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ISSUE 82 / SEPTEMBER 2014

+ Leadership THE PROFESSIONAL VOICE OF PRINCIPALS

Leading in challenging times…


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+ Leadership THE PROFESSIONAL VOICE OF PRINCIPALS

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SNA Bullying Case

In our Legal Diary we review the case of a Special Needs Assistant versus the Board of Management of a Special School

Should we Keep Eggs in the Fridge?

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In this issue’s Principal Advice, we explore the danger of the word ‘Should’ and how to manage expectations?

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Global Schoolroom

Another summer has come and gone, and Irish teachers have spent July in India educating teachers as part of Global Schoolroom’s innovative course leading to a Diploma in Education from UCD.

Leading in Challenging Times

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Irish primary education has always been blessed with a plentiful supply of well-trained and talented teachers. Unfortunately, preparation and training for principalship is much more erratic.

Priorities for Principal Teachers

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In this article, we will explore the interactions between the Principal and Children

What You Told Us

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Almost 900 principals and deputy principals completed the IPPN Membership Consultation Survey in June. We analyse the results.

Signposts ISSUE 82 / AUGUST 2014


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LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of Principals

September 2014

Managing

Money

National Payment Plan report highlights challenges of managing payments in schools

The Department of Education and Skills is now reviewing how it can support schools to adopt electronic payments as part of its external service delivery programme. This aim is not to compel schools to ditch cash and cheques. It is about ensuring schools can get the most from the modern payment options that are now available.

Schools in Ireland make and receive a huge number of payments, particularly from parents. This can be for school trips, uniforms, insurance, fundraising or books – the list goes on. However schools are not getting the most out of the payment technologies that now exist. A survey published earlier this year by the National Payments Plan shows that payments from parents to schools in Ireland are dominated by cash and cheques, with nine out of ten parents currently paying by these methods. Cash is the most used, with four out of five parents with children at primary schools using cash as their main way of making school payments. The results of the survey also indicate a desire for parents to pay electronically, when possible. The majority (56%) of parents said that they would make payments by electronic methods if schools had the systems in place to enable them to do so. 96% of parents surveyed had access to a bank account. The survey was conducted as part of the National Payment Plan, which aims to transform the way Irish people make payments. Ireland is a relatively cash and cheque intensive society, and this is costly. The Central Bank estimates that ₏1bn could be saved annually to the Irish economy by adopting more efficient payment habits, such as using direct debits and debit cards more. However change is happening – over the last eight years debit card usage in Ireland has quadrupled. There is now one debit card in Ireland for every member of the population. There are numerous advantages of adopting electronic payments. Many schools report security problems of holding cash – one principal reported doing laps on a roundabout as she took money to a branch to make sure she wasn’t being followed. Further, there is a lack of an audit trail in managing cash payments. One school reported the 2

RONNIE O’TOOLE PROGRAMME MANAGER, NATIONAL PAYMENTS PLAN

problem of getting an envelope with ₏50 written on it and not knowing where it came from. Others reported the problem that such an envelope might be empty, a situation which may be impossible for a principal to resolve. The most popular way of managing electronic payments is using one of the specific platforms designed with the needs of schools in mind. These often include student/class data management, texting services, and provide a clear audit trail. However different schools have different needs. What might work for a large secondary school may be inappropriate for a small primary school where the principal has teaching duties. How charges are applied will also be critical for primary schools in deciding whether or not to adopt modern payments. Every payment system costs money, whether it’s cash, cheques or debit cards. For example, every cheque written to a school costs the parent around ₏1 in stamp duty and bank charges, and costs the school around 30c to lodge to their account. Electronic payment systems also entail costs, though this can fall on schools, parents or both.

The National Payments Plan is interested in the views of any principals, teachers or parents on how best to manage school payments, particularly in smaller schools. Please email nppfeedback@centralbank.ie with any questions, comments or suggestions.


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LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of Principals

September 2014

LEADING IN challenging times Two hundred and thirty one new principals are beginning their service as school leaders this year. We congratulate all of them on their appointment and, as they commence their duties, we wish them well for the years ahead. Their enthusiasm, imagination and leadership have the potential to bring their schools forward into a new era where all that is best in education and childhood will be nurtured. While society continues to change and evolve, they will continue to put the interests of children first. We congratulate also the many principals who have retired this year. Their race is run. Many of them will look back on a job they truly loved while, in some cases, it was a job they merely survived. What is it that makes the difference? How is it that some principals, despite serious work overload, very challenging work environments and limited supports, still manage to enjoy their role and maintain an enthusiastic outlook and a ‘glass half full’ mentality while others seem to succumb?

SEÁN COTTRELL AND BRENDAN McCABE experience of driving along quite happily until we hit the unexpected speed-bump. When things go wrong, principalship can become a lonely place if you do not have a peer group that understand you and with whom you can share your problems.

We wish all our members well for the year ahead.

Thirdly, they are empathetic people who relate well to others, whether children, staff or parents. They are respectful and can see and understand where the other person is coming from. While they might not always

The original home exchange

Irish primary education has always been blessed with a plentiful supply of well-trained and talented teachers. Unfortunately, preparation and training for principalship is much more erratic. Firstly, it is said that life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how we react to it. Those principals who have engaged in personal as well as professional development have acquired the resilience and judgement to stay in control of how they react even in the most challenging situations. Secondly, they are likely to be principals who are actively involved in principals’ support groups, where their peers will help them through difficult situations. We have all had the

lot of people who are being appointed without adequate preparation. IPPN is currently part of a Department of Education & Skills working group examining how this deficit is best addressed. It is hoped to begin this by enhancing the programme of coaching and mentoring for all principals, starting with recently appointed principals. Meanwhile IPPN will continue to offer as much support as we can to all our members. Our website offers a huge bank of resources and our Principal Advice service is also ready to help and support.

agree with them, they have the confidence and the candour to reach decisions based on what they genuinely believe to be in the best interests of children. Irish primary education has always been blessed with a plentiful supply of well-trained and talented teachers. Unfortunately, preparation and training for principalship is much more erratic. While many will have undertaken postgraduate studies in leadership or educational management before moving into their roles, there are still a

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SNA awarded €255,000 against Board of Management of National School in

BULLYING CASE A Special Needs Assistant V Board of Management of a Special School High Court 2014 • O’Neill J FACTS A special needs assistant with 14 years experience was working in a national school for children between four up to eighteen years. The school catered exclusively for children with physical and /or intellectual disabilities. Fourteen teachers and twenty six SNAs were employed to cater for approximately 70 to 75 pupils.

SENSORY ROOM INCIDENT

DAVID RUDDY BL PRINCIPAL OF TALBOT SNS

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The school had a sensory room with a metal door that had a lock on the inside that could be operated with a latch. In general only one pupil could be accommodated at a time. A programme was operated for children, and it was preferred that there would be no interruptions from other children or staff. At issue in this case was whether or not there was a common practice amongst SNAs of locking the door on the inside. A number of children, including the child in question, were known to be ‘Runners’. On a particular day the Principal visited the sensory room to find it locked. The Principal took

exception to this, and summoned the relevant SNA to her office to reprimand her. The SNA explained that she was not aware of a school policy prohibiting the locking of doors on the inside. She further explained that she had done this over several years along with other SNAs. The Principal wrote to the SNA and indicated that disciplinary action would not be taken against her as she appeared to be unclear about the protocol using the sensory room. A series of procedures were outlined in which it would be ensured that the room would never be locked again.

