United Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough



School Principals and Chairpersons Meet for Dublin & Glendalough Patron’s Day

By Joyce Perdue
School Principals and Chairpersons Meet for Dublin & Glendalough Patron’s Day - By Joyce Perdue
Clockwise from top left: Patron’s Day organiser Joyce Perdue, Jacinta Kitt, Arlene Forster and Finbar Hurley.


Following a break of three years, the Patron’s Day for Chairpersons and Principals of schools in the United Dioceses took place on February 24 in the Clayton Hotel, Liffey Valley. There was great support for the day from both Principals and Chairpersons who enjoyed the opportunity to spend time together away from the school context. It was also a welcome event at which people could simply meet up with colleagues and friends to renew connections, share experiences and educational concerns and learn about or discuss issues affecting schools under Protestant patronage.  

The Archbishop welcomed everyone and opened the meeting. He acknowledged the difficulties faced by schools and educators during the recent pandemic and thanked all those who worked so hard to ensure continuity of education. He spoke about the effects the closures and lockdowns had on children and how they will need to be supported in the future.

The first speaker was Arlene Forster, CEO of the NCCA. Arlene referenced her time as a primary school teacher in Kill O’ the Grange NS before moving on to work in the areas of curriculum development and assessment. She focused on the soon to be launched Primary Curriculum Framework and went through the changes that will be part of the new framework and its impact on the further development of subject areas and themes. This new framework was developed following wide–ranging research, consultation and dialogue with parents, pupils, educators, patrons and the wider community and will form the basis for the primary curriculum in the future.

Following coffee, Jacinta Kitt (retired author and lecturer) gave a presentation on ‘Proactive Caring for Yourself’. Jacinta spoke about how people in leadership positions need to care for themselves if they are to be able to care for others. She explained the components of psychological capabilities which are: Hope, Optimism, Self–Efficacy (Confidence) and Resilience as well as the importance of interpersonal behaviours and relationships. She is an advocate for being reflective and self–aware while not taking yourself too seriously! Jacinta’s message was delivered in a light–hearted, fun way and everyone agreed that she was engaging and interesting.

The final speaker of the day was Finbar Hurley from the Centre for School Leadership (CSL). Finbar explained the mentoring programme for newly appointed principals which is facilitated by the CSL and encouraged experienced principals to become mentors.  He also talked about the professional coaching that’s available for principals and school staff and how it can enhance leadership in management teams in schools. He tasked principals and chairpersons with considering the seven factors that impact on distributive leadership and how they are operating in their schools.

Before lunch, there was a short time for attendees to discuss issues that are impacting their schools. A number of issues were raised, some of which Dr Ken Fennelly answered and others which will be referred to the Board of Education. These included:  

  • The lack of teachers for schools under Protestant patronage. There was a call for the number of students following the CIC pathway in DCU to be increased as well as some work to be done on data around schools so that there’s more of an idea of the numbers that will be required.
  • The shortage of SENOs in Wicklow and lack of access to supports for children with additional needs. 
  • Concern about having to amend Admission Policies which may force schools to open special classes.

The meeting ended with a very enjoyable lunch where delegates spent time chatting and reconnecting, something that was appreciated by all after all the recent restrictions on socialising.


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