NAPD sets the scene for school reopening as Covid Committee hears from Ireland’s secondary school leaders

NAPD sets the scene for school reopening as Covid Committee hears from Ireland’s secondary school leaders

A full return to school in late August-September described by school leaders as “best outcome”, provided it is safe to do so for all students and staff.

  • The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) to present to Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response on key challenges set for schools and school leaders as return to traditional post-primary education planned
  • Minister for Education Norma Foley and all education stakeholders must take key learnings from recent months to modernise post primary education
  • Leaving Certificate reform and digital learning access for all students must now be progressed
  • Extra school resources essential as challenges of dated infrastructure, social distancing, immunocompromised students and staff, and blended learning to be heard by committee members.

The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) is set to present to the Oireachtas Special Committee on Ireland’s Covid-19 response, today, Tuesday, 7 July 2020.

Alan Mongey, NAPD President and Principal of Coláiste Bhaile Chláir in Claregalway and Paul Byrne, NAPD Deputy Director will outline the challenges facing post-primary education as schools plan to reopen in late August–September.

The NAPD and school leaders from the over 700 post-primary schools it represents have been at the forefront of ensuring continued student learning and the implementation of the Leaving Cert ‘calculated grades’ programme, necessary due to Ireland’s Covid-19 restrictions.

This in-depth insight into the challenges brought about by Covid-19 has led to a clear understanding among post-primary school leaders that “a one-size-fits-all solution to school reopening will not work”.

What’s needed?

While the reopening of schools will create huge responsibility for all involved, centralised Department of Education support, guidance, and procurement is essential to reduce the burden that will be placed on school leaders.

As it stands, it will be principals and deputy principals who are primarily tasked with leading and managing any return to traditional education. This workload will add to that of an already over-stretched cohort who were already calling for increased resources and support pre-Covid-19.

Each school requires:

  • The appointment of a Covid-19 assistant to implement and monitor full public health guidelines.
  • Financial investment to allow the purchase of increased cleaning and social distancing infrastructure.

Learnings from Covid-19

While Covid-19 has brought about unprecedented challenges for post primary education, it can now provide us with an opportunity to reflect and allow what the NAPD describes as “key learnings to be made on reforming an education sector” that in recent times has proven to be “unfit for adaption”.

The Association is set to call on education stakeholders to use Covid-19 as a precedent for rolling out blended learning, Leaving Cert reform and school digitalisation, all progressions it describes as having previously been “unworkable” and which now are completely necessary.

Speaking ahead of the NAPD’s presentation to the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response, Alan Mongey, NAPD President, said:

“The NAPD welcomes the opportunity to present to the Oireachtas Committee today as the body representing school leaders from over 700 post-primary schools across Ireland.

“School leaders are committed to working in partnership with all education stakeholders to prepare for the safe reopening of schools in late August and September in order to provide the best education for all students. There is no doubt that a return to traditional education as soon as possible is the best outcome for all concerned.

“Increased investment in education is essential. The choice for government is an important one: a failure to adequately invest in the short term will lead to a further loss in learning opportunities for those students whose school year and learning has been interrupted. The rollout of proper resourcing now can prevent further learning loss and ensure no student is disadvantaged.

“Likewise, a failure to take and implement learnings from Covid-19 to reform post-primary education will be a missed opportunity and will leave us ill-equipped to face a similar future pandemic scenario.”

 

ENDS

 

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Paddy O’Dea paddy@weare360.ie │ 086 357 3365

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NAPD welcomes the appointment of new Minister for Education, Norma Foley, but describes challenges now facing post-primary education as the ‘most pressing in the State’s history’

NAPD welcomes the appointment of new Minister for Education, Norma Foley, but describes challenges now facing post-primary education as the ‘most pressing in the State’s history’

  • NAPD has called on the new Minister to adequately resource secondary schools to enable their reopening in September and use the lessons learned from Covid-19 to advance Senior Cycle reforms;
  • School leaders also call for increased supports to address the principal recruitment and retention crisis, a growing issue in the sector;
  • Social distancing, immunocompromised teachers and students, student access to broadband and digital devices and school transport among key issues post Covid-19;
  • Clive Byrne, Director NAPD: “Never has there been a more pressing time for addressing the immediate and long-term challenges of the post primary sector and we look forward to engaging with the Minister and her officials on these issues in the weeks and months ahead.”

