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A school budget – to have or not to have Knowing your role could help you through challenging times

Leading your school through challenging times A new school year is a time for new beginnings, new Principals, new teachers, new children in new classes filled with hope and expectation. Many new challenges are presenting themselves now at the start of a busy school year and these challenges may well determine the Principal’s workload for the coming term and beyond.

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Leading your school through challenging times by Seán Cottrell and Pat Goff A new school year is a time for new beginnings, new Principals, new teachers, new children in new classes filled with hope and expectation.The enthusiasm we associate with a new school year is invaluable and needs to be nurtured and encouraged.This will be more difficult for you as Principal and for your teachers in 2009-2010 than in previous years. Many new challenges are presenting themselves now at the start of a busy school year and these challenges may well determine the Principal’s workload for the coming term and beyond.

able to explain not only what your role is, but of equal importance, what it is not. Unless the stakeholders in your role are clear about the purpose, function and practices of the Principal Teacher, there will be an inevitable build up of frustration and tensions which will ultimately lead to potential for conflict.

The economic crisis will challenge schools severely according to the report of An Bord Snip Nua. It proposes cuts of three quarters of a billion euro right across the education sector. In addition, the Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 is now quite widespread in the community. Children are susceptible to this virus, and schools can be sites of further spread.

In your day-to-day management of the school, a multiplicity of simultaneous interactions with the key stakeholders such as staff, parents, children, Board of Management and external agencies will define what you as Principal must do, must delegate and must avoid.

These new and challenging obstacles will require greater innovation and creative thinking from you as school leader and day-to-day manager. It will move you centre stage in leading and negotiating your school through the choppy waters of lower staff morale, diminished resources, staffing problems, uncertain substitution arrangements, pandemic influenza plans, uncertainty and anxiety. In order to be an effective leader in these unprecedented difficult times, Principals must have a clear understanding of their role vis-à-vis: 1 2 3

As Principal, what are the things that you are responsible and accountable for that you must do yourself? What are the things that you are responsible and accountable for that you can and should delegate to others? What responsibilities and activities for which you bear no responsibility and therefore should be discontinue?

WHO DEFINES THE ROLE OF THE PRINCIPAL? Reality is that most Principals are thrown into the deep end and wind up allowing their role to be defined by other people’s expectations of them.This is role definition through inaction or perhaps better described as reaction to people and events as they happen around you. The main ‘benefit’ to this approach is that you will always be busy, frantically chasing an impossible workload. There is no end to the number of requests, situations, and problems to be solved if other people understand that their priorities can become yours in an instant.There is a certain addictive nature to the adrenalin that comes from being constantly busy and ever visible to all. Alternatively, you can define your own role based on legislation such as the Education Act and research conducted by IPPN, your Professional Body.This approach to role definition is more challenging as it is often unpopular and requires strong self-esteem, both professionally and personally. Once you are clear about your role from these sources, the even greater challenge is to communicate with confidence and clarity what your role is to the five key stakeholder groups i.e. teachers and other staff, children, parents, Boards of Management and external agencies. In this process, you must be Director: Seán Cottrell President: Pat Goff Editor: Damian White Assistant Editor: Brendan McCabe Assistant Director:Virginia O’Mahony Advertising: Irish Primary Principals’ Network, Glounthaune, Co Cork

T: 353 21 452 4925 F: 353 21 435 5648 The opinions expressed in Leadership+ do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network ISSN: 1649 -5888 Design: Brosna Press • 090 6454327 • PAG E 3

The administrative and managerial functions of a Principal are important, but it is the leadership dimension of the role which is crucial.

These simultaneous interactions and how to deal with them, are outlined elsewhere in this issue. It is only by being professionally assertive that we, as Principals, can lead our schools through very challenging times with the purpose of ensuring that our high quality of Primary education is maintained for all of our children. We wish you every success in the school year ahead and we assure you that IPPN, as your Professional Association, will be there to support and advise you through whatever testing times you may encounter.



Irish Primary Education Management Manual helps you with the numerous legal and compliance queries you face daily. It helps you ensure that your school is complying with the law in all areas. This essential manual was first published in 2002 and has been updated to reflect changes in the law on a yearly basis ever since. The 2009 update (Release 7) will publish in October. The Irish Primary Education Management Manual is endorsed by the IPPN, and was originally edited by David Ruddy. If you have not yet subscribed to the 2009 release please call us to ensure you don’t miss out. If you are not sure if your copy is up to date don’t forget we offer a Contents Replacement Service which is a fast and cost-effective way to update out of date manuals. New subscribers: save 25% when you start your subscription before 30 November 2009. You can also avail of our no-risk free trial.

Call us on 01 662 5301 to find out more. Round Hall, Thomson Reuters, 43 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2. T: 01 662 5301; F: 01 662 5302

Legal Diary by David Ruddy, B.L.

‘The application of a school’s code of behaviour applies to special needs pupils as it does to non-special needs pupils’ Landmark Equality Authority Decision, Equal Status Act 2000-2008 MRS A (ON BEHALF OF HER SON B) V A BOYS’ NATIONAL SCHOOL 2009 THE COMPLAINANT’S/PUPIL’S CASE This was an action taken by the parents of a twelve-year-old boy with autistic spectrum disorder and attention deficit disorder.The boy also had a moderate learning disability. He attended a mainstream boys’ national school for seven years. At the end of fourth class, he left the school on the basis of perceived discrimination. It was alleged that the school threatened to suspend the boy when his mother refused to accede to a request that he be kept at home for three days as a voluntary withdrawal.This withdrawal was sought by the school on the basis of an assault by the boy on a member of staff. Subsequently, the boy was suspended for a period of three school days on two separate occasions. On the first occasion, he struck a special need assistant. On the second occasion, he hit a resource teacher in the face. It was submitted that there was no ‘known’ common practice of suspension in the school. The main argument of the parents was that the boy had been discriminated against because of his disability. The school, they claimed did not make reasonable accommodation for him. The suspension was not an appropriate sanction or method of handling the boy’s behaviour.There was no merit in the claim that the boy was suspended on the grounds of health and safety of the students or other staff.The suspension was in conflict with the advice furnished by experts employed on the boy’s behalf. Despite all of this, the school insisted that it would continue to apply the normal school rules in relation to inappropriate behaviour. It was claimed that the approach of the school to the discipline of the boy demonstrated a refusal on the part of the school to treat him in a nondiscriminatory manner. Ultimately, his parents felt that their son was effectively excluded from school by reason of the school’s intransigence on the question of dealing with the boy’s behaviour as a disciplinary issue. The school, in a meeting with the boy’s mother, stated that his needs were not

being met adequately and it was recommended that he be placed in a different school. The Principal stated that the boy would be disciplined in a like manner to other non-disabled pupils. As a result of the school’s attitude and actions, the boy was removed from the school by his parents and placed in another educational establishment for the new school year. In summary, the boy’s parents claimed that the behavioural issues were as a result of his disability and not as a result of his lack of discipline.

In particular, the equality officer found the evidence of the class teacher to be very compelling regarding the serious difficulties and disruption that the boy’s behaviour presented in the classroom situation. THE RESPONDENT’S/ SCHOOL’S CASE The school denied that it had discriminated against the boy on the basis of his disability, or that it had failed to provide him with reasonable accommodation in terms of the manner in which it catered for his educational needs.The school was a mainstream school which catered for the boy’s special educational needs.The school had an ethos of inclusion and integration which provided an environment in which all children, including those with special educational needs, are encouraged to reach their full potential academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually.The maximum amount of resources was accessed from the Department of Education and Science to facilitate the needs of the boy in question. He was placed in classes with highly experienced and highly qualified teachers. The school arranged further psychological assessments for the boy. All of these assessments substantiated previous reports and placed a question mark over his placement in a mainstream school. It was submitted that the boy’s own speech PAG E 4

and language therapist expressed similar reservations.The school acted under the guidance of the statutory body charged with providing psychological support to school for students with special needs (the National Educational Psychological Services (NEPS), private speech and language therapists’ suggestions and private occupational therapists’ contributions. The boy’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) was revised on a number of occasions and each revision required an enormous investment on the part of the school. The boy also had a behaviour management plan as part of his (IEP).This plan made allowances for his day-to-day behaviour. It also addressed the issue of how best to modify his behaviour to eliminate or reduce his frustration and outbursts in the classroom. It sought to assist the boy to engage in more socially acceptable behaviour. However, as the boy progressed in the school, his behaviour became a serious concern in that it was a danger for himself and others. The school submitted that the boy’s behaviour was impacting negatively and seriously on the emotional, educational and general welfare of the other children in the class. An increasing amount of the teacher’s time was taken up dealing with his behavioural difficulties and attempting to communicate with him. When the boy was agitated to the extent that he used rude gestures and foul language, various means of distraction were attempted by his teacher and special needs assistant, but to no avail. The school staff tried stratagems that would have a calming effect on him and some of these worked some of the time. However, there were occasions when it was absolutely necessary to remove the boy from the classroom for his own sake, and the sake of others. The school submitted that every allowance was made for the boy because of his disability. His parents were routinely informed of incidents such as hitting and striking other children, his teachers and special needs assistant. When the boy first struck his peers, special need assistant and teacher, it was hoped this type of behaviour would in time become less and less frequent. In the earlier instances, no suspension was effected and lesser

sanctions such as removing him from the situation were enacted. However, there was no diminution in the severity of the boy’s acts and if anything, they were becoming more violent as he grew older and stronger.

best efforts of the school, the boy’s challenging behaviour continued to present serious difficulties for the school in relation to the provision of educational services to both himself and his fellow students.

The school submitted that if it had not imposed sanctions against the boy for this behaviour, it would have been found negligent under Health and Safety legislation in terms of its failure to provide a safe environment to all members of its school community.

