Completing the Droichead – Start to Finish (My Experience)

If you’re currently in training to become a primary school teacher, the chances are you’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the new ‘Droichead’ induction programme for NQT’s. As I completed the Droichead last year (school year of 17/18), I thought it might be helpful to give an overview of what the process looked like for me.

Naturally, this is just my experience and perspective, and yours may be different depending on your mentors, principal, school environment, and class setting. I completed the Droichead in a 32 classroom-teacher school in Dublin, in a mainstream, mixed, Catholic school.

What is the Droichead?

Simply put, Droichead is the new way to become a fully qualified teacher in Ireland. ‘Droichead’ is the Irish word for ‘bridge’, and the Droichead scheme is there to ‘bridge the gap’ between you being a college student on teaching practice, and being a fully qualified and employed teacher with your own classroom. It replaces the old Dip/Probation Year for teachers. Image result for bridge clipart

The main difference between the two is that the Droichead is (in theory, at least) a support system put in place by the school, allowing qualified and experienced mentors (other teachers in the school) to guide you at the beginning of your teaching career. In contrast, the Dip is essentially an exam from an external inspector – a final test for you to prove yourself before being granted the status of ‘qualified teacher’.

As you can see from this ‘Timeline for Growth Phase’, the Droichead scheme is being gradually phased in, replacing the old ‘Dip’ system. This school year (2018/2019),  if you teach in a school with 16 or more mainstream class teachers, the ‘Droichead’ is the only route of induction you can take (i.e. you can’t complete the Dip). By September 2020, it is proposed to be the only route of induction for all primary schools in the country.

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Registration and Requirements

There are three prerequisite steps to beginning the Droichead process.

  1. The NQT must secure a job which meets the requirements to undertake the Droichead process. See Page 4 of this document for a full break-down, but at a basic level I would say you have to be in a contract that guarantees you 60 consecutive school days.
  2. The school must be registered for Droichead. (see a list of registered schools 18/19 here).
  3. The NQT must be registered with the Teaching Council.

Once those two steps are complete, the process is very simple.

  1. Apply to begin the Droichead process via your Teaching Council login page.
  2. Wait for an email to say that your application has been processed and approved, and download ‘Form D’.
  3. Complete Strand A and Strand B (see below)
  4. Send completed ‘Form D’ to the Teaching Council.
  5. Wait to be confirmed as a fully qualified and probated teacher!

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Strand A and Strand B

As I mentioned above, the Droichead is split into two ‘strands’:

Strand A: School-Based Induction

  1. Teach for a minimum period of 60 consecutive days. My Droichead process lasted from October to the Easter holidays, and this seems to be the timeframe most schools are sticking to.
  2. Engage in ‘Professional Conversations’ (i.e. have a number of meetings with your Support Team).
  3. Observations: Your Support Team decide how many of these are necessary. I went into two different classrooms to observe colleagues teaching a lesson, and I was observed teaching two lessons, one in October, and one in February. It is really important to note that these are not inspections – you are told in advance when you are being observed, and actually go through the lesson plan with your mentor beforehand – it is not a ‘wait for the dreaded knock on the door’ situation! My observations were absolutely fine – again, I went through my lesson plan with my mentors before the observation, so if there were any major issues with the lessons, it was as much their fault for not pointing them out beforehand as mine! They were extremely supportive, full of complements for my lessons and teaching style, and gave me solid, practical advice to carry forward with me in future lessons. I never felt like I was being judged or assessed in any way, and my PST team made me feel empowered and part of the process at all times.
  4. Portfolio/Taisce – again, this is at the discretion of the Support Team in the school, so it can really be anything. I chose to keep a diary for the year, filling it in maybe once a fortnight. Other teachers keep some ‘artefacts’ that they use to reflect on the year, start an Instagram page to document their journey, or take pictures and make a video of their learning in a visual way. This is very open-ended and can really take any shape or form that your PST team supports.

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Strand B: Additional Professional Learning Activities

  1. Attend 3 Cluster Meetings in your local Education Centre (one per term) {N.B. You need to bring your Form D to each one of these to be stamped!}
  2. Attend one other Professional Learning Activity (workshop/conference/attending ‘Féilte’ – once more, this is up to your support team, so basically it’s anything that they agree to!). I chose a PDST art course, which was on a Thursday afternoon for two hours in my education centre, and most other teachers I know of did something similar).

Overall, my experience with the Droichead was extremely positive. In comparison to the horror stories some of my friends have from completing the Dip, (which sounds like a full-year of intense teaching practice) it was practically enjoyable. The paperwork (weekly plans for every subject) was tough, and at times there seemed to be a lot of different elements to the whole process, but overall I would highly, highly recommend focusing on schools that will allow you to complete the Droichead process. I would go as far as to say that you should choose a Droichead school over a non-Droichead one, and that if you do find yourself in a non-Droichead school, you should not apply to complete probation (you have three years after graduating), and wait for the Droichead to be phased into your school.

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I really hope this was of some value to any college students out there completing a B.Ed, PME or Hibernia. If you have any questions, send me a DM at @irishguyteaching on Instagram, or email me at irishguyteaching@gmail.com. The NIPT also have a huge amount of information, FAQ’s, and other documents concerning the Droichead available here.

Thank you so much for reading!

 

 

 

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