12 December, 2016 - Minister Announces Post Graduate Programme in School Leadership

The Minister for Education and Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton TD, has today (Monday 12th December) announced that contracts have been signed to deliver a new Post Graduate Qualification in School Leadership, which is aimed at those teachers aspiring to senior school leadership positions. The first intake of students will be in September 2017. Minister Bruton also announced that contracts have been signed for the provision of a new coaching service for school leaders.

Following the completion of a tender process, a contract has now been signed with a consortium of universities led by the University of Limerick (UL) and supported by UCD and NUIG. The Centre for School Leadership (CSL) will work closely with the consortium in the development of the programme. The new programme will be accredited jointly by UL, UCD and NUIG. Further support for the programme will be provided by WIT, CIT and the Association of Teachers’ Education Centres in Ireland (ATECI).

Helping those delivering education services to continuously improve is a key priority of the Action Plan for Education. The Minister emphasised the key role that School leadership plays in promoting a school environment which is welcoming, inclusive, accountable, and focused on high quality teaching and learning.

Key elements of the programme will include:

  • Leading Learning and Teaching in the Irish Context, including leading learning with the effective use of ICT and embedding 21st century skills
  • Leading School Development, including leading change, school self-evaluation and building relationships
  • Building Culture, Capacity and Teams, including supporting teacher learning, empowering staff, engagement with stakeholders and ensuring the wellbeing of all
  • Professional Growth and Development, including knowledge of research in the area of school leadership and building networks with other teacher leaders
  • Organisational Management, including managing resources
  • Mentoring & Coaching including how to use coaching and mentoring as leadership tools

The programme will constitute a part-time (18 months) blended learning professional diploma, delivered in six regions throughout the country with specific provision for teachers in Irish-medium schools.

It will be open to approximately 200 participants annually and will be part funded by the Department of Education and Skills.

The Minister also announced today that 4,600 coaching hours will be available to 400 school leaders under a new coaching service that is being rolled out in January 2017. It will be funded entirely by the Department of Education and Skills and will be rolled out around the country by the Centre for School Leadership. This marks another significant step in the delivery of the stated objectives of the Centre for School Leadership.

Our aim in the Action Plan for Education is to be the best. To do that we need to ensure that leadership, management, quality frameworks, teaching methods, and initial and continuing training are all operating to the highest standards. We need to promote innovation and excellence, recognise high achievement and seek to mainstream successful approaches.

Minister Bruton said:

“I am delighted to announce our new postgraduate qualification in school leadership and our new coaching service.”

“The quality of the learning environment is critical to how children develop their competences. With changing technology and changing expectations, school leaders are required to operate in a much more complex environment.”

“Success in education is built on the quality of leadership, the ingenuity in teaching, the support in the community for learning. We are lucky in Ireland to have such a dedicated and committed teaching profession, with school leaders of the highest calibre. The establishment of the post graduate leadership programme and the coaching service are key actions under the our Action Plan for Education, which aims to make the Irish education and training system the best in Europe within a decade. My aim is to develop and enhance school leadership at all levels. By providing the best possible professional development we can realise our ambitious to be the best within a decade.”

“School leadership can be challenging in today’s world and I know that there are constant demands in this job. I am glad that School Principals will be able to avail of a confidential one to one coaching service to discuss challenges which they face, to address difficulties they might be experiencing or goals that they might wish to achieve. By engaging in coaching, school leaders can improve their own performance, find the time and space to sustain their own resilience and enhance their capacity to work in a challenging situation. Ultimately, we are working towards creating a coaching culture that permeates the school and improves teaching and learning.”

Today’s announcement builds on the progress made in Budget 2017 when we announced a new package to support school leadership, including additional deputy principal posts for larger second level schools and middle management posts for primary and post-primary schools.

The Minister congratulated the successful contractors for both projects and thanked all those involved in working towards their introduction in 2017.

The Minister also acknowledged the significant role of the Office for Government Procurement in leading and supporting both procurement processes. 


 Notes to editor:

The Centre for School Leadership was established on a partnership basis between The Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN), The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) and the Department of Education and Skills (DES) in September 2015.  It represents a new departure and presents a unique opportunity for the development of a coherent continuum of professional development for school leaders. It is the shared objective that the Centre will become a centre of excellence for school leadership and the lead provider of supports.

CSL’s responsibility extends across the continuum of leadership development commencing with pre appointment training through to induction of newly appointed principals to continuous professional development throughout the leader’s career. The Centre also advises the Department on policy in this area.

CSL is currently focused on providing mentoring support for newly appointed principals, coaching for established school leaders, developing this new aspiring leader’s programme and a quality assurance framework for leadership programmes generally.

Support for the provision of this post graduate programme is indeed a recognition of the importance of supporting those aspiring to positions of leadership in schools as well as those already in situ.

Coaching has been more prevalent in large organisations and in industry to date and this is the first time that Irish school leaders will experience it for themselves. Coaching is a particularly powerful tool and one that has proven to be a highly effective way of developing individual and organisational performance by unlocking capability. It can deliver considerable benefits, helping leaders get the most from their teams.

A tender process led and supported by the Office of Government Procurement has resulted in contracts being signed with a number of coaching providers throughout the country.

These developments are timely in light of the recent publication of Looking at Our School 2016: A Quality Framework for Primary Schools and A Quality Framework for Post-Primary Schools. These publications are designed to support the efforts of teachers and school leaders, as well as the school system more generally, to strive for excellence in our schools. They will both address the two dimensions of the quality frameworks – Teaching and Learning and Leadership and Management which represent the two key areas of the work of a school.