O’Connells Primary School
Roll No: 17881G
North Richmond Street, Dublin 1
Telephone: 01 8557517
O’CONNELLS PRIMARY SCHOOL
DROICHEAD SCHOOL POLICY
THIS POLICY HAS BEEN FORMULATED BY O’CONNELLS PRIMARY SCHOOL TO INFORM NQTS AND TEACHING STAFF OF THE DROICHEAD PROCESS FOR THE INDUCTION & MENTORING OF NQTS.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Droichead an Introduction
2. The Droichead Process
3. Settings in which the Droichead process can take place
4. Duration of Professional Practice Required
5. School-based Strand
Professional support Team (PST)
Taisce: Portfolio-Based Learning
6. Additional Professional Learning Activities
NQT cluster meetings and Other Professional Learning Activities
7. Standards to Guide and Support the Droichead Process
8. Maintaining Records of the Droichead Process
9. Concluding the Droichead Process
10. Consistency and Quality Assurance
1. AN INTRODUCTION
Initial Teacher Induction is carried out in O’Connells Primary School through engagement with Droichead - an integrated induction framework for newly qualified teachers (NQTs). Droichead builds and develops on the learning which has taken place during initial teacher education, in particular, the extended school placement. At the same time, it recognises that induction is a distinct phase on the continuum of teacher education, a socialisation process into the teaching profession. The integrated framework includes both school-based and additional professional learning activities to address the needs of teachers as they begin their careers
2. THE DROICHEAD PROCESS
• Droichead takes as its starting point the areas for further learning which have been identified by the NQT, in collaboration with the PST team.
• This process includes a period of supported professional practice in the classroom, school-based professional learning activities, as well as other additional professional learning activities to meet the needs of teachers as they begin their careers.
• The main objective of the Droichead process is to support the professional learning of NQTs during the induction phase, thus laying the foundations for subsequent professional growth and learning in the next phase of their career.
• Following the Droichead process, a declaration is made by the NQT that he or she is ready to move to the next phase on the continuum of teacher education. A joint declaration is made by the teacher and experienced colleagues, following collective reflection, that through their engagement in Droichead, they have participated in a quality teaching and learning process. The Teaching Council then removes the Droichead condition from the teacher’s registration. The teacher will be fully registered with the Council when all registration conditions (e.g. Irish Language Requirement, qualification shortfall conditions) have been deemed by the Teaching Council to have been met.
• When an NQT is employed in a participating school in an eligible setting (see Section 3) and for the minimum period of professional practice (see Section 4), they register for the Droichead process with Limerick Education Centre (LEC) using the DR1 form. An email confirmation is issued to the NQT from LEC confirming that they have registered for the Droichead process. This record should be retained, to be submitted with a completed form D
• There are two key strands of the Droichead process as an integrated induction framework for newly qualified teachers.
o The first strand is a school-based induction (Strand A), through which the NQT is supported by experienced colleagues.
o The second strand is made up of additional professional learning activities (Strand B), which involves: (a) attendance at NQT cluster meetings in local education centres, and (b) one other professional learning activity, related to the needs of the NQT (See Section 6)
3. SETTINGS IN WHICH THE DROICHEAD PROCESS CAN TAKE PLACE
Teachers will normally undertake the Droichead process when employed as a mainstream class teacher. As a general rule, paid employment in a permanent, temporary or substitute capacity is eligible, where the teacher is teaching all areas of the Primary School Curriculum, including Irish, to a mainstream class of pupils (single or multi-grade) for the entire school day, and where the teacher’s tenure at the school will afford him or her the opportunity to meet the minimum duration requirements set out in Section 4 below.
Other than in exceptional circumstances, the school should deploy NQTs in a mainstream setting. In certain circumstances, where he or she is the most appropriate teacher to support the needs of pupils, a newly qualified teacher may complete the Droichead process within O’Connells Primary School in one of the following roles:
(a) Special Class teacher
(b) Full-time resource teacher of pupils with low-incidence disabilities (as defined by the DES)
(c) Full-time learning support teacher
(d) A role which combines both (b) and (c) above (LS/RS post)
In the above cases, the period of employment must involve teaching the same cohort of pupils. As part of the Droichead process, O’Connells Primary School will also endeavour to ensure that there are opportunities for the newly qualified teacher to teach in a mainstream setting, which would include the teaching and learning of Gaeilge in a mainstream class, in collaboration with the class teacher.
4. DURATION OF THE DROICHEAD PROCESS
Professional practice requirements for engaging in the Droichead process includes (i) extended school placement (10 weeks) during initial teacher education and (ii) post-qualification practice.
Teachers must complete a block of 60 consecutive school days in an eligible setting from the date on which they were first appointed to a post recognised for Droichead purposes. The teacher must register for the Droichead process with the Limerick Education Centre at www.lec.ie , using the DR1 form.
It should be noted that these are the absolute minimum periods of practice. Given that Droichead as an induction framework is designed to provide the maximum degree of support, guidance and advice, it is recommended, where an NQT has additional time in his or her school over and above the minimum requirements set out in Section 3 above, that the extra time be used to support the Droichead process.