 

The National Association of Principals & Deputy Principals (NAPD) has today, Saturday, 27 June 2020, congratulated Minister Foley on her appointment as Minister for Education and set out its key asks as she embarks on her new role.

The NAPD has been a key player in the education sector’s response and adaptation to challenges brought about by Covid-19. School leaders, already under resourced, have gone above and beyond to ensure continuation of learning for students and the successful implementation of the Leaving Certificate ‘calculated grades’ programme.

Clive Byrne, Director NAPD, says “There has never been a more challenging time for Irish education. We have endeavoured to adapt our teaching and examination processes so as to not disadvantage any student and we now need further resourcing and support from Minister Foley to make this a reality.”

As schools are asked to prepare to reopen this September, the immediate needs for the safety and wellbeing of all second level students and staff include:

  • Adequate financial resourcing for increased protection and cleaning requirements to prevent Covid-19 transmission.
  • Investments in technology and broadband infrastructure to allow remote learning and teaching for immunocompromised students and teachers.
  • Blended learning guidance and resources to optimise student experience.
  • Investment in school transport services to facilitate student safety, within public health guidelines.

The NAPD has also called on Minister Foley to acknowledge the learnings for the post primary education sector, during the Covid-19 lockdown and public health response. School leaders have outlined the need for substantial Leaving Certificate reform for many years. The challenges brought about by Covid-19 for executing the traditional, outdated, state examinations process have been brought to light and given full public scrutiny. It is now clear that a new approach must be taken.

The Programme for Government includes a plan to hold a ‘Citizens Assembly’ on Irish education and the NAPD believes this will be a crucial moment to strategise reform of the sector for the new Minister.

Commenting on the appointment of Minister Foley, Clive Byrne, Director NAPD, said:

“The NAPD, as the representative body of school leaders in over 700 secondary schools, looks forward to working closely with Minister Foley during the term of next Government. In order to achieve substantial progress for our students, we ask that the Minister engages with and listens to all education stakeholders.

“Of upmost urgency is the need to adequately resource and support secondary schools as we work to reopen this September. We must receive clear, realistic guidance from the Minister and her officials in order to protect the safety of all our students and staff.

“It would be regrettable for the Minister to not take learnings from the past number of months and the challenges Covid-19 has brought about for Irish education. We ask that we now move to future proof our state examinations system and execute reforms that have the best interests of our students at heart.

“School leaders and all those working in education have gone above and beyond in recent months and we must now address the long-term issues of principal recruitment and retention to ensure all our schools are appropriately led into a post Covid-19 era.” 

ENDS

For media queries:

Paddy O’Dea/ paddy@weare360.ie/ 086 357 3365

Barry Murphy/ barry@weare360.ie/ 087 266 9878

NAPD response to cancellation of Leaving Certificate examinations – 08 May, 2020

NAPD response to cancellation of Leaving Certificate examinations – 08 May, 2020

The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) has responded to news of the Department of Education’s decision to cancel this year’s Leaving Certificate Examinations, with all students set to receive ‘calculated grades’.

According to Clive Byrne, Director of the NAPD:

“We recognise that the last few weeks have been a time of great stress and uncertainty for Leaving Certificate students and their families.

“The Minister for Education’s decision to cancel the Leaving Certificate and replace it with calculated grades is to be welcomed.

“We recognise that there is no perfect solution to the challenges we currently face. Therefore, whilst we appreciate that this alternative arrangement announced today is far from ideal situation and not without its challenges, we hope it will provide much needed clarity for our students. 

“We still have a journey to go on in finalising the detail around this new approach, however as school leaders, we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that the Class of 2020 can move on to the world of work, Further Education or Higher Education next autumn.

