Micheál O’Sullivan, Principal in Stonepark National School, Longford was announced as a winner of a bursary from the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation and Prim Ed Publishing to help fund education research on school leadership.
This year, five awards of €1,500 were made. More than fifty applications were submitted and judged by an independent assessor.
Micheál was presented with his bursary at an awards ceremony in the Teachers’ Club, Parnell Square, Dublin on February 6.
The project, part of a Masters Degree in Trinity College, will research issues, concerns and considerations for primary school principals in deploying, leading, and managing Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) in Irish primary schools.
It is hoped that this piece of research will give an insight into what principals think about the preparedness of the SNA for work in mainstream primary schools. The findings may help to shape policy in relation to the management and leadership of SNAs by principals.
President of the INTO, Brendan O’Sullivan said it was a source of pride to the INTO that at least 75% of primary teachers voluntarily undertake additional training and study.
“By acquiring new skills and expanding their knowledge, teachers enhance their practice and ultimately everyone benefits – including the children in their classrooms.”
Every year since 1993 primary teachers undertaking research have been supported by the INTO through the Bursary Scheme.
In Ireland, SNAs assist teachers in meeting the care needs of pupils with special educational needs. Their duties are assigned by the principal acting on behalf of the Board of Management and the work is supervised either by the principal or another teacher.
There is confusion over the role of the SNA support staff in Ireland and the movement of the role from a ‘caring’ role to a more ‘educational’ role is blamed on schools.