TPN

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TPN Funding Terms and Conditions

What is the Teacher Professional Networks Scheme (TPN)?
The Teacher Education Section (TES) of the Department of Education and Skills (DES) has established a supplementary funding scheme to support the work of Teachers’ Groups and Associations (TGAs) which afford CPD and professional peer support to all Post Primary teachers.

Objectives
The principal objective of the TPN is to advance the teaching, learning and/or management skills of post primary teachers in order to bring about improved learning outcomes for students. Events organised by TGAs should include suitable strategies to support teachers and have meaningful links with the national and Department of Education and Skills priorities in areas such as the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy 2011-2020, school improvement, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), the promotion of Leadership, management and other school related themes such as SPHE, for example, bullying, child protection, physical and/or mental wellbeing.
TPN funding is provided in a manner which

• is coherent, equitable and transparent;
• is consistent with national and DES priorities,
• supports the continuous professional development of post primary teachers,
• complements the continuous professional development work of national programmes,
• supports services, Education Centres and third level colleges;
• supports capacity building in the system,
• fosters a partnership approach,
• reflects levels of planned activities,
• provides value for money.



Management of the scheme
The scheme is centrally managed by a representative Steering Committee. The committee comprises representatives of TES, management and inspectorate; The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST); The Subject Association Representative Group (SARG), The Association of Teachers’/Education Centres of Ireland (ATECI) and Blackrock Education Centre (BEC). BEC provides administrative support to the Steering Committee and to the scheme.

To avail of the funding scheme, a TGA must submit a proposal for activities to the Steering Committee. These activities must be open to all post primary teachers.  If the programme of activities is approved, the funding is made available to the TGA through an Education Centre nominated for this purpose by the TGA.  Funding is available in two categories, CPD activities and National Executive administration. It is recognised that TGAs have other sources of funding including membership fees; activities for the general public, students or members only must be funded from these sources. TPN funding is recognised by TES as supplementing these sources of funding.

TGAs will be required to certify annually to their nominated Education Centre that the public money granted was used in accordance with the purpose for which it was granted and in compliance with DPER circular 13/2014 (Appendix 4).

Registration Form
An official register of TGAs has been established. These include existing subject associations and new networks. Where a subject or subject area is currently represented by a number of associations, these must come together to register as a TGA.

A TGA must register with the scheme’s administrator using a registration form.  They must nominate one TPN coordinator to act on administrative matters between the nominated EC and the association.   An email will be sent to existing groups requesting them to update their contact details.
Each TGA nominates an Education Centre for the purposes of this scheme. The nominated Education Centre will:

• review and approve the proposals,
• receive approved grants allocated to the TGA,
• process claims presented by the TPN coordinator on behalf of the national executive,
• process payments in line with the proposals,
• maintain financial records for audit purposes,
• provide advice and support and
• in addition, by agreement, Centres will also assist in the management of local CPD events

By registering with TPN an association accepts that it has read and understood this document
and that it accepts the following terms and conditions in full.


Identification and allocation of overall sum available to a given network
Funding is centrally allocated by the Steering Committee and administered by Blackrock Education Centre.

The overall sum available to support the work of any particular TGA is determined by the Steering Committee in accordance with the objectives of the scheme, number of students taking a particular subject at Junior and Senior Cycle level and numbers of teachers involved.  Consideration is also given to previous years’ activity and participant levels.
Based on the above criteria, the maximum funding available to a network is at one of three levels: 1, 2 or 3:

Current Maximum Grant for Activities
Level 1                Level 2           Level 3
€3,000                €6,000           €12,000


Appeals in relation to the available funding
Appeals may be made to the Steering Committee in regard to the overall amount of funding available.  These appeals must be made in writing and within two weeks of notification of the sum involved.


Determination of actual sum to be made payable to a network
Funding is made available to a network on approval of proposals for activities by the TPN Steering Committee. These proposals are made using Community of Practice/Local Branch CPD Activity Proposal Form and SUMMARY Proposal. A detailed report of the previous year’s activities must be included.