5.SCHOOL BASED STRAND
PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT TEAM (PST)
• Droichead is fundamentally about the NQT’s professional journey and the process of their induction. A key part of this process is an NQT’s engagement with more experienced colleagues, and reflection on the professional conversations that take place on their own professional learning and practice. There are a number of ways in which a PST can be established, e.g. if more than one NQT is undertaking the Droichead process in a given year, more than one team might operate in parallel.
• The professional support team in O’Connells Primary School is a team of experienced and fully registered teachers, ideally with a minimum of 5 years teaching experience who work collaboratively to support the NQT during school-based induction, in the first stages of his or her professional journey.
• The roles and responsibilities of each PST member and the principal may vary from year to year according to the needs of the school. Roles and responsibilities will be discussed and decided at an initial PST meeting before the Droichead process commences in a given school year.
• The PST completes Droichead professional development, provided by NIPT, and is assisted in its work through the provision of a range of supports and resources including:
o NIPT initial training for all members of the PST
o Release time with substitute cover to allow each member of the PST to attend training
o Release time to support the school-based elements of Droichead o Telephone and email support from the NIPT, through its network of associates and permanent staff
o A comprehensive mentor guide, including a range of sample templates.
The PST will meet once per term to discuss issues and challenges as they arise, to offer the NQT supports to address challenges and learn from them, and to support the NQT with planning, preparation and meetings/observations with other teachers.
During the course of the Droichead process, an NQT will have a number of interactions with the experienced colleagues who are supporting the process, called ‘professional conversations’. These conversations provide opportunities to exchange informal feedback on a one-to-one basis, and discuss issues arising in the course of the NQT’s professional learning and practice and offer guidance to the NQT. Alternatively, it may take the form of an arranged meeting between the NQT and some or all of the members of the PST.
The first professional conversation will be for the purposes of welcoming the NQT, discussing their areas of professional learning following initial teacher education, and agreeing an outline plan for the Droichead process.
Other professional conversations will follow observations of the NQT’s practice and allow the NQT and members of the PST, either individually or collectively, to share feedback in relation to the teaching and learning that was observed.
In recognition of the collegial nature of teaching, the practice of discussing emerging classroom challenges with colleagues (including members of the PST) is a very positive one. Therefore, the fact that an NQT seeks guidance or support with regard to a professional practice issue, as part of a professional conversation, should be viewed in a positive light and encouraged by members of the PST. PSTs offer a range of supports that enable the NQT to address challenges and learn from them. Additional support, advice and guidance is also available from the NIPT via its school support service, and some additional time to facilitate this may be of value.
TAISCE: PORTFOLIO-BASED LEARNING
Portfolio-based learning is an important process to support the NQT in engaging in these conversations in a way that is effective and helpful. Therefore, as a self-directed learner, and to support reflective practice, NQTs will maintain a Taisce. Engaging in the process of portfolio-based learning enables the NQT to reflect on their professional learning in a way that suits them and identify and plan for areas in which they may need further support or guidance.
Droichead allows for a large measure of flexibility in the creation of Taisce, with the format and contents decided and owned by the NQT. Ideally, it should include key learning moments and insights from the Droichead process, including school-based induction, i.e. records from observation of other teachers teaching, records of feedback following post-observation professional conversations with PST members, etc. Key learning moments from additional professional learning activities, including insights from cluster meetings and/or other professional learning events/conversations, may also be included.
Emphasis is on the quality, rather than on the quantity, of these learning opportunities. It is also important to remember that the NQT chooses which moments to reflect on, and how they wish to capture that reflection.
The NQT, in collaboration with the PST, selects relevant items from their Taisce as a focus for the professional conversations, which are central to the Droichead process.
In maintaining their Taisce, NQTs should respect the privacy of others and the confidentiality of information garnered during the course of the process. They should also be mindful of ethical and data protection considerations, anonymising data where appropriate and ensuring that their Taisce is stored securely.
Observations are also a key feature of Droichead. They are part of a multi-faceted process of induction as they provide the NQTs with opportunities to learn from their fellow professionals. They also provide grounding for the PST members’ advice and support throughout the school-based induction. Observations are arranged in advance.
Observations by the NQT of Experienced Teachers’ Practice:
It is recommended that there would be at least 2 classroom observations carried out by the NQT. The exact number, and the classes observed, should be based on discussions between the NQT and the PST members.
Observations by the PST of the NQTs’ Practice:
Observations by PST members of the NQTs’ practice should focus on areas where the NQT feels that they need particular advice, help and support. In this light, while all observations are arranged in advance, the NQT should be encouraged to teach in an area where they feel their learning is greatest. This can then provide the basis for a subsequent professional conversation. It is recommended that there would be at least 2 classroom observations carried out by the PST. The PST will be best placed to determine, on a case-by-case basis, how many observations may be necessary, and to co-ordinate these within the overall outline plan for the Droichead process.
