING SOMETHING? If your school has a policy or plan that is not already available on our website, or which would supplement available resources, we would appreciate if you would submit it for review by email to

★ In-school Managementrelated documents that were previously stored under Recruitment – ISM Team have been moved to Staff Management.

New Menu Toolbar Since 24th October there has been a new layout to the menu toolbar on This new menu has been devised to make the site more user friendly and intuitive for users’ needs. Below is a site map outlining the new structure with notes about where some items have been moved to.




(appearswhenyou areloggedin)

SchoolPolicies (willnowincludeInclusion)

MyMembership Profile


Submitmy Query

(formerlyHRManagement willnowincludePrincipal’s)

Renewmy Membership







Organisation Structure


MailingLists (howtosubscribeor Publications unsubscribeto

PrincipalAdvice Callback


Principals’ Conference




DeputyPrincipals’ Conference

Vision, Mission, Values

Commercial Organisations


CountyNetwork Meetings

IPPNMember Services

General Information




LocalSupport Groups


Curriculum&School Planning


Principals’ Professional BriefingDay

Sponsors& Partners





Forms&Templates (wasAdministration)

(wasSchoolDevelopment& CurriculumPlanning) 


Boardof Management




NewlyAppointed Principals

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Volunteering in the World’s Newest Country By Padraic McKeon, retired principal of Holy Family NS, Newport, Mayo After my retirement as school principal at Christmas 2010, I thought I had something more to contribute in the field of education. I always had an interest in volunteering abroad and had holidayed in Africa on a couple of occasions. So I applied to VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas) in Dublin, attended the interview, and was offered a position as Education Advisor in South Sudan. At first, I was very wary, having read of conflict in Sudan for many years. I made extensive enquiries and was assured that there were no political or security problems where I would be posted in Yambio, State of Western Equatoria. I was told that another volunteer, again a retired primary school principal, this time from England, would be working in a similar capacity with me. I had earnest discussions with my wife and family, and with their support, I accepted the offer. I was well prepared by VSO, and at the end of January 2012, I was on my way to Africa, to be the first VSO volunteer in South Sudan. In South Sudan, educational challenges are daunting. Problems include very low literacy levels due to low school attendance rates during the long periods of war, and high school drop-out rates. Lack of finance is a huge obstacle to progress. Many classrooms are under trees and there is a great shortage of text books and school furniture. Last year, in a peaceful referendum, South Sudan broke away from Sudan and became the world’s newest country. After initial euphoria, there are still unresolved political problems with Sudan— disputes about border boundaries and oil. There are strong hopes that agreement is near and oil (which produces 98% of national revenue) will soon flow again. My brief here has been to build capacity in county education personnel, to improve co-ordination of education services, and to help train teachers, inspectors and Parent Teacher Associations (similar to Boards of Management in Ireland). Skills needed for this work include facilitating, mentoring, and networking—which hopefully I picked up in my time as principal, IPPN representative and LDS associate. At a recent PTA workshop, I was asked to introduce the Code of Conduct for Teachers which includes banning of corporal punishment, and is now part of the recently-passed Education Act. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my work is

visiting schools with inspectors, supporting teachers and talking to children who are unfailingly polite and smiling, and sometimes encouraging them to sing songs, which they do so well and spontaneously. They often give me gifts of pineapple and mango fruit, which is delicious. At present, I am involved in discussions with officials of the State Ministry about the formation of clusters of schools and resource centres for teachers to exchange and share ideas. This would involve setting up support groups for educational stakeholders, to meet with peers and develop networks of self-help. My ideas have been strongly influenced by discussions held during my time on the National Committee and Executive of IPPN in the early years of the last decade.

Skills needed for this work include facilitating, mentoring, and networking—which hopefully I picked up in my time as principal, IPPN representative and LDS associate. There is great potential in South Sudan, with vast areas of fertile soil for crop cultivation, a wide variety of fruit trees, and precious mineral deposits. The climate here is relatively moderate, with temperatures rarely exceeding 30 C. English is spoken by many here, and I have no language problems. The people are very friendly and welcoming with a strong sense of fun, and they appreciate the help they are getting. There are no tarmac roads. Most people travel by walking, cycling or bodaboda (motor-cycle). I drive my own boda-boda (see PAG E 1 6

photo)—reliving my time as a young teacher in Dublin on my Honda 50 ! I was the first white boda-boda driver in Yambio when I arrived in February—now there are a few more. I have very comfortable accommodation with the Christian Brothers with television, internet and good company. My VSO colleague also stays here where we can plan to support and complement each other’s work. We are all keen sports followers and watch many sporting events on television together, with a couple of bottles of beer to add to the atmosphere!

Volunteering here has been a great challenge, but is also very rewarding. Of course, I miss my wife and family very much. I missed my nephew’s recent wedding in New York. I missed the excitement of Mayo’s involvement in this year’s All-Ireland. I will be away from home for Christmas this year for the first time ever, but I can console myself that I will be back in Mayo soon afterwards—‘Anois Teacht an Earraigh…….’. Volunteering here has been a great challenge, but is also very rewarding. Poverty on many levels is all around, but values are simple and basic, and I have learned from that. It is a privilege to have the opportunity of playing a small part in setting down foundations for a modern educational structure in a new country.

Seán Ó Foghlú, Secretary General of the DES Seán Ó Foghlú replaced Brigid McManus as Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills last February. Representatives of IPPN have met with the new secretary general on a number of occasions, at which the key issues affecting primary principals have been discussed. From 2008 until 2012 Seán was an Assistant Secretary General in the Department of Education and Skills. He had responsibility for the Planning and Building Unit from 2010 and prior to that he had responsibility for school transport, social inclusion, payroll and pensions. From 2001 to 2008 Seán was the first chief executive of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland. In this role he led the development and implementation of the National Framework of Qualifications. He joined the Department of Education in 1992 and worked there until 1999, including in that time a year in the Department of Finance. He was Head of Policy and Planning for two years from 1999 in the Higher Education Authority before joining the Qualifications Authority.