The Equality Officer acknowledged the efforts the class teacher, special educational needs staff and school principal went to, to accommodate the needs of this particular pupil.

The school had an excellent relationship with the parents of the boy. However, this changed when the appropriateness of a mainstream school to meet the boy’s needs was raised by the school in discussions with his parents. The mother of the boy refused to consider the advice of the school-based professionals, including the NEPS psychologist, that a mainstream school might not be the best environment for the boy. The Board of Management of the school wrote to the Department of Education and Science expressing its concerns regarding the appropriateness of the boy’s placement in the school.The Board also wrote to the boy’s parents expressing these concerns. The boy’s mother sought a letter from the school stating that the school was not prepared to accept the boy for another school year. She also sought a letter of guarantee that the school would not invoke further suspensions on the boy in the future.The school principal stated that it was not the case that the boy was unwelcome to return to school notwithstanding the inappropriateness of the boy’s placement in a mainstream school. The boy did not return to the school and was enrolled in another educational establishment. DECISION OF THE EQUALITY OFFICER The boy’s behaviour presented serious difficulties for the school.There were a number of incidents involving the boy’s behaviour that warranted the use of the Code of Behaviour of the school.This would be the same for a pupil who behaved in a like fashion without a disability. Considerable evidence was given by the school in relation to the different stratagems and methods it adopted to deal with, and manage the boy’s challenging behaviour. However, despite the

In particular, the Equality Officer found the evidence of the class teacher to be very compelling regarding the serious difficulties and disruption that the boy’s behaviour presented in the classroom situation. This included the extremely disproportionate amount of time the class teacher devoted in terms of managing this behaviour and in facilitating his special educational needs. ‘The school cannot be held to have discriminated against a student with a disability in terms of any sanction (such as expulsion/suspension) imposed against that person, in circumstances whereby the continued provision of services to that person, by virtue of his/her disability, would make it impossible or have a seriously detrimental effect on the school’s capacity to provide educational services to other students. I am satisfied that the extreme nature of the difficulties presented by the boy’s behaviour, especially in terms of the incidents of striking his teachers/SNAs/peers and the disproportionate amount of time that it was necessary for his class teacher to dedicate towards the management of his behaviour, were having a seriously detrimental effect on the capacity of the school to provide educational services to both the boy and other students in his class. I am satisfied that the sanction of suspension was ultimately implemented by the school on two separate occasions as a last resort.All other alternatives PAG E 5

as a means of dealing with the boy’s inappropriate behaviour have been exhausted. I am satisfied that the details of these incidents were communicated to the boy’s mother on both occasions. The parents of the boy in question have failed to establish a case of discrimination on the disability ground. I also find that the sanction of suspension did not amount to a refusal or failure to provide reasonable accommodation for the boy in question.’ OBSERVATION This action was taken by the parents of the boy with special educational needs. The action was supported by the Equality Authority who provided the parents with the necessary legal advice. The school had to rebut the allegation of discrimination.The class teacher, special needs coordinator and school principal all had to give evidence, and were subject to cross-examination. The case ran for two days. This is a landmark decision in that the Equality Officer strongly supported the school’s right to implement its Code of Behaviour in relation to all pupils including those with special educational needs. The allegation of discrimination has been strongly rebutted. The Equality Officer acknowledged the efforts that the class teacher, special educational needs staff and school principal went to, to accommodate the needs of this particular pupil. The school was entitled in view of its obligations under the Health and Safety legislation, and its duty to provide an education for the rest of the pupils in the particular class, to utilise the sanctions contained in the Code of Behaviour. The implications for schools would have been very serious if the school had lost the case. It would have been next to impossible to suspend any child with special educational needs for instances of gross misconduct. While no school wishes to be involved in litigation which can be time-consuming and stressful, all schools owe a debt of gratitude to this particular school for facilitating clarification of the law in relation to the relevance of Codes of Behaviour to all pupils, including those with special educational needs.

A school budget – to have or not to have by Seán Cottrell The concept of operating a budget for school finances is not widespread. Perhaps this is a reflection of the state of school finances. Traditionally most schools kept a close eye on the bank statement and made decisions on individual purchases based on the current account balance. However practical this approach was in the past, it presents a number of key disadvantages:

auxiliary service grants and any other sources of official funding 4 Establish sources of unofficial funding such as parental voluntary contributions, BoM/Parent Association fund-raising, financial support from local businesses, Church/Parish/Patron etc.

Association. The understanding that both groups gain from this knowledge is likely to increase their appreciation of the challenges faced by the BoM and decrease uninformed criticism

6 Use a 3-column approach i.e. 2008/09, Budget 2009/10, actual 2009/10 for both expenditure and income

11 Having an agreed budget in place means that the Principal and, in the case of large schools, senior management staff are authorised to spend BoM monies without seeking permission for each individual item. Naturally this is predicated on spending within budget limits with the full year in mind. The finance sub-committee should monitor the actual expenditure set against the agreed budget

7 The figures from the last school year may include exceptional or once off items of income or expense. Remember that when agreeing the budget figure for any heading, last years figure is merely a guide. The figure you budget for the year ahead has to be your best ‘guesstimate’ of what is likely to happen

The strongest argument for adopting a budgeting approach is its usefulness in dealing with a perpetual shortage of money

Traditionally most schools kept a close eye on the bank statement and made decisions on individual purchases based on the current account balance.

8 The first time you engage in this exercise, chances are that total budget expenditure far exceeds total budget income. This is where the ‘fun’ starts - you are now at the heart of budgeting.The total finance which is likely to be available to the BoM must be distributed across the various expenditure headings bearing in mind that some areas leave no room for discretion e.g. ancillary staff wages, electricity

12 With this process in place, the financial report presented to a BoM by the Treasurer would be easy to read and understand. It will require little or no discussion unless a situation arises where there is a risk of going over budget on some item.This might require adjustments to other budget headings

The strongest argument for adopting a budgeting approach is its usefulness in dealing with a perpetual shortage of money. Setting up a school budget for school finances is not as daunting as it may seem. The following are some suggested actions that can be taken:

2 Examine and discuss the certified accounts for the last school year

9 What happens if it is not possible to balance the budget? If this happens, there are two options – fund-raising and sponsorship targets need to be raised or further expenditure reductions have to be agreed. In such an event, the BoM, on the advice of the finance sub-committee, should inform and consult with the staff and the Parents’ Association. The implications of further fund-raising or reduced expenditure should be made clear to both groups before the BoM decides on which course of action to take

3 Establish the known income for the school year ahead including capitation and

10 Once the budget has been agreed it should be made available to the staff and Parents’

1 It is a very short-term approach and offers no scope for achieving better value over the longer term 2 The Principal is restricted regarding purchasing decisions and constantly reverting to the BoM for permission to spend 3 When the heating oil runs out or there is no more money for shared reading books, staff and parents assume that this is as a result of the Principal’s own decision or inability to manage finances.

1 Establish a BoM finance sub-committee. This would typically involve the Treasurer, the Chairperson and the Principal

5 Agree the main expenditure headings. These should be high level headings which are clear to everybody


13 Remember that there is a free, easy-to-use, excel-based school finance software package – Airgead Bunscoile – available to download from in the Principal Advice – Administration section. This will facilitate the monitoring of actual expenditure across all the headings you agree as part of the process outlined above. In conclusion, adopting a budgeting approach to managing school finances spreads the responsibility across the full BoM and has the effect of relieving the Principal and/or Treasurer of excessive responsibility. It eliminates endless discussion at BoM meetings whether the school should buy product A or product B. It ultimately professionalises relationships and the way limited school funds are managed.

Latest News IPPN PUBLICATIONS IPPN has signed a deal with CJ Fallon which will result in considerable savings on publications for the organisation for the next five years.We would like to take this opportunity to thank CJ Fallon for their generous contribution and would ask you to acknowledge their support. SPONSORS Prim-Ed Publishing and Promethean Ireland are no longer IPPN Platinum Sponsors. However, we would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their generous contribution to IPPN over the past two years and to wish them the very best in the future. PARTNERS We are delighted to introduce BlueKop, our newest partner supplying value to schools. BlueKop are providers of fully functioning re-conditioned

computers to schools and charities at very affordable ● Misneach 1, Ennis 24th – 25th Sept; Monaghan prices. See page 12 for further details. 1st – 2nd Oct; Kilkenny 8th – 9th Oct and Portlaoise 15th – 16th Oct EDUCATIONPOSTS.IE ● IPPN County Network AGMs take place in redevelopment is in its final stages every county between 28th Sept and 16th Oct. and should be live very soon. A schedule of venues, dates & times has been circulated to all schools and is available on IPPN SUPPORT OFFICES Work has begun on site for the new IPPN Support ● Your School & The Law seminars will take place Offices. The sub-structure is now complete and the in Dublin 14th Nov; Limerick, 27th Feb and project should be finished by the end of the year. Kilkenny 27th March. Further details and application forms will be provided on RECENT/UPCOMING EVENTS in due course. ● Principals’ Professional Briefing Days will be held ● 2010 IPPN Annual Principals’ Conference takes in Cork 9th Sept, Silver Springs Hotel and place at City West Hotel & Conference Centre, Dublin 16th Sept, Green Isle Conference and Co. Dublin from Thurs 28th to Sat 30th Jan Leisure Hotel. Speakers will include the HSE, 2010. Further details and application forms will DES Inspectorate, Medmark, NCSE, SESS be available on in October. and IPPN

Pat Goff, Príomhoide, Scoil Mhuire, Coolcotts, Co Wexford takes on the role as IPPN President from September 1st 2009 Pat started his teaching career in C.B.S. Enniscorthy, before moving to Kennedy Park N.S. in Wexford town. He was appointed Deputy Principal in Scoil Mhuire, Coolcotts, Wexford in 1983. Scoil Mhuire, then a new school, opened with eight teachers. Pat completed a Masters in Educational Management in 1996 and became Principal of Scoil Mhuire in 1997. The school has continued to grow and expand to its current size of 47 teachers & 30 SNAs which includes an Autism Unit with 3 classes for children with Autism.

