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

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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 ...
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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...
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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...
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Educational Visits - Magical Mystery Tour or A Hard Days Night?

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 26/04/2017 With the summer term approaching schools are beginning to think of school trips and outings. It has generally been a very enjoyable part of school life for both teachers and pupils, but now more than ever it requires meticulous preparation and a watchful eye on the legal implications. In recent yea...
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How to Handle Difficult Conversations in School

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 13/03/2017 Being a school leader inevitably brings difficult encounters, particularly with parents and staff. Getting these conversations right is a crucial part of successful school management. During my time as Regional Officer with ASCL this was a topic which came up a lot in casework and it was clear that...
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The Future of Executive Heads in Northern Ireland?

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 13/02/2017 The Times newspaper on Saturday December 31st published a story headed, “School crisis as hundreds of heads quit”. Their research revealed that one in ten schools in England is losing a head each year and there are serious problems in recruiting new heads. NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby is qu...
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Managing Staff Morale in Austere Times

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 16/01/2017 With the 2016 -2017 academic year now reaching a winter of discontent in terms of industrial relations, school leaders are left to try and manage the situation as best they can, torn between sympathy for teaching colleagues and responsibility to parents and pupils to keep things running. All of thi...
Features

Pastoral Management of Cyberbullying in Schools

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 14/12/2016 Getting the pastoral dimension right in a school is a vital cornerstone in building a successful, high achieving educational community. In trying to describe and explain the essential features of such a community I can find no better analogy than the pond ecosystems we all studied in Biology class....
Features

Classroom Observation - Dilemmas and Opportunities

Posted in: Cassidy's Comments on 11/11/2016 I have written in my previous articles in this series about the fact that school leaders often find themselves “between a rock and a hard place” in their quest to run a successful school. This is particularly true in the case of the vexed question of classroom observation. In this age of increasing...