The time is now’ for senior cycle reform; NAPD Annual Conference
School leaders from Ireland’s 700 post primary schools gather virtually for Annual Conference today, ‘From Functioning to Flourishing’
- NAPD makes clear its intentions to seek progression of reform of senior cycle ahead of its Annual Conference today;
- Minister for Education Norma Foley set to join conference for ‘open discussion’ on the learnings from the pandemic and senior cycle reform;
Speaking ahead of today’s event, Paul Crone, Director, NAPD:
‘Our Annual Conference this week and its theme, ‘From Functioning to Flourishing’ will bring post primary school leaders together to consider the opportunities the pandemic has created for the enhancement of Irish education. Reform of the senior cycle is a key element of this, and we look forward to discussing this issue with Minister Foley later today.
‘The case for such reform has never been greater and the time for action is now. School leaders stand ready to implement senior cycle reform, progress that will improve the development and learning of our young people, and we urge the Minister to act with intent.’
The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), the representative body for Ireland’s post primary school leaders, will meet virtually today and tomorrow (Wednesday and Thursday, 20 and 21 October) for its Annual Conference. School leaders from Ireland’s 700 post primary schools are expected to join the event which will feature a panel discussion with Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and seminars from a host of education and leadership experts.
The conference will focus on the theme ‘From Functioning to Flourishing’ and will involve reflection and debate on the lessons learned for school communities during the Covid-19 pandemic and the opportunities these now present.
Last week, the Association elected outgoing Vice President and Principal, Ramsgrange Community School, Co. Wexford, Rachel O’Connor, as its incoming President. The Waterford native holds a wealth of experience in education advocacy and leadership. She is set to address members tomorrow on her vision for Irish post primary education in the year ahead.
Outgoing President and Principal, Laurel Hill Secondary School, Co. Limerick, Michael Cregan will open the two-day event today. Both Presidents are set to outline the work achieved to date on senior cycle reform and the urgency required to progress this in the months ahead – both in their respective speeches and during a panel discussion with Minister Foley later today.
Student focused collaboration between education partners
The greatest outcome of this process, the student-focussed collaboration between all education partners, must be carried forward and repeated to now deliver broader, permanent reform of the senior cycle.
Research undertaken in 2018 by the NAPD found that 83% of students claimed that the Leaving Certificate examination in its traditional form was ‘not the best way to assess’ their educational achievement. In the same survey, 55% of parents were in favour of their children being assessed by their teacher and 65% of teachers were in favour of comprehensive reform of the Leaving Certificate. The reform agenda has gathered further momentum in light of the pandemic.
Speaking ahead of today’s event and on reform of the senior cycle, Rachel O’Connor, President, NAPD, said:
“Over the past 18 months, the post primary sector has demonstrated great adaptability to maintain and improve the quality of education for our students. Through such adaption, we have learned that it is possible for our excellent teachers to assess their students, that entry to third level must be decoupled from terminal exam results and most importantly, that students’ anxiety and stress were significantly reduced when they had options.
“At every stage during this process, students’ voices were heard and as we seek to progress reform of the senior cycle, the NAPD advocates strongly for students to continue to be given a stronger say in their learning and assessment.
“To this end, the pace at which such reform is occurring is concerning. While school leaders acknowledge that the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic continue to impact how we deliver education in Ireland and will likely do so for some time to come, there must now be resources directed towards senior cycle reform with urgency. We cannot allow another academic year to slip past without progress and delivery. The time for action is now.
“NAPD members stand ready to implement reform and look forward to hearing Minister Foley re-iterate her commitment and that of her Departmental colleagues later day.”
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