PACCS – 34th Annual Conference – 24th March, 2018.

St. Tiernan’s Community School, Dublin, 16.

Theme:  Parents – This is for you!

PACCS 34th Annual Conference 2018

Opening of Conference:

The conference was opened by Declan Hughes, Principal, St. Tiernan’s Community School who addressed the delegates and guests.  He welcomed everyone to the event, stating that St. Tiernan’s were delighted to host the Conference.  He complimented the parents in the school for their work and commitment to St. Tiernan’s C.S. and wished everyone a pleasant and fruitful day. He went on to outline the collaboration between the Parents, Board and Staff in the school.

Lettie McCarty, Chairperson of Board of Management and Councillor in DRC then addressed the Delegates and Guests, she said it was wonderful to see so many present as we all need to communicate better.  It can be a lonely journey for some parents and the onus is on each and every one of us to reach out.  We will, inevitably hear the excuses, ‘have to be somewhere else’ but we must make the effort to make it work.

PACCS President’s Address:

Rebecca Hemeryck, President, PACCS thanked Declan and Lettie for their addresses and welcomed everyone to Conference.  She drew the delegates’ attention to the very full programme and gave a brief outline of her involvement in PACCS.  She stressed the importance of parents having their voice heard and requested that the delegates would fill in the comment form which was included in the pack.

She stated that it had been a particularly busy year for her as she has had a dual role in that she was the PRO of NPCpp for part of the year and still is a PACCS nominee on the Council as well as being President of PACCS.

She hopes to go out to the schools in the coming year and would welcome invitations from Parents’ associations.  She concluded by referring to the theme of the Conference and reminding parents that PACCS are there to help and if we do not have the answer to a question to hand, we will research this and get back to the parent asking the question.  She thanked everyone for coming and hoped they would enjoy the Conference.

Arlene Gallagher, Trinity Walton Club – STEM Enrichment Programme delivered the Keynote address – “Shaping Tomorrow’s World”.

This was an interactive address, involving everyone. This programme had been developed specifically for 2nd level students. Professor Gallagher went on to question the delegates’ misconceptions – is it more suitable for boys or girls or suitable to both? Who would benefit from the programme and who would be suited for it? The myth that it is not interesting to girls is false and the fact that students must be good at maths to do science and technology is also false.

She also addressed the worry that students who study the STEM subjects are limited to a career choice – this again is false.  Questions and comments followed.


Geoff Browne, President, National Parents’ Council – post primary addressed Conference.

He outlined the work of the Council, much of which, is carried out behind the scenes. However, the Examination Helpline is one which has been running for many years and has answered numerous calls and is free to all parents and students and will again take place following the Leaving Certificate results next August.

The Spring Seminar will be held in May and the venue is TCD and the Annual Conference in October/November time of the year.

He thanked the members of PACCS who are nominees to NPCpp – Rebecca Hemeryck, Martina O’Shea, Elaine Bell and Brendan Dennehy.

He also thanked Connie Carolan, who had retired from NPCpp as Minute Secretary after almost thirty years.

He concluded by taking questions from the floor.

Coffee/Tea break followed.

PACCS Annual General Meeting:

The Report of 2017 Conference was taken as read.

Secretary’s Report:  Due to time constraints, this report was also taken as read. It was proposed for adoption by Theresa Holohan and seconded by Rebecca Hemeryck.

Treasurer’s Report:  John Murphy, Auditor presented the Draft Treasurer’s Report.  This will be adopted at a later date.

Introduction of 2017/2018 Executive Committee:

Rebecca Hemeryck – Ashbourne Community School

Martina O’Shea – St. Tiernan’s Community School

Elaine Bell – Cabinteely Community School

Brendan Dennehy – Douglas Community School

Deborah McDermott – Holy Family Community School

Enda Troy – Hartstown Community School

James Connors – Moyne Community School

Liz Ryan – Cashel Community School

Richard Matthews – The Donahies Community School

As is the case every year, four members of our 2017/18 Executive are stepping down – Theresa Holohan and Deborah Timmons – Holy Family Community School, Rathcoole and Michele and Dominic Leonard, St. Tiernan’s C.S.  They were thanked for their valuable contribution to PACCS since joining.

Election of President:  Rebecca Hemeryck was returned as President unopposed.  Proposed by Mary Daly, Ballincollig C.S. and seconded by Brendan Dennehy, Douglas Community School.

Rebecca thanked everyone for their support during the last year and suggested that we should travel out to the schools more often during the coming year.  However, for this to happen, we need to receive invitations from the parents’ associations which we would welcome. As she had said earlier the past year had been a very busy one for her as she had been PRO of NPCpp until she stepped down at the AGM in November. This had taken a huge amount of her time but while she had appeared on Television, spoken on radio and given interviews regarding the affects any disruption would have on students, a possible dispute might have, she had been representing all parents.  However, PACCS was always at the forefront of her mind

She mentioned our Website and requested everyone to contribute to the content on this as it is for all parents and not confined to the Executive.

Rebecca welcomed the new members to our Executive and looked forward to working with everyone in the coming year.

She concluded the meeting by thanking everyone for coming, particularly our past Presidents.

A short meeting of the incoming Executive will be held at close of Conference.

Open Forum:


Aidan Farrell – State Examinations Commission

Aine O’Sullivan – Assistant General Secretary, ACCS

Geoff Browne, President, NPCpp

Seamus Lahart – Teachers Union of Ireland

Diarmaid de Paor, Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland

The panel took questions from the floor:

The following questions were taken and answered by the members of the panel.

  1. Accommodation for Junior and Leaving Certificate Students – if not given at Junior Certificate, will it be ruled out at Leaving Certificate – This is not necessarily the case as circumstances may change.


  1. Teacher Supply: There is a shortage of teachers which is particularly bad in the Dublin area – mainly due to accommodation costs etc. There is a need for 3,000 more teachers.


  1. Career Breaks: The debate here is if it is good or bad for schools and there is no definitive answer to this. The issue of Substitute teachers was also discussed.


  1. Political Science: one of the issues here was lack of text books and how it affects substitute teachers. Text books are not really the issue, it may be articles and relevant material.  While textbooks are appropriate and necessary in certain subjects they can stop thinking and self-expression in others.  The bigger issue is that very few schools will be in a position to offer the subject.


  1. Religion Classes: The answer here may be to put this on as an optional subject but that is dependent on the timetable and may not be an option. It was felt by some that the subject should be Faith Formation to allow students learn about all religions. The Government Circular has caused a lot of confusion, it is extraordinarily flawed and goes against the deeds of trust in some schools.


  1. Affiliations: The query here was that there should be more transparency regarding the numbers of schools affiliating to NPCpp, the contact names of the parents in the schools and the breakdown of the amount paid to the Constituent bodies from the Affiliations. The reply here was that there was no reason for this information not to be made available to the relevant people.


  1. Junior Certificate English: The length of time taken to complete the paper was questioned and the reply was that there is no room for manoeuvre in this examination.


Since there were no further questions, the Conference was concluded and a light lunch was served in the school.

Rebecca Hemeryck, PACCS President, thanked everyone for their input and presentations were given to all contributors.