Leadership+ Issue 129 - October 2023

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Teacher Supply and SEN Resourcing –A bridge too far?

+ ISSUE 129 / OCTOBER 2023
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Emotional Intelligence: Sustaining School Leaders

‘As with any quality, emotional intelligence can vary from person to person. It is important to recognise - as with any intelligence - that emotional intelligence isn’t fixed and can be developed over time.’

‘A harmonious and constructive relationship between a school principal/leader and the school inspector is vital for the overall success and growth of an educational institution’

Gifted learners –Is differentiation enough?

‘It is crucial for staff to understand that while children can be experiencing significant challenges in one area they may be gifted in others’

Small Schools Project:



Creativity Collaborations

‘The project encourages small schools to cluster together in local groups, enabling them to collaborate and identify common challenges and trial innovative solutions’


Tierneevin NS, Gort, Co. Galway

Working well with your school Inspector 26

Childhood Domestic Violence & Abuse

Not All Hurting is Physical

‘Schools need to be trauma aware, which means being open and attuned to the possibility that children in our classrooms may be living with domestic violence and abuse’.

Ann McQuillan

Former Principal of St. Joseph’s NS, Kilcock

Sarah Rush Barnardos

Oide Leadership Division

‘It is the shared objective that Oide Leadership will be a centre of excellence for school leadership and the lead provider of professional learning supports to school leaders and aspiring school leaders’


Irish Primary Principals’ Network, Glounthaune, Co. Cork • 1800 21 22 23 • www.ippn.ie

n Editor: Geraldine D’Arcy

n Editorial Team: Geraldine D’Arcy, Páiric Clerkin and Louise Tobin

n Comments to: editor@ippn.ie

n Advertising: Sinead O’Mahony adverts@ippn.ie

n ISSN: 1649-5888

n Design: Brosna Press

The opinions expressed in Leadership+ do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of IPPN

Signposts ISSUE 129 / OCTOBER 2023


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Teacher Supply and SEN Resourcing –A bridge too far?

As school leaders settle into the new school year, it is likely that two things above all others will be front and centre among the challenges you face – the availability of teachers and the resourcing and allocations for children with special educational needs. These issues are not new, they have prevailed over the past several years, and in the case of SEN resourcing, have never been fully addressed. Sustainable leadership is IPPN’s goal. Following on from three exceptionally challenging years leading during a global pandemic, the question is whether these successive crises build a bridge too far for school leaders to cross towards sustainability?

Teacher Availability

As noted in IPPN President Louise Tobin’s first President’s Pen, the issue of teacher availability to fill vacant posts –both fixed-term and permanent - has turned into a crisis for many schools around the country, especially in urban areas, Gaelscoileanna and special schools.

We fully appreciate the impact this issue has had on school leaders, many of whom have had to curtail or even cancel holidays as a result of repeated advertising and interviewing. This crisis exacerbates all of the other challenges that have led to the current unsustainability of the role, documented in IPPN’s November 2022 report on Sustainable Leadership. We are also very conscious of the consequential impact it has on children - many of them vulnerable and in need of stability and continuity of teaching and learning – and also on school staff who scramble to fill the gaps as best they can.

Over the past several months, IPPN has collated information, research and suggestions to address this serious challenge. During the summer period, IPPN met with the Department and our post-primary counterpart NAPD on a number of occasions to discuss proposed short, medium and long-term solutions to the crisis. We have documented these recommendations into a formal submission, which has been issued to and discussed with the DE and all stakeholders. We have advocated strongly - and will continue to advocate - for change, to support schools in the short term, as well as in the medium and longer term.

It will take all the stakeholders to come together to achieve the change that is needed to alleviate the pressures on schools. IPPN fully intends to play its part.

If you have any suggestions as to how the Department, schools and other stakeholders can resolve the issue of teacher supply that have not been captured in the submission, please get in touch.

SEN Resourcing, Allocations and Appeals

Our position paper on this issue, described in On Your Behalf on page 8, considers all of the implications for children and for schools of inadequate resources and procedures.

Budget 2024 and Annual Members’ Report

There are many other challenges facing schools, which IPPN has been working on over the past year or more. This work is outlined in the Annual Members’ Report 2022/23 and in our Budget 2024 submission, both of which are also summarised in On Your Behalf. We will not rest until the role of school leaders is deemed to be sustainable – by leaders themselves – and will report, here in your weekly E-scéal, in Leadership+, at conferences and in the next annual report, on progress in building a stronger bridge towards that goal.

As always, we thank all those who have contributed to Leadership+ - in this issue, and in each of the issues over the past year. Feedback and suggested content are welcome by email to editor@ippn.ie

October 2023 3

New Year Resolutions for 2023-24

Now that you have hit the ground running, here are some issues that you might wish to consider during the rest of the term and indeed year.

New Boards of Management

As your current board’s term of office ends in November, you must shortly turn your attention to the new board. It’s inevitable that there will be change to your existing board. Invaluable experience may be lost but this can be compensated for with new talent. It’s ironic that it’s busy people who usually end up on boards bringing with them much experience. It’s important to consider that the board can be your guardian and the custodian of the welfare of both pupils and staff. It’s the board who signs off on critical policies that help you navigate choppy waters at times. The board can stress test policies and practices by asking hard questions of you at times. We should welcome this rather than feel challenged. Board members should be encouraged to attend training provided by their patron and or management bodies. A board derives its authority from the Education Act 1998 to appoint teachers/staff and may also suspend or dismiss in accordance with agreed procedures.

Employment and Recruitment

The board is the employer. All appointments should not only be approved by the board but also by the patron and Department of Education. All staff must have contracts of employment. A contract is a bargain struck between the board and the staff member. It contains all the important information and is a reference point for the board and staff member when there is a dispute or misunderstanding. Notwithstanding the difficulty in recruiting staff at present, consider leaving a post unfilled rather than recruiting someone about whom there are concerns.

Managing Underperformance

Every staff member has a duty to be professional. When someone falls below an acceptable level of performance, they ought to be supported in the first instance. There can be genuine reasons which account for the underperformance. Informally addressing the issue generally works well. However, in some circumstances the disciplinary procedures need to be invoked to address issues. Always familiarise yourself with the relevant circular for teachers, Circular 0049/2018 or 0050/2018 and Circular 0072/2011 for SNAs. Equally, you should seek appropriate advice in advance of initiating formal disciplinary procedures.


It’s that time of year when the board must publish its annual admission notice. By its nature, this notice will vary in content from year to year. If any amendments (no matter how slight) are to be made to the admission policy, the board must seek patron approval in advance. Be aware that some parents in family law disputes may seek to embroil the school by objecting to the decision of the school to accept an application for admission of a pupil by the other parent. The courts take the view that children having a constitutional right to an education are better in school than being out of school. If parents cannot agree as to which school the child should attend, the solution should be sought in the family law courts.

Policy Audit/Review

It may be timely to check on policies such as your Code of Behaviour, Data Protection and Safety Statement. A Behaviour of Concern policy as an appendix to your Code of Behaviour may be worth considering. Policy review may only involve minor amendments in some cases and more fundamental in others. The process of review can take time, but it yields enormous benefits in that staff, the board and the school community take ownership of them.


It’s in the interests of everyone that you have a successful year. While there is no doubt that the role of school leader has been more complex, there are lots of supports and expertise available to support you. ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’. Have a great year.

If you would like to get in touch with David in relation to this article, you can send an email to druddy@mhc.ie

Stay updated by following us on ( (@ippn_education) and (@ippn).

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Notwithstanding the difficulty in recruiting staff at present, consider leaving a post unfilled rather than recruiting someone about whom there are concerns.
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Emotional Intelligence: Sustaining School Leaders

IPPN has been highlighting the importance of sustainable leadership, culminating in the recent publication Primary School Leadership: The Case for Urgent Action – A Roadmap to Sustainability. School leaders understand the importance of reducing harmful stress and developing emotional wellbeing and emotional agility. This is often viewed through the lens of improving performance. Emotionally intelligent leaders are seen as more effective. However, emotional intelligence doesn’t only benefit the organisation, it is essential for sustaining those in leadership roles, for their wellbeing and for protecting school leaders from negative responses to stress and potential burnout.

One way of describing emotional intelligence is ‘the ability to recognise, interpret, and process emotions in yourself and others’. As with any quality, emotional intelligence can vary from person to person. Genetics, upbringing, life-experience, conditioning, the environment all influence emotional intelligence. It is important to recognise – as with any intelligence – that emotional intelligence isn’t fixed and can be developed over time.

Some tips for enhancing emotional intelligence include the following:

Get to know yourself. Emotionally intelligent leaders are self-aware. They have a realistic appreciation of their own strengths and areas for improvement. They are aware of how they come across to others. Paying close attention to feedback from colleagues and others is one way of improving your self-awareness and can shed light on ‘emotional blind spots’. Emotionally intelligent leaders don’t take things personally and recognise others may see things differently and may see things they don’t.

Become aware of your triggers. Individuals who are self-aware can reflect on how they are likely to respond in particular situations. A good idea is to reflect on how you felt the last time you were under pressure. Ask yourself, did those feelings help you or hinder you? If you can recognise emotions and the source of those emotions, you can consciously shift your emotional state.

Empathise. Seeing things from the other’s perspective will help you understand them better. This is particularly important for school leaders as it impacts on motivation and engagement. If you haven’t already done so, make a conscious effort to get to know your colleagues. Be genuinely and authentically interested in their lives. Ask open questions and actively listen to what they have to say rather than just waiting for your turn

to speak. Watch for body language, tone, and other nonverbal signs as these often tell us more than someone is willing to say in words.

Be aware and take ownership of your own emotions. Emotional intelligence is about taking responsibility for the way we interact with others. If someone upsets you, pause and reflect on why their actions led you to feel upset, rather than acting impulsively. Avoid judging, criticising or blaming them. Remember a conversation is a two-way interaction. It takes two people to make you angry, upset or frustrated. When we understand this, we can begin to show compassion for ourselves and for others.