THE REVIEW The class teacher, with the support of the Principal, initiated a four-week review in relation to the pupil’s progress and this SNA’s work. The Principal was unhappy with the outcome of the review, claiming that the SNA had not improved. There was a disagreement about what the Principal alleged was a falsification of one particular answer to a question in relation to the pupil lying on a swing.


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LEGAL DIARY LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of Principals

After the holidays the SNA was brought to a meeting with the Principal and Chairperson of the BoM to be informed that she was to receive a Final Stage Part 4 warning. This would be on her record for 18 months. CONFLICT The Principal brought matters regarding the SNA to the attention of the BoM. The SNA was not invited to the meeting. The BoM deemed the locking of the door incident unacceptable and that it had implications for Health and Safety and Child Protection. The Principal sought and received the BoM’s support in initiating a written warning and the deferral of an increment. Some members of the BoM wanted the SNA’s immediate dismissal. The first the SNA heard of the BoM’s deliberations was just before the Christmas holidays when the Principal informed her that a final warning would be given to her in January of the New Year. After the holidays the SNA was brought to a meeting with the Principal and Chairperson of the BoM to be informed that she was to receive a Final Stage Part 4 warning. This would be on her record for 18 months. Deferral of an increment was not applicable as there was none payable for the next 3 years in any case. A BoM meeting that evening affirmed the actions of the Chairperson and the Principal. A formal letter was communicated restating the disciplinary conclusion following an ‘investigation’ by the BoM. Letters from the SNA’s solicitor requesting clarification of matters and an apology were sought. It was also emphasised that there was no due process afforded to the SNA. Ultimately proceedings on foot of a bullying claim were initiated. The SNA was absent suffering from work-related stress for 3 ½ years.

WHAT CONSTITUTES WORKPLACE BULLYING? Workplace bullying is defined in the Industrial Relations Act 1990 as follows; “Workplace bullying is repeated in appropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one

or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could be reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work.” The Courts have stated that for a plaintiff to succeed in a claim they must also prove that they suffered damage amounting to personal injury as a result of the employer’s breach of duty. Where personal injury is not of a direct physical kind, it must amount to an ‘identifiable psychiatric injury’.

JUDGEMENT

the SNA’s dignity at work. Evidence of the SNA’s GP and psychiatrist persuaded the Court that she suffered an identifiable psychiatric injury.

OBSERVATION Litigation in schools is unfortunate. In this case the lack of protocol regarding the sensory room coupled with a heavy-handed treatment of the SNA resulted in substantial damages being awarded against the school. The lesson for all of us is that we must have the correct policies in place and afford fair procedures to all employees.

The Court was satisfied that there was inappropriate behaviour on behalf of the BoM which was not an isolated incident.

The Court found that the conjuring up by the Principal of the additional offences of failing to improve during the review process and the alleged falsification of an answer by mistakenly ticking the wrong box in addition to the locking of the door was effectively “trumping up” the charges. The Court noted that the Safety Statement was entirely silent on any health and safety aspects relating to the locking of the Sensory Room door, or to the presence on that door of an internal lock. Whilst the SNA, through her solicitor, did her utmost to pursue her grievances through the internal procedures of the school, the BoM wholly failed to respond to her and left her with no option but to pursue these proceedings. The SNA was not afforded her constitutional right to fairness of procedures and due process. There was no investigation by the BoM. It acted solely on the untrue, highly biased, coloured, and grossly unfair account of events by the Principal. The Court was satisfied that there was inappropriate behaviour on behalf of the BoM which was not an isolated incident but was persistent over a period in excess of one year. This behaviour wholly undermined 5


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September 2014

LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of Principals

SEN RESOURCING

A better approach The working group on SEN resourcing, under the chairmanship of Eamon Stack, has delivered a report to the Minister on ‘A proposed new model for allocating teaching resources for students with Special Educational Needs‘. The report was commissioned because the NCSE felt that the current model of allocating 11,000 learning support and resource teacher posts to schools was inequitable at best and potentially reinforced social disadvantage. The NCSE had advised that a better model would be to link the additional teaching resources to the educational need for such supports, without the need for students to have a diagnosis of disability. By now you should have your own copy of the report. There are two key steps involved in the proposed new model, the first being the actual allocation of resources; the second the deployment of these resources by schools for students with special educational needs. What is new here is the School Educational Profile component. Personally I am delighted that this is included. I have always held the view that you can never separate the school from the community. What happens in the local community impacts hugely on school life. Schools have the pupils for five or six hours a day, the parents/guardians and the community

Using the standardised test results of those below a certain percentile rank will generate some debate. This too is the fairest method of targeting resources. We have always operated this way internally in how we deployed our learning support. The only problem I have with using standardised tests to allocate resources is that we were led to believe that the test results would only be used to track trends in schools and in education.

PAT GOFF PRINCIPAL OF SCOIL MHUIRE, COOLCOTTS, WEXFORD

has them for the remaining eighteen or nineteen hours. It always made sense to include some weighting for the social context of a school. You probably have already filled in the survey in relation to this. Yes, there are some questions in relation to the personal circumstances of families. The reality is that those of us in DEIS schools have been filling in this information for years. We have operated a book rental system for the last ten years. If a parent qualifies for a much reduced rate they simply fill in their medical card number - they can call in to see me or the HSCL teacher. Not all of you would agree that we should be getting medical card numbers and the like. We just found that the medical card number was the easiest way to operate.

The NCSE had advised that a better model would be to link the additional teaching resources to the educational need for such supports, without the need for students to have a diagnosis of disability. Should we welcome this new proposal? I say yes for a number of reasons: No more scrambling to get reports in by mid-March, except for those requiring SNA support. No more notifications to schools of their resource allocations in the last week in June. No more scrambling to try and cluster posts or simply try to get a few hours to retain a post, often in July & August. The certainty for two years initially of what your allocation will be, and also the ability to combine GAM and resource posts, will be welcomed by every single principal. However, the report is open to change. Our efforts now should be looking at how it could be improved e.g. the restoration of the 15% already deducted from schools. This should be used to offset losses that schools might face under the new scheme, at least for a number of years. They say that the devil is in the detail. We need to be proactive in having an input into the details such as the baseline allocations and weightings assigned to different elements of the proposed new model.

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Priorities for Principal Teachers

Children In this new series, I will explore the interactions between the Principal and the key groups the principal interacts with – Children; Staff; Parents/Parent Association; Board of Management/ Patron and External Agencies – and give examples of tasks that can be categorised in the following ways: I I I

PÁIRIC CLERKIN PRINCIPAL OF ST PATRICK’S NS, CASTLEKNOCK, DUBLIN 15

Hopefully by now you will have had a chance to read through IPPN’s publication Priorities for Principal Teachers – In Clear Focus which was issued to all schools in February. Its stated aims are to: I support the many principals who are struggling to manage their workload and are unsure what aspects of their role they can delegate or deprioritise I offer a fresh perspective on how the wider educational community might be used to support principals I provide a means of defining the priorities for the leadership role of principal.