On your behalf Since the last issue of Leadership+, IPPN has continued our advocacy role on behalf of principals, through meetings, events and submissions in relation to the following:

SEPTEMBER: ● IPPN Executive Committee Meeting, Tullamore ● IPPN Principals’ Briefing Day, Tullamore – speakers included ■ Madeline Hickey, SESS re. SEN services available ■ Hubert Loftus of the DES re. teacher allocations and redeployment ■ Brendan O’Dea of the Teaching Council re. Code of Conduct for teachers and Student Placement ■ vonne Keating of the DES Inspectorate re. school self evaluation and WSE ● DES Teacher Allocation – process review ● Archways, NPC-P and IPPN - working party examining synergies to improve outcomes for children. Developing a strategy to present ideas to government and statutory bodies with an interest in the area of children’s mental health on how the Incredible Years Programme can enable parents, teachers and the wider school community to support children’s future development. ● Attended ■ Launch of Good Practise Guide for Breakfast Clubs ■ IVEA Congress 2012 ‘Change, Challenge and Evolution’ ■ Lecture on ‘The future of Irish

Education in an age of austerity and inequality’ at the Royal Irish Academy by Bob Lingard of the University of Queensland ■ Archways Conference ‘Investing in change – social innovation and the incredible years approach’ - keynote given by Caroline Webster Stratton designer and author of the Incredible Years Programme ■ The Wheel seminar on ‘Sustainable Funding for non-profits through Social Enterprises’ ■ Launch of cross border education initiative at Monaghan Education Centre.

OCTOBER: ● IPPN County Network Autumn Meetings in every county between 18th September and 11th October. Topics included: ■ Update on teacher allocations and redeployment panels, NCSE resource hours ■ NEWB streamlined service; referrals process ■ DES inspection procedures – WSE, incidental, probation and school self evaluation ■ SESS services ■ Medmark ■ Carecall ■ Relevant Contract Tax ■ Local support groups ■ IPPN supports and services ■ IPPN county committee elections

● National Children's Strategy Implementation Group ● Paddy Flood, PDST ● Misneach for newly-appointed principals – Clare, Monaghan, Laois ● Retired Principals seminar ● IPPN Leitrim – formation of new support groups ● VHI re. Healthcare Wellplus programme results ● Attended: ■ Heads of Irish Universities and Institutes of Technology – education technology sector briefing ■ National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) Annual Conference ■ NABMSE Annual Conference – themes included School Leadership in Challenging Time, Changing the Junior Cycle and Saving Costs in Schools ■ Briefing on the Children’s Referendum for the Education Sector ■ 50th Anniversary of Special Education Diploma in St. Patrick’s College.

NOVEMBER: ● National Children’s Strategy Implementation Group (NCSIG) ● IPPN Executive Committee meeting ● IPPN National Committee AGM ● Attended: ■ ESRI Growing Up in Ireland’s Annual Research Conference

Zacchaeus Climbs Again By Dan Daly, Principal of Robinstown NS, Navan, Co. Meath “Come down off the tree.You can’t stay up there forever. Anyway there’s a Board of Management meeting tonight,” exhorted the chairman of the board. “No, I’ve had enough. I can’t take any more. I’m not able, I’m staying here,” replied Tom, the board treasurer. The problem had arisen some months before. Indeed some of his friends felt that it had originated more than twenty years earlier. He had accompanied the principal as a member of the greeting party for the Taoiseach of the day, who had kindly consented to open an extension to the school.The Bishop, who was saying Mass in the thronged new room, was running late, through no fault of his, may I hastily add, and the Taoiseach was shown to the little staff room by the principal and Tom. However the principal was called away on urgent business - isn’t it always - and Tom was left alone with the Taoiseach. Tom was a quiet man at the best of times and the Taoiseach was a busy man, unaccustomed to being kept waiting.“Are there many children in the school?” inquired the Taoiseach.“I couldn’t tell you, I’m sorry, you’d have to ask the principal.” A lengthy silence followed. “How many teachers?” “I don’t know. I think it might be around ninety or thereabouts, ah no it’s four or five, I think,” replied an increasingly flustered Tom. There followed another silence as the Taoiseach digested this information. He looked at his watch.The sweat began to gather on Tom’s brow. Time flowed by with all the speed of a summons being readied for a bent banker. The news that money was being granted to the school to replace the prefabs was delightfully received by the board. One board member opined that in line with school tradition they should ask the Taoiseach to open it. This sent a shiver down Tom’s spine.The architect who had helped install the prefabs was consulted and began making some plans.Tom and the principal were delegated to oversee the affair. All was going well until an architect from Donegal rang the principal wondering why he wasn’t considered for the tendering process. Tom and the principal eventually located the “Guidance on Procuring Consultants for Small

Works” document. It revealed that a “faux-pas” of some magnitude had occurred. It was back to the drawing board. Architects were invited to tender. The principal and Tom sat down and proceeded to “validate the preferred tenderers’ suitability” and “assess the tenderers’ submissions.” Both of them pretended to know what they were doing. They differed on the mathematical formula for establishing what was the best tender having taken into account “Project Service, Competency of Firm, Project Delivery and Price.” Tom had to defer to the principal who reluctantly deferred back to Tom when his maths didn’t work out. A more informed opinion was sought from a local engineer. It transpired that the original architect was out of the equation and some delicate negotiations ensued. By this stage Tom’s humour was in a delicate state, the Principal’s was fragile and the chairperson had taken to novenas. Tom had many Beecher Brook moments down through the years: the debts arising from an extension back in the nineties, the leaking pipe that resulted in a water bill for £6,079 and the enormous, mystifying electricity bill were just a few of the more memorable. He had helped run cake sales, fashion extravangas, “Strictly Come Dancing” show, table quizzes and many more. He had often sat around a table with the board late into the night juggling the relative merits of Pat Shortt and Big Tom. On one occasion a subcommittee had spent the good part of an hour wondering whether to put lettuce in the sandwiches for the social.