Listen to your body. Don’t be afraid to ‘go with your gut’. If your heart races or your muscles tense up before a meeting, what is this telling you? Emotions provide good information and can be a valuable tool when making decisions. Emotional intelligence isn’t about suppressing emotions, it’s about learning how to recognise, process and channel emotions in a way that benefits you, your colleagues and the school generally. Enhancing emotional intelligence requires attention, effort and practice.

As Vickor Frankl said ‘Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response’. Emotional intelligence helps us choose wisely and gives us the capacity to accept the outcome, whatever it may be.

If you would like to contact Padraig in relation to this article, you can send him an email at pmccabe@gmail.com

5 October 2023
...emotional intelligence doesn’t only benefit the organisation, it is essential for sustaining those in leadership roles, for their wellbeing and for protecting school leaders from negative responses to stress and potential burnout.
‘Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response’


As I take hold of the proverbial ‘president’s pen’ to share my thoughts with you, I am filled with a great sense of pride and opportunity.

Having handed over the reins of St. Joseph’s Primary, Tipperary Town to my deputy, Stephen Walsh, I now begin my two years at the helm of our Primary Principals’ Organisation, IPPN. I do so with a sense of relief as I now will have the time and space to focus on one job, my presidential role, without juggling the huge demands of principalship alongside the role of Deputy President of IPPN.

I am a people person. I love listening and of course talking with colleagues new and old. I look forward to visiting many schools and seeing the varied settings in which you, our members work, meeting your pupils and staff and hearing ‘Stories from the Field’. I’m looking forward to leading our CPD events and meeting many of you at our Annual Autumn County Meetings and at Conference.

I look forward to reflecting school leaders’ views in my engagement with stakeholders on the myriad of issues that face us as Principals every day. We work in collaboration with the education stakeholders, and together with our CEO Páiric, I will continue the good work of raising the issues and asking the questions.

The work undertaken by my predecessor Brian O’Doherty on sustainable leadership provides us with a clear roadmap indicating where we need to move towards as school leaders, to sustain ourselves and to lead teaching and learning in a more purposeful way.

I look forward to reflecting school leaders’ views in my engagement with stakeholders on the myriad of issues that face us as Principals every day. We work in collaboration with the education stakeholders, and together with our CEO Páiric, I will continue the good work of raising the issues and asking the questions.

I am very fortunate to have the pleasure of knowing our IPPN past presidents, including Tomás Ó Slatara, IPPN President 2005-2007. I worked with Tomás for many years and indeed was Acting Principal while he was on secondment as IPPN President.

Big shoes to follow, big shoes to fill, but I do so with courage and bravery knowing my experiences in education to date give me a portfolio of ideas, evidence and credibility.

As school leaders settle back into school, teacher supply will no doubt continue to be a significant concern, filling permanent and fixed-term posts and of course, the predictable subbing crisis that will undoubtedly unfold over the next few weeks and months. Be assured that we, as the professional body for primary school leaders, are fully aware of and very concerned about schools being unable to recruit their full quota of staff. We will continue to work collaborately with the education partners, agencies and departments to ensure progress on the proposed shortand long-term solutions.

This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.

Minister Foley visiting St Joseph’s NS in June 2023


A highly competent school leader I know says that, in his part of the world, when the cigire was in the neighbourhood, the message would go around that the inspectors are in town!, by way of warning in case of an incidental in the area.

rests primarily with the board of management, principal and staff of individual schools. Effective schools are constantly reviewing their own practice and always seeking to find ways to ensure school improvement. School management and teachers reflect on the quality of teaching, learning and pupil achievement in their schools. They also consider how well the school is run and how this can be improved.

functions in the first instance, school leaders should engage as professional collaborators and as equals but doing different jobs, both engaged in that sacred endeavour of achieving the very best learning and teaching outcomes for the children in their school.

All state primary and post-primary schools in Ireland are inspected by the Department of Education on a regular basis. The purpose of school inspections is to ensure that educational standards are achieved and maintained. This is the exact same shared goal that schools have for their pupils/students and for their school communities.

Their statutory remit involves both evaluation and giving advice to schools and to the wider education system. Most people would agree that this dual role of advisor and evaluator is a unique strength in the Irish Inspectorate and that these dual roles are not mutually exclusive.

The Inspectorate evaluates and reports on the quality of education provision and is involved in: inspecting and evaluating the education system at primary and post-primary level giving advice to those working in the education system contributing to education policy development.

Responsibility for school improvement and for the maintenance of teaching and learning standards, however,

School inspections play a crucial role in contributing to, and at the same time assessing, the overall effectiveness of an educational institution, identifying areas for improvement and recognising achievements. The school inspector is not to be considered as an adversary but a partner in the journey to enhance the quality of education.

The school inspector will have a wealth of knowledge about pupil learning and about good practice in a wide range of schools. It is wise to heed ‘advice’ flagged by your inspector, not least because it’s always a good idea to do so, but also because they are in a unique position to share best practice gleaned from such a wide variety of education centres i.e. other schools and elsewhere.

A harmonious and constructive relationship between a school principal/ leader and the school inspector is vital for the overall success and growth of an educational institution. The partnership between these two key figures sets the tone for a positive learning environment, encourages continuous improvement and ensures that students receive the best possible teaching and learning experience.

The first step in working well with the school inspector is to establish open lines of communication. Recognising their public accountability and evaluator

Do not hesitate to seek advice or ask for their opinion on any matters related to teaching and learning, and on improving your school. Be ready and prepared to outline what priorities have already been identified as part of your own school planning process (SIP/PIEW). PIEW is a framework that supports the SSE/SIP process. It helps school management manage capacity, the pace of change and communication with staff, board and parents re the school’s priorities. It also supports the embedding of curriculum development, thereby ensuring greater impact of the SSE/SIP process. The LAOS framework is always an excellent place to begin.

A school would ideally have ‘conducted’ their own internal WSE, know exactly what they are doing well and where they need to go next in order to do better.

In conclusion, working well with your school inspector involves clear communication, maintaining a positive and engaging learning environment, and embracing feedback for improvement. By establishing a collaborative working relationship with your inspector, and demonstrating your commitment to the betterment of your school, you will contribute to the growth and success of both your students and fellow educators. Embrace the inspection process as an opportunity to shine and to make a positive impact on the future of your school.

The purpose of school inspections is to ensure that educational standards are achieved and maintained.



SEN Allocations, Resourcing and Appeals

At last year’s autumn meetings, three National Council representatives were elected at each of the 31 city/county networks, each of whom serves on one of the three committees of the National Council:

Advocacy and communications

Professional development E-services.

A working group of the wider Advocacy and Communications Committee worked tirelessly to produce a draft position paper on this issue, with input from IPPN Board and staff members. The final draft was ratified by the Board at its meeting in June whereupon it was shared with the DE and the NCSE.

The position paper highlights challenges relating to the allocation of resources to schools to meet additional needs, including:

Planning for, supporting and resourcing schools to meet special needs, including high incidence, low incidence/complex, unidentified and emerging needs

How allocations are compromised by inaccurate or out of date data

The inadequacy of appeals’ processes

The committees were formed with a view to ensuring that National Council members are more involved in, and directly impact, the work of IPPN. After they gathered for the first time last December, each of the committees established a priority area of focus. The Advocacy and Communications Committee prioritised the development of a position paper on SEN Allocations, Resources and Appeals as its area of focus.

The position paper was developed in order to inform and influence the manner in which allocations of resources to schools, to meet additional needs, are determined. That this issue was identified as the first priority area of focus of the committee, highlights clearly how inaccurate/inadequate allocations and cumbersome appeal procedures serve to exacerbate rather than alleviate the challenge of inclusion.

The impact of the shorter timeframe for the admissions process

The lack of transparency with regard to how allocations are calculated

The additional complexity of resourcing Special Schools.

The paper also details specific recommendations aimed at resolving these challenges. The implementation of these recommendations would have a profound impact on the capacity of schools to meet the additional needs of vulnerable students and would also reduce the frustrations and stresses caused by the current processes and procedures.

The strength of the paper is that it is informed by the experiences and perspectives of school leaders in different school contexts in all areas of the country. IPPN’s leadership will use the position paper in its advocacy work with key stakeholders. This work has already started, with a number of elements included in IPPN’s Budget 2024 submission.

Meetings have also been convened with both the DE and the NCSE, which is the first time school leaders have been directly involved in the process of how allocations are determined. There is also a commitment, on the part of the DE & NCSE, to ongoing engagement with IPPN and school leaders to better ensure the accuracy of such allocations. This would better enable schools to deliver the high quality inclusive learning experiences to which we aspire.

Listed below are some of the projects and advocacy-related engagements that were progressed since the last issue of Leadership+ Stay updated by following us on (@ippn_education) and (@ippn).
The position paper was developed in order to inform and influence the manner in which allocations of resources to schools, to meet additional needs, are determined.
The implementation of these recommendations would have a profound impact on the capacity of schools to meet the additional needs of vulnerable students and would also reduce the frustrations and stresses caused by the current processes and procedures.

Teacher Supply

Short-term solutions that would have an immediate impact include allowing schools to create full-time posts for TP release time, SET, EAL posts create full-time fixed-term posts from maternity and paternity leave posts recruit foreign-qualified NQTs to apply for longer-term substitute positions e.g. cluster posts for TP release time and extending arrangements to allow teachers qualified abroad to register with the Teaching Council and for NQTs to complete induction through Droichead introducing a ‘budgeted substitute hours’ system to group unused substitute hours together and offer them to a qualified or partqualified teacher.

IPPN is acutely aware of and concerned about the challenges schools are facing with regard to recruiting their full complement of teachers for the new school year. Schools have been engaged in recruitment campaigns since May and throughout the summer months in an effort to fill their teaching posts with large numbers of schools reporting that they still have unfilled posts.

The shortfall in the number of teachers is compromising the ability of schools to meet the needs of all pupils, as schools will be forced to ensure that they have teachers for all mainstream classes, meaning they will have a reduced cohort of Special Education Teachers, if any, to work with children with additional needs.