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Key priorities principals must do ourselves Priorities principals could delegate or share Other tasks principals should not personally undertake and those the school might agree to ‘deprioritise for a time’.

While we don’t have all of the answers - what works in your school may well not work in mine - the process of discussion and examination of tasks greatly facilitates the sharing of good practice and alternative approaches to dealing with the issue of workload, which is the whole point. Having discussed the approach outlined in the publication with hundreds of principals, the general consensus is that we should first discuss the prioritisation of tasks within our local principals’ support group, followed by discussion with our deputy principals. This will help us when we then consult with our Boards of Management and the rest of our staff to gain their buy-in to a change in how work is prioritised and allocated throughout our schools.

CHILDREN Children are what our schools are all about. Their education and welfare must always come first. Time spent getting to know the children and building a positive relationship with them is never time badly spent. But what specifically must we principals do ourselves, what can we delegate or share and what should we definitely not spend our time doing when it comes to children in the school? Principals have told IPPN that children and staff are the two groups we have most difficulty with in terms of prioritisation, perhaps feeling we need to do everything ourselves. To help with this, IPPN looked at all of the activities that take place within schools and consulted with school leaders to determine what IPPN believes to be the best possible guidance in terms of where principals spend our time. When it comes to other tasks, there are a number of ways to manage and allocate work. The context of the particular school will determine the priority assigned. For example, the supervision of pupil behaviour can be handled in a number of ways. Some schools get senior pupils to supervise and monitor behaviour; in others, the classroom teacher handles all behaviour matters; in others, the principal becomes involved. Each school must determine what will work best for their circumstances. Another example is ensuring that school


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PRIORITIES FOR PRINCIPALS

LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of Principals

reports comply with requirements. In some schools, this ‘QA’ task is allocated to a post-holder and the resulting reports reviewed and signed-off by the principal; in other schools, each teacher takes responsibility for ensuring their reports comply. In all cases, the principal

reviews and signs off. In the context of work overload of the principal, and particularly of the teaching principal, what is important is that there is a conversation about how activities and responsibilities are

allocated among the school staff, with an emphasis on empowerment, distributed leadership and ownership of school policy at all levels – staff, parents and pupils.

In relation to dealing with children, the following is the guidance presented*: Key Priorities for the Principal – Must Do

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Ensure that there is a culture and environment within which children are well cared for, safe and respected Lead the teaching and learning within the school Implement child protection and anti-bullying policies Act as Designated Liaison Person Create an environment which maximises the learning potential and the holistic development of all pupils Visit classrooms regularly to get to know, encourage and affirm pupils

Other Priorities – Could Delegate or Share

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Ensure adequate supervision procedures are in place for pupils during school hours Monitor pupil performance and achievement Co-ordinate Learning Support provision Deal promptly with any allegations of bullying in accordance with school policy Manage resources for children with special educational needs Identify students at risk of school attendance problems Introduce initiatives to enhance the quality of pupils’ education

Other Tasks – Deprioritise / Principal should not need to personally undertake I

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Ensure there is sufficient work for pupils whose teacher is absent Arrange for tours and visits to places of educational interest, in consultation with the staff, with BoM approval Promote saving Teaching principals should not answer the phone during class contact time. Organise displays of pupils' work around the school Manage lost property Arrange transport for extracurricular activities.

*The complete list is in the publication

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REFLECTIONS LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of Principals

Wheeling

your barrow DAMIAN WHITE PRINCIPAL, SCOIL SHINCHILL, KILLEIGH, CO. OFFALY Twenty years ago, I got a strange phone call. ‘How do you jump start a tractor?’ Not that the question was that strange in my house where MacGyver would get a run for his money. But this was our wedding day and the caller was my soon-to-be wife. “Honey, we’ll tell you all that stuff when you move out to the country” was not the answer she wanted to hear. Outside her door in Birr’s charming Rosse Row, right where a horse and carriage was due any moment to take her to meet her knight in shining tuxedo, sat an altogether different chariot - an ancient Ford 3600 tractor, held together with rust and baling twine. It was mart day in the town and, although it was a good distance from her house, some farmer had decided to park half way between the sales yard and a selection of public houses. The whole street was out trying to solve the problem with the tractor so close to the front door that the well-being of a wedding dress would be in doubt. Fruitless efforts were made to find the owner. At last, with things at a critical stage, the photographer, in a debonair kit himself, got the engine going, not before

handing his camera to somebody to snap him manoeuvring the sputtering rust bucket across the road and out of harm’s way. I have never seen a tractor in Rosse Row since. Three weeks after Tractorgate, I began life as a principal. I bring up this story to highlight how the best-laid plans can come unstuck for the strangest of reasons. It also highlights resourcefulness, our capacity to solve problems by less than conventional means. The story bookends, at one extreme, a whole selection of calamities, odd situations and strange developments that have peppered my 20 years in the job. The day the ostrich got into the playground. The flock of over 200 sheep who met me in the school yard one early morning. The parent who collected her infant child at 2pm but left us his 2 year-old brother, not missing him until we phoned. The large dog who leapt in through a classroom window, scattering 6th class children everywhere. The parent who reversed into a drain when attempting to bring

her children to school, blocking the road, before calling me to help as the only adult she knew in the area. Several tyre changes (particularly since becoming an administrative principal!), encounters with boilers, radiators, toilets, slates and salesmen getting excited about special prices for nonslip mats and dilutable floor wax. None of these things are in the Plean Scoile. They don’t come in under any strand, nor are they covered under Circular 16/73. How we deal with such matters helps define who we are as principals, how colleagues, parents and children view us. Past pupils remind us of the funny stuff they remember when we meet them. Most of us have a story of the day the Cigire walked in upon mayhem of some sort and we worried ourselves about the impression they left with. My Cigire once almost became an unwilling passenger in a wheelbarrow being driven at speed down a corridor by a 6th class thrill seeker. But it was cleanup day and the courtyard needed weeding, again not on any pupil’s or teacher’s timetable. Rumours that Cigiri are human are mainly true. Many of them have been school principals before early release for good behaviour. A retired friend of mine once said to a Cigire who interrupted him “I’d shake hands with you but I can’t let go of this ball cock or the school will be under water in 5 minutes!” If you are a newly-appointed principal, it’s all ahead of you, like our pupil’s wheelbarrow. Your story will be about lots of formal stuff. But filling your barrow will also involve the unexpected, unconventional, daft stuff. If I had that tractor now, I’d replace my barrow with a trailer. And my wife, also a principal, could jump start it whenever she wanted!

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LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of Principals

September 2014

IPPN PRESIDENT’S REPORT

2013 -2014 at a glance BRENDAN McCABE IPPN PRESIDENT Starting into year one of a two year Presidency I felt I was on a very steep learning curve. Thankfully my predecessor, Gerry Murphy, had briefed me well and had kept me very much in the loop during the two years of my Deputy Presidency. One of the first functions I attended was a press conference of the Children’s Alliance, calling for government spending to prioritise the needs of children, both educationally and socially. This reminded me very early on that children and their welfare are ultimately at the heart of what IPPN is about. Our Principals Briefing Day in Citywest in September gave me an early opportunity to speak with many principals and hear their concerns as they faced into a new school year. I could go through the diary, week by week, and tell you about all of the functions, meetings and events I attended but, instead, let me give you a flavour of my year and the things which in hindsight seemed important.

