CEIST Annual Education Conference 2013 - Review

The Eighth Annual CEIST Education Conference was held in the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone, Co. Westmeath on last Thursday, 26th September, 2013 & Friday, 27th September, 2013.

The theme for this year's conference was “Year of Faith - Our Faith in Action".

The CEIST Team were greatly encouraged with the number of School Principals, Deputy Principals and Chairpersons of our Boards of Management who attended this year's conference.

 There was a great atmosphere present at the conference and our Principals, Deputy Principals and Chairpersons availed of the opportunity to network and share best practice with each other. We received very positive feedback again from the four workshops. Mr David Cameron our keynote speaker gave an enlightening speech on the afternoon of the first day of the conference. Millet and Matthews Solicitors proved very popular on the second day where they provided an interactive session on the topic of compliance with pertinent legal obligations for schools.

CEIST would like to very much thank our keynote speakers and workshop presenters for their time, energy and enthusiasm given to the conference.

We would also like to extend our sincere gratitude to the three excellent school choirs who particpated at the conference.

The three schools who performed at this years conference were Mercy Secondary School, Sligo, Sacred Heart Secondary School, Tullamore, Co. Offaly and Presentation Secondary School, Killina, Rahan, Co. Offaly.

The three choirs sang beautifully and really impressed everybody at the conference and were a credit to their schools. 

CEIST are also very grateful to the many exhibitors that displayed their products and indeed this year so great was the demand for exhibitor space that we unfortunately could not accomodate all requests.

The Chairperson of the CEIST Board of Directors, Mr Bernard Keeley, made four presentations to Principals who have recently retired from their respective schools.

The Principals who received a gift from CEIST in recognition of their outstanding service to their schools included Mr Liam Rainey, Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana, Sr Bríd Biggane, St Mary's Secondary School, Mallow, (pictured on right), Ms Sheila McManamly, Sacred Heart Secondary School, Tullamore and Michael Nolan, Presentation Secondary School, Killina, Rahan, Co. Offaly.


CEIST Conference 2013 Workshops

1) “When Suicide Occurs: How to provide Supportive & Effective Responses", Ciaran Austin, Director of Services, Console.

This workshop focused on the common emotions experienced and reactions to suicide, from the perspective of communities and groups. As leaders in our school communities, we are often tasked with acknowledging such traumatic events and providing safe and therapeutic environments for those directly affected. Our responses have the potential to promote healing and helpful practices and at the same time, identify others who may be at risk of harm or suicide. The workshop included practical guidance on immediate considerations and on providing longer-term support for those who may be vulnerable.

Ciarán Austin is the Director of Services for Console, the National Suicide Charity (

2) "Teacher Religious Identity and the School Community", Rev, Dr. John-Paul Sheridan.

When promoting and nourishing the particular religious ethos of a CEIST school, it is preferable when the entire teaching staff is ‘singing from the same hymn-sheet’. However, this is often not the case. John-Paul’s research is into the religious identity of primary school student teachers, and this workshop presented some of his findings as they might apply to young teachers in our schools. It also discussed some of the theories of teacher religious identity. Finally he outlined some of the responses regarding the personal beliefs and values of student teachers. This workshop will have particular relevance in the context of creating an understanding of the school ethos, where this identity either supports or comes into conflict with this work.

John-Paul is a priest of the Diocese of Ferns and Diocesan Advisor for Primary School Catechetics.

3) "There's Never a Right Time to Fundraise", Sr. Canice Hanrahan, RSM

There’s Never a Right Time to Fundraise – there’s only now! In this Workshop Canice Hanrahan shared her experience of successfully raising funds for two major schools projects. She outlined the importance of having a viable project, being totally convinced of its value and benefits, bringing others on board, the importance of planning, goal-setting, record keeping and review.

Nobody can go it alone in the task of successful fundraising - volunteers are critical; so too is communication. Fundraising is offering and inviting many people to be part of something that could not be done by any one person acting alone. The successful outcome brings a sense of pride in achievement.

Statistics show that in the USA giving has increased annually since 1971, slowing only in 1987, 2008 and 2009. Giving is resilient even in the toughest times. In Ireland we are very generous givers to a variety of worthy causes. The affluent years were not necessarily our most generous ones and we got very accustomed to having so much provided - perhaps the mood now is more of a self-help one, so maybe there is after all a good time to fundraise!

There was time given in this workshop for lots of interaction and sharing.

4) "The Management of Information Technology to Support 21st Century Teaching and Learning", Seamus Ryan, H2 Learning, Marie-Therese Kilmartin, School Principal, Coláiste Bríde, Clondalkin and Sarah-Jayne Carey, ICT Co-ordinator, Coláiste Bríde, Clondalkin.

Seamus Ryan has been a leader and innovator in the use of technology to support 21st Century Learning in Post Primary Education in Ireland over the past 15 years. He has been a Teacher, Deputy Principal, Principal (Dunshaughlin Community College) and Education Officer with County Meath VEC and most recently working as an advisor to schools and the Department of Education and Skills. During his time as Education Officer he designed and implemented a centrally managed IT infrastructure for all the schools in Meath VEC. This project took advantage of recent developments in "Cloud" technology, server architecture, print management and power management systems. Seamus believes that individual schools can also use these systems very effectively to save costs and improve the reliability of their IT systems. Since February 2012 Seamus has been working as a consultant with "H2 Learning". This work includes helping individual schools, The Department of Education and Skills, NAPD (National Assocciation of Principals and Deputies) as well as advising ICT service suppliers to the educational sector.

Coláiste Bríde Secondary School, Clondalkin, Co. Dublin has been one of the leading CEIST schools in integrating technology into teaching and learning. School Principal, Marie-Therese Kilmartin and ICT Co-ordinator, Sarah-Jayne Carey shared some of their experiences to date and provide practical tips for the management of technology in the school. Topics discussed included, Essential Local IT Infrastructure, Using "Free" Cloud Services, Managing School IT Systems, Classroom of the Future and Devices for Students. The workshop was an interactive one where the sharing of best practices by schools was discussed openly. 

Feedback from the Conference

The general consensus from the evaluation feedback was that the Sheraton Hotel was again an ideal venue because of its central location and top class services provided by the hotel. The majority of attendees are in favour of keeping the two day format.

The keynote speakers, Mr David Cameron and Millet and Matthews were very well received as were all the workshop presenters. This year we celebrated mass on the Friday morning of the conference, which many delegates thought was a good idea. 

Conference Photos

Below are a selection of photos from the conference, scroll over images for more details.