ISSUE 72 ● JANUARY 2013
+ Leadership THE PROFESSIONAL VOICE OF PRINCIPALS
Health & Safety and School Insurance
The Thick End of the Wedge It’s a pity that those who make the most noise and disruption are listened to, while logical arguments made by those who are educating the next generation are ignored.
Mainstream Inclusion – challenges, opportunities and the need for equity So you want to really change things in your school? Ireland’s First Passive House School Principal Advice: Stressful Times
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Sponsor of IPPN Publications
The Thick End of the Wedge By Seán Cottrell and Gerry Murphy There was a remarkable collective sigh of relief within the education sector when details of Budget 2013 were announced. “It could have been a lot worse” was a typical reaction. “I thought they were going to increase class size” was another.This reaction is indicative of a sort of numbness that has crept in after five years of cutbacks. A ‘neutral’ budget for education is seen as a plus. However, principals have not been able to succumb to this numbness as the sharp reality of last year’s budget is still hurting and will continue to hurt until key resources are restored. Let us not forget that the three-year plan for teacher retention figures in smaller schools is only beginning its second year. The full impact of this won’t be felt until September 2015. Budget 2013 has taken a further 0.5% from the capitation grant - 4% in total over the last two budgets. The minor works grant has gone.
Something that is not as easy to comprehend in figures is the impact of budget cuts on the overall education of a generation of children.
Something that is not as easy to comprehend in figures is the impact of budget cuts on the overall education of a generation of children. We continuously hear about the need to raise standards of literacy and numeracy and how this is the national strategic priority. There are few principals who would not support this priority but it does ring hollow when at the same time we are forced to manage schools with fewer staff and less money, where costs are escalating in non discretionary areas such as heating oil/gas, electricity, water and waste. Finland is cited as being the model country for educational standards. Yes, we too can be like Finland but only if we take the same approach. The Finns invested in education as a key element of their strategy for economic recovery in the early 1990s. They invested heavily in teacher training, abolished their inspectorate, placed more emphasis on schools monitoring and evaluating their own performance and trusted teachers and principals, giving more autonomy to the school. Regrettably, it seems that our strategy is more akin to ‘Live, horse, ‘til the grass grows’.
The number of EAL teachers will be cut again this year. Low Incidence Teaching Hours have also been cut from 90% allocation last year to 85% this year. SNA numbers have been capped at a time when the number of children attending our schools is growing year on year. And the provision of subcover to allow teaching principals attend their annual conference has been withdrawn. When there is even a threat to agricultural subsidies from the EU, farmers drive their tractors around Dublin city for half a day, grinding traffic to a halt. It’s a pity that those who make the most noise and disruption are listened to, while logical arguments made by those who are educating the next generation are ignored. A ‘neutral’ budget it definitely is not. We cannot believe the short-sightedness of some of these cuts. For example, let’s take a policy measure which is easily understood for its financial rather than educational impact - the minor works grant. Everyone remembers the old proverb ‘A stitch in time saves nine’. Anyone who has a home knows the relevance of continuous maintenance and the consequences if you fail to deal with problems when they are small. A school may spend as little as €100 fixing a broken roof tile. Alternatively, leave the broken tile for a few years and then you have a bill for €10,000 to replace half the roof. We had decades of television coverage showing schools in awful damp and rodent-infested conditions.Thankfully, because of sound investment in new buildings, extensions and refurbishments, the overwhelming majority of schools are in reasonable to good condition. The programme to replace prefabs with real buildings is a far-sighted and ultimately cost-saving measure for which credit must be acknowledged. However, getting rid of the minor works scheme will in time prove to be a false saving. Editor: Seán Cottrell Deputy Editor: Geraldine D'Arcy Assistant Editor: Brendan McCabe Comments and articles to email@example.com Advertising: Louise O’Brien firstname.lastname@example.org
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Legal Diary by David Ruddy BL, Principal of Talbot BNS, Clondalkin, Dublin 22
Health & Safety of the Principal Principals can be the subject of bullying and harassment because of the role they undertake. Parents, staff, or a Board of Management (BoM) member can on occasion cause a lot of misery and stress for the unfortunate Principal. In Sweeney vs BoM of Ballinteer Community College (High Court) 2011, Herbert J stated: ‘A particularly vicious form of bullying involves insolating the victim in the workplace by influencing others by and by undermining the victim’s standing in the organisation and amongst colleagues by disparaging references’ In Kelly vs Bon Secours (High Court) 2012 Cross J, the concept of corporate bullying was expressly recognised for the first time in Irish Law. Studies conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) indicate the persons employed in education are significantly more likely to be bullied than those in other sectors. WORK-RELATED STRESS – WHO LOOKS AFTER THE PRINCIPAL? Principals who find themselves under tremendous pressure due to work-related stress should seek advice and help.The chairperson of the Board of Management (BoM) should be informed of the situation and of any medical advice. It is well established that BoMs have a duty of care to their employees to guard against the potential dangers of stress-related illness at work. It is important that all BoMs have a ‘Dignity at Work / Anti-Bullying’ policy in place for employees and also to have the relevant grievance procedures in place. LITIGATION IN RELATION TO WORK-RELATED STRESS A Principal would need to prove that a BoM breached its Duty of Care .There is no liability to general stress and anxiety unless these aggregate to a recognised psychiatric disorder established by expert evidence. BOM’s would need to identify what steps they took in order to prevent the situation now being complained by the Principal. Evidence would need to be produced to identify what steps had been taken that would probably have prevented (or at the
very least have lessened) the harm that is ultimately the subject of the complaint. The Principal claiming damages would need to prove that he/she raised matters concerned or had given warnings about the condition of which they complain. It would be significant that where a BoM has grievance procedures in place and a “Dignity at Work/Anti-Bullying” policy that the Principal did not avail of these policies. It would also be significant to ascertain whether the Principal had a prior history of psychiatric illness or any stress related conditions or whether factors in the Principal’s private life may have contributed to the illness which is the subject of the complaint.
There is no liability to general stress and anxiety unless these aggregate to a recognised psychiatric disorder established by expert evidence. BARBER VS SOMERSET COUNTY COUNCIL (HOUSE OF LORDS) 2004 A teacher working in England claimed he was overworked, having undertaken to perform an onerous post of responsibility in addition to his teaching duties. He complained of work overload to the Deputy Principal and also made enquiries to the Deputy Principal about early retirement.Whilst on sick leave for three weeks, his GP wrote a medical certificate stating that he was suffering from stress and depression. When he returned to work he had discussions with the Principal and other staff expressing his fears that he was unable to cope with the increased workload and told them that it was detrimental to his health. He did not receive a very sympathetic response and the school did nothing to assist him. One day five months later he lost control in his classroom, shook a pupil and then left the school permanently. Since then he did not work and was diagnosed by two PAG E 4
psychiatrists as suffering from moderate to severe depression. HIGH COURT DECISION The trail judge held that there was a breach of the duty of care owed by the school management team to the teacher. They should have enquired about the teacher’s health and made an effort to ease his problems. House of Lords (Supreme Court) In a majority decision, the original High Court decision stood. The Court stated that the management team had manifestly failed to put in place a plan of action which would assist the teacher with his health problems. Simply because other staff faced severe problems as everyone was stressed and over worked, it did not mean that nothing could have been done to assist the claimant. However, one of the House of Lords judges disagreed and gave a dissenting judgement in which he stated that the teacher’s claim should fail. The following paragraph from his judgement illustrates his point of view: ‘Schools operate under considerable difficulties. I do not suppose that there are many, if any, teachers whose workload does not place them under considerable continuous pressure apt to cause stress and sometimes depression. Much the same I suspect would apply to many professionals. Nurses and doctors working for the HSE are an obvious example. Lawyers working in busy city firms are probably another. Pressure and stress are part of the system of work under which they carry out their daily duties, but they are all adults. They choose their professions. They can and sometimes do complain about it to their employers. In underfunded institutions providing vital social services there is often very little that the employers can do about these stress problems. Colleagues in the school or hospital are likely to be carrying an equally heavy workload. Is it fair to ask them to assume a greater burden in order to relieve the stress on a particular teacher? The school is entitled to expect first to be kept fully informed by the teacher of his or her problems’
OBSERVATION The above case law highlights the complexity of litigation in relation to stress-related illnesses. Whilst the Board of Management is indeed the employer and has the responsibility for any potential legal ability, it is the principal who has to initially deal with issues as an agent and member of the Board. If it is the principal who is ill, the BoM need to nominate someone to support the principal. It may be the Chairperson or someone nominated by the Chairperson.The BoM should seek guidance from the relevant managerial body.
IPPN provides members with an excellent confidential support service (Principal Advice) and mentoring which you should avail of in times of need. I would suggest that in the case of a member of staff being on sick leave who returns with a medical certificate stating that it was stressrelated sick leave, a procedure needs to be put in place to deal with such an eventuality i.e how the return to work ought to be managed e.g. 1. Arrange to meet the teacher with a member of the senior management team (preferably the principal or deputy principal) 2. Enquire in a compassionate manner as to how the teacher is feeling 3. Try to establish whether the stressâ€“related illness is work-related or personal 4. Highlight the grievance procedures that are available 5. Highlight the employee assistance scheme which is operated on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills 6. Try to put in place a plan which would assist the teacher in their return to work. This process should help to minimise the danger of stress-related illnesses being exacerbated at work. It would demonstrate a duty of care towards the staff member. IPPN provides members with an excellent confidential support service (Principal Advice) and mentoring which you should avail of in times of need.
Children Referendum The recent Children Referendum was passed by a much closer margin than expected.Why was there a need for such a referendum? The following reasons were advanced: a. 17 damning Child Protection reports since early 1990s b. International legal obligations â€“ UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 c. Any references to children were limited to the family context d. Children were dependant on adults to legislate their rights in Courts. IMPLICATIONS OF THE NEW AMENDMENT a. A new explicit statement on childrenâ€™s rights b. Provision for the threshold for state intervention c. Legal provision for best interests of the child and the right to be heard d. Changes to Adoption Law, including: I Children must be in the care of prospective adopters for 18 months I Proof that the child has been abandoned by birth parents for 3 years I Adoption must be in the best interests of the child I The views of the child will be ascertained. It is estimated that almost 2000 children who are in legal limbo will now be eligible for adoption. Married parents can give up their child for adoption voluntarily. This was not previously possible. Whilst the great majority of people favour robust child protection provisions, many people who voted against the amendment were not convinced that the State, through the HSE, are the people to do so.
