National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals


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The Student Voice

We need to let students speak & we need to listen to them very carefully!

In this edition of Leader we want to celebrate the Student Voice. We want to give a platform to young people and to reflect as many of their talents, their concerns and their needs as we can.

In twenty or so pages we cannot hope to capture the rich diversity of the Student Voice, but we will give it ‘our best shot’.

We’re starting with Dr. Paula Flynn of the School of Education in Trinity College, Dublin. Paula has dedicated her entire study and research to be an advocate of children’s rights. They relate particularly to the rights of young people to be heard and to ‘have their say.’ We have an age-old tradition in education of ‘knowing what’s best for our students’. Now we need to develop a ‘culture of listening.’

The second piece is drawn from the contribution by three members of the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union [ISSU] to the recent NAPD Symposium, which was primarily about mental health and wellbeing. The students want to speak and they want to be heard. They have an impressive level of certainty about their needs and their capacity to take responsibility. They were polite; they were articulate, but I think that, as they grow in confidence, their voices will become more urgent and more strident. We cannot afford to ignore them!

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It should have been a great year. We’ve celebrated our Centenary with much dignity and restraint and we’ve reached a satisfactory – if underwhelming - level of reflective revisionism.

We’ve seen our President do us proud as a man of gravitas and philosophical wisdom, constantly reminding us of the ideals towards which we should aspire….…. and we’ve even seen David Mullins ‘rule the world’ at Aintree.

Yet almost two months after the General Election the ship of state drifts inexorably on towards the rocks, with squabbling on the bridge, tussling over who takes the wheel,  no-one in command in the engine room and our education system, amplifying its angst through the Easter conferences, with its own share of tragedy and triviality, wafting slowly onwards.

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April Leader

The Leader - April Edition Now available in hard copy and online for members in the publications section.


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I recently received communication from one of our colleagues outlining his justifiable anger and frustration at the publication of league tables in the national press. These tables attempt to compare schools on the basis of the numbers of students from each school entering third level education. All of us who are involved in second level education are fully aware of the fact that such statistics are in no way reflective of the excellent work being done in our schools. Such a superficial glance at schools viewed through this narrow lens misses the very essence of what makes our schools the caring, nurturing organisations which they are. The purpose of our education system is to grow and develop the individual talents of the students who pass through our schools and to equip each and every one of them with the necessary skills and competences to take their place in our society.

We, who are working at the coal face in our country’s schools, are fully aware that not all students aspire to enter third level education following their Leaving Certificate. In fact there is a growing trend for students who although they fully intend entering third level courses, choose to participate in Higher Education courses directly after their Leaving Certificate examinations in preparation for their chosen career path in third level or elsewhere. The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) in April 2015 indicated the potential for 20,000 new jobs in the construction industry. The CIF have actively promoted the uptake of apprenticeships to fill the shortfall which has arisen in the construction sector over the last few years. The success of their policy has seen the numbers entering apprenticeships double between 2012 and 2015. The students who opt for such career choices will not appear on the radar of the League Table. Similarly students who opt for PLC courses will be obscured from the narrow field of vision used to compile the statistics on the league table which has upset our colleagues.

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NAPD represents Principals and Deputy Principals at post-primary level in the Republic of Ireland.

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