Thursday, 28 April 2016

A job

Well folks I have a new job.  Not a real, paying job, mind you, but we can't have everything.  After the couple of years that the Department for Education took to appreciate my vast experience and unparalleled skills in the field of Education, I am, (drum roll...) a School Governor.  Not just any school, mind you - this old one, which some of you may recognise from the hundreds of snaps I've posted of it:

What used to be O'Hara's Castle, then Dominican Convent, now Dominican School.   Apparently, the Dominican Order arrived in Portstewart not long after the Parish was created but rather than hide themselves away they opted to start a school.  And what better place, eh?  Looks like it would be a good setting for a Hammer House of Horror film, what with those big clouds rolling in from the West and the sea crashing against the rocks below.

Apparently yer man O'Hara was an old sea dog - sorry, Captain, and built his castle with the room at the the front there mimicking the bridge of a boat.  We were sitting in there last week for my first Governor's meeting and when you are looking out of the 3 big old windows at the front it does seem as if you are right over the water.  Very impressive.

Nowadays the school is very much integrated...and I don't mean boys and girls (although it is mixed in that sense too).  In this part of the world the word 'integrated' and 'education' means both Catholic and Protestant pupils attend.  The school itself offers a traditional Catholic Grammar School education but it's actually something like a 60:40 Catholic:Protestant split.  I arrive at a good time, with the school celebrating its Centenary next year.  Big changes are also coming, with the numbers increasing by something like a third over the next few years as another school in the area is being closed.  I'm looking forward to the challenge.  Who knows, I might be able to sneak a camera or two inside from time to time and try to capture some of that wonderful Gothic architecture.


  1. Hey, that's great news mate!! Congrats on your new position and everything. School Governor, nothing less of course. What I don't understand anything of is the fact that a Governor obviously is not getting payed, but I'm sure there's a good explanation somewhere.
    The building looks great, and I just can't wait to see snaps from the inside of it. Kind of a loose/win situation you got yourself into there, Michael. You not getting payed, but still might be able to deliver great photos to the world. Well, that's life so you will just have to hang in there and do the best of the situation :)
    Joking aside, what's this job actually all about? I guess it's not a regular all day, all week kind of thing? Sounds like you will get some challenges as all these big changes are coming your way, but challenges will only do us good. At least to a point... Good luck in your new job mate, and take care :)

    1. Not sure there is a good explanation for the 'unpaid' status, Roy - likely to do with giving something back to the community :)

      No it's not an all day every day kind of thing. There are about 8 of us at Dominican - we meet every couple of months and at other times as necessary. There's usually some stuff to do/think about between meetings, as you can imagine.

      The job is basically to manage the operations of the school, set aims/objectives, agree policies, deal with any issues that arise, support the head teacher, deal with finance, planning and resource allocation etc. Of course the school has been running successfully for 100 years and the head teacher deals with the day-to-day stuff but there are always changes (Government, local stuff etc) that need to be handled. It will take me a while to ease myself into the role - for now I'm mostly in 'listen and learn' mode. It feels good to be back in Education, albeit a very different position to my last one :) Thanks for the support my friend - much appreciated!