Our Annual Conference is the highlight of the IPPN year. This year it was attended by over 1000 principals At a meeting with the Minister for Education and Skills, Mr Ruairi Quinn, we discussed the ongoing problem of principals’ administrative work overload. He requested us to draw up a document outlining where duplication was taking place regarding information being sought from schools by different agencies, including different sections of the DES. This we did in great detail and that document on administration burden was sent to the DES after Christmas.

To assist our members to prioritise the vast array of tasks that arise within their own school context, we published, with the support of DES, CPSMA, and NPC, Priorities for Principals Teachers – In Clear Focus. This document has received very positive feedback from those who have used it. Our Annual Conference is the highlight of the IPPN year. This year it was attended by over 1000 principals from every corner of Ireland. In tandem with Conference, we ran an Education Think Tank, chaired by Claire Byrne of RTÉ and attended by 35 business leaders and education academics. This was an effort on our part to provide a “connect” between the worlds of education and business and to provide deeper understanding between both. For some time we have been concerned with the effects of stress created by work overload on principals’ health. To address and attempt to quantify this we engaged Dr. Philip Riley, an Australian educationalist with a specialism in this area, to conduct a Health and Wellbeing Survey. Besides allowing participants to track their own health over a five-year period, the annual reports from this survey will inform us on the general wellbeing of our members and highlight any areas of concern to which we should be alerting our employers. As part of our duty to promote and support the concerns of our members we this year made submissions to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education & Social Protection on Priority Issues for Leadership in Schools and also made a pre-Budget submission to the Department of Finance. We also of course attended many meetings of education agencies. In addition we put out 16 press releases throughout the year, giving principals’ perspective on various matters of educational interest. By way of professional support to our members we continued to build on our

Principal Advice service and we are currently undertaking a major revamp of our website so as to make it the ultimate one-stop-shop for advice and support. We also added to it Resource Bundles on School Self-Evaluation, Child Custody and Access and School Improvement Planning. We will shortly be adding a Resource Bundles on Teacher Absences and Supervision. During my Presidential Address at Conference I stated that “investing CPD funding in quality leadership training will ensure that the DES gets maximum bang for its buck”. I am happy to report that three of our members are presently part of a DES working group planning a programme of coaching and mentoring for principals, and especially those recently appointed. This group is due to report in September. So as to create maximum openness and transparency in the way IPPN conducts its affairs we have drawn up a new Governance Code which is completely in line with the Charities Act requirements. This has necessitated amending our Constitution and Articles of Association. Caroline outlines the main changes in this regard on page 9. Looking back on the year, the greatest pleasures for me have been twofold. Firstly I have had the pleasure of working with a team of goodhumoured, truly talented and dedicated people whose commitment to serving the needs of principals is total and, secondly, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and being welcomed into many schools where I have seen at first hand the wonderful work that is being done by principals in leading their school communities. There are many people who are cynical about the work of teachers and principals. If they had seen what I saw this year that cynicism would quickly evaporate. To represent people like you is for me a real honour and I look forward to continue doing so over the coming year. 11


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LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of Principals

September 2014

IPPNGovernance tice and external expertise for guidance to ensure solid foundations and longevity for IPPN.

CAROLINE O’DEA IPPN Operations Manager

GOVERNANCE CODE

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n 2007, IPPN was granted charitable status. Retaining this status requires compliance with a number of terms set our by the Revenue Commissioners; mostly relating to our budgeting and financial controls. We have developed our own governance structures for the last 14 years, looking to other similar organisations, international best prac-

In June 2012, a Governance Code for the Charity, Not-for-Profit and Community/ Volunteer sector was launched by Phil Hogan TD, to assist these organisations, including IPPN, in performing to the highest standards possible. This Governance Code is based on 5 key principles:

1. Leading the organisation 2. Exercising control over the organisation 3. Being transparent and accountable 4. Working effectively 5. Behaving with integrity. Fortunately for IPPN, compliance with the code of governance became a project of putting practice into policy. Over the last 18 months we have documented and recorded the systems and procedures used by our organisation under these five headings.

The following table illustrates the growth of IPPN over the past 14 years and how governance structures have been adapted to meet the growing needs of the organisation and its members.

Year

Number of Members

Number of staff

Queries and support given to members

Management & Governing Body

650 - 1542

1 (2001)

Emails – 26,000 – 90,000 per week

An Interim National Committee of 33 steer the affairs of IPPN, which was formally launched in Feb 2000 by Michael Woods TD in Dublin Castle

2000 - 2002

Phone Support – not captured 2427 – 2676

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2003 - 2006

E-mails 90,000 – 400,000 per week

A National Executive of 20 govern & manage the affairs of IPPN, elected by a National Committee of 52

Phone Support- 761 2721 – 2854

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2007 - 2010

E-mails 450,000 – 1,000,000 per week

A National Executive of 18 govern & manage the affairs of IPPN, elected by a National Committee of 52

Phone Support - 4,117 2937 - 2974

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2011 - 2013

E-mails – 1 million per week

A National Executive of 15 govern & manage the affairs of IPPN, elected by a National Committee of 52

Phone Support - 4,896 2982 2013 /2014

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E-mails – 1.05 million per week Phone Support - 1,663

A Board of Directors of 15 govern IPPN. The CEO, with a team of 10 staff, implements a Programme of Work on behalf of the Board.

Good governance is a continuing journey where you constantly aim to apply good practice principles and check regularly on how you are doing. It is not a tick box exercise or about producing big binders of policies and controls that nobody pays attention to. It is about leadership, compliance, accountability, transparency, effectiveness, honesty and fairness. It is about seeking to do the right thing at all times. Diarmaid Ó Corrbuí Chair of the Governance Code’s Working Group 12

Complying with the principles of the code will help enhance IPPN’s effectiveness by: I clarifying what effective corporate governance looks like and how IPPN’s Board can govern effectively I reassuring IPPN members and other stakeholders about the way the organisation is governed and I maintaining and enhancing member and public confidence in IPPN.


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STRUCTURES Due to the steady growth of the organisation over the last 14 year particularly the last 5 – the new governance code was an opportunity for IPPN’s Executive Committee to review our governance structures and to amend and adjust these structures while adhering to our core mission and responsibilities as employers.

September 2014

At our most recent National Committee meeting on June 14th 2014, some key language changes were adopted in alignment with that of other large notfor-profit organisations / charities. Our ‘National Executive’ is now our ‘Board of Directors’. IPPN’s ‘National Committee’ is our ‘National Council’ and Seán Cottrell’s new title is that of ‘Chief Executive Officer’ – CEO.

Our Annual Report will be modified to convey achievements and challenges. A greater emphasis will be put on risk identification & mitigation along with contingency planning. Our ‘Programme of Work’ will tie more effectively to our Strategic Plan, and key performance indicators will focus our operations and resources.

