SDLP education spokesperson South Down MLA Seán Rogers has said that proper investment in leadership development for teachers is paramount in creating a culture of self-assessment and improvement at our schools.
He was speaking during a motion on inspection reports in schools at the Assembly on Tuesday.
Mr Rogers, a former principal at St Louis’, Kilkeel, said: “This must start and end in the classroom; this is where our school leaders are born. They have to have the ability to ignite the minds of their audience. We all remember the teachers who made a positive impact on our lives and inspired us into various careers.
“If effective monitoring and evaluation strategies are embedded in your classroom practice, the conversation about what constitutes good classroom practice will begin and it is easier to effect improvement.
“This report acknowledges that there is a fragmented approach to leadership development. This is not necessarily the schools’ fault. As one who was responsible in my school for trying to translate the Department of Education’s guidance Together Towards Improvement into practice, it’s no mean feat to embed this advice in an effective manner into the day to day running of a school. Schools can’t do this work alone, with the best will in the world.
“Principals in Finland are required by law to have been teachers themselves and most continue to be engaged in classroom teaching for at least 2-3 hours and many up to 20 lessons per week. This lends them credibility among their teachers, enables them to remain connected to their children and ensures that pedagogical leadership is not merely rhetoric but a day-to-day reality.
“If we want a first class education system them we must invest in a first rate leadership development for our new teachers and our existing teachers.
“We must begin the conversation of what constitutes good practice, get monitoring and evaluation right in our schools, give the right support and ensure that within ESA we have a properly funded school leadership development with pedagogy at the centre. Then we will get it right.”