Report of PACCS Annual General Meeting which was held on 7th March, 2015 in Bessborough Centre, Cork.

Theme: School Life Balance

Tony Stafford, PACCS President opened the proceedings by welcoming the parents, guests and friends of PACCS to Cork.

He went on introduce the current Executive committee and drew attention to the fact that there are only seven members, two of which are due to retire at the end of the AGM. He thanked the staff at the centre and in particular Margo Ahern Douglas C.S. who had worked with Helena O Connor Boherbue C.S. on the preparations for the AGM.

He then introduced Eileen Salmon, General Secretary of ACCS who addressed the delegates and guests.

She spoke on how School Management influences School life Balance under the following topics :

What is ACCS? – The breakdown of its member schools and how it is staffed.

What ACCS do to facilitate and assist members of Boards of Management in the execution of their duties?

She spoke of the Memorandum and Articles, Annual Convention, Board of Management membership and Executive Policy which guides ACCS.

Communications: This is done through Newsletters, News Bulletins, Tagairt and of course the website.

Like all organisations going forward, ACCS has a strategic Plan and the vision is to lead and support Boards, to ensure that students have the opportunity to avail of a broad and balanced education that prepares them to actively participate in their next life stage and this can be done with the provision of a comprehensive curriculum thereby equipping students with the key life skills through an education that is appropriate to their needs.

She went on to outline what ACCS want for parents and that is that they trust that their children are safe in a local environment where their individuality is recognised and nurtured by encouraging parents to play an active role in their child’s education. She stressed the importance of building up trust and co-operation with teachers and school management, cooperating with parents’ associations locally and nationally, operating an all-inclusive enrolment policy and looking after students within the local community.

She dealt with Characteristics of a Community / Comprehensive school, the Management, Trustees/Patron and Board of Management outlining the differences between Community School Boards and Comprehensive School Boards. The Executive, Principal, Policy Formulation, Child Protection and anti-bullying procedures were also covered in her address.

She outlined the issues dealt with by Circular 45/13 on how to deal with bullying, who to report to and when it should be reported. She stressed that the policies should be formulated in partnership with parents. An annual review by the Board of Management on policies is essential.
In conclusion, she dealt with Pastoral Care and Behaviour, Pastoral Care Structures, Rules of Natural Justice and Hopes for the future which would include the introduction of the New Junior Cycle and Senior Cycle developments with revision of science syllabuses and a practical component to examinations.

Copies of ACCS Newsletters were distributed and she informed the delegates that five copies of every issue would be sent to the schools for distribution to Parents’ associations.

PACCS President, Tony Stafford, thanked her for her address and for dealing with the questions which she had taken during her address.

A presentation was made to her by PACCS.

Deirdre Madden, Outreach, UCC then addressed the meeting. She dealt with Assistive Technologies available to students with varying special needs. While this address had not been scheduled in the Agenda it was extremely well received and she agreed to stay to speak to the delegates throughout the day.

Following the tea/coffee break the PACCS AGM was held. This session was confined to current parents attending on the day.

Due to time constraints the Minutes of the 30th AGM and the Secretary’s report were taken as read. Copies of both reports were included in the pack. The Secretary’s Report was proposed for adoption by Elaine Bell, Cabinteely and seconded by Louise Reynolds, Coolmine.

Since the Auditor was unavailable, Julie Kilroy, Honorary Treasurer presented the accounts.

Copies had been distributed prior to the meeting and since there were no queries or requests for clarification, they were proposed by Geraldine Rooney, Coolmine and seconded by Elaine Bell, Cabinteely.

The following executive members were ratified for 2015/2016 :

Dave Fitzpatrick Coolmine, Julie Kilroy Knocklyon, Elaine Bell Cabinteely and Louise Reynolds Coolmine, Dublin Region. Rebecca Hemerych Ashbourne, North East Region. Paul Deasy and Brendan Dennehy, Douglas, Southern Region.

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Election of President : Dave Fitzpatrick, Coolmine, Dublin Region, was proposed by Elaine Bell Cabinteely and seconded by Geraldine Rooney Coolmine and since he agreed to accept and since no other candidate was proposed, he was elected President for the coming year.

Tony Stafford, Outgoing President was co-opted to remain as ex-officio president for the coming year. Proposed by Dave Fitzpatrick and seconded by Cathy O’Sullivan, Southern Region. It was proposed by Dave Fitzpatrick and seconded by Helen Quinn, Southern Region that Connie Carolan be co-opted to remain as Honorary General Secretary. This was agreed by the delegates.

A presentation was made to Helena O’Connor as she retires at the end of the day. Flowers were also presented to Connie Carolan.