Cyber Bullying and the Law Recent tragic events have catapulted the issue of cyber bullying to prominence. Cyber bullying is different as it takes place in unsupervised spaces with social rules being suspended. Perpetrators are not subjected to constraints of time and place. The reality is that the law is subordinate to that of education. The Non-fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997 deals with the offences of harassment and threats to kill or cause serious harm. The Law Reform Commission is examining this Act with a view to including cyber bullying. Gardai openly admit that it is difficult to gather evidence in order to prosecute. The age of criminal responsibility has increased from 7 to 12 years which means that legal sanctions are not applicable to the vast majority of primary school children. ACTIONS THAT THE SCHOOL CAN TAKE 1. Redraft your Anti-Bullying Policy to include cyber bullying 2. Remind parents that no pupil under 14 years is permitted to register with Facebook. The online forum Ask.FM operates under a cloak of anonymity and is registered in Latvia. 3. Upgrade our own IT Skills 4. Make parents/pupils aware of dangers through parent/teacher meetings and communication on the school website or by letter 5. Arrange for a speaker regarding media literacy. The Gardai provide trained speakers and many organisations (e.g. anti-bullying, internet safety) also have excellent speakers. 6. Digital skills and E-safety programmes for pupils with an empathises on self protection and self responsibility 7. Redouble your efforts with SPHE with emphasis on initiatives such as Friendship / Antibullying Week and Circle Time 8. Always remember that this is an issue for families, the community and society in general. Schools are a cog in the wheel. They want to make a meaningful contribution but ultimately parents must assume responsibility for the actions of their children.
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Health & Safety and School Insurance Sponsored by Allianz The following case studies, which are real cases involving Irish primary schools, illustrate the importance of adequate health and safety procedures and also of clear communication with staff an pupils. CASE 1 – EXTERNAL PLAYGROUND ACCIDENT – TEACHERS LIABLE? This matter concerns an accident outside of school at an outdoor playground facility.A group of pupils were brought to the park under the supervision of five teachers.While on the climbing frame, one of the pupils fell to the ground and suffered a broken leg. No issue was made in relation to supervision on the day or in relation to the playing equipment. The ground under the climbing frame was covered in bark and evidence was given in the Circuit Court that the bark under the climbing frame was eight inches deep. The Plaintiff ’s Engineer gave evidence that the British Standard SI 1177 required a depth of 12 inches and that it needed to be refilled and rotovated on a regular basis. On cross examination, the Engineer was asked if it was reasonable to expect the teachers to measure the depth of the bark, to which he responded that he did not consider it so. It was also reasonable to allow children to play on such equipment and it was accepted that children would fall from such
equipment and there was a trade off between fun and safety.The depth of the bark was the sole issue and the Playground was not a party to the proceedings. The Judge ruled that, despite the strong arguments presented, it would be unfair and too remote in law on foreseeability to expect Teachers to be familiar with the provisions of Statutory Instrument 1177 and a bridge too far to hold the school liable in negligence.The Plaintiff ’s claim was dismissed with no order as to costs. CASE 2 - ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENT/ PUPIL The claim arose after a pupil was knocked down by a car while crossing the road. The school was involved in a football match and the players were returning to the school, which was across the road from the exit for the pitches. There was a car parked at the side of the road to the right of the Plaintiff which may have prevented the Plaintiff from seeing the approaching car. The road has a set of pedestrian lights and all pupils were instructed to use these lights when going back and forth to the pitches. The plaintiff took it upon himself to make a run for it before the lights were with him. As he stepped forward he saw the oncoming car and as he back pedalled, he slipped as he was still wearing his football boots, and was struck by the passing car, resulting in a fracture injury to his leg.
High Court proceedings were issued with the Board of Management and the Motorist being named as defendants. Legal advice was required on whether, a) there was negligence on the part of the Board in allowing the Plaintiff and other pupils to cross the road unsupervised and wearing football boots which would have a very poor grip on a tarmacadam surface , b) whether there was negligence on behalf of the driver of the car in her driving as she approached a school and a pedestrian crossing in the knowledge that pupils were exiting and finally c) whether there was contributory negligence on the part of the Plaintiff, who was twelve years of age, in attempting to cross the road in the manner that he did and at a time when pedestrian lights were red against him. The matter was listed for hearing in the High Court and a great deal of discussion took place in advance of the hearing. In the end, there was an acceptance of one third for contributory negligence on the part of the Plaintiff with the motorist and the Board agreeing to pay a third each in settlement of the Plaintiff ’s claim. In the next issue we will provide case studies of claims in relation to accidents involving staff in the school and preventive measures that could have been taken to avoid them.
Getting to know the IPPN Executive Committee In this issue, we begin a new series focusing on the members of IPPN’s Executive Committee. IPPN President (2011-2013) - Gerry Murphy Like all the other members of the Executive, Gerry has been a full-time principal teacher in St Joseph’s NS, Dundalk, Co. Louth until September 2011 when he was elected President of IPPN. He has been a member of the IPPN Executive Committee since 2004. During his time on the Executive, Gerry has worked specifically on projects relating to education disadvantage, OLCS training, crossborder initiatives and special educational needs, among many others. Gerry will serve as President of IPPN until August 2013. His responsibilities as President include: I Acting as spokesperson and official representative of IPPN I Liaison with the Department of Education & Skills and other education partners I Leadership+ editorial I Policy development I Chair of National and Executive Committees.
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Leadership and decision-making By Seán Cottrell Decision-making is central to any role that involves management or leadership. Given that there are few principals who would deny getting an important decision wrong at some stage in their career, perhaps we should ask ourselves ‘is there a way of becoming a better decision-maker?’ AUTHORITY In a school, hundreds of decisions are made every day by teachers, in-school management team members and the principal.A teacher’s authority to make decisions is through the delegation of responsibility from the principal. The principal’s authority to make the decisions for the day-to-day management of the school derives from the responsibility delegated from the board of management. While principals may have delegated authority, it is important to understand in which circumstances that authority can be used and in which situations it is important to consult with others and escalate to board level. In my view, there are three main ‘levels’ of decision-making. Being aware of the different levels helps to determine the most appropriate approach in terms of who should act, when to act and with whom to consult. LOW-LEVEL DECISIONS Some decisions are low-level - their consequences are unlikely to have a major bearing on the school community. Examples of this are supervision rotas, time-tabling, holiday schedule etc. Typically these are the types of decisions that, in five years time, few will remember in any detail - what the decision was or who made the final call.These decisions are often best left to others to make, as long as the principles of fairness and putting the needs of children first are adhered to. For example, it would be good practice to ensure that the parent association is invited to take part in a working group that plans the school calendar. MID-LEVEL DECISIONS Mid-level decisions are of a more substantive nature.They will typically impact on some aspect of the core business of teaching and learning. The decisions are not taken in a hurry and they require meaningful consultation and consideration. Examples might include class allocation, health and safety procedures, supervision procedures or choosing a new approach to the teaching of reading. It is a good idea to involve the in-school management team, in particular the deputy principal, in making the final call. This is not to
relinquish responsibility as you, in your role as principal, must take ultimate responsibility for the decision. It does, however, increase the chances of getting it right. These decisions should not be delegated to others. It is important, not only that you make the decision, in consultation with others, but that you are seen to have made the decision.
Don’t make a decision based on information you have received from a third party. It may be ‘information’ but it’s not ‘evidence’ that needs to be acted upon. HIGH-LEVEL DECISIONS High-level decision-making* includes issues or dilemmas that will have a significant impact on a child or a number of children or members of staff. These decisions may be in response to situations that most of the school community is unaware of. Examples include dealing with bullying or other serious behaviour, child protection and interpersonal conflict.Although procedures exist for handling staff complaints, parental complaints, enrolment and suspension appeals and the like, the decision on whether or not to invoke the procedures is what makes this decision ‘high-level’. The Education Act says that the principal manages the school on a day-to-day basis on behalf of the board of management.This delegation of authority is open to interpretation and should be discussed by the principal and the board. Knowing when to refer an issue to the board or make a quick call to the chairperson goes a long way to earning the trust of your board of management. * It goes without saying that the most important decision you will ever make in your school is the selection of teachers and other staff members.This decision-making tier is not addressed in this article because there are specific and detailed procedures in place which are prescribed for all schools. ADVICE FROM EXPERIENCED PRINCIPALS If confronted with a tough decision, unless it is a matter of extreme urgency, it is always a good idea to invoke the ‘24-hour rule’. That is, explain the importance of the decision and the need to have time to consider it and, if necessary, to consult with PAG E 7
others.There are very few decisions in a school that are so urgent that they warrant an immediate answer. When making a decision, it is always a good idea to consider who will be affected by the decision. Should you consult with them? Do you have all the information you need to make a well-informed decision? Just because you consult people doesn’t mean that you must act according to their wishes. To avoid building false expectations, it’s important to state this when you do consult with others. Once you have made your decision, make sure that those affected are the first to hear about it, ideally in person. Don’t make a decision based on information you have received from a third party. It may be ‘information’ but it’s not ‘evidence’ that needs to be acted upon. Never make an important decision on a Friday afternoon.Aside from the fact that you may be tired after a long week, you don’t want a member of staff, a parent or a pupil contemplating the implications of your decision over a weekend without having an opportunity to discuss the matter with you. Can good decision-making be learned? Absolutely! There are very few decision-making challenges that have not been faced by others. Without breaking confidentiality, seeking the views of your fellow principals, for example in your support group, increases your bank of knowledge as well as your confidence. Sharing this article with your board of management and staff opens up an opportunity to discuss decision-making and increase everyone’s awareness of the challenges involved and the importance of getting it right. When is a decision irreversible? While it might have a financial cost, affect your credibility or cause embarrassment, most decisions can be reversed unless they have already reached the point of no return. If it’s the right thing to do, perhaps it should be considered in some circumstances. Leadership isn’t a popularity contest... The most important thing to bear in mind is that, the more serious the consequences and the higher the level of decision-making, the more consultation and time you will need before making the decision.
Mainstream Inclusion Challenges, opportunities and the need for equity By Damian White, Principal, Scoil Shinchill, Killeigh, Co. Offaly I was sitting in my noisy old Opel at a red traffic light in Castleknock, revving to prevent an embarrassing cut-out in the stylish suburb where I worked as a young teacher. Glancing sideways I spotted Philip, a wheelchair-bound student on the pavement, smiling in his usual cheeky way. He nodded towards the school ahead, while making hand gestures as if he was a young Marlon Brando about to easy ride his Harley Davison across the desert. I responded in kind and, pulling down my imaginary goggles, revved again. Philip, thrilled with the challenge, catapulted his chair forward with a quick gear shift, encouraging me to ‘eat his dust’ as I awaited the light change. Moments later I was tooting the horn and passing him by as he made his steady way. My ‘hare’ was again overtaken by his ‘tortoise’ at the next traffic lights and by the time I drove into the school car park, Philip was waving at me from the front door. I almost had to queue to ‘high five’ him, such was his popularity among classmates.
