Why I’m running
INTO has been an integral part of my professional life. I joined when I first started teaching and like many new teachers was asked to undertake the role of INTO staff rep. After my first local Dublin North West Branch meeting I was hooked and quickly became involved – Branch Committee, a few motions proposed to Congress, summer course co-ordinator, Branch Organiser and then in 2004 I applied and got a job in INTO Head Office where I’ve headed up INTO professional development for members and training for our officers as well as the role of INTO Equality Officer.
I realise my journey with INTO and indeed my passion for our union as central to my professional life is not the same as all teachers and members whether north or south. Aside from perhaps browsing through your Intouch magazine many of you, whose votes I will be trying to secure, may never think twice about the INTO while others will be as intrinsically involved as I am. This is what I want to change, I want INTO to make a real difference for all members. I want every member to feel connected to their union, to feel that their union meets their needs and provides them with a vehicle to express their professionalism whether that be as an activist, a classroom practitioner, a school leader, a learner/researcher, a working parent, a vulnerable member or someone in need of individual help and advice.
As INTO General Secretary I would have the opportunity to make a real difference to the approach and strategic direction of our union. Protecting and enhancing your pay will always be our number one priority – current pay inequality must end, principals must be awarded their benchmarking and pay stagnation in NI must be resolved! Equally a top priority is protecting and enhancing your terms and conditions of service as well as professional entitlements and opportunities.
However, over the next decade we will need to proactively engage with other major issues such as:
- the seemingly ever increasing workload of teachers
- the growing role and responsibility of the principal teacher, particularly teaching principals
- meeting the vast and varied needs of children with special educational needs and socio-emotional/behavioural needs
- ensuring curricular and pedagogical change is teacher-led and any implementation responds to classroom realities and teacher needs
- discussing where professional development sits within our conditions, expectations and responsibilities
- engendering greater teacher autonomy and confidence in our classrooms
- providing meaningful career opportunities for teachers
- planning strategically for the impending drop in pupil numbers over the next 5 years
- harnessing technology and social communications to practically support teaching, learning and school administration
- the role and responsibilities of patron bodies, particularly church bodies, in the management of our schools
- the constraints of the school year on family care and leave needs and work-life balance
It is therefore imperative that we increase our union participation and strength to determine the best way forward on these and the myriad of other issues that will face us. We will need to work more collaboratively with each other, with other unions, with parent bodies and other education stakeholders to ensure our primary school system is firstly fully resourced and funded but also that it is inclusive, progressive and able to meet the needs and expectation of those who teach and learn within it.
I believe I am the best person to undertake this role. I lead in an inclusive, proactive and solution focused way. I am aware, I listen and I am a team player. I question and I analyse. I am tenacious and think outside the box and can therefore bring fresh thinking to strategy and negotiations. While I am determined and decisive, I always seek a fair and meaningful way forward. These are, in my view, the qualities needed in the next INTO General Secretary to work alongside the INTO Central Executive Committee, our union’s officers, our national committees and our members to realise the resolutions of our annual Congress and ensure INTO makes a difference to all our members.
Watch my video for an overview of me and my aspirations for INTO and INTO members