CSSC celebrates third anniversary
It’s hard to believe that CSSC is celebrating its third anniversary in September 2019, writes Barry Mulholland, Chief Executive.
From quite literally empty offices and no staff, the team now comprises 19 experienced officers working on behalf of Northern Ireland’s 557 controlled schools.
Through continuous engagement, we have built constructive working relationships with Principals and Governors, and we are delighted that 95% of controlled schools have registered with Council.
CSSC has delivered a substantial programme of events, conferences and workshops over the past three years, all of which have been positively received by participants.
The theme of a number of the events has been developing leadership through building resilience. The ongoing financial pressure facing controlled schools is having a knock‑on impact on the mental health and wellbeing of Principals and school staff; they are under increasing stress, and CSSC will continue to support Principals in these challenging times.
CSSC officers lend their expertise to a range of strategic and working groups, including those for area planning, the Ulster University Taking Boys Seriously project and THRiVE (a Rathcoole and Monkstown partnership).
There have been successful funding bids. We have delivered a 140,000euro Erasmus+ project on teaching problem solving in technology rich environments, plus ‘Engaging with sign, a language for you and me’ programme enabling 250 Primary school children to learn sign language. We are confident that more third party funding opportunities, that benefit controlled schools, will be availed of.
CSSC’s vision is one that supports controlled schools, in providing high quality education for children and young people, to enable them to learn, develop and grow together within the values of a non‑denominational Christian environment.
Based on this vision, CSSC has undertaken to support controlled schools to develop their ethos. Following extensive engagement with schools and advice from a working group, CSSC has developed an ethos toolkit that takes schools on a step by step process to enhance the whole-school ethos.
Our children deserve the best education to enable them to meet their potential. CSSC will work with our leaders in controlled schools to achieve this, and ensure that the education system delivers for all.
Collaboration with our educational partners is key to achieving this, and so CSSC has built relationships with educational partners including the Department of Education, the Education Authority, Council for Integrated Education in Northern Ireland, Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta and the Education and Training Inspectorate, plus the Transferor Representatives’ Council, trade unions, the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People and others.
We also appreciate the engagement we have had with political representatives from all parties, and hope to continue to work with policy makers to ensure that education is given the priority it deserves across government departments.
As an organisation, we have faced our own challenges and were saddened that our friend and colleague Pearse McCormick passed away following illness in October 2018.
Pearse was a founding member of CSSC’s senior management team. His expertise as CSSC’s Head of Corporate Services was greatly valued as the organisation became established. Pearse oversaw the development of CSSC’s core business functions and his contribution has ensured that the Council is well placed to continue to fulfil its functions on behalf of Northern Ireland’s controlled schools.
And so to the future for CSSC. We appreciate the continued grant funding from the Department of Education that enables us to deliver our comprehensive programme of work to the benefit of controlled schools. As a representative organisation, we will always listen to controlled school leaders to ensure that what we do is appropriate to meet their needs.
The need for CSSC to act as a voice on behalf of the controlled sector is clear, and we will continue to represent Northern Ireland’s largest and most diverse education sector at every opportunity.