Anti-bullying measures, legal issues, school ethos and many more topics were discussed at the An Foras Pátrúnachta Conference 2014 which was held in the Red Cow Moran Hotel on Saturday 1st March. Liam O’ Neill, President of the GAA, opened the event with an inspirational speech to the large crowd in attendance that morning.
O’Neill spoke passionately about his personal experience of bringing the Irish language to the forefront as both a teacher and as a principal.
He underlined the strong traditional values and importance of the language in the school and how it was used as a natural instrument of communication. He also commented on the strong bond between the GAA and the Irish-speaking schools and how they often worked simultaneously together.
Caoimhín Ó hEaghra, General Secretary of An Foras Pátrúnachta, welcomed the second guest speaker, educational expert, Eileen Flynn. The audience was captivated by her talk on anti-bullying measures. Eileen sparked a lot of interest regarding the new anti-bullying rules implemented by the Department of Education. This was clear from the amount of questions which came from the floor after her presentation. Barrister Margaret Gorman, was on hand to give a legal opinion to the crowd on the subject.
Outstanding entertainment was provided at the interval by the Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada choir, The attendees were given the opportunity to browse around the promotional stands hosted by organisations and companies such as: Foras na Gaeilge, Raidió na Gaeltachta, TG4, TEG, Ógras, O2 and Allianz.
During his talk, recognized lawyer, Antoin Delap, focused on the Board of Management and its function when dealing with enquiries. He underlined the steps and procedures that are necessary for the Board of Management to take. This created a stir amongst the audience and a lot of questions. It also highlighted the fact that there is a great demand for more talks such as this in the future.
Educational adviser Terry Allen gave practical advice to the members of Boards of Management during his speech. A huge emphasis was placed on a more proficient methods and models which would help Boards of Management to carry out their duties more effectively .
Technical expert, Keith Young, was next to speak after lunch. He demonstrated the Google Apps for Education programme, showing how schools could easily use the system to make school surveys and more.
Three principals then discussed the ethos of the schools under the patronage of An Foras. Anita Nic Amhlaoidh, Gaelscoil Nás na Ríogh, shared her experience of interdenominational schooling with the group. Siobhán Ní Dhúill, Gaelscoil an Bhradáin Feasa, focused on multi-faith schooling and Seán de Paor, Gaelscoil Chill Dara, spoke about the Irish language ethos of An Foras Pátrúnachta schools.
The benefits and challenges associated with each characteristic spirit were explained and discussed along with opportunities for development . The multi-denominational handbook for schools ‘Cuaillí Beatha’, translated by An Foras Pátrúnachta, was unveiled launched officially during this presentation.
The winners of the art competition, a new competition developed by An Foras Pátrúnachta for primary and secondary level schools, were then announced. O2 was the sponsor of this competition and there were some fabulous prizes given to the winning schools.
‘’We would like to thank every one who took part in the conference and annual general meeting this year,’’ said Caoimhín Ó hEaghra, General Secretary of An Foras Pátrúnachta.
‘’There was a great turnout and the guest speakers were excellent, judging by the feedback we have received, everyone in attendance benefited greatly from the topics discussed.
‘’Many valid points were brought to our attention and An Foras Pátrúnachta will be focussing on these issues over the coming year’’.