Pat is Chairperson of the Wexford School Completion Programme, which involves six Primary schools and one Post-Primary school in Wexford town. Pat has been the SEN liaison on IPPN’s Executive for the past number of years, while also being hugely involved in IPPN’s Policy Development. Pat was elected to the Role of Deputy President at IPPN’s AGM on November 10th 2007. A keen golfer, Pat has been involved with IPPN almost since its inception. He has presented on behalf of IPPN on the subject of Special Education

to Principals in South Africa, New Zealand and Singapore in recent years. He has also acted as an Associate presenter for LDS since 2006. As Principal of Scoil Mhuire, Pat was central to a recent Judicial Review in the High Court which saw a Section 29 decision relating to enrolments in his school overturned. He succeeds Larry Fleming who has served IPPN in his own unique & distinct style over the past two years. Larry returned to the helm at Ballinamere NS, Co Offaly on September 1st.

So you want to buy computer equipment …just buy what you need to do the job! by John Curran With a new school year starting, we thought it would be good to kick-start with some general information about computers. It’s not intended to be the definitive buyers guide but just a few helpful pointers. To begin, you might want to review the explanations on page 9. Money is a major problem we know, so anything to keep costs down is welcome. Nowadays the average computer will have a life of 2–3 years in business or 4–5 years in a school.You should be able to change every 2–3 years to take advantage of technology advances but it’s just not possible for a school to contemplate this due to the cost. With refurbished computers doing the job just as well but at a quarter of the cost this could now become a reality.

You should be able to change every 2/3 years to take advantage of technology advances but it’s just not possible for a school to contemplate this due to the cost. DO’S & DON’TS Don’t assume that once you put the computer on a desk it will mind itself for the next 2 years; it needs to be looked after! Have a simple plan worked out so everyone knows what to do in case of a problem. Remember you have paid for this ‘tool’ so you want to make sure it works. Regular maintenance and housekeeping will ensure a lot less hassle and extend the life considerably. When you buy your computers make sure you have some form of follow up service because you will have questions and things will go wrong. For those cases where you do need to ‘buy in’ help, have a support deal agreed in advance with someone or some company where you already know what the likely costs are. Time is a problem for you and buying and looking after computers does use time, but it is

possible to have a procedure worked out between a number of teachers so that every problem does not fall on your lap and that regular maintenance is done. Networks can be a mine field so people tend to stay away from them. You can use a basic network to save money. You can have one central computer referred to as a Server (it serves the other computers on the Network) and this can be given a very large hard drive. Each person can be allocated ‘space’ on the Server to store their data so you do not need large hard drives in each desktop. This would also make backups very easy… Backups now there is another day’s work. WHERE AM I GOING TO USE IT? Will it sit in one location or do you need to be able to use it from many locations? This will help you decide between a Desktop or Laptop. If space is a problem, you may need a Laptop anyway, even if it’s not going to be moved. Remember moving equipment around increases the chances of dropping it! WHO IS GOING TO USE IT? Is it a young student, say age 5 to 12 years or a more advanced student? As many students are likely to be using it, your computer will get clogged up quickly and start to slow down to the point where everyone complains about it or even stops using it.You can help stop this by doing monthly maintenance on your computers; a series of options set up to run on each PC will do this. WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO USE IT FOR? If it is a young student, then the likelihood is they will use standard educational software and maybe create basic word documents. Internet usage will be small with maybe a small number of pictures downloaded. So hard drive size, amount of memory and processor speed are important, but not as crucial as a PC being used in a secondary school or by a teacher. Buying a computer to run serious applications like Photoshop or as a multimedia centre or gaming computer means there are many other factors you need to cover that we do not have the space for here.


BUYING Once you have answered the 3 questions above, you need to look at the computer side so the three main areas to look at are – how much memory do I need, what size & speed is the hard drive and how fast is the processor? The more memory you have, the faster the hard drive and the faster the processor you get. All these make the computer work faster but remember do not feel you have to have the fastest PC, you just need one to do the job you want.

The more memory you have, the faster the hard drive and the faster the processor you get, all make the computer work faster but remember do not feel you have to have the fastest pc, you just need one to do the job you want. MEMORY If you are buying a computer with Microsoft XP Pro operating system then 512k RAM or higher is fine, but if you buy Microsoft Vista you will need at least 2GB as it is heavy on memory. When a computer has too little memory, it doesn't tell you, it just starts using part of its hard drive space as a poor form of additional memory known as swap space or virtual memory. It's a ‘clunky’, slow way for a computer to run, but it at least keeps things going. It is much better to give a computer the RAM it needs. HARD DRIVE The average computer needs around 8GB (average for operating system only) of disk to store its own software. With a 40GB drive, you have 32GB of space left for your own software and data. If you want to load a software package, say a game or educational program, it will say on the documentation how much hard drive space it needs and how much RAM it requires so you can work out if you have enough. It’s important not to use up all your

spare disk space, so keep about 3GB free all the time. However, if you get this low, it is time to delete unwanted data or upgrade your hard drive. Hard drive speed is also an issue, it is measured in RPM’s, so 5400, 7200 etc. A basic rule of thumb, the faster the drive the better, and 7200 is a good bench mark. PROCESSOR SPEED The faster the better (see definitions) but as a base if you go for a 7200 rpm drive and if it’s a Microsoft XP Pro system and the RAM is at least 512k then 1.8Mhz speed is fine. Just as an example, if the hard drive is only 5400 rpm’s but you get a faster processor and maybe some extra memory it should offset the slower drive – not gospel but a good rule of thumb. ON PRICES Always make sure the quoted price includes VAT. Companies that deal with businesses tend to forget to quote VAT included when dealing with schools or charities. So when you are checking out those offers, see what operating system they run, how much memory you are getting, what size hard drive and its speed and finally the speed of the processor.

TERMS EXPLAINED… DATA: General term covering the information we store on a computer. The words we type in a letter, the figures we put in our spreadsheet, the content of our emails etc. are referred to as Data.

Regular maintenance and housekeeping will ensure a lot less hassle and extend the life considerably. When you buy your computers make sure you have some form of follow up service.

Disk or Hard Drive or Storage: It's the computer's electronic filling cabinet, and it stores the computer's programs, and your data. Memory: Random Access Memory (RAM) not to be confused with your hard drive. It provides space for your computer to read and write data to be accessed by the CPU. If you add more RAM to your computer, you reduce the number of times your CPU must read data from your hard disk. This usually allows your computer to work considerably faster. Memory is typically measured in megabytes (MBs) so 256 or 512 or 1 Gigabyte (1000 MB’s).

CD-ROM/DVD/COMBO Drive: All computers should have one. It allows us to use CD's or DVD’s.

Motherboard: The Motherboard is the circuit board that everything in the computer plugs into. The CPU, RAM and Hard Drive all plug into the motherboard.

CPU: Central Processing Unit or just Processor is the brains of the computer and performs many of the operations.

Ballpark figures: 1GB of hard drive will store 50,000 x 1 page text only word documents or, 1000 good quality photos or, 285 songs.

Megahertz (MHz): This is the clock speed of the processor.The higher the number, the quicker the information is processed. MHz relates to how many millions of instructions can be processed per second. You hear people talking about their pc being 3Mhz or 1.8Mhz etc.

(Information in this article provided by BlueKop, an IPPN partner providing refurbished computer equipment, maintenance and service to schools. Contact Blue Kop on 01 4800560 or e-mail at For further information see pages 10 and 12.)






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Gmail for Principals and Deputy Principals by Seaghan Moriarty School leaders in Ireland are using a wide variety of email systems – from the initial IOL addresses of the late 90’s to family email addresses to email addresses associated with school websites. This short article will outline the benefits of Gmail as a personal email address for the school Principal/Deputy Principal. It will outline:

2. HOW TO SET UP A NEW GMAIL ACCOUNT Sign up for free Gmail by visiting this web address: You can choose a username, provided it’s not already taken, and start using Gmail immediately. In addition, there are many tutorials available on-line which walk you through how to get the most out of Gmail.

1. The general benefits of Gmail for Principals/Deputy Principals 2. How to set up a new Gmail account 3. How to keep your existing email – but route it through Gmail so you get the best of both worlds.

1. GENERAL BENEFITS ● Gmail automatically filters your emails for viruses and for spam ● It’s free and massive (8Gb i.e. 8000Mb). There’s nothing to install and it’s intuitive to use ● Your emails live on the internet – so you can connect to your Gmail from any computer/phone/internet device, once you have your username and password ● Gmail organises your emails into ‘conversations’ and provides great search and categorisation facilities ● It also provides spell-checking, IM (instant messaging), tagging (categorise emails by your keywords), and many other features for the more advanced user such as Google Docs (a facility to securely store and share online Word, Excel, etc. documents), Google Calendar and Google ‘today’ page. Any Downsides? The two biggest downsides of Gmail are that you need to be on-line (on any computer connected to the internet) to view your email, and also Gmail reserve a space along the page for ‘targeted’ ads – i.e. the system analyses keywords in your emails and publishes corresponding ads. This is similar to the ‘targeted’ ads which appear when you use the search engine Google. In addition, although Google are a huge thriving business – they could close down, withdraw their service – and there is currently no backup, so all your emails could in theory be lost.

This may seem strange, but what they are doing in effect is getting their Gmail account to collect emails from their existing email account. Therefore, the emails from BOTH Gmail and their existing email will be available to them in Gmail itself. 1. Login to Gmail, click Settings, then Accounts 2. In the area Get Mail from other accounts, click ‘Add a mail account you own’ 3. Fill in the details of your other email account (username/password etc.) 4. You will get a verification/confirmation email etc. To send email as if from Let’s say that you want to send an email as if it was from your old email account (let’s call it You may wish to do this if you want the recipient to see and reply to your old account, rather than your Gmail. To do this, click ‘Compose Email’ and from the dropdown list, choose from your list of accounts which account you want the email to come ‘from’.