6. ADDITIONAL PROFESSIONAL LEARNING ACTIVITIES
To complement the school-based induction strand outlined above, NQTs also engage in additional professional learning activities as part of the Droichead process, as follows:
NQT CLUSTER MEETINGS AND OTHER PROFESSIONAL LEARNING ACTIVITIES
• NQTs should engage in one cluster meeting per term, in a local education centre. The meetings are facilitated by the NIPT and in collaboration with the group of NQTs. The agenda is developed in collaboration with the NQTs and may include key elements of Droichead such as the observation process, professional conversations, Taisce, etc.
• NQTS should also engage in one other professional learning activity, identified by themselves in accordance with their professional learning needs, in consultation with the PST. Typical learning activities might be, for example, participation in a workshop, a meeting of a Teacher Professional Network (subject associations), an online/blended learning activity, attendance at a conference, Féilte, etc.
7. STANDARDS TO GUIDE AND SUPPORT THE DROICHEAD PROCESS
The Council has established standards to support the Droichead process, in guiding the NQT, with the PST, in relation to their professional learning and practice. Through their engagement in the Droichead process, the NQT will:
1. have engaged professionally with school-based induction and additional professional learning activities
2. have shown their professional commitment to quality teaching and learning for their pupils
3. have engaged in reflective practice that supports their professional learning and practice, both individually and collaboratively.
Indicators of good practice and school context examples are described in a separate document which is given to the NQT early in the process and discussed throughout the year at meetings with the mentor and other members of the PST.
8. MAINTAINING RECORDS OF THE DROICHEAD PROCESS
A Droichead outline plan is created by the PST, in consultation with the NQT. Ideally the NQT will undertake the Droichead process for a period longer than the minimum stipulated period, when their period of employment so allows.
Templates for the Droichead outline plan and the observation process are provided by the NIPT.
To facilitate the Council’s quality assurance process, schools are asked to retain records which they have created to support the Droichead process in line with their data protection policy.
Such documents should include records of observations of the NQTs practice and records of professional conversations with the NQT. Ideally, such records should be maintained electronically, for ease of retrieval, and also for sharing with fellow PST members. A template for observations, and recording the outcomes of these observations will be provided to all members of the PST. Routines for record-keeping and sharing of documents should be discussed and agreed upon at an initial PST meeting.
In maintaining records, PST members should respect the privacy of others and the confidentiality of information garnered during the course of the process. They should also be mindful of ethical and data protection considerations, anonymising data where appropriate and taking any measure necessary to restrict access to sensitive information.
Where an NQT who has completed some or all of the Droichead process leaves a school, they should be given a copy of the relevant records which the school holds in relation to that process.
9. CONCLUDING THE DROICHEAD PROCESS
· When an NQT is nearing the conclusion of the Droichead process, as per the indicative timeframe agreed at the start of the process, a professional conversation takes place between the NQT and the PST members. This conversation will also involve the NQT identifying areas of further professional learning (to be included on Form D).
· • When the NQT and PST have concluded the Droichead process (school-based induction and additional professional learning activities) they complete Form D. It is the responsibility of the NQT to submit this with a copy of the email from LEC confirming they have registered for the Droichead process.
· When Form D has been fully completed and submitted to the Teaching Council, the Council will remove the Droichead condition from the teacher’s registration and issue a revised confirmation or registration letter. All conditions must be met for the teacher to be fully registered.
10. CONSISTENCY AND QUALITY ASSURANCE
A number of mechanisms are in place to assure the quality and consistency of the DroDroichead process nationally:
(a) NIPT provide support to schools offering Droichead who employ an NQT.
(b) Droichead Quality Assurance (DQA) panels, comprising an independent chairperson, a practising teacher from the relevant sector and a person with expertise in the support and/or evaluation of teaching and learning at school level, are established by the Teaching Council. The DQA panel visits a sample of schools where the Droichead process has taken place and discusses the process with the PST and the NQT. Such visits are pre-arranged and take place in a spirit of collegiality and collaboration. Following its review, the DQA panel submits an anonymised report to the Teaching Council setting out its findings and recommendations in relation to the process. The report is considered by the Council and, following ratification, is published on the Council’s website and circulated to the NIPT and the Inspectorate.
(c) As a leader of learning in the school, the principal, while not necessarily involved in the Droichead process, fosters a learning culture in which Droichead can flourish, and supports the PST in facilitating a quality induction process.
(d) Professional development, including cluster meetings, for PST members, include discussions regarding the standards and indicators of good practice which guide and support the Droichead process.
(e) A review process is in place where NQTs or the PST wish to raise concerns about aspects of the Droichead process. This process includes an informal stage, at school level, and a more formal stage at NIPT level. It also allows for unresolved issues to be escalated to the Teaching Council, via its Droichead Quality Assurance Panel.
(f) The Council will engage with the DES and its agencies regarding the implementation of Droichead, and to ensure its consistency with the overall policies as may be determined by the Minister from time to time. This will include the development of guidance for the transition to the new Droichead policy.
This Policy will be reviewed and updated in accordance to the guidelines released by the Teaching Council.