Cassidy's Comments: A Former Head's Views on Current Educational Issues

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Addressing Mental Health Issues in Schools

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 14/05/2018 Writing in The Irish News on March 27th 2018 Leona O Neill highlights the alarming statistics that almost 300 suicides occurred in Northern Ireland last year and that 10% of school children under 16 have been diagnosed with a mental health issue. The article points out that schools can obviously p...
Features

The Challenges of Dealing with Parents in Conflict Situations

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 16/04/2018 One of the most challenging aspects of school leadership is dealing with parents in conflict situations. It may once have been the expectation that when problems arose with a pupil, parents would sit in an embarrassed silence in the head’s office and hear what they should do with their erring offsp...
Features

The Benefits to Northern Ireland of Inclusion and Supporting Learning

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 26/03/2018 The EASNIE report commissioned by the European Parliament in 2017 to examine the issue of inclusive education for learners with disabilities highlights the imperative for educational systems to provide high-quality education for all children. The study found that those with disabilities or social...
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Violence Against Teachers – How Should We Respond?

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 19/02/2018 Reading the recent Belfast Telegraph headline, “Union blames budget cuts for spike in pupil assaults on teachers”, three questions immediately spring to mind. How bad is the problem? What is causing it? What should our response be? In answer to the first question, the Telegraph article by Brett C...
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Addressing Teacher Workload and Conditions of Service in NI

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 15/01/2018 It is generally agreed that teaching is becoming a more difficult job year on year. Problems of pupil behaviour, rising expectations by parents and increased class sizes because of budget cuts, have all combined to produce a marked deterioration in teacher’s working life experience. While in Englan...
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New Realities for Computer Use in Schools

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 11/12/2017 When I began teaching in 1977 computer use in the classroom was not even considered possible. Today it is an ever-present, dominant reality. So how are we as teachers adapting to this change with all its attendant opportunities and threats? Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at the S...
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Pupil Career Choices and Pressures on Curriculum

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 13/11/2017 In a recently published guidance document called ‘How to help your Child with their Future Career Plans’ The Department of The Economy Careers Service sets out the challenge of planning for our young people’s futures in a changing labour market. “It is very difficult to accurately forecast the job ...
Features

The Importance of Languages in the Northern Ireland Curriculum

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 17/10/2017 “The limits of my language are the limits of my world”‒Ludwig Wittgenstein The current debate about an Irish Language Act has generated much healthy discussion about how we view and manage different languages in Northern Ireland. While on holiday recently in Belgium, I was struck by how well they m...
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Can current teacher stress levels be better managed?

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 18/09/2017 After a lovely summer break schools are back to face the budget realities of 2017-2018. I wrote back in January 2017 about teacher morale problems and now we are seeing further evidence of an education system under strain in terms of teacher stress levels. Even with the prospect of Secretary of St...
Features

Downsizing Dilemmas

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 15/05/2017 Every conversation I have with school leaders these days is dominated by the budget cuts facing schools. This new harsh reality and the attendant potential redundancies are not only changing the shape of curricula and staff profiles but also fundamentally the nature of our schools. The collective l...