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Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's programme I speak to Dr. Liz Dunphy, Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education in Dublin City University's Institute of Education about her work. Among the topics we discuss are the following:



Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's podcast I speak to Dr. Karen Edge who is a Reader in Educational Leadership at the University College London Institute of Education. Karen Edge was a keynote speaker at the 2020 annual conference of the Irish Primary Principals' Network, the IPPN. Among the topics we discussed were the following:

  • Helping principals make their job meaningful
  • Constraints on principals working on teaching and learning and working with students and teachers include: to be accountable, to share information, manage data, manage external relations
  • How principals can live a full life outside of work and be a leader in their work
  • Helping principals align their professional priorities with what students, teachers and parents expect of them
  • Supporting a new generation of principals from Generation X (born from 1965 to 1980) in schools designed for Baby Boomer principals who have now retired or who are retiring (those born from 1946 to 1964)
  • Collaborative decision making and Generation X leaders
  • How leadership in education differs across countries and continents and how this is influenced by being an adult in the wider society (and why borrowing policies from other countries may not work in the same way here).
  • Rewards of being principal
  • Why “being busy” is not a badge of honour
  • How schools can productively partner with schools in other countries

Among the people she mentioned on the podcast were the following:

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's podcast I speak to Viv Grant who is Executive Coach and Director of Integrity Coaching. She was a keynote speaker at the 2020 annual conference of the Irish Primary Principals' Network. Among the topics we discuss are the following:

  • Identifying your stories as a school leader: why are you in the profession? What motivates you? What inspires you? What brings you joy?
  • Her story and how she began to articulate it for herself
  • The importance for principals of recognising and articulating their inner, subconscious narrative
  • How underlying thoughts and experiences can affect a principal’s ability to have difficult conversations
  • Becoming aware of when the old narratives no longer serve us
  • Getting our back stage narratives aligned with our front stage performance
  • The role of the Centre for School Leadership
  • What coaching for principals involves
  • Just like social workers and psychologists get “supervision” in their work as a matter of course, so should school principals because as well as being leaders of curriculum and instruction, many of them are practising aspects of psychology and social work.
  • Why school development and human growth and development go hand in hand and why offering coaching to principals is a way of appreciating their taking on this important role.
  • Is coaching something that is needed on an ongoing or on a needs-only basis?
  • How coaching for a principal works
  • Qualities a coach needs to have in order to work with principals
  • How coaching differs from mentoring
  • Why supporting coaching for principals is a good investment for a school
  • Why coaching is the norm in several other sectors
  • How she turned around “failing” primary school
  • How to bring about change at school level
  • The source of a school’s vision
  • Her book called Staying a head: The stress management secrets of successful school leaders
  • The challenge of creating time to develop the inner work of school leadership
  • Pauline Lysaght Jones and Mary Fuller
  • David Whyte’s poetry
  • John O’Donohue




Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's podcast I speak to the President (Damian White), Deputy President (Brian O'Doherty) and Chief Executive Officer (Páiric Clerkin) of the Irish Primary Principals' Network at the annual conference of the Network. The IPPN is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Among the topics we discuss are the following:

Damian White

  • Workload and making the job of principal more sustainable into the future
  • The PIEW model: Prioritise, Implement, Embed, Wait.
  • Prioritising initiatives in a school. Refers to the Looking at our Schools document.
  • Identifying and making room for urgent new initiatives within the PIEW model.
  • Wellbeing
  • Support groups for principals
  • Working with local education centres
  • Relationship between the Centre for School Leadership, the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) and the IPPN
  • Relationship between the IPPN and the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO)
  • On having the Secretary General and not the Minister address the conference


Brian O’Doherty

  • Difference between roles of President/Deputy President and Chief Executive Officer of IPPN
  • Being principal of a large school
  • Working collaboratively with an administrative Deputy Principal
  • Principalship and school budgets
  • The financial and support services unit (FFSU) and reporting procedures
  • Challenges in managing cash flow in schools
  • Questions principals should ask about school finances


Páiric Clerkin


Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's programme I speak to Professor Mark Morgan from Dublin City University about psychology, education, his career and his thoughts on education. Among the topics we discuss are the following:

  • How he became interested in psychology as a student teacher in St. Patrick’s College
  • Being taught by John McNamara (who was known for his study of bilingualism)
  • Completing postgraduate studies in London
  • Being appointed as lecturer in St. Patrick’s College
  • Having Albert Bandura as a tutor when offered a fellowship at Stanford University
  • The idea of self efficacy
  • His interest in TV and violence, resilience and substance misuse prevention
  • The use of quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods data in psychology
  • His doctoral research on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
  • His research on adversity and resilience
  • What teachers can do to be more resilient
  • How he planned his classes as a teacher educator
  • How early home and school experiences influenced his subsequent interests and ideas
  • Why psychology is useful for student teachers
  • How the field of educational psychology has evolved over the last 50 years
  • His involvement in the Growing Up in Ireland study
  • Learning in later years
  • He recommended Albert Bandura's book Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory.

