Manager appointed after Cork school board resigns

Pat Kinsella

The board of management of a prominent Cork city primary school has resigned and been replaced by a single manager.

This follows a highly critical Department of Education inspection report.

Pat Kinsella, former principal of Coláiste Choilm, Ballincollig, was made single manager of Scoil Bhríde, Eglantine girl’s primary school, on Douglas Rd, in July to expedite implementation of the report’s recommendations.

A department spokesperson described the appointment of a single manager to a school as “not a regular occurrence”.

Just nine primary schools, out of 3,252 nationwide (1.17%), appointed a single manager in the past three years, following resignation of the board.

The department confirmed the patron of the school, the Bishop of the Diocese of Cork and Ross, John Buckley, has appointed Mr Kinsella to manage Scoil Bhríde, Eglantine. A spokesperson for Bishop Buckley said he had “no further comment, at this time”.

A whole school evaluation (WSE) report following an inspection in November 2016 found, inter alia, that “the overall quality of school management is unsatisfactory”.

    It also said:

  • “The principal needs to develop a focused and collaborative approach to leading teaching and learning and overall school development”;
  • “There is significant scope for development in the work of the principal, particularly with regard to leading teaching and learning, overall school development, and record-keeping”;
  • “The overall quality of teaching and learning is good” and that it had a supportive parents’ association.

A board-of-management, end-of-year report, 2016-2017, said the board was “availing of the assistance of external educationalists, in addressing concerns raised in the WSE”.

Mr Kinsella said he understood that at least one person was brought in last year in a support capacity.

The Irish Examiner sent queries to the principal, Eoin Kennedy. Mr Kennedy said the “most appropriate point of contact would be our school manager”.

Mr Kinsella, former vice-chair of the National Council for Special Education, said the board, which had addressed its own governance issues, as per a WSE recommendation, had decided the best way to implement outstanding recommendations was to step down and appoint a single manager.

He said it was “very much an interim measure”, that the intention was to re-form the board in the future. Mr Kinsella spends three hours a day, three days a week, at the school, which has 560 pupils.

He said Scoil Bhríde was a “very positive environment”, that the pupils appeared “very happy and performed excellently at an academic level”. He said their Sten scores were “way ahead”.

Mr Kinsella said they were addressing the issues raised in the WSE in a “systematic way, in conjunction with school leadership, and a lot of progress has been made in the last six weeks”. He said Mr Kennedy had been playing a part in that.

Mr Kinsella has provided leadership support at post-primary level in the past, but has encountered “only one other occasion where the board stepped down”.

At the time, he was appointed single manager for a period of seven months and later chaired the board.

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