When children with nonphysical disabilities have SNA support, it is usually applied in a way that helps disguise the intended beneficiary, particularly in junior classes. Children argued over whose turn it was to help Philip with the daily chores he found difficult. Many wanted him as their ‘best friend.’ He was a regular birthday party attendee, and parents enjoyed the thought that their children had such empathy for their friend whose mobility was so restricted. Our little race took place more than 20 years ago. Much has changed, and changed again, for pupils and teachers like Philip and me in the interim. Special Needs Assistants, once as scarce as TDs at a junior ministers Dáil presentation, increased and multiplied in numbers until one-in-three adults in schools were so employed. Kathy Synnott and other campaigners on behalf of children with special needs raised awareness of
issues and gained rights through the courts and the ballot box. Applications for SNA and resource teaching support were almost assured of approval once the criteria were met. I can recall one class in a local school from around the millennium where a mainstream class teacher competed for space with 6 SNAs in a classroom, each assigned to an individual child. Some schools had more SNAs than teachers on staff. Before the Celtic Tiger came tumbling down the tree, all education partners realised that change was necessary. The Department of Education and Science (as it then was) sought to limit SNAs to a maximum of one per classroom. As the shock of the banking collapse took hold, the same tree was attacked from the bottom for its low-hanging fruit—the recent and rapidly expanded number of SNAs. A limit of 10,365 employees was imposed on the service. Whether an applicant child would be granted support was dependent on that figure not being breached. SNAs were now shared between pupils, not always in the same class. Many were granted reduced hours. My young friend Philip, I’m sure, has gone on to have a happy and productive life, though I regrettably can’t confirm it as I too moved on soon after that. Children I have since encountered with similar disabilities have, by and large, enjoyed similar degrees of popularity. By coincidence, as I write, RTÉ News is carrying the story of Killian MacDonnell’s achievement in overcoming the joint disabilities of profound deafness and Down Syndrome to pass his Applied Leaving Certificate. His achievement is celebrated by everyone associated with him, including extraordinary SNAs and teachers and his peers who regard him so highly. As popular as a child with obvious physical disabilities may be with peers, the opposite frequently applies to children with ADHD, ASD, ODD or Asperger’s Syndrome. These are the children who are suffering most from reduced SNA numbers and the 15% decrease in allocated resource hours. When children with non-physical disabilities have SNA support, it is usually applied in a way that helps disguise the intended beneficiary, particularly in junior classes. Often, children in the class are completely unaware that the extra adult is assigned to anyone in particular, such is the subtlety and professionalism the two
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colleagues bring to their work.The criteria for granting SNA support now effectively limit the service to those with extreme physical disability or those adjudged by a clinical psychologist to be a danger to themselves or others. Critically, this leaves many children with a non-physical disability outside the loop.Their condition may involve a lack of social skills, an unwillingness to share or cooperate with others, a propensity for over-reacting to the least stimuli, positive or negative, or a lack of concentration in class.This can lead to increased need for correction by the teacher and frustration for the children themselves.
As popular as a child with obvious physical disabilities may be with peers, the opposite frequently applies to children with ADHD, ASD, ODD or Asperger’s Syndrome. Where a child with ADHD over-reacts on a regular basis and upsets or strikes another child, figuring out if there is bullying involved and which child is the victim can be a complex issue for the teacher. Is the child who strikes out when ‘his buttons are pushed’ a bully? If the same children continuously provoke and are lashed out against, where lies the greatest fault? In such cases, it is not uncommon to have both sets of parents at the principal’s door, screaming ‘bully’ at the other party.A child who loses their temper easily through no fault of their own and acts inappropriately towards another child quickly becomes unpopular with peers, if there is no obvious physical reason to suggest that they are in any way different.After a number of such incidents, peers become openly hostile towards such a child, accentuating the problem. Parents ask for their child to be moved away from the child they consider disruptive, adding further issues for the teacher. Many of these issues could be countered by having an SNA available. However, access to SNA support for such children may now be no more than 15 hours per
week, leaving them over 13 hours to fend for themselves.
have always found it important to find out, through talking to and observing the child, what they enjoy and what they have a talent for, before giving them all possible opportunities to display their ability. So, how do you integrate children with special needs into mainstream schooling, especially in these tight times? Schools with ASD units take a gradual approach, introducing integration for subjects such as visual arts, religion (where appropriate) and PE, with academic subjects coming later in the process. Schools with sensory and cooking facilities sometimes bring in the mainstream classes to use the facilities along with their autistic peers. Many schools use a ‘Buddy System’ to foster integration during playtime. School plays and concerts also offer chances to integrate children with special needs. An old
teacher once advised me that a child whose only talent is hammering nails should have the opportunity to do so in school. With this in mind, I have always found it important to find out, through talking to and observing the child, what they enjoy and what they have a talent for, before giving them all possible opportunities to display their ability. In every primary school, academic subjects are but one spoke in the wheel of a day’s proceedings. Children can learn valuable lessons from organising the library, attending green schools meetings, or updating the school’s website or blog. Getting the PE equipment ready for a lesson, rearranging displays, gardening, tending to the bird feeders or setting out the GP room for evening functions all contain nuggets of inclusive learning and the potential for self-esteem enhancement. Children with their own vegetable or egg enterprises can design and display advertisements on an assigned school notice board, or on the school’s website. Differentiation based on each child’s needs and abilities means homework is given in proportion to the child’s ability to complete the task. Cuts in access to resource teaching and SNAs, as well as crippling reductions in DEIS provision, mean that schools are fighting a rearguard action to maintain a quality of service for pupils with special needs. The Special Education Support Service (SESS) is of huge
Cuts in access to resource teaching and SNAs, as well as crippling reductions in DEIS provision, mean that schools are fighting a rearguard action to maintain a quality of service for pupils with special needs. importance to schools, as they provide an excellent advice, training and back-up service to teachers, principals and SNAs. Any cut in this service would be a real disaster for children with special needs and those providing for them. Daily, schools seek to provide equality of educational opportunity to each and every child. Maintaining this as our ideal keeps us focussed on the job at hand. However, the cuts in service have had a serious effect on equity in the system. Only a restoration of services and a reprioritisation by the DES can ensure that the child with a non-physical disability can enjoy and benefit from their school experience as much as my friend Philip. This article originally appeared in Frontline magazine, volume 88 (Autumn 2012).
Principals’ Workload In 2004, IPPN conducted an extensive national survey of principals regarding their workload and how it impacts on their school community and on them.The results were presented to the DES and management bodies in 2005. That same year, IPPN conducted research on the role of the Teaching Principal in conjunction with St Patrick’s College and the resulting report – New Horizons for Smaller Schools and Teaching Principals in Ireland – has been used extensively in discussions with all education partners since. It is clear the situation is not improving. In fact, we are growing increasingly concerned for the health and welfare of our members for several reasons, not least of which is the simultaneous pull for your time as principals from several directions. In order to update our information, you have been asked for your views and to share your experience on workload issues. We believe that the additional challenge faced by Teaching Principals in the context of growing workload places two out of every three principals in an unhealthy workplace. We are not aware of any other role that has such a concentrated set of leadership and management responsibilities - many of which are on a statutory footing - resting on a single individual, where this individual is also full-time engaged in another role – that of classroom teacher. IPPN lobbied hard for Teaching Principals to have the option of taking on the Learning Support/Resource Teaching role in their school. In 2008, IPPN prepared a position paper on this issue. Finally in 2011 the DES agreed to our repeated plea to afford this flexibility to Teaching Principals. In 2008, we also submitted an argument to have the role of Teaching Principal properly remunerated to the Benchmarking Body – Investing in School Leadership. Remarkably, it was the only role in the education sector to be awarded an increase. Unfortunately, this coincided with the economic downturn which meant the award was never paid. As the media-driven political demand for further accountability from schools continues, it is likely this increase in demand for information will continue unabated. Addressing the role of principal and the associated workload remains IPPN’s priority. IPPN persistently lobbies on these two issues on behalf of principals, with due emphasis on the dual role expected of Teaching Principals. Note: The publications, position paper and submission mentioned above are available on www.ippn.ie. PAG E 9
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Parents as Partners: An examination of the constitutional, legal and policy position of parents as partners in primary education in Ireland By Dr Claire O’Connor, barrister, lecturer and former primary school teacher Article 42.1 of Bunreacht na hEireann states that parents are the ‘primary educators’ of their children. My PhD aimed to consider all potential interpretations of the phrase ‘primary educator’ and was conducted by seeking responses from the most experienced personnel in each of the legal and educational bodies, which influence the legal and policy perspectives governing Irish education.
otherwise of lobby groups, then the foundations of our relatively new education system will be questioned in sequence and brought before a court of law. However, a comforting concept emerges which finds that parents are predominately happy with their positioning within the education system at present and do not seek to elevate themselves to their constitutional ideal to be ‘primary educators’.
The findings of this study dictate that parents could be granted no greater legal rights than they currently hold. However, this study also demonstrates that the constitutional acknowledgment granted to parents to be the primary educators has potential negative consequences for the education system in terms of its impact upon long-established researched ideals and practices.
Arising from the findings of this study the following recommendations are offered: I The education sector needs to displace dependency on the legal system in order to protect long-established educational ideals generated through research; I An adjudication system to be established whereby parents advance their individual rights through a system seeking to accommodate those rights within a continuum which resonates with the common good. The State, as guardian of the common good, holds responsibility for such a practice; I Escalation of state pro-activity in terms of policy development pertaining to the advancement of educational partnership;
There is an overwhelming consensus in this study that parents are becoming more assertive in respect of their rights in a society that demands a culture of accountability. There is an overwhelming consensus in this study that parents are becoming more assertive in respect of their rights in a society that demands a culture of accountability. Indeed, the Advisory Group on the Forum on Pluralism and Patronage in the Primary Sector (2012) observes that ‘contemporary parents are more confident and vocal in seeking their educational rights than former generations’. In that event the education system becomes one of response and reward of resources within a legal sphere. The remarkably prevalent problem is that parents seek to advance the rights of individual children rather than focusing on the common good of the education system at large. The PhD finds that if the current situation described by interviewees proceeds, whereby parents approach the legal system rather than the education system and the court arbitrates, notwithstanding the representative nature or
Educational partnership to be constructed in such a way that parents’ natural concern for their own children is directed to efforts which benefit the collective good for all children in the system. This is of critical importance in circumstances where constitutional policy on the primacy of parents in education straddles an ideological fault-line in terms of the balance between individual parental choice and considerations of the common good; Prioritisation by the State of the allocation of educational resources and the judicious use of budgetary capital allied to forward planning and consultation with the various vested educational interests should seek to balance the potential conflict between the perceived individual need and the common good and avoid an acceleration of an advancement of parental litigation in the legal system. The conclusions and recommendations are based on the analysis of our Constitution in its current format notwithstanding that the amendment to Article 42.1 stemming from the Referendum in November 2012 broadens the provision, in line with existing case law, to PAG E 1 0
include the role of parents as not only primary educators but also ‘primary carers’ and ‘protectors of the welfare of a child’. However, further fundamental change in terms of the primacy of parents is likely to be realised from our participation in an ever-expanding European dimension. Individual detail or articles of our Constitution may not be immune from universal European directives. Moreover, in circumstances where EU law supersedes the Constitution, the role of the parent to be the primary educator may ultimately be extended to the role of primary vindicator of rights within the European legal framework.
