What Vehicle will get us over the Bridge?

With the overwhelming majority of teachers voting to not cooperate with Droichead in its current format, I wonder how the Teaching Council are going to pick up the pieces and try again. I thought I’d use the following analogy to help them out.

CEPP was the first incarnation from the Teaching Council. It took the form of a bulldozer driven by an ex-Army officer, Brendan O’Dea, the then acting director. The bulldozer, which was sanctioned by Harold Hislop, who decided his inspectors were no longer going to bother doing part of their job, that is probating newly qualified teachers, also decided that he’d make principals do this part of the job (for free.) The bulldozer may not have known what direction it was going exactly and it didn’t care what got destroyed along the way. Thankfully, it was impounded by the union leadership at the time.

The Teaching Council needed a new vehicle and new driver. Step in Tomás Ó Ruairc and Droichead. Droichead was not a bulldozer. It was more of a steamroller. This time, there was a vision – a very singular vision. Despite all the attempts to steer it in a better direction, the steamroller could not steer. It had one direction and it looked very likely that it was going to reach its goal. This time it has the blessing of the union leadership. Thankfully, last week it was impounded by union members in a ballot.

Now the Teaching Council need another new vehicle. Who will drive it, we don’t know yet. However, I would suggest they might try out a bus. A bus has a destination to reach and everybody knows exactly what that destination is. The decision as to what that destination will be is very clear to all bus users. There is also a clear starting point. In order to get to the destination, the bus has to pick passengers up along the way who can choose to get on board or not. The route, therefore, may change if the bus users are not getting on at certain stops. However, in the end, there will be a good route and everyone can be on board.

The Teaching Council need to start again with the end in mind. The end needs to be agreed by its members before it decides so we’ll probably need a few different bus routes to see which ones work and which ones don’t. Some of the routes will go along the same way for a while before branching out in different ways. Over time, the number of routes will decrease as teachers decide which one best suits the needs of teachers. There are several alternatives to the current model of Droichead and they all need to be teased out, trialled and piloted properly.

I’m happy to board a bus or two to try out different ideas and I’m sure other schools will be too. While there is a ballot against Droichead, it is a good time to use 2016-17 to pilot other methods of ensuring NQTs are probated in different ways. This is not a time to park the bus and do nothing.

The Teaching Council need a new vehicle. They need to down the heavy machinery and start using transport that brings the public to the end destination.

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