By this stage Tom’s humour was in a delicate state, the Principal’s was fragile and the chairperson had taken to novenas. New taxes have upset the waters elsewhere - a tea tax stimulated the American revolutionaries into action. The poll tax marked the beginning of Margaret Thatcher’s decline. The recent household charge has closed a few doors for our politicians and irked many. And so it was with Tom when news reached the PAG E 1 8

board regarding the introduction of the “Relevant Contracts Tax.” He listened as the Chairperson relayed the news that the board, and the treasurer in particular, would be responsible for deducting tax from companies engaged in major or minor works. He outlined the details in sombre, stark terms:“construction operations,” “principal contractor” and “contract notification form”. As if Tom wasn’t suffering enough, the section on possible penalties had him giggling nervously.Tom and the board were aghast. To PAYE, VAT and the various other taxes was now added RCT. Tom wanted to resign there and then but the other members assured him that this wouldn’t, couldn’t possibly stand. Eventually he reluctantly consented to continue. The building project was proceeding slowly. Tom wasn’t sleeping very well. He was assured he wouldn’t have to be a member of the greeting party for any possible visit by the Taoiseach.As the next board meeting drew near he withdrew further into himself. And alas we know what happened on the day of the meeting. By this stage the whole school had gathered around the big oak tree. Indeed there was a bit of a carnival atmosphere with children dancing around the tree, playing hide and seek. Various entreaties, assurances and blessings were proferred to Tom. He was warned about an impending gale. The chairperson asked the principal for advice. “There’s only one thing for it,” he replied. The principal took a deep breath, steadied himself and made a jump for the lower branch with a type of “bocléim”. He clung to the branch while they all looked on in amazement and then with a slow, awkward, rotating movement, righted himself. He slowly climbed up, emitting a few groans as he went and joined Tom at the top. “I’ve had my fill as well. Enough is enough.” They shook hands and embraced. He looked down and then around. The school seemed small beyond the hedge. And as the sun headed for the west and the birds banked and wheeled in the clear, blue, evening sky, they sang out in unison from the tree top “We’re staying put and don’t intend making a return.”

Protecting Your School Building from Extreme Winter Weather The extremely low temperatures encountered during the winters of 2009/10 & 2010/11 have made us all aware of the potentially devastating effects of extreme winter weather. The winter period of 2011/2012 was considerably milder than the previous two, but you only had to look across at the UK to see how close we were to having three consecutive extreme winters. Most widespread damage has been caused by freezing temperatures causing burst pipes but there are other types of winter-related damage, namely storm and flood. Some people believe that damage is inevitable during these spells of extreme weather, however if proactive steps are taken, the risk and extent of damage can be reduced and in many cases eliminated. It is easy and relatively inexpensive to put preventative measurers in place to avoid damage, including: 1. Fit a frost thermostat – These should be fitted in strategic locations within your premises connected to your heating system. They will automatically turn your heating on once the ambient temperature of your school reaches a pre-set level. These usually cost in the region of €150 + VAT each, including installation, and are one of the best ways to protect against burst pipes. They can also save you money over this period as you do not have to leave your heat running throughout the holidays. 2. Lagging exposed pipes and tanks –If the exposed pipes and water tanks in the attic, boiler house or externally-located pipes are not fully lagged, they are at much greater risk of bursting and causing significant damage. It is important to note that water tanks in the attic should not be insulated on the underside - to allow heat from the school building to reach the tank. It typically costs approximately €20 per m2 to insulate a water tank and €7 per m2 to insulate pipes. Pipes should be insulated to at least 19mm and tanks 80mm. 3. Inline pumps connected to thermostats – Inline pumps keep the water circulating around your heating system and if connected to a thermostat will turn on when the temperature reaches a certain pre-set ambient temperature.These are very effective as moving water freezes at a much

lower temperature than water that is static. They are more expensive to install at approximately €450 + VAT each but are cheaper to run as they don’t result in the heating system activating. The above are specific proactive steps that can be taken to minimise the risk of a burst pipe in your school. There are also some general tips to help you during the winter: ■ Maintain heat in the building ■ Remember to protect your oil supply from freezing. Oil can freeze if temperatures reach -9 degrees Celsius. The oil tank can be protected with weather proof insulation. A tarpaulin cover will provide protection in an emergency situation. ■ Leave internal doors open to protect unheated or poorly-heated compartments. Make sure all radiators are on. ■ If air vents in the boiler house are closed off, leave sufficient opening to allow an adequate supply of air for combustion. Vacant properties or sections of buildings You may have an old school building not being used anymore or a section of your school not in use. It is very important to drain the water tanks of these areas if you do not intend to keep the heating on. Old buildings especially may not have adequately lagged pipes and so during extreme temperatures are at a big risk of a burst pipe. An unused section of your school may be difficult to heat, so draining the water system for this section will be effective in avoiding burst pipes. Over the last number of years there has been a big emphasis on freezing weather conditions and the damage that can be caused. However this is not the only danger to your building during winter. The old favourites, storm and flood, are ever present and have been seen to devastating effect (particularly flooding) in the recent past. Storm Storm can potentially affect any area. Nine out of every 10 storm damage claims we see could be prevented with better maintenance. For instance, if there are loose tiles on your school roof and a storm hits, it will pull up the loose tile which could have a domino effect over the surrounding section of the roof causing thousands of euro worth of damage. If the tile PAG E 1 9