“Finally, we would like to thank our partners across the education sector for their engagement to date and we look forward to continuing to work with them on the remaining details in the days ahead.”

 ENDS

NAPD welcomes the revised Junior Certificate arrangements announced by the Department of Education – 29 April, 2020

NAPD welcomes the revised Junior Certificate arrangements announced by the Department of Education – 29 April, 2020

The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) has responded to news of the Department of Education’s announcement this afternoon in relation to providing schools with greater freedom to decide whether to run school-based assessments for Junior Cycle students this semester.

According to Clive Byrne, Director of the NAPD:

“The Coronavirus continues to cause unprecedented levels of disruption and chaos across the Irish education system and this disruption is being felt across the board by students, teachers, school leaders and parents, but most critically, by our students in exam years. 

“To this end. the NAPD welcomes the decision taken today by the Department of Education and Skills to provide schools with greater freedom to decide how best to facilitate school-based assessments for this year’s Junior Certificate students. 

“The health and wellbeing of our students has always been our priority, and that of the Department of Education. To their credit, the Department of Education has clearly listened to the feedback and concerns voiced by school leaders, teachers and students. Today’s decision reflects this, and will help provide students with greater clarity and certainty into how their three years of hard work and learning throughout the Junior Cycle will be assessed.

“It will also mean that students and their families can look forward to entering Senior Cycle education this autumn without the burden of unfinished Junior Cycle exams to contend with.”

ENDS

Response to announcement on state examinations

 

Response to announcement on state examinations

 

Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools, (ACCS) Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI), Joint Managerial Body (JMB) and National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) appreciate the clarity brought by this morning’s announcement regarding the state examinations.  This brings certainty for students at this difficult time as they continue to prepare for their Leaving Certificate and Junior Cycle Exams.

We wish to assure the students and parents of the continued support of their schools in maintaining continuity of teaching and learning and engagement with the student cohort. This is a vitally important time for students to remain connected with their schools and their teachers, and we would encourage all students to do so and their parents to support them in this regard.

We look forward to engaging further with the Department of Education and Skills to work through the operational details of this announcement over the coming weeks.

 

John Irwin                     Nessa White                                John Curtis                                   Clive Byrne

General Secretary    General Secretary                  General Secretary              Director

ACCS                                ETBI                                               JMB                                     NAPD

 

ENDS

 

 

 

Nationwide call for schools to donate stock of personal protective equipment to HSE

03 April 2020

Nationwide call for schools to donate stock of personal protective equipment to HSE

  • National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals has asked schools, where possible, to donate their science lab stock of personal protective equipment to the HSE.
  • Unused protective gear to be made available for front line services.
  • Clive Byrne, NAPD Director: “At this time of national crisis, when our medical professionals are putting themselves on the frontline to battle Covid-19, everyone must do their part to help where they can.”

 

The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) has today, 03 April 2020, called on its members to donate their school’s surplus science laboratory personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline services.

Significant stocks of PPE currently lie unused in secondary schools across the country and are now set to be made available to teams on the frontline.

The NAPD has issued a circular to its members, asking them to arrange for their school’s supplies of personal protective equipment to be transferred to local hospitals and nursing homes. Principals have been guided to contact their local Garda station, who have committed to collecting all donated equipment from schools and facilitating its delivery to the HSE.

School principals can also make supplies available through the Office of Government Procurement website, here.

Guidelines on the type of PPE suitable for donation have been provided by the HSE and included in the NAPD’s request to members. The list includes protective goggles, glasses, gloves and gowns.

 

Commenting on the move, Clive Byrne, NAPD Director said:

“Today we have called on all secondary schools to donate their science lab personal protective equipment for use in our hospitals and nursing homes across the country.

“At this time of national crisis, when our medical professionals are putting themselves on the frontline to battle Covid-19, everyone must do their part to help where they can.