IPPN has identified 20 contributory factors or causes of the current situation, including:

the unattractiveness of short-term or part-time positions

the attractiveness of positions abroad

the reduction in pupil teacher ratios meaning that more teachers are required

lack of flexibility and mobility in the sector and obviously

the cost of housing, particularly in urban areas.

We have consistently highlighted the issues schools face in securing substitute cover for teacher absence. This will prove even more difficult this year, which will add to the challenge of ensuring continuity of provision to children. Immediate, short-term solutions are required to mitigate the crisis, but it also requires more mediumor longer-term solutions to break the cycle of teacher under-supply.

Medium to longer-term solutions would include attracting Irish-qualified teachers to return to fill Irish teaching posts by facilitating entitlement to increments and payment of pension contributions establishing Irish teaching jobs fairs in jurisdictions with strong English-language skills further increasing capacity for HEI under- and post-graduate teacher education courses facilitating the development of subsidised high-quality housing for young professionals in the public sector in urban areas researching how other jurisdictions provide for young professionals embarking on a career in the public sector.

We will continue to collaborate with the education partners and other relevant agencies and departments to ensure progress on this issue.

If you have any suggestions as to how the Department, schools and other stakeholders can resolve the issue of teacher supply that have not been captured in the submission, please get in touch by emailing geraldine.darcy@ippn.ie

Budget 2024

Work on IPPN’s budget submission began early in 2023, with deliberations among National Council, Board and IPPN staff to identify the key elements to be included. Once again, the focus of our submission is to build on previous achievements and to drive forward the recommendations from IPPN’s Sustainable Leadership report – the objective of which was to identify and highlight evidence-based proposals to enhance the sustainability of school leadership.

There are four elements to the submission for Budget 2024, each of which the leadership team is discussing and progressing with education stakeholders:

1. Increasing leadership capacity and developing a culture of shared leadership

a. Reintroduce leadership and management days for deputy principals that were brought in during the pandemic.

2. Revise the criteria for administrative principalship and deputy principalship

a. Determine the status of school leadership (for both principals and deputy principals) by taking account of the total number of staff that they lead and manage

b Ensure a graduated approach to the provision of leadership and management time and replace the current all-out (administrative) or ‘almost-all-in’ (teaching) approach.

3. SEN allocations and resourcing

a. Consider the differing challenges of resourcing high and low incidence needs

b. Identify and meet low incidence, complex needs in schools

c. Provide funding to ensure that every school has a dedicated SENO to ensure the dataset that informs allocations is up to date

d. Put mechanisms in place to allow for adjustment to the school’s allocation where previously unidentified or emerging needs are established, which impact a school’s low incidence complex needs’ profile

e Allow for additional resourcing for special schools and special classes to address clearly identified health & safety issues.

October 2023
The shortfall in the number of teachers is compromising the ability of schools to meet the needs of all pupils, as schools will be forced to ensure that they have teachers for all mainstream classes, meaning they will have a reduced cohort of Special Education Teachers, if any, to work with children with additional needs.

4. Review of primary school governance structure

a. Initiate a process of review of the current Board of Management governance structure to ascertain if it is the structure best suited to meet the governance, compliance and oversight needs of our primary schools

b Require all members of Boards of Management to complete an induction module on their role and responsibilities, prior to attending the first meeting of the new Board

c. Allow for the piloting of modified approaches to governance, within the confines of the Small School Action Research project.


IPPN also made a submission to the Department of Education on Understanding Behaviours of Concern and Responding to Crisis Situations

See www.ippn.ie – Advocacy/ Submissions for this and all other IPPN submission documents.


Over the past few months, IPPN participated in meetings/events relating to the following:

SNA Workforce Development Unit

• New SNA contract

• Centralised vetting of SNAs

• Training

• complaints procedure


Mentoring programme, training and research

Primary Education Forum - Annual Statement of Priorities 2023 Q1

Progress Report and Statement of Strategy 2023-2025

Small Schools Action Research Project steering committee meeting

Education for Sustainable Development Working GroupGuidelines for Schools on Climate Action Mandate

DE Education Policy Forum re. Irish-medium education outside the Gaeltacht

IPPN Board of Directors.


Developments relating to the Early Childhood and Primary Education Board - meetings were held in March, April and June

Research Strategy 2022-2025

Primary Developments

• Primary Curriculum Framework launch

• Review of Wellbeing Literature Review

• Report 5 from the Children’s School Lives Study

• Review of STEM Literature Review

• Update on initial planning for Modern Foreign Languages

• Report 2 on Integration, Pedagogies and Assessment

Early Childhood Developments

• Update on ongoing work on the Aistear Síolta Practice Guide

• Updating Aistear: Draft proposals for updated Principles and Themes

• Planning for Phase 2 of Aistear review

Reimagining Curriculum Seminars

– meetings were held in March and May. Areas of Focus were SEE, Arts Education, Wellbeing (SPHE and PE) and STEM Education. The Research Teams presented their findings, which were then discussed by the stakeholders present. Feedback will be taken into consideration by the Development Groups that are working on curriculum specifications.


The SEN Working Group finalised the position paper on SEN – Allocations, Resources and Appeals in early summer, following discussions with the A&C Committee, the National Council and the IPPN Board of Directors. See above summary of the position paper and the resulting engagement with stakeholders.

The next focal point for the Committee will be on the second-highest priority identified last November – Wellbeing of School Leaders. As always, IPPN will keep members informed of any progress relating to SEN, and any other relevant matter, via the weekly E-scéal.


A number of interviews were held with national and regional broadcasters in late August – the IPPN CEO and President highlighted the key challenges and proposed solutions outlined on page 8 in relation to teacher supply.


See www.ippn.ie Advocacy/On Your Behalf for up-to-date information about IPPN’s advocacy and communication on behalf of members, including media interviews.



I was only in the door in my first full-time teaching position in the late 1980’s when I landed the muchsought-after position of INTO Staff Rep. At the first branch meeting, I felt slightly overwhelmed with all the facts and figures flying about, which I was somehow expected to catch and distill into a report for my new colleagues the following day. The CEC rep doled out information at speed and I found myself overwhelmed by it all, including information on the ongoing Recess issue, which completely threw me.

‘What’s the issue about break times?’ I quietly whispered to an older gentleman beside me. He looked puzzled like we older teachers sometimes do. ‘He keeps talking about ‘recess’. Are we looking for longer break times?’ I continued, trying to sound intelligent. When he burst out laughing, I knew the joke was somehow on me. When he regained his composure, he informed me that the issue involved the village of Recess in Connemara, where the principal of the local school defiantly sat in her empty classroom for 5 years in a dispute with her board chairman over the lack of a local all-Irish Mass on Sundays, amongst other things. The issue received widespread media coverage and it was of interest to INTO and teachers nationally. It has since been the subject of a ‘Documentary on One’ programme, but to that point, its intriguing plot had not even remotely grasped my attention.

I was reminded of my little faux pas recently when my wife and I were in a hardware shop discussing some home decorating with a salesperson of our own vintage. A very young sales assistant interrupted us, asking his older colleague ‘Where do we keep the swastikas?’

The older man, paler now, responded sardonically. ‘Would it be the ‘swatches’ you are looking for?’ before handing him a bunch of samples to share with his lucky customer. ‘Ah, sure what’s the difference anyway?’ the young linguist laughed as he skipped back to his chore.

‘We were all young employees once’ I offered. Our senior person laughed. ‘Do ye teach History anymore?’

This summer has been for many school leaders, one of the most difficult ever in terms of filling vacant teaching posts. Various types of leave, combined with cost-of-living issues and the wanderlust of young, newly or recently qualified teachers to distant shores, has meant that jobs in many areas, particularly in Dublin and other cities remain to be filled. Most young teachers naturally wish to undergo the Droichead process straight away, and will seek work that makes that possible. Filling positions such as parental leave and supply panels leaves the principal at the mercy of a better offer for their appointee from other schools. As a result, many principals will have found themselves thinking creatively to cover all or as many bases as possible. For many, that will mean assisting keen and inexperienced young staff over early hurdles and guiding them toward a place where they feel part of a loyal and supportive school team.

New staff will not know where everything is. They will not know every policy intimately, though you may have pointed out where they are available. They will not know the parents or the nature of the many complex relationships between the school and various families. They will probably not know how the support

teaching team operates, or how timetables for visiting coaches or the yard duty rota roll out. You may by necessity have parking arrangements that a newly appointed person may unintentionally flout. The new teacher may not be aware of the agreed maths language or planning arrangements between teachers of split classes. Due to nothing more than enthusiasm, they may unintentionally offend colleagues who have taken the lead for years in curricular or extracurricular areas within the school. I know, because 36 years ago, I was in this position. And when I moved schools 3 years later. And again 2 years later. Not to mention when appointed as a young principal 29 years ago.

I would like to think I have never forgotten the kindness of principals and colleagues as I struggled in the early days of my appointment to various positions over my career. I hope that in turn, I help to stake any young sapling struggling against the wind in their new surroundings. I try to remind people that there is no stupid question, only my stupidity for not telling them enough information in the first place!

In my 30th year as a school principal, it is my resolution to take nothing for granted and to ensure that all colleagues, especially those in their early days with us are supported in a meaningful and fulfilling way. And if I mention ‘recess’ to them, it will only be to remind them to take their breaks when the bell sounds.

If you would like to get in touch with Damian about this article, you can email him at damian.white@scoilshinchill.com

11 October 2023


The Online Recruitment Portal was launched in June of this year. The portal was created to streamline the hiring process, and reduce the administration and paperwork associated with recruitment.

Advertisers can create portal adverts for eligible Deputy Principal, Principal Teacher, and Teacher roles. The portal facilitates the acceptance of applications online using integrated standard application forms, or custom application forms uploaded by the school.

When an Advertiser begins creating an eligible advert, the system prompts the Advertiser to choose between creating a portal advert online, or creating an ‘Advertisement only’ advert without the additional features. As the portal is opt-in per advert, Advertisers can create adverts on the portal intermittently. The portal functions in accordance with the Department of Education Information Note TC 0005/2023.

Once a portal advert is approved, the Advertiser has access to several tabs on their advert to allow management of the recruitment process.