was not loose in the first place, damage could be avoided. The following steps can be taken to reduce the possibility of damage during a storm: ■ Clean out gutters and down pipes of leaves, dirt and debris on a regular basis ■ Keep tree branches trimmed to prevent them from overhanging your building ■ Have trees that are close enough to fall onto your building checked regularly ■ Check for broken, damaged or loose tiles and have them repaired where necessary ■ Check the flashing around the vent pipe and any other projections where a roof covering meets an adjoining surface ■ Repair any damaged gutters or down pipes and check their supports ■ Ensure grounds are kept clear of loose materials and rubbish that could blow around and cause damage. Flood Flooding can strike in many areas. There is not always time to prepare for a flood but, given even a little advance notice, there are some measurers that can be taken to minimise potential damage: ■ Raise furniture, appliances and other valuable items that could be damaged by flood water entering premises ■ Move vehicles, valuable and other items to safety if there is time ■ Ensure you have sandbags or other similar items that can be used to stop flood waters entering your premises ■ Plug sinks and baths and put sandbags in toilet bowls to prevent watering entering your property that way ■ Clear blocked drains ■ Be ready to turn off gas and electricity supplies ■ Do not unplug electrical appliances if you have to stand in water to do so ■ Do not enter basements or rooms if water covers electrical cables or plug outlets ■ Keep a flash light and spare batteries in an accessible place ■ If required to do, exit the property with care as submerged debris could cause you to trip or fall. We hope that the guidelines above assist you in protecting your property from weather-related damage. If you have any questions or are looking for further advice, please contact your local Allianz representative.

Special Educational Needs in Primary Schools: Evidence from the Growing Up in Ireland Study In issue 68 of Leadership+ (page 12) we read about the value of the Growing Up in Ireland (GUI) Study in better understanding the school and classroom experiences of primary school children. Following on from this study, we wish to provide an overview of recently published research based on GUI data, which provides valuable insights into special educational needs (SEN) in Irish primary schools. Despite dramatic policy changes in this area in recent decades, until now little has been known about this group of students. In particular, crucial information has been lacking on the numbers of children with special educational needs (SEN) in our schools, their profile and social characteristics and, importantly, how they fare in mainstream school settings. For the first time, the GUI survey has provided a unique opportunity to estimate the prevalence of SEN in Irish primary schools. Our research combined data from two sets of key informants (parents and teachers) and found that overall onein-four children were found to have some form of SEN - a rate consistent with recent studies internationally - with boys showing higher levels than girls. Analysing the GUI data also allows us to explore the composition of children with SEN as

identified by their teachers and whether SEN levels vary across different social groups.This new research shows that children from working class backgrounds are far more likely to be identified with SEN.This is particularly the case for working class boys who display high levels of SEN (of a non-normative type such as emotional/behavioural difficulties - EBD). We further examined whether EBD as identified by teachers, or within certain schools, is matched by the child’s own performance on an internationally validated emotional and mental health self esteem measure. When we take account of children’s performance on this self esteem measure, we find that certain groups of children are disproportionately likely to be identified with EBD. This includes boys, children from economically inactive households and children attending designated disadvantaged schools. These issues in SEN identification highlight the importance of understanding the everyday school experiences for this group of students: in essence, how do they get on in school? Importantly, school experiences and overall attitudes towards school vary among children with SEN according to the type of disability or need they have. It is clear that children with SEN, particularly those identified with learning disabilities, face considerable barriers

to fully engage in school life. In line with previous research on boys in school more generally, findings show that boys with SEN are more likely than girls with SEN to dislike school. Moreover, children with SEN from semi- and unskilled manual social class backgrounds are also more likely to be disengaged from school. To summarise, these research findings highlight the need for discussion by policy makers and practitioners around the definition of SEN as per the EPSEN Act and our understanding of special education more broadly. These findings raise questions around the processes of SEN identification in schools and highlight the need to review the ways in which children with SEN, and in particular children with EBD, are identified. This research considers the practical implications of placing children with SEN in mainstream schools. By simultaneously examining the role of academic and social relations in shaping the engagement of children with SEN, the analysis provides a unique opportunity to fundamentally assess the barriers to true inclusion for children with special needs. The authors of this research are Dr. Joanne Banks, Dr. Selina McCoy and Dr. Michael Shevlin and further information is available at

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:

The Struggle for Gender Equity By Virginia O’Mahony, ICP President 2011-2012 When Oprah Winfrey opened her Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG) near Johannesburg in 2007 to provide educational leadership opportunities for academically gifted South African girls from the most impoverished backgrounds, it is obvious she was driven by a belief in the power of gender equity.

privileged family. Before the wedding Dawn and Nick were required to absent themselves as Dawn’s family negotiated the dowry they would receive for her from Nick’s family. She knew that compliance with this aspect of her culture was the price she had to pay to maintain any future relationship with her family.

The vision of OWLAG says: We support the development of a new generation of dynamic women leaders. By virtue of their unique education, this generation will lead the enduring transformation of their communities and country.

We heard a moving contribution from Vuyiseka Dubula, a young woman living with HIV and General Secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign. Her message was stark and disturbing. Many women still do not enjoy the freedom to vote or to travel. The patriarchal society contributes to a life of fear forming a barrier to women reaching their economic potential. Vuyiseka described the clear link between violence and vulnerability to HIV. The black cloud of rape still hangs over women and girls. The statistics are chilling. 47% of men in one survey have raped more than once, many within their own family. Many girls aged from 4 to 16 years have been raped. The scar of rape always stays, as sadly described by a victim – “It tells you where your place in society is.” Masculinity is sometimes defined as taking power away from women by rape. Schools have a vital role in the education of young men, who are so often shaped by experiences in their early lives. Education must help redefine masculinity.

