Right now, teachers are being asked to vote in a ballot as to whether to take part in Droichead or not. The ballot question is as follows:
Do you agree to participate in industrial action, with effect from 1 July 2016, in the form of a directive to be issued by the Central Executive Committee on noncooperation with Droichead, or any form of probation/induction as part of the Teaching Council registration process that does not include fully external evaluation for all NQTs?
On the very day, the ballot for INTO members was opened, the Teaching Council decided to contact teachers in the following manner.
- all teachers received an email to a webinar promoting Droichead (which will be hosted by a journalist who I’m sure isn’t doing it for free)
- there was a barrage of tweets from the Teaching Council promoting Droichead on Twitter
- a glossy leaflet promoting Droichead came in the post
- a letter to schools offering them €500 each to start a Droichead “learning network”
To be perfectly honest, I’m disappointed in the Teaching Council. I know they really want Droichead to happen in its current form but these tactics can only be described as aggressive and, arguably, unethical.
I am concerned that throughout the last few years the Teaching Council has not been acting in an appropriate manner in terms of Droichead.
- In the middle of the Teaching Council elections, in which many candidates put their names forward on an anti-Droichead agenda, the Teaching Council released a “major” change to how Droichead would work.
- The Teaching Council offered €1,000 to any school to sign up to the Droichead pilot.
- The Teaching Council refused to allow teachers to train as NIPT mentors unless the school signed up to the Droichead pilot.
Yesterday, five members of the current Teaching Council felt the need to speak out on social media about their own feelings about Droichead. They have encouraged all teachers to vote “yes” in the ballot. This is an astounding statement. This is basically the same thing as a load of politicians disobeying the whip in a motion. It’s a brave move on their behalf and it is astonishing that the leadership of the Teaching Council is effectively ignoring its own committee.
The Teaching Council really need to stop promoting Droichead right now. It is stinking of desperation at best and it is completely unethical to be spending their members’ money while a ballot is in place. By all means, their champions can do that work in the same way as people like me can do the opposite.
As always, I need to reiterate that I believe Droichead is a good idea but not in its current format. If I were the Teaching Council, I would be welcoming an enforced pause on Droichead so they can regroup and start to listen to the different voices that have been trying to give well meaning advice.
I don’t think it is too late for Droichead to be rescued even though its name is as sullied as Irish Water’s. They need to sit down with their newly elected members and find out why there is such opposition at primary level. Furthermore, they need to try out other pilots of Droichead as suggested by the various interest groups. Finally, they also need to create proper success criteria and have a proper plan for when things aren’t going well for a new teacher.
Then again, it may be too late. We might need to start again and consign Droichead to where CEPP was left and start with a new proper mentoring programme for NQTs, which will give them all they need to navigate their first year or two of teaching full-time.