The ‘Selection Board’ tab allows Advertisers to invite and remove Selection Board members

‘Applicants’ shows the names of Job Seekers that have applied for the role

‘Calendar’ allows scheduling of shortlisting meetings with the Selection Board, and interviews with Applicants

‘History’ displays the interactions on the advert, and can be downloaded for records

Note: The full details of the ‘Applicants’ tab will not be visible until the date and time of the shortlisting meeting scheduled through the portal. If a shortlisting meeting is not scheduled, the Advertiser and Selection Board cannot view the applications.

At the time of writing, primary and post primary schools have placed 70+ adverts on the new EducationPosts. ie Portal. Principal Teacher and various other Teacher roles have been advertised across a number of statuses, including fixed-term and permanent vacancies.

For a detailed overview of the portal, check out the Portal FAQ on www.educationposts.ie


Formation of Boards of Management One more time with feeling!

Using Strictly Come Dancing as a reference point for the formation of Boards of Management probably seems like an unlikely combination. However, it seems wholly appropriate that, as a new series of suspect salsas and jittery jives prepares to launch, schools are being required to participate in the same tired old dance, as the Board of Management structure of governing our schools is perpetuated for a further fouryear cycle. Before you polish and slip on your dancing pumps, it is important to make IPPN’s position abundantly clear with regard to the governance of our primary schools.

In November of last year, IPPN published the report of its Sustainable Leadership project – Primary School Leadership: The Case for Urgent Action – A Roadmap to Sustainability. The report endeavoured to do two things: to provide an evidence/research, informed analysis of the current reality of primary school leadership and how that reality is compromising leadership capacity, effectiveness and sustainability to explore the key issues and identify solutions that will have a positive impact on that leadership capacity, effectiveness and sustainability with a consequential positive impact on school effectiveness and outcomes for children.

One entire chapter in the report is given to the issue of the governance of our schools and, having analysed the data and reflected on the issues, the report arrives at the following conclusions: Our primary schools are managed rather than governed, meaning schools are lacking strong, informed, effective, responsive governance structures that ensure oversight, compliance, accountability and better outcomes for children.

The inadequacy of the current governance structure impacts heavily on the workload of school leaders, with a consequential impact on health and well-being, as clearly identified within the findings of the Irish Principal & Deputy Principal Health and Wellbeing Research conducted by Deakin University.

A new governance structure is required to support a far more complex school system with educational, legislative,

financial, human and other resource responsibilities.

In 2025, the Board of Management structure will be 50 years old. What was perhaps fit for purpose in 1975 is no longer adequate due to the increasingly complex regulatory and legislative environment in which our schools now operate. To ask Board members to take on such onerous responsibilities in a voluntary capacity is unfair on those Board members, it’s unfair on school leaders and it’s unfair on school communities.

Over the last six months, IPPN has engaged with the DE and with the other education stakeholders, both individually and collectively, to highlight the need for a review of the current governance structure and to explore the possibility of reform. Some progress has been made, but we have not yet reached the stage that there is universal support for a process of review, let alone reform. We will continue to advocate and collaborate to achieve that end but in the interim, it is necessary for Boards of Management to be formed for what is, hopefully, the last time.

Reminder 1 – It is not the responsibility of the principal to form the school’s Board of Management

While I fully accept the benefit of assisting, influencing or being involved in the process of the formation of the Board of Management, it is important to remember that “the patron is responsible for initiating the steps necessary for the establishment of a board of management in a primary school. To this end the patron requests a representative to arrange for the elections and nominations as set out in Appendices A, B and C. It is open to the patron to select the person of his or her choice for this purpose.”

Reminder 2 – A Chairperson is appointed only after the Board is fully constituted After the patron has formally appointed the eight members of the board of management, “the patron shall appoint one of the members so appointed as chairperson of the board of management.”

The role of the Chairperson is crucial to the effective operation of the Board. Therefore, it is the view of IPPN that the Board member with the necessary skills, experience and

time, and who is most suitable for the role (not including the principal) should be selected by their fellow Board members to undertake the role of Chairperson.

Reminder 3 – Nominees to serve as Board members should have a clear understanding of the role and functions and responsibilities of the Board prior to agreeing to be nominated

While we’ve all done it, it’s not in our interests, as school leaders, to trot out lines such as “There’s not much to it”, “there are only 5 or 6 meetings a year”, or worse still, “I’ll do all the work”, by way of encouraging, persuading or cajoling potential Board members to allow themselves to be nominated. All we are doing is papering over the cracks of an inadequate structure and creating more work for ourselves in the shorter and the longer term. Potential Board members need to have a clear understanding of what it is they are signing up to and there also needs to be some reflection as to whether individuals have the capacity and expertise necessary to discharge their responsibilities.

As part of the process of review of the Governance Manual, stakeholders collaborated to produce a clear statement of the actions required of Boards arising from the provisions of the manual. That statement of actions is available in the Resources / Board of Management section of ippn.ie and should be downloaded and shared with all potential nominees. We owe it to them to ensure that they can make an informed choice and we owe it to ourselves and our schools to ensure we have Board members who understand their role and have the capacity to deliver on it.

If we continue to prop up the current structure, we are undermining the urgent need for review and reform of school governance and we are limiting our own leadership capacity, effectiveness and sustainability. In short, we are shooting ourselves in the collective foot, which is unlikely to improve our dancing!

IPPN Sustainable Leadership Report: https://bit.ly/SL-Report


October 2023


This project aims to inform the development of a policy of support for small schools so that they will have a more sustainable future and continue to play an important role in their communities. It encourages small schools to cluster together in local groups, enabling them to collaborate and identify common challenges and trial innovative solutions.

Its roots originally emanate from the Small Schools Symposium, which took place in 2018, where a lot of ground was covered and much sharing of ideas took place. The project is overseen by a steering group, which comprises members from the Department of Education, IPPN, INTO, Gaeloideachas, CPSMA and the General Synod Board of Education as part of the programme of work of the Primary Education Forum (PEF). Updates on progress and opportunities for reflection and constructive feedback are through collaborative stakeholder meetings timed in tandem to meetings of the PEF.


Schools receive an additional principal release day per term in order to work on this project, and in addition, no school participating in this project will lose a teaching post for its duration. Costs for the participation are funded by the Department of Education.

Our Clusters

It aims to trial innovative new ways of supporting schools, which are based on: a focus on the value of these schools to their communities voluntary participation on the part of the schools and at a local level is led by the school principal openness to developing and trialling new ways of operating working collaboratively to develop and trial new approaches transparency in terms of governance and review arrangements.

The Small Schools Project is made up of six clusters throughout Ireland, each with a cluster coordinator nominated by a partner body. Clusters are located in Donegal, East Galway, Connemara, the Kerry Gaeltacht, West Waterford and Wicklow. Each cluster has a set of unique circumstances, which has enabled them to approach the project from a particular angle.

The following are some insights from the work to date:

1. Importance of a strong support structure to facilitate process: there is a real need to have structures in place to facilitate

14 LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of School Leaders
It encourages small schools to cluster together in local groups, enabling them to collaborate and identify common challenges and trial innovative solutions.

particularly in the early phase

2. Allowing time for trust to develop: some of the schools had no knowledge of each other before this project, and allowing time and space for trust to be built is important and a crucial foundation for the project

3. Cluster-led approach: this has been crucial to buy in and develop the initiatives. Some initiatives were proposed to clusters and were overruled in favour of their own ideas. This has led to a greater sense of ownership and pride in the work taking place

4. Ensure that all aspects of sustainability were considered and ensuring that the work would benefit the entire school community

5. Importance of school identity: sense of pride in their identity and maintaining their autonomy and ensuring that they can maintain this is important to the schools

6. Importance of collaboration and conversation: in some instances, this project was the first opportunity for school leaders and staff to have discussion with others in a similar setup, and this has alleviated the sense of isolation through knowing others were in a similar situation.

from this project will go some way to: improving the sustainability of small schools providing greater clarity around the challenges, opportunities and threats to small schools at present improve thought process on sustainable governance and administration functions within small schools ensuring improved overall

supports for small schools.

Our upcoming presentations are at The Teaching Council Féilte Event on 7th October and at the INTO Principal and Deputy Principal Conference on 29th September.

More information and ongoing updates can be found at www.smallschoolsproject.com



Last year, IPPN decided to embark on a photography project. The aim was to source a range of images from real Irish primary schools, of different types and sizes, for use across all our channels and to replace stock images wherever possible.

Photographer Pat Browne worked with us in five schools – in Dublin, Wicklow, Waterford and Cork – and we now have thousands of superb photos to use – for publications, websites, videos, graphics, CPD resources, presentations and social media. Each of the schools is beautiful in its own way, with fantastic children and staff and this shines through in the images.

The first use of these images was the Sustainable Leadership report published in November 2022. We have also used them in the Annual Report 202223, Leadership+ and conference programmes, in an EducationPosts.ie Recruitment Portal video and in social media posts. Ultimately, they will be used everywhere IPPN has a presence.

We are very grateful to the school leaders and boards of management who allowed IPPN into their beautiful schools and to use the images for these purposes. Thanks also to the parents/guardians of all the children captured for giving their permission, and also to the classroom teachers, secretaries and caretakers for facilitating all the photos of them going about their work. We now have a treasure trove of images to use in the coming years.

Aisling Power

Our Lady of Good Counsel Special School, Ballincollig, Co Cork

Enda McGorman and Áine Fitzpatrick

Mother of Hope SNS, Littlepace, Dublin 15

Marc de Grás

Gaelscoil na nDéise, Waterford

Rhodri Mears

Midleton Educate Together NS, Cork

Stephen Middleton

Powerscourt NS, Wicklow


The Centre for School Leadership (CSL)

Mentoring Programme: Perspectives of Newly Appointed Primary School Principals

As a newly appointed principal in 2019, I was naturally faced with a wide variety of challenges but felt fortunate to have the many supports provided by IPPN, PDST, CSL and ESCI made available to me. As part of the PDST Misneach programme, I was assigned a CSL mentor. I was very fortunate to be matched with a wonderful mentor who became a consistent source of knowledge, encouragement, counsel and wisdom.