The Board of Governors of OWLAG, and Principal Anne van Zyl, generously offered the International Confederation of Principals (ICP) the use of this wonderful venue last August to host an international conference with the theme ‘The Struggle for Gender Equity.’We as the ICP organisers chose as our focus the UN’s 3rd Millennium Goal, ‘To promote gender equality and empower women’. Empowering women in a community has been proven to bring about a disproportionate improvement in overall poverty levels and a significant reduction in the spread of HIV/AIDS. The theme was also aimed at both supporting ICP Principals’ Associations in the developing world and also all principals who deal with this issue every day in their work within cultures where gender equity is not respected. Attendees arrived at OWLAG on August 9th, having travelled from 14 different countries and from all five continents. Irish Aid supported their project staff from South Africa, Lesotho, Tanzania and Zambia to attend. Principals’ associations generously sponsored African principals, who would not otherwise have been there. We all spoke English but in an astounding variety of accents.We were fortunate to have the gifted facilitator, Colin Pidd, from Melbourne to direct our work. Colin described the process he would use as a ‘Search Conference’ and all contributions were graphically recorded by artist Mary Brake from Auckland. We began by sharing our life stories. The life story of a young couple, Dawn and Nick McKay, challenged our perceptions of gender equity and the necessity to respect the culture of the young people we are educating. Dawn, the daughter of a single parent from a Durban township married Nick, a young Melbourne lawyer from a

Vuyiseka ended with a plea to school leaders to ■ foster girls’ interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics ■ create a ‘Utopia of Equity’ in our schools ■ give girls a safe place in which to learn Vuyiseka Dubula

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help boys to redefine their masculinity create an environment of care and support for all students.

As we planned for the future, immediate actions were obvious. We decided on specific activities appropriate to the next 90 days, followed by the next 12 months. We had reached the most challenging part, the core of the conference. We were encouraged to be visionary and brave. We decided that, as principals, our greatest contribution to gender equity will be concerted awareness-raising of gender equity in our own schools and associations. We will create a momentum by each principal making the small changes effectively. ICP, representing principals across the globe, has a significant and influential role. The next ICP international convention will be held in Cairns, Australia in July 2013, with a possible 2,000 school leaders attending.The next chapter of this story will be continued there, giving the issue a wider platform on a global stage. We will be guided then, as now, by the words of Nelson Mandela in 1994: “Freedom cannot be achieved without the freedom of women and girls.” For further information:

Dawn McKay

Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers An Overview By Tomás Ó Ruairc, Director, Teaching Council

In the Ireland of today we have become accustomed to assuming that certain key professions are appropriately regulated. This applies to doctors, nurses, pharmacists, the financial sector, property professionals and teachers, with moves underway to allow for the independent regulation of the legal profession. A central element of regulation in all of these cases is a code of professional conduct for members of the profession. In this article, I give an overview of the background to the Code, including the genesis for a Teaching Council; summarise the Code itself and its benefit for the profession and the public; and finally suggest some ways in which principals and their staff could usefully engage with the Code. BACKGROUND TO THE CODE – WHY THE TEACHING COUNCIL? Long before the Teaching Council was established in 2006, the teaching profession itself realised that a statutory, independent regulator would be required to maintain the trust that society has historically placed in the teaching profession.

It is important to note that the vast majority of teachers will never have a complaint made against them and that the Teaching Council will provide for a ‘triage’ system to eliminate vexatious complaints. Teachers saw the establishment of a teaching council as a vital step in the professionalisation of teaching. Their vision, stretching back to the 1970s when teaching qualifications were given degree status, was to have ownership of the profession vested in its own members, rather than the Church or the State. They sought to reassure the public that they could trust them to do this by making sure that a robust complaints and inquiry process was put in place. The Teaching Council is charged with statutory responsibility for maintaining and enhancing the

quality of teaching in Ireland for our children and young people – at both primary and second levels. The Council acts in the interests of the public good in seeking to uphold and enhance the reputation and status of the teaching profession through fair and transparent regulation. When Part 5 of the Act is commenced, Fitness to Teach will be the most tangible demonstration of what regulation of the teaching profession means. Fitness to Teach is about reinforcing the integrity of the profession by investigating complaints made in respect of individual teachers. It is important to note that the vast majority of teachers will never have a complaint made against them and that the Teaching Council will provide for a ‘triage’ system to eliminate vexatious complaints.The Council also commits to providing information to teachers on what to do if a complaint is made against them. Before any inquiries process can be established, however, an ethical framework must exist and that is the purpose of the Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers, the second edition of which was published this year following an extensive consultation process with education partners and stakeholders, including members of the teaching profession and the general public. CODE OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT – A SUMMARY First and foremost, this Code is a clear statement of the high standards that are expected of teachers in all that they do on behalf of pupils and their parents / guardians. It provides all registered teachers with a guiding compass as they seek to steer an ethical and respectful course through their career and to uphold the honour and dignity of the teaching profession. The Code also has an important legal standing and will be used by the Teaching Council as a reference point during the investigation of complaints once Fitness to Teach is established. The Code sets out the ethical foundation for the teaching profession as encapsulated in the values of respect, care, integrity and trust. The Code also sets out the standards expected of registered teachers under the headings of values PAG E 2 2

and relationships, integrity, conduct, practice, professional development, collegiality and collaboration. These standards reflect the complexity of teaching, and the variety of challenges faced by teachers, serving to guide professional judgement and practice. By practising in a manner that keeps faith with the guidance provided in the Code of Professional Conduct, teachers can work together to enhance and deepen the confidence and trust that society places in the teaching profession.

