March 9, 2016

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Hi everyone,

The Droichead programme had its launch night this week, and I read with interest the online backlash.

Droichead is a new model of induction and probation for newly qualified teachers, which has been introduced by the Teaching Council. It replaces the external ‘Dip’ inspector with an internal process, involving your school mentor and principal. It is grounded in the belief that those best placed to conduct this formality are experienced colleagues who have relevant and in-depth knowledge of teaching and learning in their respective schools. It takes away the stress of the external cigire, and replaces the cigire with your colleagues. All sounds good to me! But of course, as with all new initiatives, there are many flaws in this system. These flaws, however, do not outweigh the advantages. I completed my Dip last year, and I remember vividly just how tiring and stressful it was, and I had a very pleasant inspector. Had I been inspected by my principal, I am sure it would have been a far more worthwhile experience. I do know that many people disagree with the idea of being inspected by your colleagues, but if all is right and correct in your teaching prowess, then there should be little to worry about. There are concerns online that principals may not be fair in the process. As the quote goes, Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Perhaps I am being naive, but surely this is just thinking of the most disagreeable possible outcome, and it would be very unlikely to actually occur? Certainly at least, no more likely than having an unfair or unrealistic inspector, which many NQT’s have had?


Changes to Droichead have been announced:

A number of significant changes to Droichead have been announced by the Teaching Council today (2 March 2016). The changes will see a process of induction for newly qualified teachers replacing the previous process of probation.

These changes follow significant engagement by the INTO with the Teaching Council.

The changes include:

1.1.     From September 2016, NQTs will be able to undertake Droichead in a much broader range of settings, including special education settings.

1.2.     Primary teachers undergoing Droichead will now be expected to complete a single induction block of 60 days reflecting extended programmes of initial teacher education.
(not terribly happy about this!)

1.3.     Droichead will be integrated with the induction workshop programme. From September 2016 NQTs who commence Droichead will attend one cluster meeting per term and one additional professional learning  activity replacing the current attendance at workshops requirement.

1.4.     Significantly simplified and revised documentation relating to Droichead has been devised.

1.5.     There will be a further review of Droichead policy in 2019.

This development meets a number of long-standing INTO policy objectives. These include that account should be taken of extended programmes of initial teacher education, a school based method and evaluation by the principal should not be imposed on any school and an external model should continue to be available.

The announcement that NQTs will be able to avail of Droichead in special education settings meets the terms of the motion adopted at INTO Congress 2015 in Ennis calling for teachers who fulfil their service requirements in special education settings to be treated the same as colleagues in mainstream classes. While new teachers will normally complete Droichead in a mainstream setting they will now be able to engage in Droichead in special schools, learning support and resource settings.

The paperwork will also be revised and much simplified. Training, release days and funding will continue

My only concern with Droichead , which hasn’t been assuaged by the above changes, is the extra workload it places on principals. My sister is a teaching principal, and I cannot imagine this fitting into her workload. Given the amount of extra work involved, principals need more release days to attend to this extra workload, so that other areas don’t lose out. Anyone who expects Droichead to just fit seamlessly in to an already over burdened workload is being silly. But, dismissing Droichead completely is akin to throwing the baby out with the bath water, or letting the tail wag the dog. There are merits to the proposed system, and we need to embrace those.I think you will find very few NQT’s who will be sorry to see the back of the current system.

Simon Lewis from Anseo.net  provides a very balanced view of Droichead. He also provides an alternative, http://www.anseo.net/category/politics/teaching-council/  which also has its merits. My only quibble being that I would loathe to hand my class over to a student teacher for a full school year.  I think if perhaps teaching practice was extended slightly, then this should include probation, and you would be qualified and probated in your final inspection, simultaneously.

I am sitting on the fence on this one for the moment, simply because of the workload for principals. I can however see how it would be an excellent opportunity for NQT’s and I only wish I had been able to avail of it!

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