Annual Report 2013 HIGHLIGHTS

The following are some of the key internal activities in the calendar year 2013. Professional Queries by Topic received at the Support Office in 2013 Board of Management

146

HR Admin

318

Inclusion

141

Leadership Recovery

24

Parents and Pupils

302

Recruitment

191

Relationship Management

187

School Administration

68

School Development and Curriculum Planning

48

School Policies

To complement & balance Angela Lynch’s role of Principal Advice Manager, in October 2013, IPPN appointed team member Rachel Brannigan to the role of Principal Information Officer. Rachel, who has been coordinating professional queries received at the Support Office over the last 5 years, has built a wealth of tacit and factual information impacting on the role of school principal. Rachel now deals with all queries that require a factual response – DES circular references, rules, regulations and procedures as they apply to schools and so on. In 2013, of the 1663 professional queries submitted by members, 73% (1214) of queries were dealt with by Angela or Rachel with the balance (450) being assigned to the Principal Advice Panel (a volunteer group of very experienced serving and retired principals). The full Annual Report for 2013 will be available on www.ippn.ie once it has been signed-off by the Auditor.

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Total

1663

Income & Expenditure

Business Partnership & Advertising 7%

Bank Interest 4%

Income €2,060,239

Mortgage & Overheads 10%

Annual Principals’ Conference 19%

DP’s Conference 2%

Membership Fees 35%

Local CPD 3%

Web Services 19%

Membership Dev 0% Staff Costs 32%

Trade Exhibition 13%

Sponsorship 7%

Expenditure €1,701,035

Annual Principals’ Conference DP’s 11% Other Conference 2% CPD Events 2%

NCLI 2%

Web Services 15%

Representation & Advocacy 11%

Research & Publications 6%

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SHOULD

September 2014

you keep eggs in the fridge? If there is one word I hate, it is “should”. The “should” list in our lives is endless. It goes hand in hand with expectations.

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PRINCIPAL ADVICE

LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of Principals

We have to manage our own and be aware of other’s expectations of us. Be aware when you or others use the word “should.” Examine it. ANGELA LYNCH PRINCIPAL ADVICE MANAGER

If there is one word I hate, it is “should”. I looked up the meaning of the word. It is used to give advice, an opinion or a recommendation. It is the simple past tense of “shall”. We have been told that every time we see “shall” in the Education Act, it implies a legal or statutory obligation. It is also used to criticize someone’s actions. The “should” list in our lives is endless. It goes hand in hand with expectations.

WHAT ARE EXPECTATIONS? Expectations are a type of pressure to exceed certain goals, behave in a certain manner and look a certain way. Expectations can, of course, have a positive influence in motivating you to do your best. However, unrealistic expectations can have a negative impact on your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. They can affect you I

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psychologically, resulting in stress, anxiety feelings of guilt and a sense of failure socially, manifesting in relationship problems Physically, in poor eating habits, not getting sufficient sleep and ultimately becoming ill.

Expectations come from others, but also from one self. Our own expectations are sometimes the hardest to manage. We can be afraid of not being good enough, because we have such high expectations coming from both self and others.

Examine expectations in the light of what is achievable.

Andrea Bocelli sums this up: “A voice is very important. It is something of our own. So there’s always this fear, because you feel naked. There’s a fear of not reaching up to expectations. As you become more famous, people come and expect to hear something extraordinary, so you don’t want to disappoint them. I feel this sense of responsibility.”

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Sometimes we just do something to fulfil what someone else needs from us. From a personal perspective, because I tend to be a ‘people pleaser’, I want them to be happy and so try to meet the expectations they have of me. Of course we can make nobody happy. Expectations need to be managed. Some people manage well, as the following comment attests.

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“Some people can shrug expectations off their shoulders like a cardigan, remaining cool and breezy. Others wear them like a parka, with a stuck zipper, hot and stifling.” Kristen Armstrong So the big question is - how do we manage expectations? I We have to manage our own and be aware of other’s expectations of us. Be aware when you or others use the word “should.” Examine it. I Be realistic with expectations. “I’d really like to cuddle a unicorn but it ain’t going to happen.” (The Thrift Book) I Examine expectations in the light of what is achievable. Set realistic goals. I Communicate with your school community on a regular basis

setting out your expectations and evaluating in terms of feasibility of achieving the expectations placed upon you. Make no assumptions that people understand your message. Clearly define the goals. Sometimes you and others may only focus on one particular outcome which, if not achieved, causes disappointment. Look at different ways of reaching your goal. Remember you can say “No” sometimes. Make use of Priorities for Principal Teachers - In Clear Focus to manage expectations. Discuss your priorities and expectations for this new school year with BoM, staff and parents. Good communication and clarity of understanding will be the key to achieving buy-in. Seek advice and support from your Support Group and colleagues in dealing with the demands being placed on you this year. Support is only a phone call away on the Support Office number of 1890 21 22 23.

So, “Should you keep eggs in the fridge?”, I’ll leave it up to you to determine the answer. The cooks amongst us will have a view, the scientists will have a view and the manufacturer of the fridge has an expectation, given that there is dedicated space for eggs. I would hope that if you hear yourself or anyone else use the word” should”, you will examine any expectations in the light of your current situation. As Terrell Owens says, “If you align expectations with reality, you will never be disappointed.”

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September 2014

GERALDINE D’ARCY IPPN RESEARCH & PUBLICATIONS MANAGER

What You

TOLD US Almost 900 principals and deputy principals completed the IPPN Membership Consultation Survey in June. The following is an analysis of the results. PROFILE I

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337 Teaching Principals; 362 Administrative Principals; 119 Deputy Principals Two thirds of the Administrative principals are female; 58% are over 50 years More than three quarters of the Teaching principals are female; 42% are over 50 years 88% of the Deputy Principals are female; half are over 50 years.

POSTS OF RESPONSIBILITY 139 of the schools surveyed currently have no posts of responsibility, 381 have 1 or 2 special duties posts; 226 have between 3 and 5; 71 have between 6 and 10; 3 have more than 10 posts. 774 schools have lost up to 5 posts of responsibility since the moratorium; 16 have lost more than 5; 301 schools have lost none.

21 principals have no secretary; 29 have a part-time or shared secretary. 70 principals have no caretaker; 20 have a part-time or shared caretaker.

PREPARATION FOR THE ROLE 22 principals had taught for less than a year when they were appointed to the leadership role; 34 taught between 1 and 4 years; 315 (43%) taught between 10 and 20 years; 153 taught for more than 25 years before becoming principal; 45 for more than 30 years. 595 applied up to 2 times for principalship before appointment; 99 between 3 and 10 times. Almost a third of principals acted as deputy principal prior to being appointed principal.

Less than 10% of principals took on the leadership role because ‘It was the only way of advancing in my career’; most (261 – 35%) because they were ‘ready for a leadership position’. Other reasons given were that they ‘had seen aspects of the leadership role that appealed’ to them or because they had been DP and ‘wanted the chance to step up to Principalship’. An overwhelming majority of principals (92%) are involved in a local principals support group; Of the 86 principals who rated their group, 84% rated it as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Quite effective’. A third of principals hold a postgraduate qualification relevant to the role of principal, with 22% of those holding a Post-graduate Diploma in Educational Leadership and almost two thirds holding a Master’s degree relevant to education; 10 principals hold

STAFF 2 principals lead no teaching staff; 40 lead 1 teacher; 83 lead 2-3 staff; 210 between 4 and 7 teachers; 207 between 8 and 15; 145 between 16 and 30; 24 lead 30 staff or more.

