It’s hard to believe that 5 years have passed since Tomás Ó Ruairc has been at the helm of the Teaching Council. Its been a very eventful time for us in teacher world. When Tomás took over, the Teaching Council was in a very difficult position. The Teaching Council’s relevance was being questioned as it didn’t appear to have fulfilled anything. For example, people were still able to teach in schools despite having no teaching qualifications. Many teachers didn’t even bother to pay their Teaching Council fees of €90 per year and still were able to teach. CEPP was failing before it even started and all consultation meetings were ugly displays of union representatives shouting at the top table that they would never sign up to a scheme like it. In fact, it was argued that the council’s only function was to collect €90 from teachers that chose to pay it. By the time Tomás took over, the Teaching Council had a whopping bank account and little to show for it.
In Tomás’ five years, he has certainly made the Teaching Council a more relevant organisation, perhaps not always for the right reasons, but certainly nobody can say that they do absolutely nothing anymore. One of the biggest objectives for the Teaching Council was to close the loophole that allowed unqualified people to teach in schools. While it took longer than anticipated, it was finally completed. The Teaching Council also reduced membership to €60 per annum, which was a gesture of goodwill considering the errors of the past. Another great initiative by the Teaching Council under Tomás O’Ruairc was Féilte, an annual celebration of teaching in Ireland. This event is an excellent development and is a very positive showcase of what Ireland’s teachers can do.
However, Tomás O’Ruairc will end his five year term battling with the profession his organisation represents. CEPP has been renamed Droichead and the only real difference between them is that the union representatives seem to have changed their minds about it. This website has gone on enough about it over the last few years and as we come to the end of 2016, perhaps next year will see interesting developments. I guess this will depend on who takes over from Tomás once his tenure ends.
Another battle for Tomás’ successor will be Cosán. Cosán seems to have been overshadowed by Droichead but is very much on teachers’ radars. Whoever will be in the hotseat may have another battle on their hands.
Overall, I believe Tomás O’Ruairc has succeeded in making the Teaching Council relevant. He has led some excellent initiatives and has effectively stopped unqualified personnel from teaching in our schools. However, despite this, he may be remembered for Droichead. When the advertisement for the position comes up, it would be a brave bridge for anyone to cross. I wish Tomás the best of luck.