Educational partnership to be constructed in such a way that parents’ natural concern for their own children is directed to efforts which benefit the collective good for all children in the system. There is a further interesting observation annexed to the conclusions of this PhD study. The position of the parent as the ‘primary educator’ to date has focused on the triangular relationship between the State, church and parents. In circumstances where the State has initiated the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in 2011 in the context of divestment of schools, it remains to be seen how, in the future, the courts will balance the rights of the remaining two stakeholders, namely the State and the parent. This is a complex question in circumstances where a new protagonist with attaching rights has just entered the constitutional matrix pertaining to education, namely the child. Dr Claire O’Connor B.ED., M.Ed., BL, Ph.D is a practising barrister and lecturer in law at NUI Maynooth and Griffith College Dublin. She holds a Ph.D from St. Patrick’s College. She previously worked as a primary school teacher for seven years in Archbishop Ryan Junior National School.
Schools Flooring Competition Winners Congratulations to St Tola’s National School, Co. Clare, whose entry was judged national winner in the Forbo Flooring ‘Grow Your Own Floor’ Competition.
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Winning school principal Mary Fitzgerald expressed her delight and that of the school’s senior infants class at the news of the award. While the competition itself was seen as having real educational beneﬁts, the sheer range of colour and design options a Marmoleum ﬂoor oﬀered also impressed.
St. Tola’s N.S. - 1st Prize L to R: Mary Fitzgerald (Principal), Noel Hogan (Forbo Flooring) and Donna Lyttle (Class Teacher).
‘Forbo and our local installer, Specialist Flooring Systems, worked with us to create a lovely design with our school crest in the centre of the floor. We are delighted that it is a safe, natural product and look forward to getting plenty of use out of it in the coming years’. Ballymacarbry Central School in Waterford came in second, and school principal Michael Ryan was as equally delighted with the competition and prize.
‘Marmoleum has added greatly to the life and look of the school.’ He said. ‘Particularly important is the health benefits it brings to children suffering from allergies’. ‘The fact that it’s incredibly easy to clean and maintain is also important,’ Principal Ryan continued, ‘and we plan to roll out Marmoleum across the entire school over time. A special thanks is also due to our local installation experts Treﬂor’.
Kilmyshall N.S., runners-up. A brilliant effort!
Ballymacarbry, 2nd Prize: L to R: Noel Hogan, Winnie Hickey, Ita O’Brien and Michael J. O’Ryan, (Principal)
As a wholly natural and sustainable ﬂooring solution, one that complies with more environmental quality marks than any other ﬂooring product, Marmoleum has always been the preferred choice for both primary and secondary schools. Forbo Managing Director Paul Carney said the company was very satisﬁed with the response to the competition. ‘Because Marmoleum is so widely used in schools due to its inherent antibacterial properties, we felt it would be very educational for children to
Dunboyne N.S. - runners-up, and proud!
understand where one of the key raw materials came from. It would also allow a conversation on the environment in general, particularly the importance of using sustainable products in construction projects. ‘It was extremely gratifying to see so many teachers agreed with us, and we’d like to applaud them and their students for such an imaginative and creative response’.
IPPN Resource Bundle a step by step guide to recruitment We know from the volume of queries to the support office and posted to email@example.com that recruitment is one of the topics that raises most questions for principals. The prospect of trawling through the multiplicity of resources available on ippn.ie in search for the answer to a specific question can be daunting to say the least. For this reason, we have developed a range of new support documents to assist you with the most frequent queries. Our new Resource Bundles combine the key elements and most important information relating to a particular area of school management. Our first Resource Bundle deals with recruitment and walks you through the process from start to finish allowing you to read further on specific topics. HOW TO USE A RESOURCE BUNDLE: To access the Recruitment Resource Bundle go to the ippn.ie homepage and look for the image in the banner above on the left hand side of the page. Once you click into the resource bundle you can use the orange navigational arrows at the bottom of the page to scroll through the document. As you work your way through the document you will find that many of the references and publication images are linked to source material for fruther reading. The Recruitment Resource Bundle goes through the process from advertising to appointing the candidate, covering board selection, short listing and choosing the candidate. At a glance you can see the topics covered. Each of these items is linked and if you are looking for a particular section you can jump straight to that section by clicking the title. There is a comprehensive
additional resources section at the end of the document which links you to a variety of circulars, standard forms and sample questions and marking criteria.
Our new Resource Bundles combine the key elements and most important information relating to a particular area of school management. SOME FEATURES OF RESOURCE BUNDLES: ● A comprehensive resource covering the most frequent queries ● User-friendly ● Easy to digest format – simplified language, avoids legal terminology and jargon ● Concise ● Links with source material such as circulars, other publications and further reading ● As the library of resource bundles grows, the bundles will be cross-referenced with each other. COMING SOON Resources Bundles on Communication, The Deputy Principal – Recruitment & Role, Maternity leave in detail.
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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: NOVEMBER ● IPPN Executive Committee Meeting, Portlaoise ● IPPN National Committee AGM,
● Archways – Incredible Years
■ Healthy Food for All Breakfast Club
project ■ Growing Up in Ireland’s Annual
● Joan Crowley-O’Sullivan, PDST –
IPPN Conference 2013 seminars and leadership CPD for principals
Research Conference DECEMBER ● Archways - Incredible Years Programme
● Teaching Council - consultative session
re. new requirements for entrance to teacher training colleges
● Sé Goulding, NCSE – SEN Allocations
Portlaoise ● Sheila Nunan, INTO – additional
workload and challenges facing principals and in particular teaching principals ● National Children's Strategy
Implementation Group (NCSIG)
● Attended ■ Launch of 'Life as a child and young
■ ■ ■
● Misneach 1 for newly-appointed
principals, Portlaoise ● HSE/Education implementation group
for disability services
■ ■ ■
person in Ireland' Report of National Consultation Comhairle Na n-Óg- Young voices Launch of 'Education Matters' Year Book Code of Practice for Good Governance of Community, Voluntary and Charitable (CVC) Organisations INTO Education Conference, Galway NCSE 2012 Research Conference 21st Century Schools – how can business help? PAG E 1 3
● IPPN Executive Committee Meeting ● Teaching Council - Working Group on
School Placement ● Charlie McConalogue, Fianna Fáil
Education Spokesperson ● James Mulcahy, Cork Education
Support Centre ● Attended: ■ Teaching Council Consultative
Forum of Teacher Continuing Professional Education
Principal Advice Stressful Times by Angela Lynch, Principal Advice Manager “Those who have responsibility for the care and development of others have a responsibility to learn how to take care of themselves.” LDS There is no need for me to outline the levels of stress you are experiencing in the present climate. Day after day, the Principal Advice Panel are engaging with principals who are so overwhelmed that their physical and emotional health is suffering badly. I am no expert in dealing with stress but I found the model below very helpful to me in managing my own stress. The current reality encompasses all the external sources of stress which our work may involve. Expectations could be described as the demands we make of ourselves, how we respond to these demands and our attitude to what is expected of us. The further that these two are apart, the greater the stress we experience.We need to bring them closer in order to reduce the stress. We can do this in a number of ways. 1. Alter the reality of the situation we deal with on the ground e.g. change the deadline to a more manageable date or
include more people to get the work done 2. Lower or change our expectation about the outcome of the situation e.g. we may not get all of the work done but we will prioritise what is important to the children and staff in the school 3. Sometimes we cannot do anything to improve the reality as it may be entirely outside of our control. Then the challenge is to somehow alter the expectations in light of that realisation. This does not mean lowering standards but maybe not expecting an outcome that cannot possibly be achieved. 4. There are times also when there is a standard below which we cannot go and this is where we put every effort into improving the current reality. Stress Management Techniques Seeking support from ■ Your local support group ■ Networking with colleagues ■ IPPN Principal Advice Panel ■ Accessing a service such as CareCall when necessary ■ Your Deputy Principal ■ Your colleagues in school
Look after yourself physically and emotionally by ■ Taking time to eat well ■ Exercising regularly ■ Resting and relaxing with family and friends ■ Engaging in relaxation techniques such as yoga, mindfulness, meditation and visualisation. I would like to end with a favourite quote of mine by Brian Vaszily ‘Take your seat on the shore. Listen to the ancient voice in the waves.Taste the salt on your tongue. Run your fingers through the eternal sand. Breathe deeply. If you find yourself feeling guilty that you should be doing “something important”, breathe deeply again. And again. Breathe deeply until every fabric of your being is reminded that this, being here, is your top priority. This is peace. This is wisdom. The work is a means to living, but this is the living.’
REALITY See www.gordondarcy.ie For details and to order your copy
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So you want to really change things in your school? By Brendan McCabe, Principal, St Colmcille’s BNS, Kells, Co. Meath and IPPN Deputy President You’re full of innovation and good ideas and you want to bring about real change in your school. What was there up to now worked really well when it was first introduced - ten years ago - but times have changed and it is glaringly obvious that a new approach is needed.You’ve made this clear to everyone but, for some reason, it is just not happening.What’s wrong? There are many reasons why change fails to materialise. Have a look at the checklist below and see if anything resonates with you: 1. People leading change think that announcing the change is the same as implementing it 2. Those being asked to change are not involved in planning the change 3. There is no urgent or compelling reason to change 4. A compelling vision that excites people about the future hasn’t been developed and communicated 5. The team leading the change don’t include early adopters, resisters, or informal leaders 6. The change isn’t piloted so it’s difficult to learn what’s needed to support the change 7. Organisational systems and other initiatives aren’t aligned with the change 8. Leaders lose focus or fail to prioritise, causing ‘death by a thousand initiatives’ 9. People are not encouraged or enabled to build new skills 10. Those leading the change aren’t credible – they under-communicate, give mixed messages and do not model the behaviours the change requires 11. Progress is not measured; the changes people have worked hard to make aren’t recognised 12. No-one is held accountable for implementing the change 13. Failure to respect the power of the dominant culture to kill the change 14. Alternative possibilities and options are not explored before a specific change is chosen. There is always a tendency for people to resist change. As Mark Twain once said ‘The only one who welcomes change is a baby with a wet diaper.’ Well-established routines keep us living happily within our own comfort zones.