“Many secondary school science labs have significant quantities of unused goggles, gloves and other forms of PPE. While schools are closed and there is an acute shortage of PPE across our health service, school leaders have felt it appropriate to add school stocks to the national supply.

“School leaders have been asked to co-ordinate the gathering, packing and provision of science lab PPE safely, following all HSE social distancing guidelines.

“We welcome the support of An Garda Síochána in facilitating the collection of PPE supplies from schools. We also welcome the guidance from the Department of Education on this matter.”

 

ENDS

 

For media enquiries, contact:

Gavin Nugent | gnugent@pr360.ie | 083 187 7794

Barry Murphy | barry@pr360.ie | 087 266 9878

Less than one in three secondary school leaders predict they’ll still be in a leadership role in five years’ time

Less than one in three secondary school leaders predict they’ll still be in a leadership role in five years’ time

Research published in advance of NAPD symposium on principal wellbeing, workload, and work-life balance at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dublin on Tuesday, 10 March

  • School leaders’ wellbeing increases every year until they have been in the same role for ten years, at which point it plummets
  • Employee relations, teacher appointments, and financial management are cited as most stressful responsibilities of the job
  • Speakers include Tony O’Brien, former HSE director general; Dr Karen Edge, reader in education leadership at University College London; Dr Jolanta Burke, chartered psychologist; and Tony Daly, HR management at Pfizer Ireland
  • NAPD director comment: “Late last year, my colleagues and I predicted that the next emergency in education would be a shortage of secondary school principals. Today’s research bears this out.” 

Less than one in three secondary school leaders predict they will still be in a leadership role in five years’ time, according to new research published by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD).

The research, conducted among 266 participants, consisting of 150 principals and 106 deputy principals, analysed the challenges faced by today’s secondary school leaders and the supports required to carry out their roles.

National symposium

The new report, “Wellbeing of Leaders in Post-Primary Schools in Ireland”, was published ahead of the NAPD’s national symposium on school leader wellbeing, workload, and work/life balance, taking place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel this morning (Tuesday, 10 March).

The symposium will focus on the sustainability of school leadership while also examining the requirement for increased supports and resources.

Sources of stress

According to the research, 48% of principals and deputy principals experience “a lot” of stress, 39% experience moderate stress, while a further 13% cite a little stress.

In addition, the research suggests that school leaders’ wellbeing increases year-on-year until they have been in the same role for 10 years, at which point it plummets.

Among the biggest sources of stress for principals and deputy principals are dealing with people and cultivating positive professional relationships (44%).  Other sources of stress include oversight of plant management, external agency engagement, and administrative responsibilities.

The research found that the three most stressful responsibilities are managing employee relations, new teacher and substitute teacher appointments, and financial management.

The three most important sources of support cited were a school leader’s partner or spouse, his or her principal or deputy principal, and the wider school leadership.

Potential solutions

The survey found that better distribution of workload, additional administrative support, training and skills enhancement, and improved salaries would all play a role in making the job more attractive.

In addition, the research suggests that the greatest areas for leadership development are:

  1. Time management
  2. People management
  3. Administrative training
  4. Team-building skills
  5. Legal and HR skills, including performance management
  6. Marketing and budgetary skills
  7. Critical incident management skills
  8. Counselling and conflict resolution
  9. GDPR training.

 

Comment

Speaking in advance of the national symposium, Clive Byrne, Director of the NAPD, said:

Late last year, my colleagues and I predicted that the next emergency in education would be a shortage of secondary school principals.  Today’s research bears this out.

“The role of a modern principal is akin to running a complex business, and school leaders are looking for support.  They are navigating rapidly growing student populations and evolving student and staff needs without the required parallel government investment or supports.

“By extension, their colleagues in the staffroom see the unrelenting stress, pressure, and psychological strain that comes with the role and decide against pursuing such positions.

“This issue of recruitment and retention of school leaders is only going to become more acute in the years ahead.  It’s critical that we look to address the causes of this stress and identify potential solutions and supports, including increased administrative support, training, and skills enhancement, that can help ease the burden on our school leaders and ensure the position continues to attract the best talent and expertise into the future.