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An overwhelming majority of principals (92%) are involved in a local principals support group


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This means that a total of four out of every ten principals will leave or wishes to leave the leadership role in the short/medium term. This has massive implications for school leadership. Figure - Key reason Principals are considering early retirement

a PhD in management.

education/education

Almost 8 in 10 principals would consider undertaking further professional development programmes in Educational Leadership. 225 principals would consider a Masters or PhD. Most cited cost (67%) and study leave (48%) as key factors in deciding whether to undertake post-graduate study.

LEADERSHIP ROLE More than one principal in every six is considering stepping back from the leadership role and going back into fulltime classroom teaching. Many principals mentioned the loss of seniority as a major issue. For some, it’s the difficulties of finding a suitable teaching job in another school; for others, the financial loss was a factor. As one principal commented ‘It feels like punishment for trying to be a leader.’ Another said that ‘The notion of being trapped is draconian and puts good people off even applying for a principalship.’ More than one principal commented along the lines of ‘If I could afford to retire right now I would!’ Just 14 principals commented in relation to stepping back that they enjoy the leadership role. A further 12% are about to reach retirement age - by June 2015. 18 principals who will retire will use the time to embark on a new career. Another 13% of principals are considering early retirement – for very similar reasons to those given for considering stepping back – 43% because they ’have had enough – it is too hard’; 21% owing to financial implications of staying on; 10% because they don’t feel they can achieve any more for their school. This means that a total of four out of

every ten principals will leave or wishes to leave the leadership role in the short/medium term. This has massive implications for school leadership.

CHALLENGES FACING PRINCIPALS The following is the list of current challenges facing principals, ranked in terms of the overall level of challenge, where 1 is the most challenging item: 1. The dual role of Teaching Principalship 2. Work overload 3. Coping with administration 4. Being responsible for the leadership of teaching and learning 5. Too few posts of responsibility 6. General administration 7. Managing staff (e.g. interpersonal issues) 8. HR administration 9. Dealing with the Parent Association 10. Dealing with the Board of Management 11. Dealing with the Inspectorate 12. Ineffective Principal / Deputy Principal.

TEACHING VS ADMINISTRATIVE PRINCIPALS The responses to most questions by teaching and administrative principals are very similar. There are a few notable exceptions: Three quarters of teaching principals are female, while less than two thirds of administrative principals are female. More than a third of teaching principals are in their first 4 years of school leadership compared with a fifth of administrative principals. Teachers with less than 5 years experience were 4 times more likely to take on the teaching principal role than an administrative role, while those with

more than 20 years teaching experience were almost twice as likely to take on an administrative principalship. Leaving the leadership role A quarter of Teaching Principals are considering stepping back from their leadership role while fewer than one in eight administrative principals are considering this option. Over half of administrative principals gave the reason for considering stepping back as ‘can’t achieve any more for my school’ or ‘I want to teach full-time’ whereas only one in ten teaching principals gave these reasons. Most (79%) of teaching principals chose the reason that ‘I have had enough – it is too hard’. Interestingly, 24% of administrative principals are considering early retirement, compared with 18% of teaching principals. This is not fully explained by the financial differences in role remuneration. Only 17 out of the 41 principals who gave the reason that they ‘would like to take early retirement but could not owing to the financial implications for my income and pension’ are teaching principals.

AGE PROFILE A relatively small number of principals surveyed are in the 21-30 and 61+ age categories. Nonetheless, the following are the key differences highlighted in the survey in respect of age profile: Background 95% of principals in the 21-30 age bracket and 77% of those aged 31-40 are teaching principals. 60% of those aged 51-60 and 32% of those aged 61 are administrative principals. Almost 8 in 10 principals aged 21-30 are female. Preparation for leadership Only one in five principals aged 31-40 was deputy principal before taking on the leadership role of principal compared with two in five principals aged 61+. 17


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More principals are preparing for leadership formally through postgraduate study yet fewer principals are preparing for leadership through the deputy principalship role. Almost half of principals aged 31-40 cited ‘there were aspects of the leadership role that appealed to me’ as their key reason for taking on principalship whereas only 12% of those aged 61+ chose that as their key reason. Only 7% of the younger group cited they were ‘ready for the leadership role’ compared with 53% of over 61s. Over a third of principals under 60 years stated they had a post-graduate qualification in educational management or leadership compared with 14% of those over 61 years. 60% of 21-30 year olds have a post-graduate diploma. Leaving the leadership role Almost a quarter of 31-40 year olds are considering stepping back from leadership compared with 14% of 51-60 year olds and 10% of over 61s, perhaps reflecting the impact of school

IPPN Membership

JOIN TODAY ACCESS News, updates, resources, templates, publications when you need them

CONNECT With friends and peers nationwide and share your experience

ENGAGE With our Professional Development events Please renew your membership by September 30th or contact the IPPN National Support Office if you have any queries on 1890 21 22 23

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September 2014

leadership on very busy personal lives. A third of principals over 50 years are considering early retirement, compared with 20% of those aged 4150 and 5% of those aged 31-40. Key challenges As regards the key challenges of the role of principal, more than twice as many (73%) principals aged 21-30 said the ‘dual role of teaching principal’ was ‘extremely challenging’ compared with those aged over 50 (35%). One in three of those 21-30 years cited that managing staff was ‘extremely challenging’ compared with 10% of those over 61 and 17% of those over 5160, which demonstrates the importance of professional development in the area of staff management for younger principals. Far more principals (56%) over 60 years find having too few posts of responsibility extremely challenging than those aged under 40 (35%) whereas general administration is far less challenging for young principals (20%) than those over 60, potentially owing to a higher level of knowledge of IT systems.

CONCLUSIONS The representative sample of over a quarter of all primary principals enables us to take note of some significant issues, both for the education system and also to an extent for IPPN supports and services. Clearly the issues that are so familiar to us are still affecting principals, particularly the dual role of the

teaching principal and the administration burden which, if anything, is getting worse. However, we are now seeing a very worrying picture emerging of a high proportion of principals (two in five) actively considering leaving their leadership role behind, whether through early retirement or stepping back from principalship. This is despite the implications for their income and pension, not to mention the potential loss in status, self esteem and so on that such a decision could entail. More principals are preparing for leadership formally through postgraduate study yet fewer principals are preparing for leadership through the deputy principalship role. This has implications for new principals who face a steep learning curve in terms of managing staff, working with the Board, Inspectorate, Parent Association and other parties, in most cases while teaching full-time. It is heartening that the vast majority of principals across age groups and roles are actively supporting each other within local principals’ support groups, and also that they are availing of the supports and services available through IPPN. We thank all those who participated in the membership consultation survey. It is a vital tool to gauge your needs, clarify your challenges and obtain feedback on what IPPN is doing on your behalf.


