PACCS – 35th Annual Conference 6th April, 2019.

The Donahies Community School, Dublin, 13.

Theme:  The Family

Opening of Conference:

The conference was opened by Peter Keohane, Principal, The Donahies Community School who addressed the delegates and guests.  He welcomed everyone to the event, in particular the Paul and John, President and General Secretary, ACCS stating that The Donahies Community School were delighted to host the Conference.  He complimented the parents in the school for their work and commitment to The Donahies 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. The school had celebrated their 40th Anniversary last April with an event in the Marine Hotel, Sutton where the parents, students and staff, past and present had come together to celebrate.

He invited everyone present to roam around the school if they wished.  He remembered Sr. Patricia Rogers, who had played a vital part in the school from the beginning until her death and it was fitting that the Conference was being held in the Rogers Suite, which is the ASD Unit.

He thanked the Students, the Caterers, Caretaker, Irene and Terry and particularly, Richie for their hard work not only to-day but in the preparations for the Conference.

PACCS President’s Address:

Martina O’Shea, Vice President welcomed everyone to the Conference.  She was taking over the President’s role in the absence of Rebecca Hemeryck who was unable to attend due to illness.  She introduced the Speakers.

Brendan Dennehy:  Author, Speaker and founder of the fatherhood programme. Since 2010 he has delivered the programme to hundreds of fathers and mothers in schools, organisations and community settings throughout Ireland. He is a member of PACCS and NPCpp.

Brendan addressed the delegates and guests on the Students and Parents Charter and outlined the benefits of this initiative.

Betty McLoughlin:   A native of County Limerick, Guidance Counsellor, Author and publisher of many articles on Personal, Educational and Vocational Guidance Counselling, Mental Health and Wellbeing, parent and Educationalist.

Betty addressed the Conference on the Wellbeing programme and its benefits. She spoke of the indicators of wellbeing – Active, Responsible, Connected, Resilient, Respected and Aware.  The way we feel about ourselves and others influences everything we do.  Wellbeing is essential for successful learning and a happy life.  The new Junior Cycle Reformed Curriculum recognises this.

Bernie McDonnell:  Bernie is C.E.O. of Community Awareness of Drugs (CAD).

Bernie introduced the Normative Education to the Delegates and Guests through the use of findings from most recent European Schools Project on Alcohol and Drugs Survey (ESPAD).

This study engages students aged 15 – 16 years old. She went on to briefly discuss issues related to this study and circulated a copy of the findings to the Conference.

It was decided that questions and feedback for all speakers would be taken at Open Forum.

Coffee/Tea break followed.

PACCS Annual General Meeting:

The Report of 2018 Conference was taken as read.

Secretary’s Report:  Due to time constraints, this report was taken as read. It was proposed for adoption by Terry Kennedy and seconded by Enda Troy.

Treasurer’s Report:  John Murphy, Auditor presented the Treasurer’s Report.  Following discussion on Finance and how this is received by PACCS it was proposed for adoption.  Proposed by James Connors and seconded by Elaine Bell.

It was proposed that the PACCS nominees to NPCpp, would bring the concerns of some members that they were not allowed to attend the AGM of NPCpp.  This is prohibited by the Constitution of NPCpp.

Introduction of 2019/2020 Executive Committee:

Rebecca Hemeryck – Ashbourne Community School

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

Elaine Bell – Cabinteely Community School

Brendan Dennehy – (Honorary Member of Executive) – Douglas Community School

Terry Kennedy, The Donahies Community School

Margaret Walsh, Douglas Community School

Triona Ni Annrachain, Douglas Community School

James Connors – Moyne Community School

Elizabeth Ryan – Cashel Community School

Richard Matthews – The Donahies

As is the case every year, some members will be stepping down and this year we are losing Enda Troy, Hartstown Community School. She was thanked for her valuable contribution to PACCS since joining.

Elections of President:  Martina O’Shea was proposed by Cabinteely Community School and seconded by Cashel Community School.  James Connors was proposed by Tullow Community School and seconded by Ballincollig C.S.  Follow an election, Marina O’Shea was elected.

Martina thanked everyone for their support and following a suggestion that not all meetings would be held in Dublin, it was agreed to travel to the Regions for some of the meetings.

She 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

John Irwin – General Secretary, ACCS

Betty McLoughlin – New Junior Cycle Programme.

Bernie McDonnell – C.E.O. – Community Awareness of Drugs

The panel took questions from the floor:

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

  1. Re-checks – The main query was how Projects are corrected.
  2. Correction of Scripts – The timeframe for results being available to the students. The results will now be available three weeks earlier than heretofore.
  3. Correctors – this area was also discussed.
  4. Wellbeing Programme: The benefits of this programme for the learning and wellbeing of the students were outlined and discussed.
  5. 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.   The Department of Education and Skills informed the Boards of Management that the payment of this affiliation to NPCpp is a legitimate expense.  However, it is voluntary and while the Management Body would encourage a school to pay this (€1 per student) they cannot mandate a school Board to pay. Invoices are sent to Boards of Management of the schools.
  6. Community Awareness of Drugs: There are regular Training sessions and Workshops around the Country and Parents were requested to contact CAD to have this in their schools.
  7. New Junior Certificate: The lack of past papers was queried and the question raised as to how this will be dealt with at Leaving Certificate.
  8. Project Maths – There was general agreement that, while there had been teething problems, this had contributed greatly to the understanding of the subject of Mathematics.
  9. Guidance Counsellors – While there has been some restoration to the numbers in schools – there is still a long way to go to allow every student have access.
  10. Education Forum – Unfortunately, there have been no meetings of this group, which was an excellent forum for co-operation between all the relevant partners in Education and it was agreed that this should be rectified.
  11. Student/Teacher Charter – This was welcomed by all present.
  12. Drugs Problems in Rural Areas – The problem of Drugs is not confined to any particular area and would appear to be freely accessible everywhere – therefore, parents must vigilant and be aware of the signs.

All the questions were dealt with by the panel and detailed responses given.

Martina O’Shea, PACCS President made presentations to all the contributors and Flowers were presented to Connie Carolan, Honorary General Secretary, who was stepping down at the end of Conference.  Martina thanked everyone for their input and presentations and closed Conference 2019.