Work smarter using email Communication by email has been mainstream for a number of years now. Having a mounting number of unanswered/unactioned emails in your Inbox is a challenge for everyone. A rule of thumb for email (whether using Gmail or any other email system) which you may find useful is the 3 Ds. The 3 Ds: ● Deal with it - immediately if convenient (eg quick reply) or delegate to others ● Defer it – mark the task for a more convenient time, perhaps add to a To-Do list. If using Gmail, you can assign a ‘tag’ and priority or colour-coding ● Dump it – if there is a good chance that by time or by priority you won’t be able to deal with it, be honest with yourself and dump it. Move it to a ‘FreeTimeTasks’ folder. 3. KEEP YOUR EXISTING EMAIL – BUT ROUTE IT THROUGH GMAIL Setting Up Many people set up a Gmail account, but also keep their existing email accounts/addresses. PAG E 1 1

Set up a ‘signature’ in Gmail A ‘signature’ is text that you set up so that every email will have predetermined text at the bottom of each email. This might be your name, school name, address, contact details, website address etc.This is a very handy and professional addition to your emails and will take about 1 minute to set up in Gmail. As an example of one of many useful facilities, here’s a step-bystep walkthrough; 1. Login to your Gmail Account 2. Select ‘Settings’ in the upper right corner of the page 3. Type your signature text in the box next to the ‘Signature’ option 4. Select ‘Save Changes’. RELATED LINKS ● Sign up for free Gmail: ● View ‘Google Theater’, an entertaining intro to Gmail:

IPPN Negotiated Cost-Saving Services for Schools IPPN has a number of carefully chosen strategic partners who are keen supporters of the organisation. Many of these partners also provide significantly discounted services to schools in addition to supporting IPPN in the provision of our services to members. These partners make it possible for schools subscribing to their services to save thousands of Euros each year.

THESE PARTNERS ARE: ALLIANZ Allianz as leading school insurer in the country and Platinum Sponsor of IPPN have served the insurance needs of schools throughout Ireland for many decades.The Allianz Custodian School Protection Policy which is the standard protection package in force for all their school policyholders has been updated consistently to take account of the changing and developing insurance requirements of schools.Their current school protection policy together with their Pupil Personal Accident policy (20% discount available on-line) ensures that your school has the most comprehensive protection available in the market. Your school will avail of the following benefits when they insure with Allianz: ● The most comprehensive School insurance policy cover on the market at very competitive premiums. ● A dedicated Specialist Education team to take care of you and all your insurance needs. ● A specialist local representative who upon request, can visit your school, offer advice and solve any insurance related queries you may have. ● A recently published comprehensive Risk management guide for Safety and Security in schools.This contains advice on everything from general insurance queries, health & Safety Advice, advice on Safety Statements - detailing how you can compile them yourself - and much more. ● A dedicated education website with information on the Allianz Pupil Personal Accident and School Protection policies. It also contains our back catalogue of Allianz School Journals, our Guide to Insurance, Safety and Security in the school and other helpful resources such as claim forms. ● Bi-monthly School Insurance Journal to keep you up to date with new legislation and provide useful and relevant advice and information. Pupil Personal Accident Insurance Allianz offer a pupil personal accident policy at extremely competitive prices of between €4 & €8. A unique benefit of the Allianz Pupil Personal Accident Policy is that it does not limit the time in which follow on claims can be made. For example, if a claim is made by a pupil for dental expenses when he/she is 6 yrs old, they may have follow on costs years to come as a result. The Pupil Personal Accident Policy will continue to pay these dental expenses (subject to the limit of €30,000) until the need for care has ceased. Contact Simply log onto to find details of all their products and services or alternatively contact the Education Specialist team on 01-6133900 or your local Allianz representative.

Digital Print Providers

IBS As a proud sponsor of IPPN, Irish Business Systems (IBS) offers fantastic discounts to IPPN member schools. Irish Business Systems is the distributor for the Konica Minolta range of Printers, Photocopiers, Multifunctional Devices, Faxes and Document Management Solutions and currently holds the No.1 position in the multi-functional device market in Ireland. ● Guaranteed 2-hour Response Time ● 71 Strategically located Service Engineers ● Branches in Cork / Dublin / Limerick / Galway / Laois / Sligo / Donegal / Waterford / Belfast / Derry ● Strong Commitment to the Environment – all products include Energy Star, Blue Angel Marks and RoHs compliance ● As a proud sponsor of IPPN, IBS offers fantastic discounts to IPPN members Testimonial 'We bought 10 Konica Minolta 1350E laser printers from IBS two years ago.They proved to be very sturdy and reliable printers as well as being economical in the classroom environment.The service and support from IBS has been very good.' Dónal Ó Ciaráin, Príomhoide - Rushbrooke National School, Cobh, Co. Cork Contact For information on any of our products and to avail of special offers exclusive to IPPN members please call IBS on Freephone 1800 23 00 00 or log onto Konica Minolta - voted the 'most reliable colour and multifunctional products in the world'.

BLUEKOP As an IPPN partner Bluekop aims to supply quality computer equipment to schools at very affordable prices. BlueKop is a 100% Irish owned company specialising solely in supplying refurbished computers, on-going support and advice to Irish schools and charities.They take in donated working computer hardware (keyboards, hard drives, electrical cables, screens, processors etc.) from donor companies or individuals, they then set a basic minimum hardware specification so that the hardware is capable of being used by a school. They cleanse and certify the hard drive, clean all the hardware and reinstall the software. As a licensed Microsoft Approved Refurbisher (MAR), they will install a new Microsoft XP Pro licence on each computer along with suitable AntiVirus and Firewall software and remote access software to facilitate technical support.The finished product is a ready to plug-in, fully functional, internet ready computer including hard drive, monitor, keyboard, electrical cables and mouse.

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PC COSTS: Refurbished Computer Cost 1 to 20 units 21 to 40 units 41 plus units Cost to schools Base price less less less Discount percent 10% 13% 15% Unit cost after discount incl. vat €200 €180 €175 €170

Laptops also available on request at similarly affordable prices. Support Costs: Both remote (access to the computer via the internet so no call-out charges) or onsite to help deal with any problems that arise at affordable prices. Currently charged at a rate of €36.40 plus vat @21.5% per hour. Delivery Charge: There is no charge for self collection. For delivery the courier costs are passed on at a flat rate of €23 per unit delivered. Contact Call 01 4800560 or e-mail with your queries.

hundreds of IPPN member schools.* ScoilTel is powered by Pure Telecom who are 100% Irish owned & operated and provide services to thousands of residential customers across Ireland and businesses such as GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Setanta Sports. *When compared to eircom. Key reasons to switch to ScoilTel: ● Over 400 IPPN member schools have already switched to the service and Principals and Chairpersons report a high level of satisfaction. ● Before you switch ScoilTel can provide detailed analysis highlighting the savings you will make if making the move. ● A single, easy to read bill for calls, line rental and broadband [if required] ● Email billing available. ● Dedicated account management, speak to a live agent and not a machine.Your call will ALWAYS be answered within 30 seconds. ● Your ScoilTel account manager will assist with ALL enquiries whether billing, new services or if you are reporting a fault. ● Eircom continue to own the line and as such an Eircom engineer would be dispatched to service your line, in most instances your fault will be resolved within 48 hours. ScoilTel will keep you updated with details of what stage your fault is at until resolved.

ENERGIA Save 10% on your schools’ electricity costs (and gas where applicable) when you switch to Energia.* 100% of the electricity supplied to schools comes from their green renewable portfolio both reducing your C02 emissions and maximizing your energy savings. * Discount based on ESB/Bord Gáis prices.

How do I switch: To sign up or to receive further information on the service simply call ScoilTel on 1890 701 801. Once you call the ScoilTel team the switch is seamless and there will be no degradation to service nor will your numbers change.

Energia, a member of the Viridian group, is the largest independent energy supplier in Ireland. They have an integrated energy business with access to one of the largest and most comprehensive portfolios of conventional and renewable power in Ireland. They also supply 17% of the electricity used in Ireland through their power plant in Dublin and their wind turbines throughout Ireland. Over the past 10 years, this portfolio strength combined with their energy expertise has enabled them to provide competitive electricity and gas prices to over 27% of the Irish business sector. They have over 50,000 business customers in Ireland, including Bewley’s Moran Hotel group, Iarnrod Eireann and Cork County Council to name but a few.

AZZURRI SPORT Azzurri, a Waterford based company, is a producer and distributor of quality sports and leisurewear throughout Ireland and is an official supplier of sports kit to several leading clubs and counties. IPPN members can avail of an exciting range of high quality sports and leisurewear and sports equipment at a 10% discount from Azzurri Sport as a result of a scheme especially negotiated by IPPN.

Key reasons to switch to Energia: ● Save 10% on your schools’ electricity and gas bills. ● You will be using ‘green’ renewable electricity and helping to protect the environment. ● They currently have over 50,000 business customers in Ireland and 800 IPPN member schools have already successfully made the switch. ● Ease of transfer – their reps will take care of everything. ● No connection fee. ● No new meters required. ● Excellent customer service. ● Nothing changes – except the lower price! ● Energy efficiency programmes and advice are available by calling customer care on 1850 36 37 44.