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www.ippn.ie Latest resources If your school has a policy or plan that is not available on ippn.ie, or which would supplement available resources, we would appreciate if you would submit it for review by email to rachel.brannigan@ippn.ie. The following are the new resources available in the different sections of the website:

ADVOCACY Press Releases I 2nd Jul 2014 - A Minister with Vision and Principles I 18th Jun 2014 - IPPN welcomes new model of allocation from NCSE I 15th May 2014 - Deputies make the difference

RESOURCES School Policies I Book Rental Scheme - Setting up a scheme DES Circulars 2014 I 0052/2014 - Public Service Stability Agreement 2013 – 2016 (Haddington Road Agreement) Teachers - Review of Usage of Croke Park Hours – Amendment to Circular 0008/2011 I 0051/2014 - Secured Borrowings by schools and Vocational Education Committees/Education and Training Boards I 0048/2014 - Home Tuition Scheme 2014/2015 – Special Education Component I 0045/2014 - Information in relation

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to Actions under the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy Standardised Testing, Reporting and Other Matters - Academic Year 2013/14 and Subsequent Years 0044/2014 - Recruitment of Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) Supplementary Assignment Arrangements for the 2014/15 school year 0041/2014 - Job Sharing Scheme for Special Needs Assistants

SUPPORTS Leadership+ I Leadership+ Issue 81 - June 2014 PIMS 2014-2015 2014-2015 templates

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In May, we met Fiona Farry, principal at Cloughfin National School in Lifford, Co. Donegal (see Leadership + issue #80, p. 6). Fiona talked about her experience with Khan Academy and the MATHletes Challenge (http://mathletes.ie), sharing how her students were becoming more confident and engaged in maths by competing on the free online learning platform. We are thrilled to report back that the girls of Cloughfin National School won gold in the Primary School – Points per Eligible Student category at the MATHletes finals. A great achievement for the students, their families and for Cloughfin.

KHAN ACADEMY SYMPOSIUM – ALL INVITED

Cloughfin NS wins gold at MATHLETES FINALS

On September 27th, others who have heard about Khan Academy and MATHletes can learn more at the Khan Academy Symposium, an EXCITED digital learning event. The Symposium invites teachers, students, parents and principals to see how Khan Academy is transforming Maths in Ireland, and to gain the practical tools and experience to use it in your own home, community, and classroom. More information can be found at www.excited.ie, or by emailing kelly@mathletes.ie. 19


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Win an iPad We have three new iPad’s to be won To be in with a chance to win, simply buy or renew your Pupil Personal Accident Policy online before the 31st October 2014 Terms and conditions apply

To save 30% off your premium log on to www.allianz.ie/schools

1 613 3900


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September 2014

Global Schoolroom ARTHUR GERAGHTY TEACHING PRINCIPAL OF GLANDUFF NS, KILTOOM, ATHLONE, CO ROSCOMMON Another summer has come and gone, and Irish teachers have spent July in India educating teachers as part of Global Schoolroom’s innovative course leading to a Diploma in Education from UCD. Memories of own trip fill my mind, reviving a desire to return – cool mornings and hot days; sudden showers; the cacophonic, frenzied roads; the smells; the sounds; endless fields of hand tended tillage and spotlessly clean kitchens just a stone’s throw from unkempt roadsides; and most of all the warmth and humour of the Khasi people where I taught in Meghalaya in the North East, near the Bangladeshi border. Our mission was to share good practice in the classroom with them, so that they may develop their teaching methods from their more traditional ‘chalk and talk’, ‘chanting’ and ‘learning off’ ways. Year Two included modules on Differentiation, Assessment, and Leadership, and we taught using groupwork, discussion, drama and homemade resources, so that they might do the same in their classes. Two weeks were spent giving lectures and workshops to the teachers. The attention and respect we received during those two weeks was as much embarrassing as flattering. They hung onto every word we said, and wrote them down enthusiastically.

Teaching Practice visits to the schools followed the lectures. We observed the teachers’ prepared lessons in their classrooms and, despite poor quality and crowded buildings with virtually no resources, there was worthy education going on. And from modest living conditions and limited means, scores of beautifully attired children greeted us with cheerful smiles! They were wellbehaved and courteous. With up to sixty pupils in classes, the teachers were putting the newly-learned theories into practice, using resources and charts. Looking out from basic staff rooms through cracked panes of glass, the games, sounds and merriment of lunchtime were the same as anywhere I’ve taught, be it here at home, England or Switzerland, and that great love teachers have for children and teaching was no different from anywhere else. Having witnessed good practice in classes of more than fifty, we returned to Ireland wiser and humbler. Overall, the project was a great exercise in Reflective Practice.

style too - there were many tiny little shops dotted along the roads, the size of your average bathroom in Ireland with little hatches in front. Global Schoolroom’s mission is honourable – sharing not imposing; empowering not patronising. The work is very worthwhile, and most importantly, Global Schoolroom strives towards a day when the project will become a self-sufficient Indian project, providing well-qualified teachers where otherwise there may have been none. They will be looking for teachers to get involved this autumn. You can find out more on their website: http://globalschoolroom.net/.

Our stay with Fr. Devasia who managed the schools made our visit particularly special – we experienced the real India – baptisms, wakes, funerals, blessings, house visits and local beauty spots. We witnessed the faiths of the people simple and strong. We shopped Indian

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September 2014

OECD and PISA tests are damaging education worldwide In this letter to Dr Andreas Schleicher, director of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, 83 academics from around the world express deep concern about the impact of PISA tests and call for a halt to the next round of testing. Dear Dr Schleicher, Now in its 13th year, PISA is known around the world as an instrument to rank OECD and non-OECD countries according to a measure of academic achievement of 15-year-old students in mathematics, science, and reading. Administered every three years, PISA results have begun to deeply influence educational practices in many countries [with] countries overhauling their education systems in the hopes of improving their rankings. Lack of progress on PISA has led to declarations of crisis and calls for resignations, and far-reaching reforms according to PISA precepts. We are frankly concerned about the negative consequences of the PISA rankings. These are some of our concerns: I While standardised testing has been used in many nations for decades (despite serious reservations about its validity and reliability), PISA has contributed to an escalation in such testing and a dramatically increased reliance on quantitative measures. I In education policy, PISA, has caused a shift of attention to shortterm fixes designed to help a country quickly climb the rankings, despite research showing that enduring changes in education practice take decades, not a few

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years, to come to fruition. By emphasising a narrow range of measurable aspects of education, PISA takes attention away from the less measurable or immeasurable educational objectives like physical, moral, civic and artistic development, thereby dangerously narrowing our collective imagination regarding what education is and ought to be about. As an organisation of economic development, OECD is naturally biased in favour of the economic role of public schools. But preparing young men and women for gainful employment is not the only, and not even the main goal of public education, which has to prepare students for participation in democratic self-government, moral action and a life of personal development, growth and wellbeing. Unlike United Nations organisations such as UNESCO or UNICEF that have clear and legitimate mandates to improve education and the lives of children around the world, OECD has no such mandate. Nor are there mechanisms of effective democratic participation in its education decision-making process. To carry out PISA and follow-up services, OECD has embraced

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“public-private partnerships” and entered into alliances with multinational for-profit companies, which stand to gain financially from any deficits—real or perceived— unearthed by PISA. The new PISA regime, with its continuous cycle of global testing, harms our children and impoverishes our classrooms. PISA has further increased the already high stress level in schools, which endangers the wellbeing of students and teachers. These developments are in overt conflict with widely accepted principles of good educational and democratic practice: No reform of any consequence should be based on a single narrow measure of quality. No reform of any consequence should ignore the important role of non-educational factors, among which a nation’s socio-economic inequality is paramount. An organisation like OECD should be open to democratic accountability by members of those communities.

