Apart from the few government initiatives mentioned in the last few days, what do our two candidates think about some of the other things that have been launched into schools?
Initiatives such as healthy eating, active schools, green schools, internet safety, anti-bullying are all worthwhile but increasingly schools are expected to take the place of the home in teaching children values and lifeskills. Yet as responsibility grows and pressure to take on extra work increase schools have less support and fewer resources.
Teachers have proven time and again how committed they are to providing their pupils with a well-rounded education. However, much to my delight, the INTO executive has taken a stance against a number of Department initiatives including School Self Evaluation. Our members have fully supported our directive against SSE. The directive has given us great leverage resulting in the re-instatement of 1200+ promotional posts of responsibility from next September. Schools have not ground to a halt in the absence of SSE. Much more important work than SSE has been sidelined due to the 8 year long moratorium on promotions. I believe that teachers and staffs should have the autonomy to choose which initiatives if any, suit them best at any given time. As INTO President I would do what I’ve always done – trust teachers to lead the process of enhancing their own standards. Improving teacher well-being is the most important initiative in any school. Teachers are the most important resources in the education system. The initiative of a teacher far outweighs the benefit of any other initiative. I’ve spent a lifetime fighting and caring for teachers so that will continue to be my favourite initiative!
I think we are all suffering from initiative overload. But in the short term we are going to have to be extremely vigilant about the manner in which the new SEN model is rolled out, the way in which the new DEIS pans out, any further moves towards ‘autonomy’…
Vigilance and the ability to say No are two much needed traits. With any new initiatives we need thorough debates on their merits so that we can support or reject such proposals on the basis of their appropriateness for our schools and for the education of our pupils. And we need recognition of extra workload through appropriate remuneration, support, time in lieu etc.
Here are three initiatives we could all get behind – the establishment of nationwide Substitute Supply Panels; the reinstatement of all the cut Posts of Responsibility; and the introduction of proper support structures for Principals – especially teaching principals.