The benefits of ordering with Azzurri are clear: ● Buying direct from Azzurri means that you are not just getting your 10% IPPN discount but you are also getting factory prices. ● With a dedicated account manager and excellent customer service team Azzurri can guarantee that all customers will receive the best possible service from the time of placing the order to delivery of the product and beyond. ● A wide range of quality performance products including Playing Kit, Leisurewear, sports equipment, school jackets, tracksuits and polo shirts. ● A very flexible personal service including own design playing kit and leisurewear made in Ireland and guaranteed short delivery times. ● GAA licensed kit ● A new range of approved hardware including Helmets, Footballs and Sliotars

How do I switch? Switching is easy. Simply call Energia’s sales office on (091) 384138 and one of their energy specialists will come to visit you at your school at a time that suits you to run through the service and savings details with you. E: / W:

Testimonial ‘The offer represents an excellent opportunity to purchase good quality sports equipment, kit and leisurewear at substantially reduced cost. Since our school is involved in the promotion of Gaelic games, I have experienced significant savings by ordering with Azzurri.’ Damian White, Killeigh NS, Co Offaly.

SCOILTEL ScoilTelis IPPN’s low-cost landline telephone service to members. In operation since 2005 the service currently facilitates savings of up to 40% to

Contact For enquiries Freephone 1800 380 980 or 051 850066 Email: Website: Note: As the ZuriTM jacket already contains a built-in discount, the 10% discount does not apply to this product.

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Knowing your role could help you through challenging times by Virginia O’Mahony, Larry Fleming As yet another school year begins, it brings with it the usual excitement, but also many challenges and demands for you as Principal. This September, the added ingredient of the economic recession allied to the uncertainty surrounding the spread of the swine flu virus will demand greater discernment of you as school leader. It will place you centre stage in leading your school community through the choppy waters of lower staff morale, diminished resources, increased uncertainty and anxiety. Being an effective leader in these difficult times requires a clear understanding of your role, an understanding of what you personally must do, what you can reasonably delegate and the tasks you can avoid altogether. WHO DEFINES THE ROLE OF THE PRINCIPAL? Reality is that most Principals are thrown into the deep-end and wind up allowing their role to be defined by other people’s expectations of them.This is role definition through inaction or perhaps better described as reaction to people and events as they happen around you. The main ‘benefit’ to this approach is that you will always be busy, frantically chasing an impossible workload. There is no end to the number of requests, situations, and problems to be solved if other people recognise that their priorities can become yours in an instant. There is a certain addictive nature to the adrenalin that comes from being constantly busy and ever visible to all. Alternatively, you can define your own role based on legalisation and a professional interpretation of the role, influenced by the research conducted by your professional body and best practice.This approach to role definition is more challenging as it is often unpopular and requires strong self-esteem, both professionally and personally. It will require you to refer to the following sources: ● Legislation – ■ Education Act, 1998 ■ DES Circular 16/1973 ● Professional Body ■ IPPN ■ International Best Practice ● Research ■ Defining the Role of the Primary Principal in Ireland - HayGroup, 2002 ■ Quality Leadership <=>Quality Learning – Michael Fullan, 2006. Section 22 (1) of the Education Act 1998 states that ‘The Principal of a recognised school and the Teachers of a recognised school, under the direction of the Principal, shall have the responsibility (…) for the instruction provided to students in the school…’ Section 23 (2) states that ‘In addition ….. the Principal shall – ● be responsible for the day-to-day management of the school, including guidance and direction of the teachers and other staff in the school, and be accountable to the board for that management, ● provide leadership to the teachers and other staff and the students of the school,

● be responsible for the creation (…) of a school environment which is supportive of learning…which promotes the professional development of teachers, ● under the direction of the board and, in consultation with the teachers, the parents and,…students, set objectives for the school and monitor the achievement of those objectives, ● encourage the involvement of parents of students in the school…’ Once you are clear about your role from these sources, the even greater challenge is to communicate with confidence and clarity what your role is to the five key stakeholder groups i.e. teachers and other staff, children, parents, Board of Management and external agencies. In this process, you must be able to explain, not only what your role is but, of equal importance, what it is not. Unless the stakeholders in your role are clear about the purpose, function and practices of the Principal Teacher, there will inevitably be frustration, tension, and endless opportunities for conflict. The administrative and managerial functions of a Principal are important, but it is the leadership dimension of the role which is crucial.The legislation itself refers specifically to the leadership function of the Principal. However, leadership without a followership is futile. Successful leaders gain a strong following through vision, passion and example. However, these three qualities in a leader are not sufficient in themselves to have followers. Successful leaders, above all else, have mastered the act of empowering other people through consultation, delegation and giving others meaningful involvement. In your day-to-day management of the school, a multiplicity of simultaneous interactions with the key stakeholders i.e. 1. Teachers and other staff 2. Children 3. Parents and Parents’ Association 4. Board of Management 5. External agencies Will define what you as Principal: ● Must do ● Must delegate ● Must avoid. 1. TEACHERS AND OTHER STAFF In relation to teachers and other staff members, a Principal must: ● Consult and communicate with staff regularly ● Be involved in staff appointments and follow correct procedures ● Hold regular staff meetings ● Support and affirm staff in their work ● Engage professionally with all staff ● Visit classrooms to get to know teachers and to offer them support and encouragement ● Manage the In-School Management Team and arrange for regular meetings ● Develop the School Plan in consultation with all the stakeholders and ensure compliance with all school policies and procedures ● Ensure adherence to the school’s Code of Behaviour by the entire school community.This includes children with SEN, as outlined by the Equality Authority.

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● Ensure adherence to parental complaints and grievance procedures. The following areas should be delegated, if they are necessary for the smooth running of the school. Otherwise, they should be avoided entirely by the Principal: ● Micro-management of areas of responsibility ascribed to members of the ISM team ● Frequent involvement in issues relating to class discipline, which is primarily the responsibility of the class teacher.The Principal should only become involved in serious breaches of discipline, as outlined in the school’s Code of Behaviour ● Taking full responsibility for all areas of curricular and organisational planning.This can be delegated to members of the ISM team ● School building and maintenance, which is primarily the responsibility of the BoM ● School cleaning and supervision, which is the responsibility of the BoM ● Collecting, counting or banking money ● Making representations on behalf of individual staff members ● Providing individual staff references.This is no longer considered to be effective or useful. It is regarded by many as being more effective to offer to be a referee and to supply your contact details for the purpose of speaking personally to potential employers. 2. CHILDREN In relation to the children, a Principal must: ● Meet, talk with and get to know the children and enable them to understand the role of the Principal ● Visit classrooms regularly to encourage and affirm them in their work and personal development ● Celebrate success in a variety of ways ● Ensure adequate supervision procedures are in place for all areas of the school at all times ● Ensure the school has a comprehensive Child Protection Policy in place and ensure best practice for Child Protection in all situations.The Principal is usually appointed by the BoM as Designated Liaison Person. The following areas should be delegated if they are necessary for the smooth running of the school. Otherwise they should be avoided entirely: ● Organising after-school care facilities ● Organising or supervising homework clubs ● Dealing with lost property ● Acting as chief sports organiser ● Dealing with issues concerning the school uniform ● Organising/supervising extra-curricular activities ● Acting as front-line First Aid person ● Being chief assembly organiser ● Personally transporting children; this should be strictly avoided ● Being alone or out of general view with a child at any time. 3. PARENTS AND PARENTS’ ASSOCIATIONS In relation to the parents, a Principal must: ● Offer professional advice to parents concerning their children’s learning and welfare ● Consult and communicate with parents on all matters of concern to the children in the school ● Organise at least one Parent-Teacher meeting per year for each child ● Provide access to assessment data, as is the parents’ entitlement ● Ensure IEPs are in place for children with low incidence SEN ● Ensure returns on attendance are made to the NEWB as required ● Ensure the school has a comprehensive enrolment policy and that it is strictly followed ● Ensure all aspects of the Complaints Procedure are strictly adhered to. The following areas should be delegated if they are necessary for the smooth running of the school. Otherwise, they should be avoided entirely: ● Meeting parents without an appointment ● Attending Parents’ Association Meetings regularly. Attendance at the AGM may be sufficient ● Acting as placement officer for children going to second-level schools ● Writing letters on behalf of parents.

4. BOARD OF MANAGEMENT In relation to the Board of Management, a Principal must: ● Act as day-to-day manager of the school ● Lead the teaching and learning in the school ● Attend BoM meetings, keeping members well informed with a comprehensive written Principal’s Report ● Act as Secretary to the BoM ● Sit on interview boards for the appointment of staff ● Monitor the annual budget and keep the Treasurer informed ● Liaise and communicate with the Chairperson between meetings The following areas should be delegated if they are necessary for the smooth running of the school. Otherwise, they should be avoided entirely: ● holding the post of Treasurer of the BoM ● Paying bills, writing cheques or handling money ● Organising fund-raising events ● Acting as Health & Safety Officer, this can be delegated to a member of the ISM team ● Acting as Maintenance Officer ● Acting as the ‘out of hours’ key holder ● Acting as the Fire & Security/alarms contact ● Taking responsibility for the hire of school facilities ● Assuming responsibility for managing the appointment process in relation to staff appointments.The BoM, as employer, has this responsibility. ● Acting as Recording Secretary during a BoM meeting.With BoM approval, this duty can be delegated to another member of the Board in order to allow the Principal to fully participate in the work and decision-making process of the meeting. 5. OUTSIDE AGENCIES In relation to Outside Agencies, a Principal must: ● Fully comply with all current legislation ● Follow the Rules for National Schools and all DES Circulars ● Work effectively with the DES Inspectorate and comply with all the requirements of WSE ● Strictly implement the school’s child protection guidelines ● Ensure a proper allocation of SEN resources to all children with SEN ● Comply with all NEWB requirements with regard to attendance ● Ensure that the school has complied with the NEWB requirement for an audit and review of the school’s code of behaviour by 1st September 2010 ● Avail of the services of all DES support agencies as required by the school ● Complete IPPN ‘School Information Form’ available from at the start of the year and submit it on all occasions when such information about the school is sought. The following areas should be delegated if they are necessary for the smooth running of the school. Otherwise, they should be avoided entirely: ● Hosting unscheduled school visits ● Accommodating sales people who can be dealt with by others ● Completion of the Rolls & Register which can be delegated to the ISM team ● Writing IEPs, as this is the responsibility of the Class Teacher ● Reporting of attendance to NEWB – delegate to the ISM team and the school secretary ● Attending Case Conferences ● Arranging appointments and administrative functions for HSE, this is the role of the school secretary ● Disseminating information and/or documentation for others. These suggestions are not being proposed as a blueprint, but rather as a menu of possibilities from which to choose in the year ahead. Ultimately, it will always come down to a choice between the core professional business of your leadership role in leading the learning and being derailed by low priority distractions. Good choices make a great difference.