We would also like to offer constructive ideas and suggestions that may help to alleviate the above mentioned concerns. While in no way complete, they illustrate how learning could be improved without the above


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mentioned negative effects: 1

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Develop alternatives to league tables: explore more meaningful and less easily sensationalised ways of reporting assessment outcomes. For example, comparing developing countries, where 15year-olds are regularly drafted into child labour, with first-world countries makes neither educational nor political sense and opens OECD up for charges of educational colonialism. Make room for participation by the full range of relevant constituents at local, national and international level e.g. parents, educators, administrators, community leaders, students, as well as scholars from disciplines like anthropology, sociology, history, philosophy, linguistics, the arts and humanities. Include national and international organisations in the formulation of assessment methods and standards whose mission goes beyond the economic aspect of public education and which are concerned with the health, human development, wellbeing and happiness of students and teachers.

4 Publish the direct and indirect costs of administering PISA. 5 Welcome oversight by independent international monitoring teams so that

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questions about test format and statistical and scoring procedures can be weighed fairly against charges of bias or unfair comparisons. Provide detailed accounts regarding the role of private, forprofit companies in the preparation, execution, and follow-up to PISA. Consider skipping the next PISA cycle. This would give time to incorporate the collective learning that will result from the suggested deliberations in a new and improved assessment model.

As PISA has led many governments into an international competition for higher test scores, OECD has assumed the power to shape education policy around the world, with no debate about the necessity or limitations of OECD’s goals. We are deeply concerned that measuring a great diversity of educational traditions and cultures using a single, narrow, biased yardstick could do irreparable harm to our schools and our students. 83 academics signed the letter, including the following: I Ciaran, Sugrue Professor, Head of School, School of Education, University College Dublin I Fleming, Mary Lecturer, School of Education, National University of Ireland, Galway I MacBeath, John Professor Emeritus, Director of Leadership

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for Learning, University of Cambridge Swaffield, Sue Senior Lecturer, Educational Leadership and School Improvement, University of Cambridge Thrupp, Martin Professor of Education, University of Waikato, New Zealand Tomlinson, Sally Emeritus Professor, Goldsmiths College, University of London; Senior Research Fellow, Department of Education, Oxford University Zhao, Yong Professor of Education, Presidential Chair, University of Oregon

Note: The above are excerpts from the full letter. Email editor@ippn.ie to receive the complete letter, including the full list of signatories.

IPPN County Networks and Professional Briefing Sessions Sept–Oct 2014 Due to the demands on principals, their time in school, travel and finances, we have decided not to run one national event for our Principals’ Professional Briefing in 2014. Instead, we have invited key agencies and organisations to provide relevant information to be presented at our local County Network Meetings this term. County Network meetings offer principals the greatest opportunity to find support, share best practice and avail of practical CPD at a local level. See ippn.ie for the full schedule of County Network Meetings.

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I fell asleep in a pub...

...and woke up at a funeral!

Friday night is a bit of a ritual for my wife and I. We’re busy people. She visits her family, meets her friends and relaxes with television and a glass of wine; I meet friends for drinks. It’s our way of de-stressing, after what can be a long week in school. Last night was different. I met friends in a local tavern. The craic and banter started with jokes and stories, sometimes embellished with great detail and, if truth be told, the odd lie or half-truth. Around 11.30, tired, I rang a taxi. ‘5 minutes’, he said. What happended next surprised and annoyed me.

When I did snatch time to myself, I was taking phone calls, meeting people and preparing work. Sitting on a high stool, I fell asleep! My phone started hopping; the taxi was waiting and I was inside putting zzzzzs to the roof. I made my way out to the taxi and home. But I was annoyed, surprised, frustrated. I fell asleep in the pub – at my age! I went to bed and was so annoyed with myself that I couldn’t sleep. I hadn’t consumed a large quantity of alcohol; I would certainly not be considered a ‘binge drinker’. So, what were the factors that contributed to my brief, but annoying nap?

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I examined my workload over the previous five to six weeks and realised that I was working a six or seven-day week. Days had gotten longer. There were one-off events, there were activities at night. When I did snatch time to myself, I was taking phone calls, meeting people and preparing work. Is this starting to sound familiar? Are we so consumed by what we do, we almost do it at any cost? To ourselves, our family and those important to us? The following morning I made for my local church and a funeral. A musical acquaintance of mine had passed away. We had briefly played together in a band many years ago. He was a gentleman. The church was overflowing; a lot of musicians were there. Some current players in bands and some old faces from years ago. Some were from decades ago, played briefly and took early retirement, while others were three-chord-trick merchants who are still playing. There was a sense of respect for a musician, a skilled craftsperson of his instrument, a genuine friend, a man with an inate sense of music and a skill that transcended musical tastes and boundaries; that respect was almost tangible. My friend had played music in the church, at weddings, funerals, with the choir and at many other celebrations down through the years. He had played in numerous bands, worked with numerous musicians, shared his experience and others had learned from him. What he had given the community could never be measured, nor will it ever be. And that made me think.

Our dedication to education is unquestionable. But at what cost this dedication? More importantly, who loses out because of our dedication? I woke up at that funeral. I realised that many of us work hard in a kind of vacuum, a somewhat insular place of learning, to build the next generation of Irish citizens. Teaching can be a lonely vocation; we don’t get many opportunities for team teaching – we don’t get to ‘play in a band’ with other musicians. Do we know how good the teacher next door is? Do we appreciate the experience that senior teachers have? Do we acknowledge the new concepts and ideas that NQTs bring to our schools? Do we ever share the wonderment of who and what we are as educators and how damn good our colleagues next door are? Maybe we should share more. Maybe life is too short. Maybe we don’t have the respect we should have for our colleagues. Maybe we should put aside the little things and look at the bigger picture. Maybe we’re a hell of a lot better then we think we are. And maybe it’s time to stand up and take back some control of our lives, while we still have lives to control. We should look inwards, decide what’s important, have a new-found respect for colleagues and ourselves; learn to enjoy our own life more, with extra quality time for ourselves and those important to us. I fell asleep in a pub and woke up at a funeral. Now that I have, I’m going to enjoy it!


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LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of Principals

September 2014

And Finally…

QUOTATIONS

bringing you The day soldiers stop e day you have their problems is th . They have stopped leading them e that you can either lost confidenc ded that you help them or conclu se is a do not care. Either ca . failure of leadership Colin Powell

QUOTATIONS

Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.

Dwight David Eisenhower

www.ippn.ie On Your Behalf Since the last issue of Leadership+, IPPN has continued our advocacy and representative role on behalf of principals, through meetings, events and submissions in relation to the following:

JULY I

IPPN Board of Directors meeting

I

I I I

Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (CPSMA) Meeting - Maynooth International Confederation of Principals (ICP) Council meeting Teaching Principals Summer School - Sheraton Hotel, Athlone DES Working Group on School Leadership

I I

Meeting with Ciaran Lynch TD at Support Office Meeting with David Stanton TD at Support Office.

AUGUST I I

Headstart- Citywest DES working group on School Leadership.


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