I haven’t had a chance to blog this week because I was attending a series of events that were all worthwhile and exciting.
On Tuesday, I took part in the Business in the Community (BITC) programme called “Seeing is Believing”. This is an initiative from The Prince of Wales and is run across the United Kingdom. As noted on the website: “The Prince’s Seeing is Believing Programme gives senior business leaders the opportunity to experience social issues taking place in the communities that their businesses operate in. It also gives them an opportunity to explore how business can play a role in improving these problems. Each event involves a morning’s visit to a number of community projects, voluntary groups, or schools and is hosted by a senior business leader on behalf of HRH The Prince of Wales.”
We had the opportunity to visit two schools in different areas of deprivation of Belfast. The working group was made up of Government Officials (Permanent Secretary for Education Will Hare and others from the Department of Education), Universities , Prof. Gerry McCormack of the Vice Chancellor’s Office of QUB, Industry leaders (such as Paul Rooney of PWC) and many more.
we went to Knocknagoney Primary School in East Belfast where we were inspired and challenged by their Principal, Miss White. The work she and her staff are doing in the most difficult of circumstances is humbling and making a real difference in students, teachers and parents lives. We then headed over to Belfast Boys’ Model in North Belfast and met with their Principal, Mr Keith, the Careers Teacher, Mrs. Black, and a group of students. They talked about how their engagement through visits and internships really make a difference in their focus and career options and choices for the future. They want to have much more direct engagement with business and industry to continue these programmes.
It was a great day and a programme that I will try and get more involved in this year
On Wednesday, I was generously invited to attend the Regional Training Unit (RTU) and General Teaching Council (GTC) Conference on Leading Reflective Practice in Schools. The invited attendees were Principals and Head Teachers from throughout Northern Ireland, both Primary and Post Primary Schools. At the conference the GTC launched the report: Teaching:The Reflective Profession. There were keynotes from Mr Stanley Gould, the Chief Inspector for the Department of Education, Mr Eddie McArdle, Chief Registrar GTC NI, and Dr Tom Hesketh, Director of RTU. Dr Debbie Galanouli from Queens University and Dr Aidan Hamill from LaSalle Boys HS also spoke and compared.
There was also a series of presentation from Teachers and Principals about the work their doing in their respective schools with their Teachers and Students. David Stinson, the MS ITF winner in Vienna, presented his work on the Pupil ePortfolio and created a real buzz. Lots of great work and evidence and I want to thank the folks at GTC for inviting me along.
Yesterday, I visited with one of my favourite schools, St Mary’s College in Derry/Londonderry, and had a terrific session showing 30 of their Teachers the Northern Ireland Innovative Teacher’s site and doing a training session on Microsoft OneNote. Thanks to Paul Wade and Lena and the rest of the staff for being fully engaged and excited about all we discussed.