We must become the change we want to see…Gandhi

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Leading & Learning

Dr Anne Looney, CEO NCCA 1. Career I am from Dublin and was a teacher in a postPrimary school before joining the NCCA on a part-time basis in 1994, then full time in 1997. I was appointed CEO in 2001. 2. Objectives of the NCCA The NCCA advises the Minister for Education and Science on curriculum and assessment for early childhood education and for Primary and Post-Primary schools. The Education Act lists a whole list of tasks for the council but that sentence is a good summary! 3. To whom are you answerable. I am appointed by the Minister, but the 25 member council have the oversight of what we do and how we do it. 4. Staff As of September, in addition to myself, we have two deputy CEO’s, five Directors, Curriculum and Assessment, nine Education Officers, an Assistant Principal, two Higher Executive Officers, one Executive Officer, five Clerical Officers and a Services Officer – 27 full time staff. We have three part-time Education Officers and we would commission work from specialists from time-to-time.

6. Why prioritise the NCCA? They should prioritise the NCCA for curriculum and assessment issues. That’s what we do! 7. Monitoring We publish an annual report and are subject to annual audits by the Comptroller and Auditor General. And a room full of angry or happy teachers/parents/Principals is also a useful indicator of success or otherwise. Seriously though, we commission and conduct research about the impact of our work on an on-going basis. We also actively seek feedback on what we do and the difference it makes. 8. How will the cuts affect NCCA We have already lost staff, and are working from a reduced budget. That’s no news to schools! We also have to be mindful of the system-wide impact of the cuts and to take account of it in our work. If you have a chance, read our paper on Leading and Supporting Change in Schools. It’s about how exhortations for reform are useless unless the school becomes the site of innovation. Working with our Primary School Network keeps us connected to ‘real’ schools. And that work is showing us that the spirit of innovation is alive and well – even in the current challenging circumstances.

9. Reducing the administrative burden on Principals The school network is important for this. Take the work we are doing on Assessment for Learning for example. Because this is being done in and with schools, paperwork, record-keeping and such issues dear to the heart of every Principal have to be addressed up front. 10. If I were Minister If I were only allowed ONE change…joined up thinking on continuing professional development. We have really good teachers and Principals. We have really good providers of professional development. Providing a framework, a space, a focus and a follow-up for that would be a big step forward. 11. 3 Dinner guests George Clooney. And no one else. 12. How do you relax? Reading and attempting my third marathon in three years, but not at the same time. Did I mention George? 13. What is your favourite holiday destination and why? Ballyferriter in West Kerry. Visit and you will know why.

5. How do Principals access that support should get them what they need.

A PRINCIPAL’S SUMMER Damian White The drains are unblocked the shed roof repaired The carpets shampooed and the broom cupboard aired The resource teacher sorted a painter appointed A bill for the Whiteboard and the treasurer anointed An SNA review from a vigilant SENO Brings a P45 some flowers and white vino For the person on whom you have come to depend But for the child in their care it must seem like the end A trip to the shops you may possibly rue As every parent you meet wants your plan for Swine Flu A call from a mammy who got no booklist The June fortnight in Spain meant some school was missed A benevolent local thinks they're giving us gold Through a dozen PC’s over 15 years old The new teacher appointed by a Board of mixed gender Return 300 CV’s to well qualified senders Add grass cuttings, re-surfacing and furniture repair

Whatever is happening, The Principal is there Our wages cut our resources slashed Our goodwill and grace remains to be cashed As the government ponders the plight of our nation Sure we’ll keep the schools happy with roof insulation They snip at free books for children in need While banks remain solvent who cares can they read So prefabs are patched and painted and shone And plans for the new school are all but undone And the school wears a smile as new Infants arrive September’s school’s spring-time and the place is alive With shiny new school bags some tears books and toys And overfull lunchboxes for the small girls and boys And all the bad weather the doom and the gloom Contrast bright cheery faces and a happy classroom And the Principal prays ‘May we all get along’ And ponders just where the summer has gone.

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See how the children grow by Brendan Mc Cabe, Principal, St. Colmcille’s BNS, Kells, Co. Meath The results of the first phase of the recently-published Growing up in Ireland survey examining the lifestyles of nine-year-olds gives serious cause for concern. I find it confirms many of my worst fears. In my time as a Principal I have seen parenting change dramatically from, at one end of the scale,‘do as you are told and ask no questions’ approach to, at the opposite end, ‘keep children happy at all costs’ approach.While the majority of parents were never at either extreme of this scale, I notice a growing number veering towards the idea that their child’s short-term happiness, regardless of future consequences for the child, is paramount. The concept of delayed gratification seems to be virtually redundant.Ten years ago, the majority of parents who came to speak to me in the office at school would have come with academic concerns about their offspring.That is no longer the case.The main reason parents call to see me nowadays is their child has been made unhappy, either by a teacher or by his or her schoolmates. I suspect that the pressures of modern day child-rearing are causing parents to give in very easily to their children’s whims.This is possibly caused by the fact that many parents, because of long working hours and commuting to and from work, are seeing less and less of their children and so feel a need to in some way compensate them. How else to explain the folly of nearly half of all nine-year-olds (there were 8,500 of them in the study) having a TV in their bedrooms? Surely parents are not so naïve as to believe that they have any control over their children’s TV viewing in such a set-up? Furthermore, if that many nine-year-olds have a TV in their bedroom what must the percentage be like for ten, eleven and twelve-year-olds? Many teachers will tell you that, no matter how shocking or explicit a late-night programme, some of their senior pupils will invariably have seen it. One can only wonder where they watched it. Then there is the actual amount of time spent viewing TV. According to the study, two-thirds of nine-year-olds spend one to three hours a day watching TV. Not so bad you might say, but what about the one in ten who spend between three and five hours daily in front of the box? Five hours equates to a full school day. Is there any genuine reason why nearly half the nine-year-olds in the country need a mobile phone? I have dealt with some quite serious cases of text bullying among Primary school children, some of a quite overtly sexual nature between boys and girls. I have yet to come across Bebo being used on the mobiles, but I’m sure it is only a matter of time. Prof James Williams, principal Investigator and Co-ordinator of the Growing up in Ireland study, said the fact that so many nine-year-olds had TVs and mobile phones illustrated the way the world was moving. Indeed it does. Now let us move on to the state of our children’s fitness. Eamon de Valera’s vision in 1943, overly idealistic as perhaps it was, has certainly not come to pass. The 2009 reality: one in five nine-year-olds is overweight and a further 7 per cent are obese, putting them at risk of disease now and in the future. As for the ‘comely maidens’, the girls fare worse than the boys with 22 per cent of them overweight as opposed to 17 per cent of the boys and 8 per cent of them obese compared to 6 per cent of boys. I suspect that there are several contributory causes here.To begin with, very few children now walk or cycle to school. More significantly though, children do not tend to run around and play outdoors as much as before.Today’s parents have a tendency to organise a lot of their children’s leisure activities for them, driving them to and from tennis/swimming/dancing etc. (all of which are, of course, good in themselves)

rather than allowing them to find their own outdoor amusements.The result is that, unless being programmed for specific leisure activities, many children spend their free-time in very sedentary pursuits, TV viewing being chief among them. It is good to see though that parents’ expectations of their children are high. According to the study, 76 per cent of parents expect their child to achieve at least degree level. When it comes to rating children’s ability though, teachers unfortunately do not share the parents’ high opinion. In rating children’s ability, 39 per cent of teachers as opposed to 60 per cent of parents rate children as being ‘above average’ with the corresponding figures for maths being 33 and 52 per cent respectively. Only 6 per cent of children list reading as among their favourite leisure activities. This longitudinal study is one of the most comprehensive ever carried out on Irish schoolchildren. It is being funded by the Dept. of Health and Children in association with the Dept. of Social and Family Affairs and the Central Statistics Office with researchers from ERSI and Trinity College. The 8,500 children surveyed will be followed up at age thirteen. It will be most interesting to see how they mature into adolescence.

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Special Schooling: What do students think and what can we learn? by Colman Motherway, Deputy Principal, Scoil Bernadette, a special school in Cork city In my work as a teacher in a special school for students of second level age (12-18 years) who are considered to have ‘mild general learning disabilities’ (mild GLD), I often wondered how our students felt about being in a special school, and how their views of the school compared to their views of previous schools or other schools. When I asked students their views, they had plenty to say. Over the course of two school years, all students in the school (over 100) were invited to participate in the project. Students’ views were gathered through focus groups, individual and pair interviews, and by written or pictorial contributions.The starting point for each student was: ‘If you knew someone who was starting in this school next September what would you tell them about it?’ By starting with this question, the study aimed to enable, hear and give weight to the views of the students.