“We look forward to engaging with international experts on these at our symposium.”

 

ENDS

 

For media enquiries, contact:

 

Paddy O’Dea | paddy@pr360.ie | 01 637 1777 | 086 357 3365

Gavin Nugent | gnugent@pr360.ie | 01 637 1777 | 083 187 7794

Barry Murphy | barry@pr360.ie | 01 637 1777 | 087 266 9878

NAPD Conference Press Release

‘The next emergency in education will be a shortage of school principals’ – NAPD President

  • NAPD Annual Conference opens in The Lyrath Hotel, Kilkenny today, Thursday, 17 October
  • 600 secondary school leaders to discuss how our education system can progress and adapt to new regulations and a persistent lack of adequate financial resourcing from Government
  • Key speakers to include Dutch psychologist Professor Mark van Vugt and Dr. Anne Bamford, an international expert in the education of the arts
  • Conference to demo new ‘digital classroom’
  • NAPD comment: “There is an issue with the recruitment and retention of our school leaders. There are too few applicants for the position of principal, and we cannot ignore this.” 

A shortage of school principals will be the next crisis facing the Irish education system, according to Kieran Golden, President of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD). 

According to Mr Golden: “There is a significant issue with the recruitment and retention of our school leaders.  There are too few applicants for the position of principal, and we cannot ignore this.  We need to take serious notice of the impact of an ever-expanding workload on the welfare of our school leaders.”

To alleviate this growing workload, the NAPD is asking for the allocation of additional deputy principal posts and clerical staff posts based on an incremental sliding scale rather than a clinical cut-off point of 700 pupils, which takes no account of the wider context of the school.

Mr Golden will deliver a keynote speech at the Annual Conference of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, opening in Kilkenny today (Thursday).

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘An Bradán Feasa – Essential Knowledge for Today’s School Leaders’ and it will explore how our second-level education system must adapt to the key issues of education funding, recruitment and retention challenges, The Student & Parent Charter, curriculum changes, GDPR, and technology.

Over 600 principals and deputy principals are expected to attend the two-day conference, which commences at Kilkenny’s Lyrath Hotel from 10am today.  Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD will make an address on Friday morning.

The conference programme includes a number of leading Irish and international educational experts and business leaders who will debate and present on the challenges facing our current education system and the innovative ways in which these issues can be overcome.

Digital classroom

Students from Le Chéile Secondary School, Tyrellstown will showcase a model of digital classroom, highlighting the latest innovations in digital education. This includes lessons in coding, digital skills, maths, business, music, geography and virtual field trips.  The classroom will be an example of how IT can be used to enhance digital learning in the classroom and can be achieved using either Apple, Microsoft or Google technology.

Key-note presentations include:

  • ‘Making the implicit explicit – bringing the learning home’
    • Tomás O’Ruairc, Director of the Teaching Council
  • ‘Follow the Leader – but at what cost? – Models of Leadership in human and non-human societies’
    • Dutch academic and evolutionary psychologist, Professor Mark van Vugt
  • ‘The How Factor: Ensuring culture and art education for all students’
    • International expert in the arts, education, emerging literacies, and visual communication, Dr Anne Bamford

Other key areas to be examined over the course of the conference include:

  • The renewed importance of arts education at second level
  • The adoption and roll out of the new Student & Parent Charter

Commenting ahead of the conference, National Director of the NAPD, Clive Byrne, said:

“We look forward to welcoming NAPD members to Kilkenny today for our Annual Conference.  The conference comes at a time where the education system is coming under increasing strain due to a growing student population and the need for parallel Government investment.

“For example, while Budget 2020 was, on balance, received as a positive Budget for education, the provision of 150 new mainstream teaching posts will have little impact on Ireland’s growing student-teacher ratios.      

“We are also hoping to address many of the more complex issues that our principals face day-to-day in our schools, such as the interaction between school management, parents and teachers, GDPR, and the challenge and opportunities that come with keeping pace with new technologies.