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

This week I bring you an interview with the new Chief Executive Officer of Educate Together, Dr. Emer Nowlan in the week she takes up her new appointment. Among the topics we discuss are:

  • Her career in education to date: becoming a PE teacher, running a language school in Portugal
  • Doing a masters and doctorate in UCD
  • Being project manager for setting up second level Educate Together schools
  • Working on the Migrant Teacher Project
  • Challenges faced by migrant teachers who wish to teach in Ireland
  • Lessons learned from the Migrant Teacher Project to date
  • Anticipating her new role as CEO of Educate Together
  • Plans for establishing new Educate Together schools
  • How Educate Together has evolved over the last 40 years
  • What equality-based education looks like
  • How to promote equality-based education without stereotyping
  • Educate Together’s role as school patron
  • Enrolment policies for schools
  • The work of CEO in Educate Together
  • Her priorities for her term as CEO
  • Challenges facing the Educate Together sector
  • Characteristics of a principal in an Educate Together school
  • Facilitating denominational religious instruction in Educate Together Schools

She names some people whose work she admires.


Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's podcast I speak to Professor Paola Valero from Stockholm University about the political aspects of teaching in general and of teaching mathematics in particular. Professor Valero was in Ireland as a keynote speaker at the 2019 Mathematics Education in Ireland conference, which was held in Dublin City University in October.

This podcast will be of interest to anyone who likes to stand back from their teaching and think about the why, what and how of their work. Among the topics we discuss in the podcast are:

  • The difference between teacher knowledge and researcher knowledge and why both need to work together
  • Responsibilities of researchers (in education)
  • Relevance of her work on the politics of mathematics education for teachers
  • Why teachers’ work is inevitably political, whether or not that is acknowledged
  • How can teachers become more aware of their political stance (from 12’06”)
  • What it means to be a teacher-intellectual
  • What is political specifically in mathematics education
    • Working with powerful and empowering knowledge
    • It is a desired area of competence/it is highly valued
    • Mathematics is widely assessed
  • A brief history of how the status of mathematics in schools evolved
  • How less was expected of girls in mathematics education
  • The experience of learning mathematics for immigrants and people with disabilities
  • How teachers can respond to the political nature of mathematics

She recommended the work of Ole Skovsmose and in particular the chapter he co-wrote with Lene Nielsen, Critical Mathematics Education.

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's podcast I am joined by author Dave Rudden who created the Knights of the Borrowed Dark trilogy. Dave talks about his own writing, about teaching writing to adults and children and he discusses the bullying that was a feature of his life in post-primary school. The specific topics discussed on the podcast are:

  • How he began writing Knights of the Borrowed Dark as a college assignment
  • The premise of the series
  • Who the audience for the books is
  • His experience in the classroom and what attracts him to writing
  • His school visits
  • His writing practice
  • How he learned to write and what teachers can do to help children learn to write
  • Getting into drama and theatre to overcome shyness
  • Getting into live storytelling in Dublin and moving onto writing short stories and then to a Masters in Creative Writing
  • Why Terry Pratchett is a role model
  • He also likes Irish authors Sarah Maria Griffin, Deirdre Sullivan, Catherine Doyle.
  • The benefits of doing a masters course in creative writing
  • Why you don’t have to do a masters course to be a successful writer
  • Differences in teaching writing to children and adults
  • How teachers can teach children to write
  • Explaining why words are weapons, writing is a muscle, and you don’t have to get it right first time
  • The recipe for a character
  • The recipe for a plot
  • Stretch Goals
  • What schools are for
  • How teachers can support children who experience bullying
  • A teacher who had a significant impact on him
  • Who or what inspires him
  • A favourite book or writer or blog about writing: Chuck Wendig, On Writing by Stephen King
  • Neil Gaiman’s Commencement Speech: Make Good Art

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

This week's podcast is a solo episode in which I riff on the topic of homework. Your feedback and thoughts on the topic and on the podcast are welcome as always.

Among the topics mentioned on the podcast are the following:

  • Is time spent on school homework a good return on investment?
  • Overview of podcast
  • Why teachers give homework
  • The Goldilocks principle and setting tasks for students, both in class and for homework
  • Why research on homework can be problematic
  • Lessons from research that can help children benefit from doing homework
  • The “Matthew Effect” in homework
  • Acquiring the habit of doing homework
  • Image of rider, elephant and path from the books Switch and The Happiness Hypothesis. I also drew on ideas from Atomic Habits in the podcast.
  • Questions to ask your child about homework
  • Teaching your child strategies for doing homework
  • How teachers can make homework more interesting for children
  • When parents and teachers provide contradictory information for children
  • Study strategies teachers can teach children


Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's podcast I bring you interviews from students, teachers and organisers who attended the National Finals of Scifest 2019 in Marino Institute of Education on Friday, 22 November. Among the guests I speak to are the following:

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