What students liked most about the school were the people in the school (other students and staff), the subjects and activities in which they could participate (especially sport and art) The responses given by students were frank and thought-provoking. In general, students commented favourably about their school, and seemed happy to be in the special school. The findings indicate that we should at least consider special schooling as an option for students with special educational needs, in particular when they come to second-level age. What students liked most about the school were the people in the school (other students and staff), the subjects and activities in which they could participate (especially sport and art), the many opportunities to learn outside the classroom (on field trips and educational outings) and having fun. The following selection of comments portrays some of the opinions expressed: ● ‘They (staff members) never shout at you all the time, they just talk quietly’ ● ‘It’s good because you might get lots of friends – shake hands – all over the school’

● ‘Every sport we do in the school is cool because you would keep fit and healthy’ ● ‘(Outings) show us we can deal with the city and the outside world and deal with money’ ● ‘The school is great fun and we have games’. Of course, not all aspects of school life were universally liked. Students commented negatively about rules, other people, the physical environment, schoolwork and homework: ● ‘In normal secondary schools, they have Coke – we’re not allowed to get Coke, only orange and stuff’ ● ‘Some students in the school are sound… others are suck ups and get away with murder’ ● ‘Where the wall was hit it’s not even fixed, every bathroom I went to all the doors are all old and there’s no locks on’ ● ‘Homework is like an enemy’. One theme which appeared throughout the study was bullying.This was an aspect of students’ lives that manifested itself in many spheres: in their current school and in previous (mainstream) schools, but also in their interactions with peers in their communities. Bullying outside school usually consisted of being mocked by others for being seen as having a disability or for going to a special school. ● ‘They might call me a retard’ ● ‘The last school I was in… I didn’t like it at all because I used to get bullied’ ● ‘I still deal with the bullying at home but I take no notice of it now’. A related matter which arose was disclosure. Many students who had positive things to say about the school were nonetheless reticent to admit to others where they went to school. This seems to suggest that the ‘stigma’ of attending a special school remains a real issue for at least some students, especially with their peers in their local area. ● ‘They’d be asking us what school you go to. I just say I can’t tell them. I make some weird name or something’ ● ‘When they ask my school I say I can’t remember the name’. What did the study tell us about students’ experiences in their previous schools? Students PAG E 2 1

encountered a range of challenges in mainstream schools. Predominant among these were difficulties in inter-personal relationships and difficulties in learning. ● ‘I like this school because you can do stuff that you couldn’t do in your old school – like you can make more friends. I didn’t have any friends in my old school’ ● ‘I think I was better off going here because I would have been struggling there… the teachers wouldn’t have been helping you there as much’.

Many students who had positive things to say about the school were nonetheless reticent to admit to others where they went to school. This seems to suggest that the ‘stigma’ of attending a special school In summary, the study has given a clear insight into the views of students in one special school. The study shows the importance of listening to students and taking their views seriously. As a result of this study, a Student Council has been established in the school, to encourage and enable students to express their views. This philosophy of listening to students is something that all schools can easily implement and can help to make all schools better places in which to work and to learn. Recommended reading: Burke, C., & Grosvenor, I. (2003). The school I'd like: Children and young people's reflections on an education for the 21st century. London and New York: RoutledgeFalmer. Colman has recently completed a Doctorate in Education in St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. In his thesis he sought the views of students in the school, and gathered and interpreted their perspectives on inclusive/special education. The full thesis is available to download from Log in and then put ‘Colman Motherway’ in the search field on the homepage. You can contact Colman by email at

Primary Education: An Issue of Human Rights by Colm O'Gorman, Executive Director, Amnesty International Ireland The right to education has its basis in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, agreed over 60 years ago, by the United Nations (UN). This extraordinary document sets out in thirty simple articles, the rights to which every one of us is entitled by virtue of the fact that we are human. It guarantees a right to education for all, to free and compulsory Primary education, for equal access to higher education and for parents to have the right to choose the kind of education their children will receive.

Far from being free, it costs parents €12,000 to put a child through Primary school. The same survey found that three quarters of parents said they had to give extra money to their children at least once a month It doesn’t sound very much like our own education system. Far from being free, it costs parents €12,000 to put a child through Primary school. The same survey found that three quarters of parents said they had to give extra money to their children at least once a month for fundraising events and school supplies. These fundraising efforts are a feature of Irish life. Teachers and Principals have to fundraise, scrimp and save to pay, not for luxuries, but for heating oil and library books. Free Primary education in Ireland, as everyone involved in the education system is well aware, is a myth. Instead of an accessible education system, children with intellectual disabilities or experiencing mental health difficulties routinely do not receive education that is suitable to their needs.The UN has publicly criticised Ireland about what it terms the,‘persistence of discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities’ in education. Children living in poverty and children who are

members of the travelling community are denied equality in access to education. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that poverty and social disadvantage can undermine children’s participation in education and their chances of achieving success in their schooling. An overwhelming majority of schools in Ireland are denominational. Many families have no choice but to send their children to these schools regardless of their beliefs. With limited school places in some areas, children of minority or no religion find there is no room for them in the local school. At the heart of all this is a failure of investment. The 2008 OECD report Education at a Glance showed that only two countries, Greece and the Slovak Republic, invest less as a percentage of GDP in education than Ireland. Our Primary schools are the second largest in the EU with, on average, four more pupils in Irish classes than in other EU countries. Simply put, the Irish Government is failing to deliver on its human rights commitments in the Irish education system. But what do we mean when we talk about the human right to education? When we talk about human rights are we just referring to vague or naïve notions, ideas that are impractical, that would never work in the real world?

An overwhelming majority of schools in Ireland are denominational. Many families have no choice but to send their children to these schools regardless of their beliefs. On the contrary, our human rights are set out in international law. They are contained in legally binding treaties that successive Irish Governments have pledged, and failed, to protect and fulfil.The right to education is laid out in Articles 13 and 14 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

PAG E 2 2

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Education defined the concept of the 4 A’s of a meaningful right to education - available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable.

But what do we mean when we talk about the human right to education? When we talk about human rights are we just referring to vague or naïve notions, ideas that are impractical, that would never work in the real world? Available: Primary education is free and government funded. There is adequate infrastructure, such as safe school buildings and running water, and sufficient trained teachers. Accessible: The education system does not discriminate against anyone and is accessible, and affordable, for all.This also means that some of the most marginalised groups may need to be prioritised to avail of their right. It also means we need schools that are physically accessible. Acceptable: The content of education is relevant, non-discriminatory and culturally appropriate, and of quality.The school itself is safe and teachers are professional. Adaptable: Our education system must be able to evolve with the changing needs of society and contribute to challenging inequalities and that it can be adapted locally to suit specific contexts. One of the interesting features of the right to education is that as well as being a human right in itself, it is what is often termed an empowerment right. Making the right to education real and meaningful for someone increases their opportunities to take advantage of other human rights, such as the right to health and the right to participate in society. It also reduces their vulnerability to unemployment, discrimination, and criminality leading to imprisonment. It is well established as a sound investment for a state to make. In

addition, one UN treaty body notes that ‘the importance of education is not just practical: a well-educated, enlightened and active mind, able to wander freely and widely, is one of the joys and rewards of human existence’.

who are affected by those decisions is fundamental to human rights.

Looking at education as a human right offers an internationally recognised reference point to analyse the Irish education system. But it also offers a way to reframe the debate in Irish society about our education system.

We have to end the system of clientism in education, of schools getting more money because there’s a Government Minister in the constituency. The delivery of a proper education system is not a favour the government might do for us. It should not be dependent, as a Government TD said recently, on whether people in the area voted for him in sufficient numbers.

The way we make decisions has to change. We need to move away from policies being designed for vested interests behind closed doors. Participation in decision-making by the people

It is our human right. It belongs to us. It is the right of the children in our schools and the staff who work in them. It cannot be granted or taken away on the whim of whoever is in charge.

Human rights violations don’t just occur far away in other countries. They occur here in Ireland, in our cities and towns, and in our schools and classrooms. The human rights of people in Ireland, including our right to education, are routinely violated or ignored by our own government. It is time to change that. For more details on the right to education log on to or contact Amnesty International Ireland at

A service from IPPN A simple web-based system that allows you to quickly and easily send instant text messages to specifically targeted groups of people within your school community – parents, members of staff etc. allows you to instantly convey messages such as: ● ● ● ●

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Call the IPPN Support Office on 1890 21 22 23 to register an account Resources ● Swine Flu – links to circular, guidance and flyers from DES, DOHC and other state bodies ● An Bord Snip Nua report excerpts in the Resources/Publications section ● PIMS templates available to download from the Resources/PIMS 2009/2010 section.

PRINCIPAL ADVICE ● Revised version of Airgead Bunscoile and a patch to fix problems with version 2009_v1.0

● New sample interview questions in the Recruitment/Teachers section ● Prayer/song for graduating sixth class pupils; a sample Graduation Service booklet; sample Report Card, all available in the Parents & Pupils section ● Revised FAQ on the topic ‘When are teachers entitled to a CID?’ ● Suggestions in relation to reviewing PoRs – Human Resource Management section ● Critical Incident Policy; Policy on the taking of Course Days; a new checklist for Code of Behaviour in the School Policies section.

Somewhere, over the rainbowâ&#x20AC;Ś by Brendan Mc Cabe, St. Colmcilleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s BNS, Kells & Deputy Editor, Leadership+ OK, now. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s quit the oulâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; nonsense. Enough of these clichĂŠs about glasses being half full or half empty. School leaders have two choices: either commit to five years of continual whinging and honorary membership of the Joe Duffy Whine Line or, as an alternative, accept the reality that the country is up the spout. The Department of Education, like every other government department, is in dire straits financially and schools are going to have to be run on seriously reduced budgets. Our union, as is its duty will cry â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;blue murderâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;enough is enoughâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; but those cries will fall on deaf ears.The government knows that on a scale of one to ten, education in the public mind rates about two.