Coinciding with my first year as principal was the completion of my Masters in Educational Leadership and Management through Trinity College. Therefore, I found myself drawn to a dissertation topic on the concept of mentorship: its significance in leadership induction programmes and the possibilities for enhancing its effectiveness, a theory of cause and effect which I found very interesting.

My research objective became to explore the perspectives of Newly Appointed Principals (NAPs) regarding the CSL mentoring programme. Recognising the dearth of academic research, in the Irish context, the research aimed to shed light on the perspectives of NAPs who had participated in the initiative.

To ensure a robust research approach, a comprehensive review of existing literature on school principals’ engagement in mentoring programmes was conducted. Following this, I carriedout semi-structured interviews with a number of primary school principals from diverse backgrounds across Ireland, including rural, urban and DEIS settings. The thematic analysis of the findings illuminated the numerous benefits that the CSL mentoring programme offers to

its participants as well as pinpointing areas for further development.

Overall, the feedback from respondents emphasised the positive impact structured and organised mentoring had on their professional development and personal wellbeing. Strengthened decision-making abilities, heightened confidence and enhanced leadership and management skills were among the reported benefits which resonated with previous research on the efficacy of mentoring programmes for school principals (e.g. Gimbel & Kefor, 2018; Jones & Larwin, 2015; Jones, 2014).

A key success factor identified in the research was the establishment of a strong rapport and synergy between mentors and mentees. The positive experiences reported by respondents often stemmed from the genuine personal connections they formed with their mentors. The CSL’s meticulous approach in matching mentors with mentees further underscored the programme’s effectiveness, aligning with previous research advocating for well-matched, experienced mentors to optimise outcomes.

As regards areas for further development, the primary challenges emerging from the research related to the amount of time that NAPs felt they had available to invest in mentoring. Some participants reported difficulties in finding the time to engage in face-toface meetings and therefore, resorted to online or phone conversations. The lack of time availability also fed into some participants finding it difficult to give appropriate attention to the topic of leading teaching and learning. Unfortunately, this challenge is something that is reflective of the demanding nature of principalship overall and not just NAPs engagement with this type of mentoring.

While these challenges are to be expected, it was testament to the CSL’s culture of continuous improvement that they asked if I would present my research to the team. Despite the substantial amount of time, effort and knowledge that had already been invested into the CSL mentoring programme the team’s genuine receptiveness to the research findings and dedication to further growth was truly commendable.

The thematic analysis of the findings illuminated the numerous benefits that the CSL mentoring programme offers to its participants as well as pinpointing areas for further development.
LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of School Leaders
Strengthened decisionmaking abilities, heightened confidence, and enhanced leadership and management skills were among the reported benefits which resonated with previous research on the efficacy of mentoring programmes for school principals

The positive experiences reported by respondents often stemmed from the genuine personal connections they formed with their mentors. The CSL’s wmeticulous approach in matching mentors with mentees further underscored the programme’s effectiveness, aligning with previous research advocating for well-matched, experienced mentors to optimise outcomes.

It was particularly impressive to learn that the challenges which my research reported had already been noted by the CSL and steps were being taken to overcome these challenges. Such a proactive approach in addressing the aforementioned challenges underscores a commitment to ensuring the programme’s continued success.

In conclusion, the CSL mentoring programme provides a wonderful opportunity for nurturing the growth and potential of school leaders. Its dedication to fostering meaningful mentor-mentee relationships and utilising evidence-based practices for continual improvement is admirable. The programme’s ongoing efforts to refine its approach and address challenges will undoubtedly pave the way for continued success.

The initial years of principalship can be daunting at times, and the more genuinely effective supports that can be made available during this period the better served the profession will be in the long term.

Tús maith leath na hoibre!

Note from the editor: CSL and PDST are now part of Oidecf Director of Leadership Mary Nihill’s article on page 24

If you would like to contact Jonathan about this article, you can reach him by email at jonathanhanley@scoilghrainnecns.ie.

The New Primary Mathematics Curriculum

Following the launch of the Primary Curriculum Framework in March this year, a new primary mathematics curriculum has now been published. This marks an important next step in the redevelopment of the Primary School Curriculum, much of which is over 20 years old.

The new Primary Mathematics Curriculum sets out a fresh vision for children’s learning. It provides opportunities to be playful with mathematics and to engage with mathematical ideas in deep and meaningful ways; to make connections between their mathematical learning and with other areas of learning; to reason, justify and argue their thinking; to communicate and represent their ideas; and to apply and problem solve in meaningful ways.

The new Primary Mathematics Curriculum can be found at www.curriculumonline.ie/primary

Here you can also find an introductory video providing an overview of the new curriculum, as well as the Primary Mathematics Toolkit. The toolkit contains a range of resources. These include mathematical concepts, progression continua, support materials and examples of children’s learning.

From September 2023, Oide will provide schools with a comprehensive range of face-to-face and online supports to introduce, implement and embed the Primary Mathematics Curriculum over the course of an extensive three-phase CPD framework. In the case of special schools, this support will be provided by the NCSE Primary Curriculum team.

For more information visit our website by scanning the QR code! @someonelikemeartcompetition @someonelikeme_art

October 2023 Celebrate everyone and acknowledge children of all abilities in your school! Enter the #SomeoneLikeMe Art Competition!
Friday November 10th!
in with a chance to win
prizes worth €1,000over for your
Scan QR Code to access Curriculum Online

As I approach the end of my teaching career of just over forty five years, thirty seven of which were as Príomh Oide, it is a good time to reflect on the many changes that I have witnessed in those years. I am writing this just after the school has closed for the summer holidays, as I feel if I leave it too close to my retirement (end of October) it might be too emotional and personal.

We all know that the best way to boil a frog is to heat up the water gradually, and I consider myself well-boiled at this stage. If I was to get into these waters now, I undoubtedly would leap straight back out. It would be all too easy for me at this stage, to list all the reasons for this and to talk about the sustainability of being a Príomhoide in 2023, but as Meat Loaf once said: “I won’t do that!”.

It is too easy to focus on the hole and not to see the doughnut. It has been an absolute pleasure and privilege to be given the opportunity to lead a school. Knowing what I now know about the nature of the job, I would still take it on. The joy of walking into a school and being cheered up by happy smiling faces and a question like: “If you did not have a head, would you still be able to scratch your ear?” Or saying “Comhghairdeachas” to a young child and hearing back from the parents that you told her that she was gorgeous. Working with young people is so energising and so rewarding. Dealing with staff can be challenging and time consuming. It was always a hope of mine that I was being fair to all. I always tried to. Yet, you cannot be in this job and expect it to be otherwise. The affirmation, feedback and sense of achieving things together is the tonic that kept me going. I always felt a sense of co-dependency, it cut both ways. Whatever “successes” were

Aoibhinn Beatha an Phríomhoide

The joy of walking into a school and being cheered up by happy smiling faces and a question like: “If you did not have a head, would you still be able to scratch your ear?” Or saying “Comhghairdeachas” to a young child and hearing back from the parents that you told her that she was gorgeous.

done together and not due to any one person. Working with parents had its challenges also, but one cannot work in a school and not expect those challenges. Looking back they were few and far between. The doughnut far outweighed the hole. We get so caught up in the whirlwind of the job “and all we have to do” that we can lose sight of the great support and togetherness that was there for the vast majority of the time. “Was it a blessing or was it a curse?” The rewards of all the different aspects of our job far, far outweigh the challenges but we often cannot see this because of the manic nature of having one hundred and one balls in the air, at any one time. Isn’t it great to have a hundred and one balls to begin with!

I remember when we had no balls! A meeting with a parent would be the talk of the parish. I remember when the principal was more of a boss than a co-worker and dare I say a friend. Yes, that made life easier but not better. The cut and thrust of decision making and debate and joint ownership of progress

is without a doubt more challenging, but far more rewarding also.

“I Remember” (Meat Loaf again)

In 1978 the school was cutting edge as it replaced the old pupil desks with tables and chairs, paid for by the sale of a stray bullock! The school had separate external boys’ and girls’ doors. Yard duty was done by looking out the window and tapping it, if there was any misbehaviour. No uniforms.

Not everybody knew what Standardised tests were and not everybody did them.

It was considered a promotion to teach a higher class.

The AEN teacher was labelled “Remedial”!

When the heat failed, the Chairperson of the Board called in to tell us: “you can swing from the rafters but I am not closing the school!”

Being appointed as a Deputy Principal in 1979 and having no duties. “Don’t you look at me like that!”

First school tour. I had Ranganna 2/3/4, and the principal had 5 and 6. We were all on the bus at 8.30 in the morning and a message arrived that the Príomh Oide was sick. Off I went with the whole lot – no SNA, no other teacher, no mobile phone and we all had a ball.

Teaching a multigrade class of forty pupils and the room was half the size of a modern classroom. No photocopier-we had to do carbon copies on a yoke called a Gestetner. You had to scrape your handwriting on a waxcovered paper to make a master copy and then turn a handle to produce copies.


School did not have a phone. No career breaks or job sharing. Some teachers cycled to school. Not every school did school reports. Not uncommon to hear of teachers knitting or smoking in the staffroom. Using a blackboard and the noise that the chalk made. Painting it every so often to keep it working. Having to buy my own chalk.

Teaching sewing.

Writing to The Gay Byrne radio show looking for a free parachute for PE and getting one from a retired Korean War veteran living in Co Clare.

Teachers contributing to the cost of a video recorder for school use. Saving Galtee Rasher tokens for “free” video tapes. Recording programmes from the telly to show in school. Learning the hard way to watch the recordings before showing them to the pupils (who knew that a whale had genitalia?)

An Acorn was a computer produced by the BBC. Pre-WSE visit and covering up the Cigire’s notes on my desk so that he left without them. Great summary of what was required. Newsflash: It all fitted on one page.

When an Escort Grant arrived for the first time, out of the bluewondering why the Department felt I needed those services!