Whether people resist out of fear of how the change will affect them personally or simply because making lasting change takes a lot of work, many whole-school change efforts fail because of resistance. Large-scale change efforts can be effective, though, with a well thoughtout plan. Here are 4 key steps to managing incremental change in your school: (1) CLARITY IN ALL AREAS You need to have pristine clarity with regard to: ■ The need for the change ■ The specifics of the change ■ The benefits of the change ■ Most importantly, the impacts of the change. I recommend that you consider carefully each of the following questions: ■ Why am I doing this? How’s it going to benefit the school? ■ Who’s it going to affect and how will they react? ■ What can I do to get them “on side”? (2) CONSISTENT LEADERSHIP Change management guru John Kotter suggests that for change to be successful, 75% of a company’s management needs to “buy into” the change. So, convincing people that the change is necessary is extremely important. This will require strong leadership and visible support from key people within your school. Managing change isn’t enough - you have to lead it. The single biggest aspect of your leadership will be how you address the emotional rather than the rational aspects of the change. In his excellent book ‘The Happiness Hypothesis’, Jonathan Haidt uses a memorable metaphor to describe the conflicting forces behind human conduct. He labels the conscious reasoning self as a Rider sitting atop an Elephant, the emotional self. The analytical Rider is constantly striving to direct and control the emotional Elephant. Dr. Haidt acknowledges that training the Elephant is possible and useful, but the larger and more powerful Elephant will sometimes go its own way.
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Many thought leaders in the world of change management and change leadership are now speaking vociferously about the importance of the emotional dimension of leadership and the need to address the human dimension of change. (3) CONSTANT COMMUNICATION You can never “over communicate” in leading and managing a change situation in school and especially with regard to what is happening or not happening and why. It is crucial to listen actively, demonstrate that you have thought through the impacts of the change, that you are prepared to work with them through the transition, and that you will help make it work. In terms of emotional resonance, remember Martin Luther King who did not stand up in front of the Lincoln Memorial and say: “I have a great strategy” and illustrate it with 10 good reasons why it was a good strategy. He said those immortal words: “I have a dream,” and then he proceeded to show the people what his dream was - he described his vision of the future and did so in a way that had high emotional impact. (4) CAPABILITY AND RESOURCES This is about ensuring that your people have the full resources and capabilities they need to support them through the change. This boils down to translating the vision and strategy into ‘actionable’ steps. Delivering incremental change requires handson detailed management (sometimes micro management) in the specifics of how to do it, especially during the early stages. Real and lasting change requires: 1. Commitment 2. Courage 3. Visionary leadership 4. Buy-in 5. Development and support 6. Role-modelling 7. Pressure 8. Accountability.
Rainbows A support programme for children who are experiencing grief and loss in your school By Anne Staunton, National Director, Rainbows Ireland Children grow up assuming that their family will remain the same and never change. However, parents, grandparents and siblings die. It is estimated that between 36,000 and 60,000 children are bereaved of a significant family member in Ireland every year. Parents separate and divorce. There was an increase of 150% in the incidence of separation and divorce in Ireland in the recent census. These children are in all our schools, in all our classrooms. Society tends to treat a family death or break-up in one of two ways. These events are either so devastating that children need to be completely protected or else the thinking is that children are so resilient that they bounce back. The evidence shows that grief and loss has a profound impact on the life of the children and young people in our schools. Children experience a complex set of emotions and feelings - extreme sadness, anger, despair, hopelessness, tiredness, forgetfulness, confusion, lack of concentration, relief, anger, blame, guilt, stigma, loneliness sometimes in the one day! Often, children do not have the understanding or the language to express how they feel. Rather, it is reflected in their behaviour, in their academic performance and in their physical, emotional and social well-being. Grief and loss that is not acknowledged can have a destructive effect on a young person’s life. Children often think they are to blame and that they are the only one going through such grief. At times children’s thoughts and feelings lie too deep for tears. We cannot and should not take away their grief. But by helping them to engage with it, to express it and to share it – we can help them to live in it, through it and beyond it. (Winston’s Wish) Participating in a support group with others of the same age and loss, such as is offered by the Rainbows programme, can greatly benefit the child. RAINBOWS Rainbows is a national, voluntary support service for children experiencing grief and loss through bereavement, separation and divorce. It
is a registered charity, funded by the Family Support Agency and is a free service to children. It offers training, programmes, policies and procedures to establish peer support groups for children in schools and local communities.The programme does not offer professional counselling or therapy. It offers trained listeners who provide a safe, confidential and caring environment to support children to engage with and share the feelings, thoughts and individual ways of coping and adapting to loss. 17,674 children attended Rainbows programmes in 2010 – 2011 alone. They were supported by 2,764 trained Rainbows facilitators in schools and local communities, throughout Ireland. Teachers and school personnel are at the frontline with children every day.They meet and identify needs that cannot be met within the classroom. Almost 2,000 teachers and school staff are currently trained Rainbows facilitators, providing the programme to children in their own school communities. HOW RAINBOWS WORKS IN SCHOOLS Boards of management agree to take responsibility to oversee the provision of the Rainbows programme at their school, as set out under the policies and procedures of Rainbows Ireland.The school principal, acting on behalf of the Board of Management (‘the administrator’), oversees the running of the programme. The administrator approves suitable volunteers to train and to deliver the Rainbows programme. A ‘coordinator’ is appointed from the trained volunteers to set up and manage the programme at the school. It is a twelve-week programme and generally runs six weeks prior to Christmas and six weeks after Christmas. It usually takes place immediately after school and lasts for forty five minutes. Rainbows Ireland will actively support any school community interested in learning more about Rainbows or establishing the Rainbows programme at your school. Please do PAG E 1 6
not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries. What some Rainbows children have said: “I got the bad feelings out and put the good feelings in” (7 year old) ■ “Before Rainbows, I could only walk slow, I can walk faster now” (11 year old) ■ “I thought it was because I was not tidying my room that my parents split up” (8 year old) ■ “Before Rainbows ,the only person I could talk to was my teddy” (6 year old) ■ “Before Rainbows, I had all these feelings building up inside me and sometimes I just exploded” (10 year old) ■ “At Rainbows, I found out I wasn’t the only one, there are loads”. ■
Reflections from Rainbows facilitator training: ■ “Some people come into our lives and quickly go. They stay for a while but leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never the same.” ■ “At the end of my years, it will not matter how much money I had, what kind of car I drove, how big my house was… What is important is that I made a difference in the life of a child.” (Forest Witcraft, American teacher, scholar and Scout leader) Contact Rainbows Further information can be obtained via the website www.rainbowsireland.com, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting the Rainbows National Office on (01) 4734175.
Principal in Profile: AodhĂĄn Ă“ RĂordĂĄin, TD and Seconded Principal, St Laurence Oâ€™Tooleâ€™s GNS, Sheriff St, Dublin The Monday after my election to the DĂĄil in February 2011 I arrived in school as usual and one student peered at me quizzically asking â€œDid you not get any votes sir?â€? Already I was old news. School life moves on very quickly. Unfortunately I rarely get the opportunity to visit my colleagues and pupils in St Laurence Oâ€™Tooleâ€™s GNS in Sheriff Street, but when I do itâ€™s clear that they have moved on. My father taught for over 30 years in St Aidanâ€™s CBS in Whitehall and he always advised me to leave the profession after five years. He would say that although you are getting older, the students always stay the same age. And then he would remind me, when I would regale him with tales of my inner-city exploits â€œIf you get run over by a bus, they might sing a song or plant a tree, but theyâ€™ll get over it pretty quicklyâ€?.
When I was appointed principal in my beloved school it was essential for me to put the interests of the child at the centre of decision-making Politics is a self-centred business in many respects so it is good to be reminded that if you got run over by a bus, the world would probably survive just fine without you. In this job it is deemed essential to put a piece of paper with your photograph, your contact details and your thoughts in as many doors as possible as often as possible. Itâ€™s seen as progress when people seem to half-recognise you on the bus or in the supermarket. In fact being verbally abused on the street is often regarded as positive because â€œat least they know who you areâ€?. In many ways being a public representative is the same as being a teacher or a principal.You work as hard as you can, you try to be as honest as you can in your endeavours, making your decisions with integrity while being loyal to your staff colleagues - leaving whatever disagreements you may have in the staff room. Of course there are some subtle differences. In
teaching, no-one ever questions your motives as they generally appreciate that you want what is best for your students. In politics your motives are constantly questioned. And of course in politics you tend to be on the news more often! When I was appointed principal in my beloved school it was essential for me to put the interests of the child at the centre of decision-making, particularly so I could show staff members that decisions were not made because of laziness, cowardice or prejudice. In child-proofing everything I did, it ensured that no teacher, parent or student could question my motives in allocating resources, or in introducing new work practices or policies to the school.
The person that you are should mould the way you work, not the other way around. In politics the same applies. If you have a position, and are willing to defend it, then people will respect you even if they disagree with you. Neither a school principal nor a politician should attempt to please everyone. If you think you are pleasing everyone, then you are most likely directionless or coasting.
would vote Conservative but Brown never could. So in politics and in school leadership I believe there is common ground. Understanding those who may disagree with you but also having the courage of your convictions. Not being defined by what you do, but bringing the strengths of your personality to your professional work is key. To be the best you can be, but not ever to take yourself too seriously because you never know when you could end up under a bus! AodhĂĄn Ă“ RĂordĂĄin is a Labour TD for Dublin North Central and the Vice Chair of the Joint Committee for Education & Social Protection. Prior to entering politics he worked as a Principal in Dublinâ€™s Sheriff Street. He tweets at @Aodhanoriordain.
Regardless of the positions that I hold dear to me, I donâ€™t think that any career should necessarily define you as a person.You should be able to look objectively at your profession and criticise when it needs to be criticised and praise it where it is succeeding. Often when our profession becomes a reflection of oneself, it can be too difficult to properly evaluate the work that we do, or the expectations of others around us that depend on us. I do not want politics or teaching to define me as a person.