“Despite these challenges, our second-level education system has adapted. Many schools have successfully rolled out Physical Education as a Leaving Certificate subject and many more have embedded Computer Education within our curriculum. With increased funding, we will be able to implement these changes nationally in due course.  However, we are currently a considerable distance away from making this happen.” 

ENDS

 

For media enquiries, contact:

Paddy O’Dea | paddy@pr360.ie | 01 637 1777 | 086 357 3365

Barry Murphy | barry@pr360.ie | 01 637 1777 | 087 266 9878

Principals congratulates Leaving Cert students on results, urges renewed focus on senior cycle reform agenda

Principals congratulates Leaving Cert students on results, urges renewed focus on senior cycle reform agenda

Comment from Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD): “Amidst the excitement and emotions of today’s exam results, it is important that we don’t lose sight of the pressing issue of Senior Cycle reform” 

The director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), Clive Byrne, has offered his congratulations to Leaving Certificate students receiving their exam results today, while also highlighting the need for Leaving Certificate reform.

Commenting, Mr Byrne said: “On behalf of Irish principals, deputy principals and the NAPD, I would like to congratulate all those students receiving their Leaving Certificate results today.  Today’s results represent the culmination of two years of hard work and dedication from our students, and their achievements should be celebrated, and the support of their families recognised.

“For those students who have been fortunate enough to match or exceed their expectations, today will represent a happy and very affirming conclusion to their second level schooling and a positive launching pad in their pursuit of third level education or other career opportunities.  For other students who may be feeling disappointed, I would encourage them to remain positive.  Thankfully, there are more pathways than ever before into third level education and their chosen careers beyond that.  Additionally, today’s employers are becoming increasingly open to sourcing talent from non-traditional disciplines and do so with a greater appreciation, than ever before, for the diverse experience and skillsets this can bring.       

Senior Cycle Reform

“Finally, amidst the excitement and emotions of today’s exam results, it is important that we don’t lose sight of the pressing issue of Senior Cycle reform.  On 30 July, we saw the publication of National Council for Curriculum and Assessment’s (NCCA) interim review of the senior cycle.  While these findings may have helped re-invigorate a national dialogue on Leaving Certificate reform, we all have a responsibility as educators and policymakers to ensure this discourse is not in vein.  This means working together to progress this dialogue into coherent and achievable action points capable of delivering upon the desired reforms.  To this end, we in the NAPD look forward to working with the Minister on the development of a sustainable and modern senior cycle programme in the period ahead.”

ENDS

Mind Monsters Launched – HSE

Statement by Clive Byrne, Director National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, in relation to the HSE’s latest launch of Mind Monsters

 

“We welcome the HSE’s launch of the latest phase of Mind Monsters, an information sharing mental health programme for young people.

 

However, we welcome this with slight caution. Mental health support for students, particularly for those studying for their Leaving Certificate, or Junior Certificate are currently lacking, as are the processes in place to identify issues from outset.

 

Access to mental health services in schools is a constant topic for several Government Departments, however, political intervention has been frustratingly slow.

 

As part of an extensive research programme the NAPD carried out last year, we found that 37% of the students surveyed alluded to mental health issues impeding their studies and, or their exams. Causes of such issues ranged from bereavement, physical illness and operations to relationship breakdowns, and personal family issues.

 

Coupled with the personal and peer pressure for success, this can lead to severe anxiety and depression. The HSE’s campaign advises students on measures they can take that can have a huge benefit on them such as sleep patterns, putting down the phone and regular study breaks, and it is this sort of advice that students, teachers and parents need more of.

 

But so too is access to appropriate, assessment and treatment driven services in schools. This new phase is a positive move from the Government and HSE, and it is encouraging to see that this is on their agenda. It is important that all relevant stakeholders are proactive in working with the Government to address this issue, and we look forward to playing our part in that. Best practice is important, solutions focused is essential, and leadership is required to take an immediate, physical and practical approach to addressing this issue.”

 

ENDS.