The majority of the above were from my earlier years. I attended my first IPPN Conference in Malahide in 1997 and only missed one, when I was on exchange in Australia. Before IPPN,

schools were often in competition with one another and very protective of their own turf. Now we have collegiate and professional support. Don’t take it for granted. Keep supporting each other. As Meat Loaf said: “Do not ask what IPPN can do for you, but rather ask what you can do for your fellow leaders.”

Back then I had a “hell of a lot to learn about rock and roll.” I am exiting stage left with still a hell of a lot to learn but I have enjoyed the ride. I have been fortunate to love what I do and it never felt like a job. Yet I am surprised at how tired I am. The phone is still charging 100% but it does not last as long anymore.

As Meat Loaf said: “Tiocfaidh do lá.” Tá mo lá tagtha. Ag breathnú siar, bhí an- “time” agam. When I step outside the pandemonium I can honestly say: Aoibhinn Beatha an Phríomhoide.

If you would like to contact Cóilín about this article, you can reach him by email at coilin.o.coigligh@gmail.com

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October 2023 21 Irish Primary Principals’ Network Líonra Phríomhoidí Bunscoile Éireann
First school tour. I had Ranganna 2, 3 and 4, and the principal had 5 and 6. We were all on the bus at 8.30 in the morning and a message arrived that the Príomh Oide was sick. Off I went with the whole lot –no SNA, no other teacher, no mobile phone and we all had a ball.

Global Village is a new Global Citizenship Education (GCE) programme for primary schools in Ireland. It aims to support primary school pupils to become active global citizens, committed to building a fairer and more sustainable world. Global Village is a strategic partnership between Irish Aid at the Department of Foreign Affairs, and a consortium of four partners: Dublin City University (DCU), Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) and Trócaire. Carol Burke Heneghan and Damian White represent IPPN on this project.

Global Village began as a pilot project, with a focus on research, learning and establishing connections with key stakeholders in the GCE and Primary Education sectors. In June 2022, teachers and school leaders from a range of schools were invited to attend a Global Village consultation day. 16 schools in six counties signed up to participate in the pilot programme: Ballinteer Educate Together NS, Ballyroan BNS, Bray School Project, Clonburris NS, Francis Street School, Gaelscoil Naomh Pádraig, Scoil Bhríde NS Goresbridge, Grace Park Educate Together NS, Granagh NS, Griffith Barracks Multi-Denominational School, Kilglass NS, Kilkenny School Project NS, Melview NS, Stratford NS, St. Mary’s PS, St Peter Apostle JNS.

As part of the pilot project, these schools embarked on a GCE journey, where schools were encouraged to explore a variety of creative and innovative projects suitable for their own school context. Each school chose a GCE theme to focus on for the 2022/23 school year. Teachers and school

Global Citizenship in Primary Schools

leaders reflected on what was already happening in their schools in relation to GCE. They were then supported by Global Village to further develop this work or to identify a new aspect of GCE to explore in their school. Teachers from these schools attended three CPD days and over the course of the school year, fostered a new community of practice for sharing skills and ideas. The group included educators with years of GCE experience, and those who were at the beginning or early stages of their GCE journey. All were motivated to embed GCE into their classroom practice and wider school communities.

At the CPD days, teachers shared the themes being explored in their schools and highlighted what was working well and the challenges they faced. Project topics included food waste, pollution, endangered sea animals, water, children’s rights, homelessness, biodiversity and sustainability. There was a strong child-led focus in the teachers’ approach to GCE, used to facilitate teaching and learning. Strong connections were made to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and taking action to support these goals. GCE was planned thematically and integrated across a range of curricular areas such as English, Maths, Visual Arts, Drama, SPHE, Music and SESE.

Teachers from some pilot schools contributed to a Global Village documentary focusing on their journey with GCE, available at: https://globalvillageschools.ie/ To acknowledge the work and contribution of the schools involved in the pilot project, a Global Village showcase event was organised in May 2023. On the day, teachers participated in a panel discussion about their GCE work as part of the Global Village Pilot Project. They highlighted the benefits of GCE for pupils and shared ideas on how to foster a whole school approach to GCE. Guests included representatives from Department of Education, NCCA, Irish Aid, IPPN, INTO, Trócaire, DCU, IDEA (Irish Development Education Association), An Taisce – Green Schools, Educate Together, Muslim Primary Board, Mary Immaculate College and Scoilnet.ie.

From September 2023, Global Village will embark on a three year programme to continue engaging with teachers and school communities and will work to increase the reach, quality, accessibility and effectiveness of GCE in primary schools. If your school would like to become involved in the Global Village Programme, please visit www.globalvillageschools.ie or email info@globalvillageschools.ie for more information.

If you would like to get in touch with Carol or Damian about this article, you can email Carol at carolburkeheneghan@gmail.com or Damian at damian.white@scoilshinchill.com

LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of School Leaders
It aims to support primary school pupils to become active global citizens, committed to building a fairer and more sustainable world.

Gifted learners –Is differentiation enough?

We all know and teach these children; the high fliers, bright sparks or exceptionally able. It can be easy to spot the gifted musician, artist or sportsperson. The ‘bookworms’ and five-year-olds who can multiply, also present themselves early on. It is harder to recognise in others and we have very limited access to testing to identify giftedness. Even a definition of a gifted learner is rather elusive. These children come into our care with unique sets of skills and talents which can be challenging to us as teachers when their expertise exceeds our own in specific areas or if they become frustrated when challenges are not appropriately set to meet their needs. We know that approximately 10% of the children in our schools are gifted, which is two or three children per class.

It’s a bug bear of mine to see generic packs of early finisher activities being promoted to NQTs to cater to gifted learners. Having engaged with NQTs through Droichead, there seems to be a lack of education leading to misunderstandings about the academic and emotional needs these children have. Additional written tasks or mundane extra worksheets can be more of a punishment than a reward or incentive. As experienced teachers, we have developed skills to differentiate and accommodate the needs of these children. However, does differentiation cut it? The Education Act 1998 defines special needs as the educational needs of students who have a disability and the educational needs of exceptionally able students. Yet it is difficult to see where these pupils are factored in the algorithm for our SET allocation.

We find as a small school whose needs change regularly throughout the year

that we struggle to find time in our allocation for our gifted learners. One of the advantages of small schools is that children are exposed to class levels above their own and can learn from and be grouped with more advanced pupils quite organically. The classroom discussions and vocabulary used by the teacher help to both accelerate, stimulate and challenge these pupils learning. On the other hand, differentiating for up to four class groups and the needs within each really stretches the abilities of even the most experienced teachers.

In discussing and reviewing our standardised test results, we identify the children that need additional support, including those with exceptional ability. It is crucial for staff to understand that while children can be experiencing significant challenges in one area, they may be gifted in others. We rely heavily on in-class support and team teaching, particularly in maths. As in all senior classrooms there are first year maths books on the shelf and children are grouped to receive more targeted support. We have implemented the Accelerated Reader and Spellings For Me programmes which are not without fault but have helped teachers cater to high fliers. Other strategies include

regularly updating our libraries, project work, open-ended tasks, selfguided learning opportunities and time, use of ICT. Thematic weeks like science, engineer’s, maths and book week also give opportunities to shine. Over the past eight years, in infants, I have noticed more gifted learners starting school each year. Fostering good home school links, managing parent’s expectations, prioritising the emotional and social needs of the child while providing age appropriate challenges and materials are imperative to providing a positive start to school life.

We also have pupils who engage with University of Galway’s enrichment programme for gifted learners. This provides opportunities for children to meet with others who have similar interests and talents, to develop their learning in specific areas under the tuition of university professors. However, this is not available to many children around the country and presents barriers in terms of cost and transport.

We strive to create a school culture that celebrates individual differences. We aim to provide our children with as broad and varied a school experience as possible. We invest a lot of time in really getting to know our pupils on an individual basis from their first days with us. This is based on our firm belief that children first need enriching opportunities to discover their strengths and interests and once identified they can be nurtured and supported to develop their potential.

If you would like to contact Aoife about this article you can email her at tierneevinns@gmail.com.

It is crucial for staff to understand that while children can be experiencing significant challenges in one area, they may be gifted in others.
October 2023


Oide is a new Department of Education (DE) support service, formed from the integration of four existing support services, The Centre for School Leadership (CSL), Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT), The National Induction Programme for Teachers (NIPT) and The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST). Oide will support the professional learning of primary and post-primary school leaders and teachers in all DE-recognised schools and centres for education in Ireland.

The Leadership Division of Oide is dedicated to supporting school leaders, including teachers and middle and senior school leaders in both primary and post-primary schools. This division of Oide involves a partnership between the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN), the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) and the Department of Education (DE). It is the shared objective that Oide Leadership will be a centre of excellence for school leadership and the lead provider of professional learning supports to school leaders and aspiring school leaders. Its responsibility will extend across the continuum of leadership development, commencing with preappointment training through to induction of newly appointed school leaders to continuous professional learning and development throughout the school leader’s career.

The Oide Leadership Division is staffed by school leaders from primary and post-primary schools and provides support and information for all school leaders in all areas of professional learning such as Mentoring, Coaching,

Research and School Support . A range of programmes, previously facilitated by CSL and PDST, are now part of the work of this leadership division. These include programmes for the induction of newly appointed principals ( Misneach ), deputy principals ( Tánaiste ), established principals ( Meitheal ), as well as a developmental programme for school leadership teams (Forbairt ), and programmes for middle leaders ( Comhar and the Post Graduate Diploma in School Leadership (PDSL) Providers of professional learning for leadership can also avail of the Oide Endorsement Process.

Dr. Pádraig Kirk, previously Director of JCT, has been appointed Managing Director of Oide. Mary Nihill, previously National Director of CSL, has been appointed as Director of Leadership and will work closely with Leadership Coordinators Dr. Alan Kinsella, Finbarr Hurley and Anna Mai Rooney, to guide the work of the Leadership Division.