Dave Fitzpatrick, incoming President addressed the delegates. He thanked the incoming Executive for his nomination and outlined the plans to grow the organisation and the Executive in 2015/2016. He hoped to encourage parents on parents’ associations/councils to become more involved in PACCS, helping it to grow stronger. He spoke briefly of the approach to update contact details of as many of the 95 Community and Comprehensive schools as possible. He suggested that the Executive should also travel outside Dublin for meetings if that is the decision of the incoming Executive. He offered to attend any meetings of either Parents’ Associations or Regional meetings if invited. He also explained that this year it was decided to hold the PACCS AGM as a stand-alone event, where in recent years the AGM was held as a part of NPCpp Annual Conference.

Tony Stafford, outgoing president closed the meeting and invited the incoming Executive to remain for a short meeting.

Lunch was served at this juncture.

In the afternoon, there were three workshops as per the Agenda.

Autism in the Classroom – Kirstin Hurley

PACCS AGM – Saturday 7th March 2015, Bessborough, Cork

Rebecca Hemerych attended this workshop and reported on it.

Kirstin was diagnosed with Aspergers when she was 22. It was a fantastic talk as the delegates saw Autism from Kirstin’s perspective. She was very forthcoming in answering any of the questions raised and in giving parents ideas and advice in dealing with Autism diagnosis. It was a wonderful workshop to attend.

‘Dads for Dads’ Parenting Programme Workshop

PACCS AGM – Saturday 7th March 2015, Bessborough, Cork

At the recent PACCS National Conference, Brendan Dennehy from Douglas Community School delivered a workshop entitled – ‘Dads for Dads’ – a parenting programme for fathers/guardians of boys. Brendan has been delivering this programme to schools and businesses in Cork since 2010.

This course was developed by Irish fathers specifically for fathers and men who play a significant role in the lives of boys.

The course covers how boys’ lives have changed, and offers useful skills to develop and maintain close relationships between fathers and sons and explores ways of preparing our sons for the challenges that face young men in Ireland today.

The course aims to enhance skills in relating to sons, communicating better, developing better relationships and becoming a role model and source of support.

Brendan spoke of his experience of delivering the programme to hundreds of fathers. In essence, fathers love the opportunity to talk about what it’s like to be a Dad. Their challenges, doubts, and concerns are discussed in an open and sympathetic environment. The programme provides a rare opportunity for men to explore their role as a father.

Quite early on in the programme men discover that they share a lot of common ground on their parenting journey. Dads love to hear what other Dads are experiencing and they say the sharing of these ideas is of huge benefit. Most Dads discover that they are a ‘good enough’ Dad. They are given ‘homework’ in the form of a questionnaire which their son (and sometimes daughter) complete. This provides an opportunity for sons to feed back to their Dad what they think and what they might change. All the Dads say it is a hugely beneficial experience.

‘Dads for Dads’ is open to all, not just fathers experiencing difficulty. Participants are not pressured into discussing anything they are not comfortable with, and the programme is run in a relaxed atmosphere.

If you wish to learn more about ‘Dads for Dads’, Brendan can be contacted on 087 0527687 or by email at: [email protected]

Positive Mental Health

PACCS AGM – Saturday 7th March 2015, Bessborough, Cork

Dr Paul Deasy spoke on Positive Mental Health – what is it and how to get it? As positive mental health is difficult to define exactly, he offered a list that described the characteristics of mentally healthy people in three areas: how they felt about themselves, how they felt about others and how they dealt with the demands of life. We can work towards promoting those abilities in our lives.

He then discussed a number of practical changes we can make in our own lives to promote better health. These included a regular exercise routine, adequate sleep, decreasing alcohol intake, practicing relaxation/mindfulness, having purpose/goals and having an optimistic approach to what’s happening in our lives.

The workshop went very well and there was good engagement with those that attended. The discussion was going strong but he had to call a halt due to being out of time.
Deirdre Madden had spoken earlier to the delegates on Assistive Technologies and remained to speak to any parent who wished to discuss her presentation.

The workshops were followed by Open Forum.

Annette Dolan, TUI, Eileen Salmon, ACCS, Aidan Farrell, State Examinations Commission, Diarmuid de Paor, ASTI and Don Myers, President, NPCpp took the questions.

The questions raised included: Reasonable accommodations, Introduction of the New Junior Cycle, Underperforming teachers, Teaching Council, Special Needs, Education Cuts, Communication with Parents, Assessment for reasonable accommodations, resources not transferring from Primary to Post Primary, Assisted Technology, Psychological Services, Guidance Moratorium, Pastoral Care, Pupil/Teacher Ratio, Industrial Action by teachers, Lack of In-service.

There was a lively debate and in thanking PACCS for the opportunity to attend and take part in the open forum, the panel agreed that we have more in common than divides us and what we all want is a good educational service for our children.

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The session was chaired by Tony Stafford, who thanked all for coming and closed the AGM.