Local branches must complete and return a branch proposal form to the relevant National Executive to facilitate the submission of one composite application which must be returned to the TPN Administrator, after it has been discussed and approved by the director of the nominated EC, for the attention of the Steering Committee, by the deadline notified by Blackrock Education Centre (BEC). The summary form should provide a list of all planned activities, coded, in chronological order, and be accompanied by a copy of each branch proposal. Please note that a maximum of 50% of the grant for activities can be allocated to conference expenses. Consideration will be given to prior years’ activity in determining the amount available for conferences.  A large discrepancy between proposed and actual activity in a year will effect conference funding the following year.  

The following criteria will be used to determine the overall amount available to support the activities of a particular network:

• Capacity of the activities to offer curriculum/programme/network support
• Level of response to national and DES priorities
• Extent to which the activities support the development and maintenance of links with other relevant national agencies, support services and educational institutions.  TGAs must outline how they have consulted with the relevant support services and local Education Centres in preparing their proposals
• Capacity of the activities to support innovation in the system
• Extent to which the activities concerned support capacity building in the system
• Anticipated levels of participation
• A minimum of ten participants must be enrolled for a TES funded CPD event to proceed and receive funding - exceptions may be approved for smaller TGAs, but only with prior approval
• Extent of research focus involved

The TPN coordinator will be required to notify constituent branches of the overall amount available to the network and to a particular branch. Branches will then organise their planned activities in the light of this figure and return signed claims (Local Activity Report) to the TPN Coordinator on an ongoing basis. The total amount claimed must be based on standard TES payment rates and must not exceed the amount approved. The nominated Education Centre will then pay the amount in question to the bank account of the TPN.  Alternatively the Education Centre may be requested to pay the claims directly to TGAs and third parties.  Ongoing claims MUST be made as soon as an activity happens and no later than thirty days after the event.  Late claims will incur a 10% surcharge.
 
Support for National Executives
It is accepted that National Executives incur certain administrative/development costs. These costs might include items such as

• production of an e-newsletter,
• web hosting and domain expenses,
• the creation and moderating of a discussion forum,
• the acquisition or production of relevant resources,
support for the professional development of the National Executive itself,
• National Executive meeting expenses, and
• liaison with other TGAs and communities, such as membership of international associations.


National Executives are required to itemise anticipated expenses in the appropriate section of the SUMMARY Proposal for the current year.

Claims in relation to these costs should be made in a timely manner on the appropriate form (National Executive Administration Expenditure Claim) and should be supported by invoice/receipt. Proposals and claims must not exceed the maximum National Executive support figure, as outlined below.  T&S claims for National Executives must not exceed 40% of total National Executive allocation.

Current maximum National Executive Grant
Level 1                    Level 2                   Level 3
€2,500                     €2,500                   €5,000


Ongoing claims MUST be made as soon as a meeting happens and no later than thirty days.  Late claims will incur in a 10% surcharge.

Services available from Education Centres to support the work of networks
In addition to acting as the nominated centre for a given TGA, the network of Education Centres generally can provide meeting rooms and Centre facilities locally on request.  When using commercial venues rather than an EC (i.e. hotel rooms) the cost will have to be justified.  The following charges will apply:
Centres will

• provide meeting rooms free of charge, when these are available, and during normal opening hours
• charge €15 per hour for a night opening and €75 for a Saturday opening, plus caretaking charges (local rates apply)
• National Programme rates apply for photocopying, etc.



Conditions of Funding
As these funds come from public monies, activities supported/funded under the scheme must be ‘open’ to all relevant teachers. Each local branch, in association with the local Education Centre, will therefore demonstrate how they have notified all schools in its catchment area of the planned activity.

Financial records are maintained by the nominated Education Centres concerned.  As payments are made on a vouched basis local branches are obliged to submit invoices and receipts, coded according to proposal, in support of any claims made by them. National Executives and branches should maintain and retain all relevant records as these are subject to audit and examination.

If an event requires the payment of lecturer fees or expenses in respect of travel and/or subsistence of participants/lecturers, DES guidelines for such payments will apply in all cases.  To comply with Revenue regulations Education Centres are obliged to pay lecturer claims directly; the appropriate deductions will be made at source. Please refer to current TES Rates in this regard. For claim forms to be used by either lecturers or participants please use updated templates available on www.tpnetworks.ie .  Your attention is drawn to public service regulations on T&S; in particular please note that the mileage rate reduces after 6437 Km.  Individuals should note that this figure is cumulative and aggregated across all publicly funded activities.