The person that you are should mould the way you work, not the other way around. There is a time for work and a time for family, friends and for caring about your community. Too often in politics all of that is rolled into one but I donâ€™t consider that to be healthy. Leadership requires clarity of thought and an appreciation of where others are coming from. It is often said that Tony Blair was a better leader than Gordon Brown because Blair understood why the British public
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IPPN Annual Principals’
CITYWEST HOTEL & CONFERENCE CENTRE, DUBLIN
24th & 25th January 2013
Keynote speakers: An inspiring line-up of keynote speakers including President Michael D. Higgins, Fr. Peter McVerry, Mark Patrick Hederman, Abbot of Glenstal Abbey, input from IPPN's Executive Director and President, Seán Cottrell & Gerry Murphy, and back due to demand; Contender Charlie's Ben Walden with a new programme to inspire us all.
Professional Development Seminars: Fourteen seminars covering a broad range of school management related topics including Internet Safety, Child Protection, and new seminars on Literacy and Numeracy
Coder Dojo for Principals: Interested in being involved a Dojo Club or just want to know what all the fuss is about. Interactive session with James Whelton, founder of Coder Dojo
Education Expo offers you a great opportunity to plan your purchases for the year. A visit to Education Expo saves you time usually spent on phone calls and emails.
Wellness and Self-Care: A programme of activities including yoga, health-screening and mindfulness training are available to help you address those elements of self-care that many of us neglect.
Principal Advice: If you have a question or concern that you would like help with you can avail of a one-toone appointment where a member of the Principal Advice Panel can speak with you.
Networking: Conference offers the single greatest opportunity for peer networking among principals in the school calendar. The strength and support of the network is enhanced by this gathering of more than 1,000 principals sharing ideas and advice.
See ippn.ie for further details
Making sense of Teaching Council ‘Conditional Registration’ when employing teachers By Brendan McCabe, Principal of St Colmcille’s BNS, Kells, IPPN Deputy President and member of the Teaching Council When employing teachers, Principals and Boards of Assessors in primary schools need to be aware that there are various forms of Teaching Council registration which can differ greatly. Registration has two key attributes; the regulation under which the teacher is registered and the category of that registration - either full or conditional. Regulation Primary teachers fall under one of two Regulations: Regulation 2 – Primary This regulation caters for teachers in primary schools who can teach the entire primary curriculum including Irish. Regulation 3 – Montessori and Other Categories Teachers registered under this regulation are eligible to be employed in special schools and in specific categories of special classes in mainstream schools where Irish is not a curricular requirement. This applies to teachers who have a recognised Montessori qualification or specific Special Education qualifications, or certain teachers who completed their teacher education programme outside of Ireland. It allows them to teach only in specified Special Education settings and never in a mainstream classroom.
Under laws governing the movement of professionals among EU member States, and specifically European Directive 2005/36/EC, The Teaching Council is obliged to grant conditional registration to all teachers who have been trained and probated in other member States. This includes, for example, teachers trained in the UK through School-centred Initial Teacher Training Schemes (SCITTS) or Employment Based Routes (EBR) where the teachers have completed one year on-the-job training with minimal academic content. The Council is obliged (under the European Directive) to grant such applicants conditional registration. They may have considerable qualifications deficits which they need to address through undertaking additional studies, within a limited and clearly-defined time period. Only if they fail to do this can their registration be legally withdrawn or lapsed. If considering applications from job applicants with Conditional Registration it is wise to ascertain exactly what conditions remain to be fulfilled. They could be quite extensive!
Garda Vetting The Teaching Council carries out the Garda Vetting process for all teachers and teachers registered since mid-2007 have undergone the Evidence of Character process of the Council. The Principal/Board of Management of a school should also have sight of the Vetting Letter (with hologram) from the Council prior to offering a teacher employment in the school. Registration Category – Full or Conditional Full registration Teachers in this category have completed a recognised course of teacher education which fully meets the requirements of the Teaching Council. Such teachers have also met the Council’s requirement for the teaching of Irish in the primary school and also the Council’s requirements of Induction and Probation where appropriate. Conditional Registration Registration subject to conditions is granted when an applicant for registration has not fulfilled all of the registration requirements of the Council. In other words their qualification (or post qualification employment/probation) does not fully meet the teacher education requirements of the Council which would be covered in an Irish teacher education qualification. The conditions applied to the teacher’s registration, and the time period allowed to meet those conditions, are notified to the teacher when the registration process has been completed. This type of registration is the one of which principals need to be most aware. The shortfalls could range from non-completion of the Irish Language Requirement (Scrúdú Cáilíochta sa Gaeilge) to major deficits in the content of their programme of teacher education (PE, Music, SPHE, etc.). If a teacher presents for employment or interview with a letter of conditional registration which has Qualification Shortfalls (QS) included, it is essential to request a copy of the recognition letter which details the specific shortfalls that were identified at the conclusion of the registration process. PAG E 1 9
The International Confederation of Principals – a Global Experience in School Leadership By Seán Cottrell, IPPN Executive Director & Virginia O’Mahony, ICP President 2011-2012 and IPPN Assistant Director IPPN was officially founded in early 2000. Our first international experience was an invitation from the National Association of Head Teachers Northern Ireland (NAHT-NI).Their support for us in the form of advice and a willingness to share was both welcome and very encouraging. It was through NAHT-NI that we learned of the existence of the International Confederation of Principals (ICP). Suddenly our eyes were opened to a great new world of school leadership. Perhaps the first thing we learned is that, while contexts may differ, principals’ issues are the same all over the world. As opportunities to network grew, we discovered that we had an enormous amount in common with three principals’ associations in particular. Whether this had anything to do with the Irish diaspora or not, Canada, Australia and New Zealand vied with each other to take us under their wing and mentor IPPN, the newest fledgling on the block.The experience has been fascinating. It was like meeting relatives we never knew existed. The Ontario Principals’ Council (OPC), the New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF) and the Australian Primary Principals’Association (APPA) shared their histories, resources and strategies in very practical ways.The power of the internet proved invaluable as we set about learning from their experiences. Listening to their individual stories and the struggles they had experienced was like looking into a mirror. The great benefit of all of this was that it gave us an opportunity to take a glimpse at our own future ten or twenty years down the road. Being able to see what our future might look like in IPPN gave us the advantage of not repeating some of the mistakes they made and, on the same basis, by pursuing their successful strategies we were able to ensure our own growth and development. Dr. Pasi Sahlberg
IPPN also learned how other principals’ associations managed relationships with their Ministries of Education and other education partners. We also saw the importance of conducting and publishing high quality research. Through opportunities to network on the international scene, we had the privilege to meet people like Professor Michael Fullan from the University of Toronto; Professor Andy Hargreaves of Boston College; Dr. Pasi Sahlberg, Director General of CIMO in Helsinki and Jim Spinks of Melbourne University. IPPN has been fortunate in being able to attract these educational ‘rock stars’ to address our annual conferences.We found they were extremely interested in Irish education and eager to help IPPN. Nearly all of them have conducted workshops for us in Ireland and coauthored various reports with IPPN. Perhaps one of the most valuable opportunities afforded to IPPN came through ICP’s involvement with the OECD research project entitled Improving School Leadership. Through ICP, we have had a close involvement with Beatriz Pont, Deborah Nusche and Hunter Moorman, the report’s authors. Looking back at their findings now, we are very proud that it captures so much of what is real about the principal’s role in a school and in particular the changes and supports that are desperately needed to fully harness the leadership aspect of the role. In 2012 ICP has focused on the issue of gender equity with specific reference to the enormous potential that greater equity would bring to reducing poverty and the spread of HIV/AIDS in the developing world. Last August IPPN played a lead role at ICP’s conference on ‘The Struggle for Gender Equity’ in South Africa. One of the outcomes of the conference was an invitation to principals in Ireland, who are taking early
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retirement, to spend some of their time in rural South Africa working alongside and supporting South African principals. One of the highlights of our involvement with ICP happened in 2005. IPPN hosted an ICP council meeting in Cork. Principals’ associations from 37 countries attended. There were two specific highlights to the event, the first being presentations by Professor John Coolahan and Dr Seamus McGuinness on Attitudes and Aspirations toward the Role of School Leadership. The second outstanding memory was the night we took our international guests to the Cork greyhound track - an experience that none of them had before. IPPN’s involvement with ICP has increased with time and for the last two years, IPPN has held the presidency of ICP. While this was an honour of great magnitude for Virginia O’Mahony, Assistant Director, a founding member and a former President of IPPN, it was also a cause of huge pride and a sense of achievement for IPPN as an organisation, barely a decade in existence. Virginia’s two year presidency brought the best of Irish culture, hospitality and diplomacy to the highest international stage, exemplified in her speech to the ICP convention in Toronto in August 2011 on the following page. Unfortunately, one of the regrettable aspects of our involvement in ICP is listening to and reading about the investment being put in to education throughout the world, while Ireland (the country with an amazing reputation for education), is dismantling our education infrastructure bit by bit. If you would like to learn more about ICP, log on to www.icponline.org.
