Our eductation system could be in better shape, at least from a financial perspective, but for the county’s newest headteacher its all in a day’s work.
In the six weeks since Garrett Buckley took up his post as acting principal of Granard’s Ardscoil Phadraig, the glare of the media spotlight has been firmly fixed on education.
Not that any of that has dented the enthusiasm of the Offaly native.
“I love it,” was his incisive response to how the past month and a half has gone. “You get a chance to put your beliefs into practice. I am in the fortunate position of being allowed to lead an extremely talented staff that is filled with highly qualified, skilled and energetic teachers.”
His praise for those already in situe at the school clearly sits well with one of his key mantras- implementing an ‘open door’ school policy approach.
“I feel it is very important that the parents of our students are always able to communicate with the staff and management here,” he confided, as he spoke with the Leader during the customary two week Easter break.
Having passed through the vocational education system himself as a student, his promotion to acting principal is quite a departure from his previous teaching role with St Fintan’s all boys school in Sutton, Co Dublin.
A much larger school with 700 pupils on its roll books, the transition to a much smaller, close knit environment could be seen as an added inconvenience.
Yet, rather than dwell on that numerical assessment, Mr Buckley has already set about enhancing everyday working relationships between staff and pupils.
“I have introduced a change where teachers have their own classrooms so that teaching and learning can be at the heart of everything we do here in Ardscoil Phádraig. We feel this gives students more opportunities to have their work displayed and inspire each other along their educational journey.”
Another of those changes came about just last week when third and sixth year pupils broke off their customary holidays to take part in a newly introduced Easter revision week programme.
That said, there is no escaping seemingly never-ending concerns over present day educational resources. Rumours of added restrictions in schools’ budgets, cuts to pay and the fallout over the much maligned Croke Park agreement are three cases in point.
It’s a dilemma which Mr Buckley believes can be overcome so long as schools take measured, but at the same time, innovative action.
Pressed about whether Ardscoil Phadraig students were faced with diluted subject choice opportunties in the months ahead, Mr Buckley said: “Not for next year, but there might be other areas that schools may have to look at. You have just got to be more imaginative.”
And it’s precisiely this enterprising and positive approach which he hopes will serve teachers, parents and most importantly the students of Ardscoil Phadraig well, both now and into the future.