The Code sets out the ethical foundation for the teaching profession as encapsulated in the values of respect, care, integrity and trust. PRINCIPALS AND STAFF ENGAGING WITH THE CODE The Council has sent a copy of the Code to every registered teacher.We have also included a covering note, summarising key aspects of the Code and its benefits for the profession and the public. As part of that note, we have given the individual teacher and the school some questions which they may wish to reflect on in relation to the Code. The questions essentially seek to enable teachers to talk in their own terms about the values that inform their daily practice, to look at the Code and reflect on how it articulates the values that should underpin teaching, and then to reflect on how the language of the Code resonates with their own. We have then suggested that, after teachers have reflected individually, they may wish to reflect on it as a school. This is something that school principals may wish to facilitate at a staff meeting. We believe that this would be a very worthwhile exercise, and it would be in keeping with the importance which we all attach to the reflective practitioner. A copy of the Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers is being sent to every registered teacher. If you would like to receive additional copies of the Code for your school you can email Code can also be downloaded from

Ontario Principals’ Leap of Faith By Ian McFarlane, Executive Director of the Ontario Principals’ Council Unlike IPPN, the OPC did not come into existence through a rational act of planning and development. Rather, like a bad science fiction film, we came into existence in a void created by an angry lightning bolt unleashed by an even angrier government. That blast occurred in November of 1997 and we were up and toddling in the early months of 1998. Since the 1920s, Ontario principals (and for purposes of brevity, I include vice-principals in the term) were members of our very strong teacher unions. In fact, principals were founders of the first union and a strong source of leadership until roughly the 1980s. By that time our ‘teacher federations’ had become rather more like labour unions in their behavior and agendas. Principals were becoming, shall we say, tolerated as members. Fast forward to the mid 1990s and Ontario was being governed by a Conservative government who sought to follow the Reagan / Thatcher model of taking on a strong union. That government battled rhetorically with teachers and their unions but did not really act to limit the power of the unions. They did create an atmosphere of distrust, and undermined public confidence in the education system. As teachers protested, there were warnings that the government would not tolerate principal participation in protest days. The unions ignored the warning, pressured principals to participate and, presto, legislation was quickly passed to remove principals from unions. What didn’t happen, though, was any government direction on what would happen next with principals. School leaders were left to sort it out themselves. Pockets of principals across our large province (we have triple the Irish population and an area roughly 10 times larger) emerged and efforts were made to coordinate the planning of how to replace union services. Individual principals were rightly very concerned about the loss of representation (albeit only occasionally extended) and the very good professional learning offered by the unions. An added complication was that, as with Ireland, there were quite distinct cultures and unions in the elementary (primary) and secondary systems. And if the professional

moment was not anxious enough, the government gave principals four months, in the very middle of the school year, to make a simple decision: resign from the union and remain a principal or resign from the principalship and return to the union as a teacher. A good crisis can bring out the best in people. Quickly, and remarkably smoothly, key leaders reached a consensus that was rather more a leap of faith: elementary and secondary principals would form one organization and seize the advantages of size and two strong histories. Next, those same leaders defined the core purposes of the new organization which included negotiation of principal contracts, legal and professional advice and protection and world class professional development. They then set out on a cross province tour lasting several weeks, ‘selling’ the vision, reassuring principals and creating a sense of calm and control.

A good crisis can bring out the best in people. By the beginning of April over 95% of public sector principals and vice-principals had become OPC members. A constitution was established as was the governing body: a Provincial Council with two representatives (one elementary, one secondary) from each of the 31 public school districts, which acts as the Board of Directors of the corporation. A ‘micro’ staff of just five people set to work in a dusty corner of a printing warehouse. A poll conducted a few months later indicated that the membership was evenly split as to whether the move out of the union was a good move. Within a year, 80% indicated that their new reality provided better service and reflected their interests better. There followed several years of growth for OPC within those core services to members. But no law yet exists that defines how or why principals can organize to assist members. In other words, we have had the on-going opportunity / burden to frame our own terms of reference. And since no education law legitimizes us we have come to understand that our legitimacy arises from the depth and quality of our relationships and the reputation we have earned.

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The OPC came into existence out of necessity in a frightening vacuum. The politics of the day could have had a devastating effect on the professional well being of principals. Instead, wise school leaders created a strong, independent and growing support for school leaders. We remain highly political but non-partisan. Our advocacy, like IPPN’s, is grounded in good information and research. Difficult political times have returned to us as Ontario’s government, like so many others, works to keep the banks at bay. Good times or bad, however, the mandate of OPC is to use our resources and our independence to advocate solutions that respect the needs of Ontario’s learners as well as the needs of our members. Ian McFarlane can be reached at




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Change in Revenue treatment of a Board of Management for school building projects By James White, FCCA, BoM Advisor, Scoil Mhuire, Coolcotts, Wexford Please bring this article to the attention of your BoM Treasurer If your school is commencing a school building project (including emergency works, summer works, additional accommodation or major buildings and extensions), the board of management needs to be aware of and ensure compliance with a legislative change which came into effect on 1st January 2012. Section 20 of the Finance Act 2011 inserted new provisions into the Taxes Consolidation Act, under which new regulations have been issued. This legislation will affect the tax treatment of the Board of Management (BoM) for school building projects and payments made to contractors. There are penalties and surcharges for non-compliance so it is vital that the legislation is properly complied with. WHAT IS RELEVANT CONTRACTS TAX? The changes relate to the operation of Relevant Contracts Tax (RCT) which is a tax regime applicable to construction contracts. Essentially, tax is deducted by the ‘principal contractor’ from payments for construction operations due to the contractor. RCT usually applies to main contractors in their dealings with subcontractors. However, the Revenue has recently indicated that a school BoM, being a body established by statute and funded wholly or mainly out of monies provided by the Oireachtas, is a ‘Principal Contractor’. This means that the Board will be responsible for complying with RCT requirements and VAT returns when making payments to the contractor. The Revenue introduced a mandatory electronic RCT system (Revenue Online Service - ROS) on 1st January last for all principal contractors, so all filings and notifications must be done online through this system.

HOW DOES IT OPERATE? The Board of Management is the Client/Employer under the building contract. As such, the Board is the ‘Principal Contractor’ for the purposes of this legislation. The Board will therefore be responsible for notifying the contract to the Revenue prior to commencement of construction, notifying each payment to the Revenue prior to making payment to the Contractor and paying the RCT deducted (if any) to the Revenue. The Board must also ensure that it obtains a ‘Deduction Authorisation’ from the Revenue before any payment is made to the contractor. This will specify the rate of tax (there are three rates: zero %, 20% and 35%) to be deducted from the contractor. The ‘reverse charge’VAT mechanism also applies to contracts subject to RCT. Therefore, the BoM will have to register for VAT, account for VAT on all payments made to the contractor and will be required to make bi-monthly VAT returns. The contractor will invoice the Board on a VAT exclusive basis so the Board must apply to the DoES for funding to cover both the amount stated on the invoice and the VAT which will be paid to the Revenue on the bimonthly VAT return.