Prof. Andrew Harg reave
ICP Toronto President’s Speech Our Canadian hosts have chosen the image of the Inukshuk as the convention logo. The Inukshuk represents recognisable landmarks along the journey of life. These landmarks were considered sacred by the first nations who lived in this part of the world. It is also an appropriate image for those of us who have travelled a long way and seen many significant landmarks along the way. Likewise, each of us began our own personal educational journey, a journey in which we are now leading others. To lead a school is a great privilege. Many of you are here representing your principals’ associations, which is an even greater privilege as you are leaders of school leaders. Since we last met, the world as we know it has been turned upside down. The loss of human life and the destruction of property through various natural and man-made disasters have affected millions of children around the world. In places such as Haiti; Christchurch, New Zealand; Japan; Ivory Coast; Libya; Egypt; Bahrain; Syria; Palestine; and Queensland, Australia, the normal expectations of daily life were suddenly upended, leaving whole communities devastated. In other parts of the world, corrupt banks, greedy property developers and incompetent politicians have bankrupted entire countries, leaving generations to pay the price. Leading a school anywhere in the world has its own natural challenges. It’s difficult to even try to imagine the challenges faced by principals where such disasters have occurred. It is remarkable that in the aftermath of disaster there is huge emphasis placed by international agencies on the rapid reopening of schools, even where entire towns have been leveled. Returning to school in such horrific circumstances is not only a welcome distraction for those children, but it is in most cases their only beacon of hope. Yes, we are living in a world which is
becoming more socially divided than ever before. This division is not just socioeconomic. Access to technology and, in particular, access to the internet is becoming a determining factor in a child’s life chances. In addition to issues such as clean water and primary healthcare, access to technology will be a major equity issue. The political and economic contexts of the countries where we live and work vary significantly. While it is true that poverty is relative to the local context, it is undeniable that millions of children are born into circumstances of deprivation. While many principals and our associations struggle to convince their governments that education should not suffer cutbacks and that investment in education is a key agent towards economic recovery, principals in many other countries struggle on a daily basis for basic resources and staffing levels that others take for granted. A different challenge that many of us experience is the issue of accountability. Many politicians cannot see beyond the blunt instrument of narrow-focus, highstakes testing to measure schools’ effectiveness. In Ireland, we have a saying that ‘weighing the pig does not make him any fatter’. Those same politicians should remember the other saying ‘not everything of worth can be measured’. High-stakes testing and the consequent ‘teaching to the test’ will damage education rather than enhance it. This is a major challenge for Principals’ associations in many countries. So, how can the International Confederation of Principals meaningfully support you and your principals’ association when the situation in each member country is so radically different from the next and where many of you operate in a language other than English? Arising from decisions made at our last Council meeting, ICP is directing its focus to address these issues. Plans are being made
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to facilitate member associations that are well established in directly supporting emerging school leader associations. Resources in areas such as professional development and education policy will be made available in the required languages and shared through . Similarly, other professional supports are being offered, including principal exchange visits and job-shadowing opportunities. Some of the longer-established associations have succeeded in positively affecting education policy in their countries through a combination of high quality education research and strategic advocacy.We intend to develop a framework based on this knowledge and in doing so, assist Principals’ associations to make the best possible case for investment in education in their country. Sir Winston Churchill once said that ‘head teachers have powers at their disposal with which Prime Ministers have never yet been invested’. This is so true but sometimes forgotten as we toil with a heavy workload and mundane daily tasks. My challenge to you is to focus on the positive and what you can do in your role. Never underestimate your influence on the lives of the students that pass through your school. They will probably never remember what you taught them but they will always remember how you treated them. Educators around the world share one thing, and that is our deep down love of what we do and the special role we play in our community. This brings to mind the words of an Irish patriot, Pádraig Pearse, who commented that teaching was ‘the noblest of professions’ – this is both an inspiration and a challenge to live up to. With these thoughts in mind, I am sure that if you celebrate all that is best about being a school leader and engage with your colleagues and friends over the next few days, your time here in Toronto will forever be an important Inukshuk in your ‘journey through life’.
Buying aâ€ŚPHOTOCOPIER COPY-PRINTER (COMMONLY KNOWN AS A RISOGRAPH) Consider a copy-printer if the bulk of your work requires making more than 20 copies of an original. A copy-printer machine works differently to a copier and can be very cost-effective as a workhorse machine for classroom use. A good set-up might be a smaller capacity multi-function printer/copier / fax for the office and a copy-printer for classroom use or for whole-school notes etc. LEASE OR BUY Do a comparison exercise between buying outright and leasing or borrowing. The copier company will probably be able to quote a leasing rate which you can compare to a leasing rate and a loan rate from your own bank, building society or credit union. It may suit your own circumstances better to lease or borrow rather than tie-up scarce funds. COPY COST AND CONSUMABLES Copier companies will usually offer a maintenance contract, based on a â€œcost-per-copyâ€?. This can range from 0.5c per copy to more than 1.5c per copy. Check what is included in this and how it
operates. Are you restricted in the number of callouts you can request in a month or year? Will they charge extra for more call-outs? Are all replacement parts included? Is labour included? Does it include toner or do you buy the toner separately? Aside from toner, there are other parts that must be routinely replaced in a copier â€“ the drum and rollers. These have a limited life and are usually rated for a certain number of copies. Check what the life of these is and their replacement cost before you buy. The ideal copy-cost contract would be one that includes all toner and other consumables, unlimited call-outs and replacement drum and rollers. A contract should also specify call-out response time. Does the company have enough engineers to be able to guarantee same-day or 4hour response time? If you have access to a reliable independent engineer for maintenance and repairs, consider acquiring a copier without a service contract. Pay as much attention to negotiating the copycost as you do to the purchase price.
HOW TO USE Ask yourself how best to use a copier in the school. Is it located in an office? Staffroom? Can anyone use it or do you get specific people to do copying for all? Does this cause problems? Is it over-used? Under-used? Do you need a smaller capacity multi-function machine for admin use and a workhorse machine for general use? Would a copy-printer make economic sense for your situation? This list of pointers is by no means exhaustive but should help you to get the right machine for the job, ask the right questions and negotiate the best overall deal on your new copier. Refer to Issue 71 to find out more about photocopier features and capacity. EMS COPIERS EMS Copiers are preferred supplier of copiers, printers and multi-function devices to IPPNâ€™s National Support Office in Cork.You can contact EMS Copiers on 1890 770 770, by email to email@example.com or online at www.emscopiers.ie.
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Ireland’s First Passive House School By Denise Ward, Principal, Scoil Mhuire, Moynalty, Kells, Co. Meath In March 2012, Scoil Mhuire National School Moynalty became the first ‘passive house’ standard school in Ireland. It also has the honour of the lowest ever air-tightness rating for a nondomestic building in Ireland, achieving a result of .54 (M3/hr) M3@50pa. The Passive Schools Research and Demonstration Schools Project was established by the DES in 2009 with Scoil Mhuire Moynalty and Powerscourt National School in Wicklow being chosen as the two test schools.
The building design is mindful of its function as a primary school and therefore has created a welcoming, open, bright learning environment Scoil Mhuire is a four classroom rural school in Moynalty village in North Meath. The old National School was a 1938 mass concrete building with issues around heating, light, space, safety and parking.The new school however has classrooms of 70m2 each with independent access to an external teaching space and 10m of sliding wall storage. The school has a GP hall of 140m2, a wonderful library, large rooms for Support Teaching, separate staff room, kitchen and offices.
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bridging triple-glazed windows & doors photovoltaic solar panels to assist in the provision of the school’s electrical energy heating system based on a biomass boiler providing renewable energy using wood pellets with a 100% carbon emissions reduction heat recovery ventilation system which extracts stale air and exchanges it for fresh air every hour rainwater harvesting system used for flushing of toilets CO2 sensors in all classrooms – automated windows open if CO2 levels rise night cooling is available through the mechanical ventilation system if required digital temperature sensor in each classroom, allowing the teacher to adjust the room temperature lighting controls in each room which require the users to turn on the lights manually but then automatically controls the lights to save energy using daylight and absence detection technology the upper Fakro windows & blinds are all operated by remote control and fitted with automated rain & wind sensors to self close in bad weather.
In order to fully embrace and support the opportunities for learning with up to date technologies within the school it was agreed by all staff and the BoM to invest in iPads with all
The building design is mindful of its function as a primary school and therefore has created a welcoming, open, bright learning environment, stimulating for the building users, both teachers and students alike, reflecting the progressive pedagogical ethos of the school. The school is controlled by an integrated building management system (BMS). The BMS controls temperature, air quality, CO2 levels, heat and light throughout the entire building. The BMS has an interactive touch screen in the main entrance area which allows the pupils, staff and parents to monitor conditions and the energy use within the school. The main features of the building include: insulation to high specifications with external insulation to minimise thermal
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teachers having a personal iPad and the children having a class set of 30 iPads. The BoM decided to install a 35m astro-turf pitch which is a fantastic facility and also made a considerable investment from fundraising towards equipment for PE, library, maths, science and the establishment of an Aistear area for infants. As a research project there will be on-going and extensive automated monitoring, evaluation and assessment of the performance of the building which will influence future policy decisions on educational design in Ireland.
As a research project there will be on-going and extensive automated monitoring, evaluation and assessment of the performance of the building Placing the pupil at the focal point of such considerations, it is envisaged that this project will be viewed not only as a facility for education but also as an educational tool connecting pupils with their surroundings, creating an awareness of the environment and having a positive influence for future generations.
www.ippn.ie – Latest resources As described in issue 71, the ippn.ie menu bPainéal Forlíontach Ath-imlonnaithe structure was refined in October to simplify ● 0039/2012 - Implementation of School it and to clarify where resources can be Self Evaluation / found. If your school has a policy or plan Féinmheastóirtóireacht Scoile a Chur i that is not available, or which would Bhfeidhm – Bunscoilleanna supplement available resources, we would ● 0042/2012 - Self Certified Paid Sick appreciate if you would submit it for review Leave Arrangements For Department by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Paid Secretaries And Caretakers In Recognised Primary And Post Primary The following are the new resources Schools / available in the different sections of the website: ● 0043/2012 - Self Certified Paid Sick Leave Arrangements For All Staff RESOURCES (Other Than Teachers And SNAs) In DES Circulars Recognised Primary And Post Primary Schools / 2012 ● 0026/2012 - Home Tuition Scheme RESOURCES 2012 / 2013 / An Scéim Teagasc Baile Recruitment 2012/2013 ● Recruitment Resource Bundle ● 0029/2012 - Probationary ● Letter re. Appointment for Interview Requirements for Registration Purposes for Primary Teachers / Riachtanais Phromhaidh do Chúiseanna ● Interview Board Recommendation Clárúcháin d’Oidí Bunscoile ● Letter for Patron’s Sanction. ● 0031/2012 - Switchover from Analogue Staff Management to Digital TV Network / Aistriú ó Líonra Teilifíse Analógach go dtí Líonra ● Croke Park - Suggested list of tasks for SNAs. Teilifíse Digiteach ● 0032/2012 - School Vaccination
Programme and MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) Vaccination Catch up Campaign in 2012/2013 / Clár Vacsainithe Scoileanna agus Feachtas Feabhsaithe sa bhliain 2012/2013 maidir le Vacsainiú MMR (bruitíneach, leicneach mar aon le bruitíneach dhearg)
Curriculum & School Planning ● Cúntas Míosuil III ● Drama Resources ● Gaeilge - Plean Scoile don Ghaeilge ● Gaeilge - Hints & Tips for the
Promotion of Irish
School Policies ● Use or Hire of School Premises by
Outside Groups ● Use of common areas / equipment ● Transfer to Secondary School Policy ● Supervision Policy ● Splitting Classes ● School Visitors Policy ● School tours, excursions & field trips
policy ● School Booklet (comprising key school
policies) ● Guidelines for Student Teachers &
Others Working In The School. Staff Management ● Guidelines for New and Substitute
Teachers. SUPPORTS Leadership+ ● Leadership+ Issue 70 – September 2012 ● Leadership+ Issue 71 – November
2012. ADVOCACY Press Releases/ Opinion Pieces ● 28th Nov 2012 - Schools face
bankruptcy unless capitation grant is restored ● 26th Nov 2012 - Chance for children
to connect - The Gathering 2013 ● 0035/2012 - Travel Pass Scheme for
2013 / Scéim Pas Taistil le haghaidh 2013
● Maths Plan - Yearly Schemes based on
Curriculum and Action Maths series
urges greater focus on pupils’ mental health
● SESE Plan ● 0036/2012 - (Teachers) Amendment
2012 - Self Certified Sick Leave Arrangements / ● 0037/2012 - (SNAs) Amendment 2012
- Self Certified Sick Leave Arrangements / ● 0038/2012 - Panel access for fixed-term
(temporary), substitute and part-time teachers to the Supplementary Redeployment Panel / Múinteoirí ar conradh téarma socraithe (sealadach), múinteoirí ionaid agus múinteoirí páirtaimseartha a bheith curtha leis an
● Nov 2012 – IPPN - Industry report
● Spanish Plan - adapt for any foreign
● Nov 2012 - IPPN calls for Yes vote in
language. Teachers ● Primary Teacher Appointment &
● 12th Oct 2012 - New rules on
children’s ads will help fight obesity
Re-Appointment Form 2012/2013. ABOUT US Board Of Management Our People ● Board of Management - Constitution of ● Profiles of Support Office Staff
Boards & Rules of Procedure. ● Profiles of Executive Committee Forms & Templates ● Airgead Bunscoile v1.4. PAG E 2 4
Teachmeet show and tell for school leaders By Simon Lewis, Principal, Carlow Educate Together NS, Graiguecullen, Carlow As part of my role as CPD organiser for the Co. Carlow IPPN committee, I decided to try out a concept called a ‘Teachmeet’. The idea of a Teachmeet is simple. A group of teachers gather together in a venue. Some of these teachers give short presentations, no more than 7 minutes in length, about an aspect of education. For example, it could be about an initiative going on in their school or a great web site they use in class. The aim of the event is to share ideas and good practice across a number of schools. The events are informal, fun and participants generally leave with a load of ideas and a fantastic buzz!