So come on now, enough of this self-indulgent moaning. Principals are made of sterner stuff. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s look and see if we can blow away the clouds and let a ray of sunshine beam through. How should Principals respond? Can we afford to become depressed and cynical? Is that going to do us personally any good? Will it do our colleagues any good, not to mention the children in our care? Does anybody want to work around a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;killjoyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; who walks around with a grey cloud hanging over their head? Of course not. So come on now, enough of this self-indulgent moaning. Principals are made of sterner stuff. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s look and see if we can blow away the clouds and let a ray of sunshine beam through. The scarcity of finances and resources can actually become an opportunity to re-prioritise. If there is less money out there to spend, then it follows that we need to choose our spending options very carefully. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cut away the fat and stop investing money in things that are of dubious use. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s many a school that has spent large sums of money on beautiful percussion sets, so as to fully implement the revised music curriculum, only to find them lying unused and forgotten shortly afterwards. Is it possible that children could, for the moment, clap or stomp their feet or, at a stretch, make their own percussion instruments. Thus freeing up money to resurface that dangerously ravelled tarmac or purchase those badly needed sets of class novels?

Boards of Management can play a vital role in this regard. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time that we got away from Board members who sit at meetings mutely watching the Chairperson and taking their lead from him/her, never venturing to throw in an original idea. We need professionalism in the way that schools are managed. By that, I mean officers who know their role and know exactly what is expected of them in that role. A Treasurer needs to know how to produce detailed accounts that show clearly where the money is being spent and how that spending is going, relative to the planned budget.Without such information, Boards cannot possibly plan with any confidence. The greatest resource in any classroom is the teacher. An inspiring teacher, and thankfully we have all met at least one of them in our schooldays, can, with very little equipment, fire childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s imaginations and engender in them a real thirst for knowledge. These are the teachers who leave a mark on their pupils (and I mean that in the nicest sense!) and help set them up for launching into the wider world. Not all teachers are endowed with this gift naturally of course, so money spent on Continuous Professional Development for teachers is money well spent. I believe all Boards of Management should set a goodly sum aside each year for such a purpose. I would include in CPD things like attendance at the IPPN Annual Conference, where teachers have an opportunity to network and share ideas on best practice.

The scarcity of finances and resources can actually become an opportunity to re-prioritise. If there is less money out there to spend then it follows that we need to choose our spending options very carefully. Most teachers do a fantastic job. Fact. Most of us have our speciality and are particularly good at doing at least one thing within the school. So spread it about. Why confine it to just one classroom? A gifted Music/Drama/Irish/PE teacher could easily teach that subject in at least two classes, changing with another teacher who could cover some other subject for them. The PAG E 2 4

teacher who is gifted at teaching that subject inevitably enjoys doing so. So let them at it.Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s real sharing of resources! Finally, in these stringent times there is one important thing that any staff of generous teachers can share with each other, and it comes completely free â&#x20AC;&#x201C; friendship and collegiality. In many schools there is a strong sense of collegiality, hopefully fostered by the Principal. Relationships and bonds between staff members are strong.This is not something that is in any way affected by the downturn in the economy. So celebrate it. Enjoy and savour it. Stick a great big sign on the staffroom door â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;No Moan Zone.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Be like the optimist who fell from the roof of the skyscraper and, while passing the fourth storey on the way down was overheard muttering â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;so far, so good!â&#x20AC;&#x2122;



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Learning and Growing Celebrating 10 years of the Primary School Curriculum by Kathryn Crowley, Director, Curriculum and Assessment in the NCCA On the 9th September 2009 the Primary School Curriculum is ten years old. How time flies! You may recall that earlier this year the NCCA, with the support of the Education Centre network, invited schools to contribute captioned photos and stories of the curriculum-in-action in their schools. We really appreciate the time that teachers and principals took to submit those photos and stories at such a busy period. We received hundreds of wonderful images spanning the six curricular areas from schools all over the country. Some schools also shared stories about their experiences of teaching and learning in different aspects of the curriculum. The stories include themes such as numeracy, the arts, curriculum leadership, play, ICT, science, assessment and SPHE. We have created a web space at that is accessible from the 9th September. On that day, Mr. Batt O’ Keeffe, T.D. Minister for Education and Science, marked the occasion in St. Louise

de Marillac Junior and Senior Schools in Dublin. The web space is intended to celebrate the work of Primary schools in bringing the curriculum to life over the ten years from 1999 to 2009. The schools that submitted photos or stories will receive a certificate of participation and a CDRom containing the photos and stories in the near future. The school stories will also be available to read in future editions of the NCCA electronic info@ncca magazine. If you have not already subscribed, you can do so now at

In recent reviews of the curriculum, teachers have reported that the children’s enjoyment of learning was their greatest curriculum success. In recent reviews of the curriculum, teachers have reported that the children’s enjoyment of learning was their greatest curriculum success. As it states

on the website, fostering the happiness of childhood, a time of discovery and delight, is something of which we can and should be proud. The NCCA and the Department of Education and Science can only create a curriculum on paper. Teachers, principals and children bring it to life. Ten years on, what better way of paying tribute to the work of schools than by publicly celebrating, sharing and learning from it? No single photograph or story can capture the complexity of teaching and learning. However, the collection of photos and stories do provide an insight into the daily practices and the creativity that define the curriculum in action in a cross-section of real classrooms across the country. The tenth anniversary gives us this opportunity to reflect on the past, to celebrate our achievements and to look forward to the future. The NCCA thanks teachers and principals for their generous contributions of photos and stories to mark the occasion and thanks the Education Centre network for its support of the initiative.

A Future Weatherman (SESE – Geography, Senior Infants) Scoil Chaitríona Junior Renmore Galway

On the Maths Trail (Maths, 6th class) Our Lady of Lourdes N.S. Rosbrien Limerick

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If you can't stand the heat..

Outgoing President Larry Fleming doing a 'Gordon Ramsey' impersonation as new president Pat Goff sends out smoke signals. (The editor can verify that the steak was cooked to perfection!)

All teaching vacancies now being advertised on ● carries more teaching jobs daily than all Irish newspapers and websites combined, making it the number one location to advertise vacancies to thousands of teachers ● Imagine an advertising service that is not only FREE but also delivers details of your job by e-mail and text message to teachers whose pre-selected criteria match your vacancy needs ● Operating since 2002, is a user-friendly website designed by Principals for Principals ● Advertising a vacancy is a short process with clear on-screen instructions.

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Leadership in Action School Principal and Macra stalwart by Anne Marie McKenna

Anne Marie McKenna is Principal of Nobber NS, Co Meath since 2007. She had been a member of staff at her school prior to her appointment and has also taught in Dublin. She studied at UCD and completed her post graduate degree in Primary Teaching in Aberystwyth. She is married to Barry. Macra na Feirme is a voluntary organisation for young people between the ages of 17 and 35.The organisation consists of a nationwide network of clubs with six key areas of activity: agriculture, sports, travel, public speaking, community involvement and performing arts.

gold leadership awards, represented my country on the European Rally and last year was chosen as one of the top 3 leaders in the country. Each year three leaders are chosen from over 200 applicants.They are put through a series of interviews and have to write a 3,000 word essay on a leadership based topic. The three winners receive a specially commissioned piece of Genesis and a â&#x201A;Ź2000 travel bursary.

Macra na Feirme was founded in 1944 by rural science teacher Stephen Cullinan. The organisation's original purpose was to provide young farmers with adequate training to ensure their livelihood and to provide an outlet for socialising in rural areas.

Macra is hugely important in my life. I have meetings a couple of times a week and my diary fills up very quickly from competitions to meetings to weekends away. I have very little time left for other interests.There are weeks when the only time I see the house is when I crawl into bed at night and leave it behind in the morning. I have travelled every inch of the country to some Macra function or other and have spent the equivalent of a mortgage on petrol.Yet, I wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t change it for anything. I firmly believe that Macra has made me the person I am today. I am a better person and a better leader because of Macra. I have developed so many skills that have helped to get me where I am and I have made the most amazing friends. I even managed to get myself a husband out of it!

Macra na Feirme was adopted as the official title of the organisation in December 1946. 'Macra na Feirme' means 'stalwarts of the land'.

Macra is like most organisations, you get out what you put in. I have invested a huge amount of time and energy into it and am still reaping the rewards.

Macra na Feirme is committed to the personal development of members and puts emphasis on social interaction and participation.

Over 250,000 young people have passed through the ranks of Macra na Feirme. Much has changed since those early days; young people have different priorities now and need new challenges, which Macra today tries to provide. Currently Macra na Feirme has 9,000 members in 300 clubs. Approximately one-third of Macra members are involved in farming,40% of whom are female. Macra is a democratic organisation and every member is entitled to air their opinions at club, regional and national level. So what have I gotten out of my Macra membership and how does it fit into my already hectic schedule?? I joined Macra the same year that I returned to Nobber to live and work. I had been away in college followed by a spell teaching in Dublin, so when I came back home I realised that my social outlets were a lot narrower in rural Co. Meath.The only access I had to public transport was a bus that left Moynalty at 9.00am in the morning and was back at 5.00pm in the evening. In my book, that does not amount to much of a social life! An article in the paper about Macra caught my attention and I decided to see what it was really about. From my first meeting, I can honestly say that I have never looked back.This is an organisation run by young people for young people.Therefore the young people get what they want and need out of it. I was never one for public speaking or debating, but since joining Macra I have won county and regional titles for both. I would never have considered myself sporty but I love taking part in tag-rugby and have climbed the four peaks and completed Challenge 26 (26 miles in 26 counties in 26 hours).Whoever you are, whatever you do, Macra has something for you. I have progressed from being an ordinary member to holding officerships in my local club, Moynalty, to being county Competitions Chairperson, Secretary and now County Secretary. I also sit on the National Competitions Committee. Each year County Officers are encouraged to take part in a leadership programme sponsored by Bank of Ireland. Through this I have earned three PAG E 2 7

Leadership+ Issue 52 September 2009  
Leadership+ Issue 52 September 2009