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Obtain contractor’s tax reference number and proof of identity Prior to commencement of construction, notify the Revenue of the contract (Contract Notification) Prior to discharging any payment to the contractor, notify the Revenue of the payment (Payment Notification) Obtain a Deduction Authorisation from the Revenue specifying the tax to be deducted from the contractor Provide the contractor a copy of the Deduction Authorisation Deduct the applicable amount of tax from payments due to the contractor File RCT returns and pay the deducted amount to the Revenue Apply to the DoES for the VAT inclusive amount of each payment due to the contractor notwithstanding that the invoice received will be on a VAT exclusive basis File monthly VAT returns and pay the VAT to the Revenue Obtain and keep a Deduction Summary – Periodic Return at the end of each return period.

If in doubt, get advice! WHAT DOES THE BOM HAVE TO DO? As soon as possible in the process (preferably at design stage) the Board should write to its local Revenue district seeking confirmation if the Board is to be treated as a ‘Principal Contractor’ for the contract. If the answer is yes then the Board must: ■ Register online for Revenue Online Service ■ Principal Contractor

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[IPPN professional guidance – the BoM Treasurer must be charged with the above responsibilities. If the Treasurer is not suitably qualified, the Board will need to retain a professional to carry out the task for the BoM. See IPPN E-scéal issued Friday 5th October RCTs & VAT returns – Are they a core part of your role as a leader of learning?]

Support at local level IPPN is a network – your network. This network offers every member the opportunity to support each other in a variety of ways. This may be through face-to-face interactions, online through and other mailing lists or on the phone through the Principal Advice Callback service. One of the most valuable of these is face-to-face meetings. Local Principals’ Support Groups have proven, over the last decade, to be the most effective form of support available to principals. If there is a support group in operation in your locality that you have not joined, maybe consider making this a new school year resolution. If not for your own sake, for the sake of the support you might be able to offer a colleague in the form of a listening ear. Local Principals’ Support Group meetings are the only meetings that will actually relieve your workload. You will have nothing to prepare before the meeting, you are not ‘performing’ at the meeting and you will not leave with a ‘To-do’ list. You will, however, leave the meeting feeling genuinely supported.

The most commonly shared characteristics of successful Local Principals’ Support Groups are: ■ One member co-ordinates (usually by text) the date and venue of the next meeting ■ Meetings take place on a regular basis e.g. second Thursday of the month ■ There are no external speakers ■ There are no minutes or reports ■ There is no formal written agenda; at the end of each meeting one topic may be chosen as the focus of discussion for the next meeting. Following discussion on main topic, principals discuss other current issues ■ Meetings are generally held immediately after school or by night – some groups meet in the afternoons of administration days ■ Groups are usually small – normally 8 to 12 members ■ A high degree of confidentiality, discretion and trust prevails

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A regular social dimension is recommended– end of term meal etc Frequent sharing of resources, ideas and strategies takes place.

TAKE THE LEAD… If there is no Local Principals’ Support Group in operation in your area, why not consider taking the initiative and contact your local colleagues. Alternatively, please contact the IPPN National Support Office to express your interest and we will undertake to establish a local group in your area. Call the National Support Office on 1890 21 22 23 or email *Note: Deputy Principals do not normally attend support group meetings unless they are in an Acting Principal capacity. There are examples of Deputy Principals forming their own Support Groups.

Useful Websites To access the websites listed below, insert ‘http://www’ in your internet browser, followed by the URL listed below:

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LEGAL / HR ■ National Employment Rights Authority. Useful for queries about the employment rights of ancillary staff and BoM responsibility to ancillary staff. ■ Includes links to relevant bodies/information including the Organisation of Working Time Act – crucial for dealing with ancillary staff relations/terms and conditions. ■ Good reference point for principals when it comes to access and custody of parents who are not married to each other. Useful numbers and reading material. ■ Allianz resources section SCHOOL/CLASSROOM RESOURCES ■ Sample school policies and plans, FAQs, DES circulars, e-scéals, Leadership+, workshop materials, IPPN events, research publications, IPPN supports & services, press releases, PIMS templates ■ Free teaching and education vacancy advertising ■ Text messages to school community ■ PDST Leadership & Planning website ■ Printable posters ■

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Thematic Planning for Teachers Targetboards for Maths iPads/iPod apps reviewed and videoed History, Geography Maths problem-solving Resources for many aspects of the curriculum – literacy, numeracy, Science, story packs, sign language, ICT, board games, seasonal etc Collaborative Irish/English dictionary

Web 2.0 for Schools ■ Safe school social networking ■ Blogging for schools ■ Blogging for schools ■ #edchatie is an Irish weekly educational chat on Twitter ■ Scoilnet’s blogging platform ■ Aggregate of blogs from primary schools around Ireland SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS ■ Teaching & learning resources for students with special needs and learning disabilities ■ Resources and CPD re. Special Education Needs and behavior issues ■ PAG E 2 5

National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education National Council for Special Education

ORGANISATIONS ■ DES website ■ Catholic Primary School Management Association ■ Gaelscoileanna Teo ■ Church of Ireland Board of Education ■ Educate Together ■ Computers in Education Society of Ireland ■ Professional Development Service for Teachers ■ Special Education Support Service ■ National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education ■ National Centre for Technology in Education EDUCATIONAL OPINION ■ eLearning Island ■ Irish Primary Education Blog ■ Blog from teacher in Naas Many thanks to Simon Lewis, Pat Gately and Brendan McCabe for their suggestions.