Speaking about this new development Mary Nihill noted that:

‘The bringing together of all supports for school leaders into one division within Oide is a tremendous opportunity to offer coherent and comprehensive support to school

leaders at a time when the role of the school principal is becoming increasingly challenging. I am really looking forward to working with this team of experienced school leaders to further develop existing programmes and supports and to respond to emerging needs. The role of IPPN and NAPD in collaboration with the DE in setting priorities, and providing direction, advice and support for the Oide Leadership Division, will ensure that Oide Leadership will be informed by both DE policy priorities and by the voices of school leaders on the ground. We are also committed to developing effective collaborative arrangements and to continuing the close working relationships already established with other providers of professional learning for school leaders and with all stakeholders in the system’.

The Leadership Division will work collaboratively with other divisions within Oide to ensure that the organisation’s vision of supporting the professional learning of teachers and school leaders in Ireland is fully realised. The school leaders working within the division will ensure this happens through the development of high quality, innovative and responsive professional learning for all teachers and school leaders.

If you would like to contact Mary about this article, you can reach her by email at Mary.Nihill@oide.ie.

LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of School Leaders
‘Leadership and Learning are indispensable to each other.’ John F. Kennedy
It aims to support primary school pupils to become active global citizens, committed to building a fairer and more sustainable world.

MENTORING PROGRAMME for Newly Appointed Principals

As Mary Nihill noted in her overview of the Oide Leadership Division in this issue, CSL integrated into Oide in September 2023. The former CSL Mentoring Programme continues under the remit of Oide to support the induction and development of all newly appointed principals. Together with the innovative work of IPPN and NAPD in group mentoring, Oide Bespoke Mentoring for principals experiencing challenge and the developmental work of Oide Induction in relation to mentoring supports for newly qualified teachers, the Irish system can pride itself on promoting a strong mentoring culture in schools.

Initially, the mentoring programme provoked uncertainty as newly appointed principals in 2016 pondered on being the first cohort to be offered a CSL mentor in addition to their engagement in PDST’s Misneach Programme. Once a newly appointed principal applied for Misneach, they were simultaneously signed up for mentoring. This system has continued seamlessly into Oide.

Christine Forde, Emeritus Professor at Glasgow University, completed an evaluation of the Mentoring Programme in 2022. The rationale for one-to-one mentoring, according to her final report, includes emotional support, practical advice, professional growth and policy conformity. Feedback from experienced mentors suggests that the emotional support needed by their mentees is significant. According to Professor Forde, mentoring is integral to the newly appointed principal being in a position to ‘build their role and strengthen their identity as a school principal’ (p.9). One of the most surprising and gratifying aspects of the programme is its impact on the mentor’s practice and their own personal development. As one mentor suggested, ‘it inserts a pause

for me about what kind of leader and even person I want to be’ (p.10). More striking, perhaps, in today’s challenging perception of the role, is one mentor’s comment regarding the relationship: ‘The mentee’s enthusiasm for the leadership role restores the mentor’s faith in the profession’

Flexibility, individual personalities, and context are key. Mentors and mentees build a relationship of trust and mutual support. Doubt about personality clashes and mismatched contexts is either resolved or facilitated by a change of mentor. There is flexibility around the beginning of the relationship and clarity is provided on the limitations of the mentors’ knowledge and expertise, with mentees encouraged to seek specific guidance from other stakeholders when challenge arises. The secret to success in mentoring seems to lie in the development of a ‘learning partnership’, with the mentor in the role of facilitator and the mentee sharing the responsibility for learning (Zachary, 2000:3). As Professor Forde contends, the mentee is provided with ‘a form of experiential professional learning’ to support their professional growth and transition into principalship (Forde, 2022:9). The learning is enhanced by the Oide Mentor Professional Learning (PL) Days which offer mentors the opportunity to come together as a professional learning community and the report describes them as ‘high quality learning experiences, valuable in

sustaining the practice of experienced school principals’. Additionally, the report acknowledges the PL days as opportunities to re-visit and re-learn mentoring skills and protocols, a vital element of professional learning after initial training.

Finally, significant system impact emanates strongly from the report and states that the Oide Mentoring Programme contributes ‘to a culture of professional learning across the system’ (p.18) linking it to system-wide improvement and effective enactment of policy, because of the focus placed on school culture and context. Evaluation and feedback provide evidence that the building of an Irish educational mentoring culture, together with the coaching supports provided by Oide to school principals and school teams, significantly strengthens Irish school leadership.

The Oide Mentoring Programme has grown to achieve international acclaim. Support from the Department of Education (DE) for mentor training and PL days is appreciated and vital to its on-going success. The generosity of spirit from the mentors, either running their schools or in active retirement, underpins the programme and highlights the strength of the mentoring process as a reciprocal learning partnership. The leadership benefits achievable from people working together in relationships of trust and respect, in the proverbial ‘safe space’, with a background of DE and system support and collaboration, should not be underestimated.

If you would like to get in touch with Anna Mai about this research, you can email her at annamai.rooney@oide.ie Research references are available on request to editor@ippn.ie.

October 2023 25
mentoring is integral to the newly appointed principal being in a position to ‘build their role and strengthen their identity as a school principal’



As a recently retired principal with 23 years’ experience as a school leader, representing IPPN on a National Advisory Group for Childhood Domestic Violence and Abuse (CDVA), I would like to share some of our findings to date with you.

Schools play a critical role in supporting children who live with domestic and coercive abuse in the adult relationship. The abuse can have significant physical, emotional and psychological effects on children, and primary schools can be a safe haven where children can access support and care.

Coercive control, a term coined by US academic Evan Stark, is a persistent pattern of controlling, coercive and threatening behaviour. It is now a criminal offence in Ireland (Domestic Violence Act, 2018) and highlights that domestic abuse in families may not always involve physical abuse and violence.

We now know that when coercive control is present in a family, the children also experience the threats, control and fear. They too are negatively impacted by, for example, the control of time and movement within the home, deprivation of resources and isolation from the outside world which prevent them from engaging with wider family, peers and extra-curricular activities.

Children have told us that they are fully aware of, and are negatively impacted by these dynamics in their family.

‘It also sounds like deathly silence. An environment that just takes over the home and seeps into every pore. A silence that lets you know you are in for it ...that silence means danger.’

SCHOOLS PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE FOR CHILDREN Research suggests that approximately up to 1 in 5 children in our classrooms may have lived experience of domestic violence and abuse.

Barnardos informs us that children repeatedly tell them that teachers and schools play an important role in buffering the impact of these experiences. School is frequently named as a place that feels happy and safe for children, but they would like to be noticed more and asked if they are okay.


In the video Hear Me, See Me, Keep Me Safe, children use their own words to tell us about the trauma they experience in the day to day lived experience of domestic violence and abuse.

Schools need to be trauma aware, which means being open and attuned to the possibility that children in our classrooms may be living with domestic violence and abuse.

Consider that a child may be silently seeking help by presenting as quiet and withdrawn, distracted or unable to focus on school work.

‘Sometimes children can look happy but really they are hurting so I wish for people to ask them how they feel even if they look happy.’
The Mask: Art by a Young Person with lived experience
LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of School Leaders

‘Quieter, withdrawn child, not taking part or on their own during lunch. It should be noticed. It’s like an invitation from a child. They want their behaviour to be noticed but they don’t want to start the conversation.’


Children have shared key messages about what they need and how they would like teachers and other adults to respond, including the importance of being present, calm, listening and creating opportunities for the child to talk.

One can see many ways in which primary schools in Ireland are strategically placed to impact positively on this cohort of children who sit in front of us each day. We need to be vigilant at all times in our duty of care to our children.

Please familiarize yourself with local services that offer support and help when we are concerned, and remember that domestic violence and abuse is a child protection concern. Your local area services include the Gardaí, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, specialised domestic abuse services and family resource centres.


Important Notice to members who used ‘Airgead Bunscoile’ to manage school finances in 2022/23. As notified previously, it is no longer supported by IPPN. Schools are advised to seek advice from FSSU for the current school year. FSSU provides approved Monthly Reporting Templates which are fully supported at no cost by their Accounting Technicians.

Email primary@fssu.ie or phone 01 910 4020. See www.fssu.ie and search for ‘Monthly Reporting Template’.

Me 2 U: What You Should Know About Fighting and Hurting at Home is a helpful resource created by children for other children and young people.

Sarah Rush is a Child and Youth Participation Project Worker in Barnardos’ Childhood Domestic Violence and Abuse Project. To find out more about Barnardos, visit www.barnardos.ie

October 2023 27

Publication of a new framework for the Evaluation of Teachers’ Professional Learning (TPL) in Ireland

An evaluation framework for Teachers’

Professional Learning (TPL) in Ireland

by Lorraine Gilleece, Jessica Surdey and Caroline Rawdon was published recently by the Educational Research Centre (ERC). It follows a multiyear project commissioned by the Department of Education (DoE) and represents an important step towards meeting commitments in the Action Plan for Education 2018 to evaluate and enhance teachers’ professional development activities.

The TPL evaluation framework comprises four components for consideration in TPL evaluation. These are: Context: wider barriers and enablers that influence TPL uptake, participation, learning and/or embedding of learning; Key features of TPL: the design, organisation, content and facilitation of the TPL; Teacher outcomes: competencies and behaviours that are anticipated to change as a result of TPL; and Student, school or system outcomes: improvements in learner experiences or outcomes; impacts on the school (e.g., school culture and environment; curriculum; policy and planning; or relationships and partnership); or impacts on the wider system (e.g., influence on policy, frameworks, curriculum or educational redevelopment).

All TPL evaluation conducted using the new framework should encompass context, key features and teacher outcomes. Some TPL evaluation will focus on student, school or system outcomes. The relative emphasis placed on each component of the framework will vary depending on the purpose of the evaluation. The components of the TPL evaluation framework were selected following detailed desk-based

research; empirical research with teachers, students and TPL providers; and input from the project’s Steering Group (chaired by the DoE’s Teacher Education Section). The TPL evaluation framework was designed in line with the principles of the Cosán Framework for Teachers’ Learning and the Looking at Our School framework and draws on aspects of these.

The ERC has previously published findings from earlier phases of the project. A key finding of the desk-based research was the need for TPL evaluation to focus on the core features of effective TPL, rather than the mode (e.g., workshop, in-school support or seminar).

