Readers of Anseo.net will know of my own stance on Droichead, which I’ve been campaigning against for a couple of years. One of my big criticisms of Droichead has been the INTO’s strange decision to support it. What are the candidates’ opinions on Droichead?
Note: At the time of writing this article, The Teaching Council had not published their latest policy of Droichead. Most people believe that there will no longer be a requirement for an evaluation of a teacher’s first year in a job. The answers below can only be taken in the context of the candidate’s knowledge at the time.
I have been totally opposed to the concept of in-school evaluation of newly qualified teachers for many years. I simply did not see the need for such a system in the context of longer teacher education programmes.
I served on an INTO working group on probation/induction more than a decade ago and remember beseeching then members elected to the First Teaching Council to remove the requirement for teachers to be ‘probated’ in order to be fully registered. I have always favoured induction as it is the most supportive bridge between pre-service training and early employment in teaching.
Despite the Droichead pilot scheme being a bridge over troubled water, our staff and Board of Management, having been involved in formal induction since 2004, chose to join the pilot phase under the external model for one reason and one reason only – to prove that is was not necessary for registered teachers within a school to adjudicate on, or to sign off on the capacity of a newly qualified teacher.
I am delighted that the INTO has hugely influenced the Teaching Council and that the new Droichead policy will bring an end to the traditional model of probation. I demand that the new Induction Scheme be resourced properly and am glad that principal teachers will not be obliged to participate in the scheme. If elected President, I intend to ensure that any extra responsibility taken on by our members as a result of the new Induction policy is well reflected in the next pay deal.
I opposed the concept of principals or in-school teams signing off on NQTs’ probation from the time it was first proposed by the Teaching Council. Despite the fact that the CEC urged us to accept Droichead, I supported and argued for the first directive against participation and opposed the lifting of that directive, arguing that insufficient progress had been made.
At last year’s Congress I proposed the emergency motion calling for a directive against participation (our District having had quite a battle with Standing Orders to get that emergency motion to the floor of Congress). In that debate, the CEC argued against a directive. If we had followed their strategy, Droichead would simply have been rolled out over us and there would have been nothing we could have done to stop it. Congress delegates overwhelmingly supported the motion and the membership subsequently backed the directive by a huge margin in the ballot. The fact that the directive was in place increased the pressure on the Teaching Council to review Droichead.
The revised Droichead policy has now been agreed by the Teaching Council and its publication is awaited. Until it is published I cannot comment on it in detail. It is common enough knowledge at this stage that the new policy envisages probation being replaced by induction, meaning that there will be no evaluative element.