Education Research

Principals’ Stress and Strain Demands, Resources and Engagement in the Irish Education Sector By Teresa Hand-Campbell, Principal, Abbey NS, Roscommon An examination of demands, resources, engagement levels and their relationship with stress and strain experienced by Irish Principals is a largely unexplored area. Yet it has never been more pertinent in light of recent cutbacks under the Public Service Agreement (2010-2014), aimed at reducing public service staff numbers by 12% and costs by €3.8 billion by 2015. Increasing demands have been placed on the education sector, especially Principals, as leaders, administrators and managers with direct responsibility for quality of educational delivery (Education Act, 1998) together with expansive duties, unrestrained by the terms of a specific contract. Occupational stress follows due to the discrepancy between unbridled workplace demands and Principals’ capacities to meet them. Key stress models have informed international research in this area. The ‘Demands-Control Model’ holds that the interactive effects of high demands, low job autonomy or ‘elbow room’ and weak social support may lead to strain, manifest in depression, fatigue or heart disease. The ‘Effort Reward Imbalance Model’ finds that high effort/low reward elevates the risk of cardiovascular disease, with a 21-fold increase in the likelihood of emotional exhaustion and strain over those in low effort/high reward conditions. Finally, the ‘Job-Demands-Resources Model’ describes strain as an ‘energetical process’ whereby chronic, persistent job demands deplete employees’ energy levels and impede adequate recovery or alternatively as a motivational process, nurturing employees’ growth and development. When Irish Principals were questioned about the root causes of their reported stress/strain, it emerged that 72% of their stress/strain levels were attributed to ‘challenge demands’, ‘hindrance demands’and personal resource levels. ‘Challenge demands’ include role overload and responsibility. Reported high levels of role overload are indicative of an increasing workload which is unreasonable and unsupported by essential resources. Elevated responsibility outcomes reflected Principals’ concern for subordinates’ performance, interpersonal communications and internal/external conflict resolution. ‘Hindrance demands’ – measured as role insufficiency, role ambiguity, role boundary and physical environment - were strongly and positively associated with stress/strain. Stress/strain relating to role boundary, in particular, is consistent with feeling trapped between conflicting supervisory

demands and staff factions. An absence of pride in one’s work, confusion surrounding parameters of authority and responding to demands from many sources – such issues result in lack of role clarity and consequent stress/strain. Reported role ambiguity may be attributed to the absence of a formal employment contract, leading to confusion around role expectations, evaluation, progress and conflicting demands from stakeholders. Notwithstanding reported stress/strain, Principals’ indicated high engagement levels in relation to vigor, dedication and absorption. Such Principals use the personal resource of ‘job crafting’ which refers to the ability to make changes to job demands to reach and optimise personal goals. The flow between resources and engagement is central to stress-reduction. Some practical recommendations to enhance Principals’ effectiveness while safeguarding health and wellbeing:

must precede suppression of investment in education as a route to economic stability and prosperity. 4. ASSESSMENT AND STRESS INTERVENTIONS Future stress models must strive to capture the unique nuances of Principalship while highlighting employers’ obligations to assess Principals’ stress/strain and implement evidencebased stress interventions aimed at reducing the impact of demands on Principals’ wellbeing and effectiveness. While these findings are specific to one cohort of Irish Principals, they may be generalised to Principals nationally. Such research challenges must be undertaken, despite suppression of study leave, for the benefit of employer and employee alike. Teresa recently completed an M.Sc. in Occupational Psychology. Research interests include personnel selection/assessment, emotional intelligence, workplace wellbeing, engagement, stress, training & development. For further information on her research and the key information sources, contact Teresa by e-mail to

1. SELECTION & ASSESSMENT A bottom-up review of root causes of Principals’ stress/strain must address current personnel selection/assessment practices. A thorough job analysis specifying responsibilities and knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) essential for effective performance, coupled with competency modelling to identify candidates’ personal competencies, undertaken by professional, trained interviewers, would DEMANDS ultimately enhance the Challenge/ person-job fit. Hindrance 2. CONTRACT A standard contract for Principals would offer the security of a definite organisational framework, specifying role demands and expectations and aiding goal-setting and periodic reviews to gauge success. 3. DEMANDS AND RESOURCING A thorough cost-benefit analysis by experienced educational policymakers



Figure 1: Job Crafting as a key engagement-enhancing and strain-moderating force (Hand-Campbell, 2012)

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And Finally…

by Caoimhín Ó hÁinle, Gaelscoil Uí Ríordáin, Baile an Chollaigh

EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST TEACHER • The smaller the print on things, the more important it is. • If you give your dog a bath, you get one yourself. • What seem to be small gestures of thoughtfulness and kindness can mean lot - a whole lot. • Trust is the most valuable thing you’ll ever earn. • The truth is the quickest and easiest way out of trouble. • I should always try my best. If I don’t succeed, then at least I will feel good about myself. • The art of communication is not what you can hear being said from the other person’s mouth, but what you can feel from his heart and see in his eyes. • The smaller the print on things, the more important it is. • One of the best ways to find out about a person’s character is to play Monopoly with them. • The most dreaded words in the English language are “Some assembly required.” • It takes more energy to be mad or sad than it does to be happy. • You always think of a good comeback after it’s too late. • No-one notices what I do until I don’t do it.

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QUOTATIOseNrviSce of my vision it

When I use my strength in the or not I am afraid. makes no difference whether arian and activist. erican writer, poet, libr Audre Lord, Caribbean-Am

IPPN Annual Principals’




24th, 25th & 26th January 2013

Keynote addresses from President Michael D. Higgins, Fr. Peter M cVerr y, Gerr y Murphy, President, I PPN and Seán Cottrell, Executive Director, I PPN

Contender Charlie - back by popular demand

M ore than 10 professional development seminars to chose from – topics w ill include Literacy, Inter-personal Skills, School management, Governance, School Evaluation and more

Education Expo featuring more than 125 companies

Registration opens later this month - see for further details

Leadership+ Issue 71 November 2012  
Leadership+ Issue 71 November 2012