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.”




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