Responses to a survey of teachers and school leaders were received from approximately 350 primary teachers, 550 post-primary teachers, 70 special school teachers and 100 principals. Findings highlighted a high level of engagement with TPL in Ireland showing that very large majorities of teachers and principals agreed that TPL helped them to develop new approaches to teaching. Respondents also largely agreed that students benefited from exposure to new approaches to teaching and learning due to teachers’ TPL participation. Findings

also pointed to challenges related to TPL; e.g., virtually all reported that the integration of learning from TPL was limited in some way. In particular, a lack of time was identified as a key barrier to implementing learning from TPL.

Consultation took place with ten organisations providing TPL in Ireland and with children and young people. Findings from TPL providers highlighted the role of system priorities in determining TPL in Ireland; the importance of facilitators having relevant qualifications and/or induction or training; the importance of reflective practice in TPL; the need for improved TPL evaluation; and a likely need for capacity building for TPL providers in data analysis for evaluation. Findings from post-primary students suggested that teachers can make learning easier or more engaging: through using a variety of engaging teaching methods; by fostering positive relationships with students; and through changes in the learning environment, e.g., improving classroom management.

Primary school pupils provided responses related to the themes of curriculum, teaching and learning; culture and learning environment; relationships and partnerships; and play, recreation and stress reduction.

Teachers and principals are encouraged to contribute data when requested to support high quality evaluation of TPL in Ireland! See https://www.erc. ie/TPLwellbeing/publications for all project publications.

If you would like to contact Lorraine about this article, you can reach her by email to Lorraine.Gilleece@erc.ie.

LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of School Leaders

IPPN Annual Members’ Report 2022-2023

The past year has been another exceptionally busy one for IPPN and the IPPN Support Office team. The aim of the 2022/2023 Members’ Report – which you should have received in early September via email and E-scéal – is to provide an overview of the work IPPN has been doing to support members over the past 12 months. With IPPN’s strategic priorities for 2021-2025 driving our work, the team describes the work and projects undertaken over the past year relating to each of our strategic objectives.

This programme is aimed at teachers working in diverse educational settings with students who have special and additional learning needs.

The programme is flexible, agile and individual, allowing participants to tailor modules to their own professional specialisation, research areas and personal interests.

Highlights from the report are being shared at the 31 city and county networks taking place around the country throughout September and October. As you will see, the IPPN team has continued to improve, develop and enhance the supports and services provided to members. As always, the needs of school leaders are front and centre in everything we do. If you have any feedback, or suggestions for future reports, please get in touch by email to geraldine.darcy@ippn.ie. Come

October 2023
meet us Masters/Postgraduate Diploma (Arts) in Developed by Hibernia College and the Institute of Child Education and Psychology (ICEP) Europe
and Special Education In Ireland, 1 in 4 children have additional needs What do busy teachers
in a SEN course? HIBERNIA COL LE GE ICEP Europe 01 651 0618 info@icepe.eu Hibernia College 01 661 0168 (option 2) maise@hiberniacollege.net
SCAN ME Online Tailored Flexible What we offer? Specialist Tailored Modules Inclusive Education Understanding Autism Dyslexia & Literacy Understanding Behaviour General Learning Disabilities Join an upcoming webinar for more info. We'll discuss programme details, the application process and more. Register for an online session here: icepe.eu/MAISE C M Y CM MY CY CMY K ai16928012065_Maise_InTouch_Aut_23_print.pdf 1 23/08/2023 15:33:27

Outgoing & Incoming IPPN Family & Friends A tribute to



We bid a very warm adieu to outgoing IPPN President Brian O’Doherty, and Past President Damian White and an equally warm welcome to incoming President, Louise Tobin and President-Elect, Deirdre Kelly.

Rachel Hallahan

Many members will know Rachel, IPPN Principal Information Officer, for her skilful support on the Leadership Support phone line, and her moderation of IPPN’s mailing lists and the weekly E-scéal. Her forensic knowledge of DE policy and procedures and her network of contacts meant answers to complex queries were handled superbly. Her collegiality and professionalism, as well as her technical knowledge, have been crucial to the team over the past 15 years. Rachel moves to a new role in corporate affairs in industry. Her new employer will be very lucky to have her on their team. We wish Rachel every success in her new role.


Having served over the past two years as past president of IPPN, Damian now steps off the Board of Directors, of which he has been an invaluable member since the founding of IPPN. As president, from September 2019 to August 2021, Damian led or contributed to many significant and challenging projects, while so ably steering the IPPN ship over the two challenging years of the global pandemic. We sincerely thank him, his wonderful family and his colleagues and friends in Scoil Shinchill, Killeigh, Co. Offaly for selflessly sharing Damian with IPPN and its members for so many years.


Having served IPPN members admirably as president of IPPN over the past two years, Brian started the new school year in a new role. He was appointed to the role of Sustainable Leadership Project Coordinator for a period of one year from September 2023. During this time, Brian will focus on advocacy with stakeholders and implementation of IPPN’s recommendations from our recent report, Primary School Leadership: The Case for Urgent Action - A Roadmap to Sustainability . Sincere thanks to Brian for his tireless work for and on behalf of school leaders over the past two years – particularly his leadership of the governance review and sustainable leadership research projects – and very best wishes in his important new role.

LEADERSHIP+ The Professional Voice of School Leaders 30

Louise Tobin IPPN PRESIDENT 2023-2025

Louise has been principal of St. Joseph’s Primary School in Tipperary Town since 2009. She has experience in both teaching and administrative principalship, having worked in Grange NS, Clonmel, for twenty years, including two years as Acting Principal. She completed post-graduate studies in School Planning and believes it to be a powerful means of promoting school effectiveness and development. Louise worked with School Development Planning as a facilitator, with the PDST as an advisor, and is a trained and active CSL mentor. Before her election to the Board of Directors, Louise was a Tipperary representative on the IPPN National Council and is an active member of the local principals’ support group in Tipperary Town as well as the Tipperary ASD Classes Network. She has advocated strongly on behalf of pupils living in areas of disadvantage and to expand the DEIS scheme.



Deirdre Kelly


Deirdre has taught in both urban and rural schools and in varying educational contexts, including seven years in a special school in Crumlin, Dublin. She was appointed as teaching principal to St Michael’s NS in 2004, a 5-teacher rural school located in south County Sligo. Deirdre served as a National Committee Representative for Sligo for many years, is a trained CSL mentor and is a trained Group Mentor. Her commitment to and belief in small schools, recognition of the central role these schools play in rural communities and the significance of supporting principals in these schools has been central to her role as a member of the Board of Directors. She was elected to the role of President-elect in June 2023 and will serve as IPPN President from 2025 to 2027.

Catríona O’Reilly

Catríona was the principal of Our Lady of Good Counsel GNS, Ferrybank, Waterford until her retirement in 2022, having taught there from 1998 and been appointed as a teaching principal in 2005. The role became an administrative one in 2007. Catríona’s early experience teaching in San Carlo JNS, under the guidance of an exemplary school leader, greatly influenced her own style of principalship. Catríona represented Waterford on IPPN’s National Council for 4 years and was elected to the Board of Directors in 2014. She leads the National Council’s Advocacy and Communications sub-committee, developing IPPN’s position on a number of key issues. Catríona is a firm believer in the value of IPPN’s Leadership Support Groups as an effective means of self-care for principals, and as a forum to develop reflective practice skills. She will chair the Board of Directors from September 2023 to August 2025.

IPPN School Supplier Guide 2023

Paul Byrne


Paul has been Deputy Director NAPD (National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals) since March 2019, having served as NAPD President for a year from 2015 to 2016. Paul was appointed Deputy Principal of Carrick-on-Shannon Community School, Leitrim in 2010, having taught Construction Studies there since 1994. He has been a Board Member of ESHA (European School Heads Association) since Jan 2019, having been a member of the General Assembly from 2014. During his time as NAPD Deputy Director and also in his role as ESHA Board member, Paul has collaborated with IPPN on a number of important projects, including Sustainable Leadership, research on wellbeing of school leaders, the development of Sub Seeker and the EducationPosts.ie recruitment portal, as well as advocacy on key leadership and management issues affecting principals and deputy principals at both primary and post-primary levels. Paul has been a true ally to IPPN and to all school leaders and we are indebted to him for his professionalism and collegiality. We wish him the very best for the future.

October 2023 31
have received a hard copy of the School Supplier Guide 2023. This guide
be available on our website www.ippn.ie as an e-publication.
member schools should
will also


Explore, Engage and Connect at the IPPN Education Expo 2023

IPPN’s Education Expo 2023 will take place on November 15 & 16th at the INEC Arena, Killarney, as part of the IPPN Annual Principals’ Conference. Browse through a wide range of educational products, services and resources, with over 140 stands over two floors.


Other Sponsors

Please note that information on new resources added to the IPPN website will be included in the weekly E-scéal from September 2023 onwards.

This will include new and revised sample policies, plans, templates, resource bundles, as well as IPPN publications, submissions, position papers, press releases and eventrelated information.

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 info@ippn.ie

www.ippn.ie Latest resources
IPPN Annual Principals’ 2023 CONFERENCE

And Finally…


A sharp tongue is no indication of a keen mind.



We learn more from people who are different from us than ones who are the same. The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.

Plutarch (46-120) Greek essayist and biographer

Mentors turn into tormentors if they believe they are always right.
Andy Hargreaves



Learn more about some of the benefits of membership and renew today on www.ippn.ie


One-to-one confidential advisory service, providing collegial support and guidance from a team of skilled serving and retired principals.


National and regional professional development events for school leaders.


Provides a wealth of resources, sample policies, templates, publications, research, information updates and education news.


This includes Leadership+, research publications, submissions and Resource Bundles.


Weekly electronic bulletin informing school leaders of current issues within education and providing professional guidance.

is a fast, reliable and costeffective way for schools to contact parents and staff

is Ireland’s longest established and most widely used website dedicated to education recruitment

is a service within EducationPosts.ie which facilitates the short-term recruitment of teachers (with a Teaching Council No.)

INEC Arena, Killarney, Co. Kerry
- 17th
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