have experienced. Because there are several presentations and because they are so short, there’s always going to be something to take home from a Teachmeet. Best of all, if there’s something that doesn’t interest you, it’s only going to be 5 minutes before you have to wait for the next topic! http://tinyurl.com/9zhy43y - a cartoon on YouTube that explains Teachmeets
In Carlow, we had 6 volunteers who each spoke for 5 minutes to the rest of the attendees. There topics included: I Maths Games I Twitter in the Infant Classroom I RSE shared between 3 rural schools I A profile of a Special School I The Elephant in the Classroom - how we teach maths I Google Apps for Communication. For me, the most rewarding thing was the support everyone gave to each other and the conversations that happened after the event ended. I have been involved in a number of similar initiatives and it was fantastic to see how it seamlessly crossed over to work for a group of school leaders. Having been part of a number of different Teachmeets over the last few years, I can safely say that they are one of the best forms of CPD that I
NUIM/IPPN Award The Post-Graduate Diploma in Educational Leadership (Tóraíocht) is offered in partnership between the National University of Ireland Maynooth and Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST). The course leads to a Level 9 qualification (60 credits) and aims to enhance the capabilities of teachers in their current work and to support their preparation for future senior leadership positions. The programme is delivered nationally in Education Centres and in the Education Department at NUI Maynooth on an annual basis. Further information relating to the application process is available from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org (01) 708 3471 Course information is available from email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured at the recent prize-giving ceremony at NUI Maynooth – Mr. Paddy Flood, PDST, Ms. Jenny Dooley-Ryan recipient of the IPPN prize 2011/2012, Dr. Aidan Mulkeen, head of the Education Department at NUI Maynooth, and Mr Pat Goff, IPPN.
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A SIP from a Barrel By Dan Daly, Principal of Robinstown NS, Navan, Co. Meath
As Mr Henry Hardiman, Principal, made his way to the school improvement plan meeting, he thought of Jason. He recalled bringing him home along that route years previously when his father failed to collect him from school. Jason wasn’t impressed with Henry’s Toyota Starlet. Henry couldn’t help imagining that Jason slumped down as they approached town. He wouldn’t look cool if his friends saw him in that jalopy. “I can get this car pimped,” he said. “Now why would I do that?” replied Henry. “Look at that steering wheel and gear stick! And I can get you a nice spoiler. My friend Dougie will do it for €1000.” Henry chuckled as he thought of that particular improvement plan. It was just as well he had declined the enticing offer, for the following week his daughter, under the tutelage of her mother, drove the hapless Starlet into the brother-inlaw’s cowshed in whose yard it has rusted ever since.
The language of industry was being shouted over the gentler tones of art, music and literature. Henry had been hearing a lot of chatter recently about school self-evaluation, school improvement plans and five year plans. He thought of Mao Tse Tsung rolling around in the Yangtse River with his eight year plans which just kept on rolling over. He hoped this in-service day would clarify matters. He had spent many years in education striving to improve, always looking for the next summit. It was like painting the Firth of Forth Bridge. When you finished one plan it was time to start again.And now an improvement plan had to be put in place. He had become uneasy recently at the industrialisation of education, an over emphasis on work-orientated schooling, the removal of European languages and the threat to the status
of history and geography. The language of industry was being shouted over the gentler tones of art, music and literature. He hoped they wouldn’t banish the magic and the love of learning and replace it with a note and record encumbered process which drained spontaneity and rarely let you stray from the predictive plan and wander into magical areas of discovery and romance. His familiar circle of principals was becoming smaller; many pals had taken off with better plans. There were reams of information at the meeting. Abbreviations came flowing swiftly if not smoothly: SIP, SSE and SDP. Then came the phrases: implement literacy, gather numeracy, school self-evaluation report, focus of evaluation and so on. They were drowning in information. The bung had been pulled from the bottom of the barrel. The message was packaged in jargon-wrap and clouded with detail and nebulous language. There were subdivisions of sub themes of sub sections. Henry felt he was being smothered under a refuse truck’s load of information. “Why can’t we simplify this process and ask ourselves what are we good at and where we can improve?” asked Jim. The facilitator nodded and then looked ruefully at his harpstamped mound of notes.
There were reams of information at the meeting. Abbreviations came flowing swiftly if not smoothly: SIP, SSE and SDP. “If this is to be drawn up and implemented then middle management must be restored,” demanded Dónal. But there was good news. The SIP report for literacy should be about a page and a half. The mountain laboured and brought forth a mouse, thought Henry. His colleague Jerry threw his eyes to Heaven and laughed “Now that I’m in the office full time, an infant
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asked me the other day if I worked any more. If he only knew!” After lunch, his colleagues appeared to have slumped into a post prandial stupor. A lethargy had enveloped the room. A question was generally followed by intense navel gazing. The facilitator was doing his best but the course appeared to be a convoluted and complicated conveyance for getting from A to B.. A principal stated that if they raised the standard in one area, it would fall in another. There would be a see-saw effect. They were condemned to go round and round, for ever chasing their percentiles. There seemed little point in further questioning. The SIP had them sapped.
They were condemned to go round and round, for ever chasing their percentiles. There seemed little point in further questioning. The SIP had them sapped. Henry was also heavily involved in another improvement plan which was causing a few headaches; the prefabs were being replaced by four new classrooms. However he felt he’d rather mix the concrete and carry the hod. His friend Colman nudged him. “We are bogged down but we’ll find our way.” His remark should have been the mantra for the day. As he drove home, little the wiser, the gear stick caught his attention. His son reckoned that a boy racer must have owned the car. Apart from the fancy gear stick it had a trendy steering wheel and sat low on the road. It even had a modest spoiler. Jason would have been impressed with the Almera. It wasn’t the car that needed pimping this time. Principal Henry had other things to pimp.
TWELVE THINGS YOU’LL NEVER HEAR A TEACHER SAY
And Finally… TEACHERS AND PUPILS Teacher: ‘Pádraig, you know you can’t sleep in my class.’
Pádraig: ‘I know. But maybe if you were just a little quieter, I could.’ Stressing the importance of a good vocabulary, the teacher told her young charges, “Use a word ten times, and it shall be yours for life.”
From somewhere in the back of the room, came a small male voice chanting, “Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda.”
Our principal is soooooo smart! Thank goodness for these evaluations. They keep me focused. I can’t believe I get paid for this!!!! Here class, just put all your PE shoes in this box next to my desk. I bet the principal really misses teaching! Gosh, the bathroom smells so fresh and clean! It must be true; the Inspector said so! I think the discipline around here is just a little too strict!! It’s Friday already??? This in-service training has just been fabulous. I think that PE is not getting enough of the school budget. We’d be able educate our children if they would let us teach through July, too.
Pupil: I don’t think I deserved zero on this test!
Teacher: I agree, but that’s the lowest mark I could give you! Teachers deserve a lot of credit. Of course, if we paid them more,
they wouldn’t need it. Teacher: I want you to tell me the longest sentence you can think of
Pupil: Life imprisonment! Where do door-makers get their education?
The school of hard knocks. Teacher: Why have you got cotton wool in your ears, do you have an infection?
Pupil: Well you keep saying that things go in one ear and out the other so I am trying to keep them it all in! Kid comes home from 1st day at school. Mum asks, ‘What did you
learn today?’ Kid replies, ‘Not enough. I have to go back tomorrow.’ Pupil: Teacher, would you punish me for something I didn’t do?
Teacher: Of course not. Pupil: Good, because I didn’t do my homework. Teacher: You copied from Síle’s exam paper didn’t you?
S QUOTATIONt all adults are
“The day the child realizes tha lescent; the day he imperfect, he becomes an ado adult; the day he forgives them, he becomes an wise.” forgives himself, he becomes t, novelist Alden Nowlan, Canadian poe
Call for research papers for Co. Wexford Education Centre Colloquium for Principals
Minister Brendan Howlin is pictured at Co.Wexford Education Centre, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford on 20th September last, launching the centre’s first Education Research Journal, documenting the proceedings of a Colloquium for Principals which was hosted by the Centre on March 10th last. The papers presented on the day by eight newly-appointed Principals are published in the journal. The 2013 Colloquium will be held at the same venue on Saturday 2nd March. Educational researchers are invited to present papers on the challenges and opportunities in leading teaching and learning, from any field of study in education.
Pupil: How did you know? Teacher: Síle’s paper says “I don’t know” and you have put “Me, neither”! The little girl wasn’t getting good marks in school. One
day she tapped her teacher on the shoulder and said ...”I don’t want to scare you, but my daddy says if I don’t get better grades, somebody is going to get a spanking.”
This one-day conference is designed to give teachers an opportunity to present and discuss their research in an informal and collegial setting. It is also a unique opportunity for researchers to share their research findings with colleagues and have their work published in the annual colloquium journal. Expressions of interest and queries should be sent to colloquium co-ordinator, Celia Walsh by email to or centre secretary, Helen Kirwan by email to email@example.com. PAG E 2 7
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preparing the future…
Published on Jan 11, 2013