ASCL NI President praises resilience of school leaders

At the ASCL Northern Ireland Annual Conference on 29 November 2019, ASCL Northern Ireland President Amanda McNamee paid tribute to the resilience of school leaders in challenging and demanding times.
ASCL Northern Ireland President Amanda McNamee today (Friday 29 November) paid tribute to the resilience of school leaders in challenging and demanding times.

In a speech to the association’s annual conference in Belfast, Ms McNamee, principal of Lagan College, spoke about the backdrop of political uncertainty, lack of Stormont government direction, and long-running industrial action by teachers.

She said: “It is true that we are working in challenging and demanding times but in true Northern Ireland spirit we have not been distracted or deterred from our moral purpose – namely to help the children access education as is their right, and for that educational experience to be the very best that we can provide, in the current climate and resources permitting.

You may be asking yourself how is it possible that our education system is so highly rated when we statistically receive less funding than elsewhere in the UK? How is it possible that despite our teachers being involved in ongoing industrial action, that we have still helped our students to achieve very strong GCSE and A level outcomes this year as one measure of success?

Well, to put it simply, I believe the evidence is clear – huge credit and recognition must go to the sheer determination and work ethic that our teaching and non-teaching workforce continue to display, and the impeccable resolve and commitment to child-centred practice they showcase daily.”

She spoke about the importance of valuing and caring for teaching and non-teaching staff in terms of their pay, wellbeing and access to professional development.

She said: “If we would like the teaching profession to bridge the gap between health and education, teachers must be highly trained and given adequate time to care for and respond to the most vulnerable of children and those with complex needs.

If we wish to prevent the loss of young people’s lives to harm and mental health problems, we need to work together in order to teach children resilience and hope in the classroom as part of the curriculum.

If we ultimately wish for our children to dream big with regard to their future prospects –irrespective of family background, ethnicity, culture, politics, sexuality, school type attended – we must work through our people.” 

ASCL Northern Ireland’s 2019 conference ‘Leading through Evidence. Making the Difference” took place Friday 29 November, at the Titanic Hotel Belfast. ASCL represents nearly 180 school leaders in Northern Ireland.