Free to comment

For 21 years I have been the General Secretary of ETBI and after considering this matter for some months I have decided that it is time to step aside .I step down from my current post at the end of April . I think I have had some influence in driving change in the Education and Training Boards sector over two decades so now is time to step aside and let new leadership bring ETBI forward over the next decade or so.

Deciding to retire is never easy and I will be talking soon again about my mixed emotions in that regard. However, one significant benefit is that I can comment more freely on education and training issues and hence my decision to start blogging ! Yes I have always engaged in public comment but henceforth I can give my own opinions on a range of issues or articles or opinion pieces. That will be the real difference for me and it is something I welcome.
For example today ( March 21 ) RTE’s Emma O Kelly writes again about the ETB sector and in this instance the ETBI protocol for engaging with media in the context of community national schools. I cannot just now recall when Emma has written a ” supportive ” article about ETBI/ETBs but at my age I am sure I am mistaken and there are a number of such articles .

Anyway this blog today is not about Emma but I do want to comment on her article about our community national schools.She refers to our protocol that advises school employees to refer media queries to the principal who in turn refers to ETBI.

The fact of the matter is that community national schools are a relatively new model of school which has come under the governance of ETBs over the past 18 months. They are evolving and finding their feet and I am proud of what our ETBs are doing in supporting them . It is a fact that individual teachers and principals have been called by some journalists for comment on matters of policy or governance issues, or matters relating to religion or beliefs. The sector is trying to standardise approaches across all schools and it has been agreed that either myself or the CNS support officer in ETBI will deal with media queries which are not local school matters. There is nothing wrong with an agreed spokesperson approach . Indeed our member ETBs are supportive of this approach which allows for a consistency of messaging. Our CNS principals meet regularly to address a common approach to a range of matters and this is to be welcomed .

I hae entitled this blog ” free to comment” and I want to do that as much as I can. I have spend 38 years in the education sector and 8 years as the CEO of a radio station. I have worked in media and communications and I have also been a spokesperson for business interests in times past. For over 45 years I have been employed in some leadership capacity. Maybe therefore I have something to offer by blogging . Time will tell as I set out on a new course in life and work.

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