No funding for foreign travel is to be sanctioned.  With regards to lecturers coming from abroad their participation must be sanctioned beforehand by the TPN Steering Committee in order to refund their expenses. The cost of the lecturers will be included in the calculation of the overall allocation to the TGA which will not exceed the agreed national levels.

It is required that all events be evaluated and that evaluation forms be retained by the National Executive or local branch of the network as appropriate. Evaluation sheets must be made available to BEC or the DES/TES as required (Appendix 5).

Events/activities will be open to Inspectors of the DES and to TES personnel.

Quality assurance
Effective CPD enhances the professional lives of teachers and has a direct impact on the quality of learning for students. In order to be effective, teachers’ professional development must be underpinned by active learning, coherent content, and a focus on student learning and enhanced teacher engagement. High quality TPN events have the potential to enable teachers to develop a powerful understanding of what and how they teach, and of how students learn. The following sets out the expectations for the purpose of promoting and assuring quality in the organisation and delivery of TPN events.  The Inspectorate undertakes a quality assurance role in the approval and evaluation of the TPN scheme.

The TPN steering committee is committed to ensuring that TPN funded events provide teachers with relevant learning experiences that enhance and improve their expertise and skills. TPN events need to be relevant and focused on implementation. Key considerations for all involved in the course organisation, design and administration, are that courses are of good quality and that they make a direct impact on the learning experiences and outcomes of students in schools.  

The course tutor plays a crucial role in ensuring a high quality learning experience for participating teachers. Tutors need to have extensive experience and expertise in the specific course content and should have good facilitation skills. The tutor needs to be guided by the course aims and learning outcomes; one of their key roles is to maximise the engagement of participants.

Organising an Event

• A minimum of ten participants must be enrolled for a TES funded CPD event to proceed and and receive funding - exceptions may be approved for smaller TGAs, but only with prior approval
• Roll books/attendance registers must be maintained and evaluation forms completed, compiled and submitted as required

Delivery and Monitoring
The TPN Coordinator will:

• Ensure that full particulars of approved events are made available to all teachers in good time, including overall course aims and intended learning outcomes for module/course units
• Make reasonable accommodation for participants with special needs or with special requirements
• Communicate a minimum of one week advance notice of cancelled events to the nominated EC and enrolled participants
• Ensure that each event is not undersubscribed
• Ensure that each participant completes an evaluation form for the event in question


Post-Delivery Phase
The TPN Coordinator will:


• Ensure that the organiser completes and returns the Local Activity Report and attendance list to the nominated EC
• Retain all participant evaluation forms for a period of  two years


The evaluation of TPN events
The Inspectorate will evaluate a selection of TPN events on behalf of the TPN Steering Committee. The purpose of these evaluations is:

• To affirm the high quality of CPD events
• To support TGAs in any improvements that might be made in CPD delivery
• to report to the Steering Committee on the overall quality of provision
• to make recommendations to the Steering Committee and to individual TGAs on how the learning outcomes and experiences for participating teachers can be improved

All events are evaluated using the following evaluation framework, which reflects the criteria headings:

• Course content
• Participant learning experience
• Course management
• Reflection of national priorities


Addressing Recommendations
The focus of all evaluation of TPN events will be on ensuring that courses are of the best possible quality. The reporting inspector may make recommendations to enhance the quality of course content, learner engagement, course management and/or reflection of national priorities. TGAs are expected to implement recommendations as soon as possible.

DES reserve the right to withdraw approval of a TPN event where an evaluation has found that it does not
meet the criteria and has failed to address the stipulations communicated to the TPN Coordinator.




Administration 

The TPN scheme is administered by Blackrock Education Centre on behalf of the Department of Education Centre.

The Steering Committee comprises:

Pat Seaver, Blackrock Education Centre;
Dominic McEvoy, Kildare Education Centre
Noel Farrell, TES;
Tom Heneghan, TES;
Elaine Collins, Department of Education and Skills;
Caroline McHale , PDST;
Michéal Martin, SARG;
Dan Keane, SARG;
Adela Fernández BEC, Administrator.

You may contact TPN at tpn@blackrockec.ie

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