Middle Leadership and Mentoring in Primary & Post-Primary Settings

The innovative Graduate Certificate in Middle Leadership and Mentoring in Primary and Post-Primary Settings is a one-year, part-time programme providing an academic qualification for teachers in professional studies and will be offered by and located at MIC's Thurles campus. Designed to suit teachers' professional lives, the programme uses onsite and online lectures and tutorials. It will act as both a challenge and a support to those interested in middle leadership in our schools. A strong practical dimension will keep alive a link between teacher practice, theory and policy, prioritising reflective practice and teacher research as a vehicle for teacher professional development in the area of middle leadership.

Key Features

This programme will draw from international and national practitioners to offer a unique learning opportunity and will be co-ordinated and taught by Head of School, Dr Finn Ó Murchú, and colleagues at MIC Thurles. It runs for six Saturdays in semester one commencing 14 September and concluding 7 December 2019. Three modules will be offered during semester one. Semester two will commence in late January 2020. Exact dates for semester two to follow in consultation with the class.

The Department of Education and Skills has placed considerable emphasis on school leadership in recent times. Publications such as Looking At Our Schools (DES, 2016) pay particular attention to creating a quality framework to develop and sustain teachers and leaders. It acknowledges that leaders may or may not have formal leadership roles in schools and seeks to "to assist all teachers in gaining a perspective on their own leadership roles and how they can develop and expand their leadership skills over time" (p.7). The important role that leaders play, and in particular middle leaders, is recognised in more recent DES communications.

As a provider of teacher preparation programmes, we at MIC Thurles understand the importance of forging postgraduate links with practicing teachers, especially in the area of middle leadership. This Level 9 postgraduate qualification is set in the context of awakening and acknowledging the role of middle leaders in our schools—a recognition that focuses on a range of skills including the less often studied inter-related concepts of instructional leadership, understanding how teachers learn and how change wisdom is central to the success of all our efforts.

The programme is designed to provide participants with incrementally greater knowledge, skills and insights into Middle Leadership in schools. It aims to challenge and support participants to interrogate what Middle Leadership means and asks of them. It is conducted in a manner that is informed by good teaching, underpinned by theory, and applied in practice.

The aims and objectives of the programme include:

•To understand and critique the policy developments associated with school leadership and in particular those associated with the emerging concept of middle leadership in all current educational settings.

•To learn of the different leadership styles and practises, how they are more than personality based and that different forms of leadership may be required at different times for different circumstances in different contexts.

•To recognise the specific role of school leadership in leading learning (for both teachers and students) while also exploring how it compares and contrasts with leadership in other settings.

•To know more about how teachers learn and explore the role of middle leadership across the continuum of teacher learning in the context of ITE, NQT, lifelong learning and promotion of a culture that is supportive of professional learning communities.

•To develop a deeper understanding of the place of collaboration and conflict in leading learning in healthy communities of practice which includes colleagues and students as well as with parents/guardians and other interested stakeholders.

•To support greater understanding and skill acquisition in the area of mentoring in schools with particular reference to the pedagogical aspects including the language of pedagogy and the skills associated with feedback.

•To develop participant's research knowledge and research skills. This includes interpreting data to inform leading learning at curricular and instructional levels.

•To explore goal setting and how change in practice with colleagues can be initiated, implemented, sustained and reviewed. Attention will be given to relational trust and other aspects of social/professional capital within school contexts.

•To reflect as an individual but also with others on the impact of leading learning in a manner that is inclusive of all students and all staff irrespective of setting.

•To practice leadership in a variety of roles and for a variety of purposes so as to enhance participant's competence and confidence as middle leaders.

Entry requirements

The minimum entry requirements for eligibility are as follows:

•For entry into the Certificate in Middle Leadership and Mentoring in Primary and Post-Primary Settings, applicants will normally hold a minimum 2.2 Honours degree (at level 8) in education (primary or post-primary). Applicants who have a 2.2 Honours degree in other disciplines may be considered if they have substantial and relevant professional experience. Acceptance under this category will be subject to an interview and considered in light of the UL Policy on Accredited Prior Learning.

Registration will be conditional upon successful completion of the Garda Vetting/CRB checking process.

English Language Requirements

Applicants for whom English is not a first language must provide evidence of their proficiency level English in the form of an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) composite score of 6.5 – 7.0 with no less than 6.0 in any one component, or IELTS equivalent accepted by UL. Such applicants will also be required to undergo an interview through English.

Assessment Info

Assessment is flexible and varied involving submission of written assignments, online engagement and some in-class collaboration/presentation. All is done in the knowledge of teachers having busy lives and, where possible, flexibility will form part of that assessment so as to play to people's strengths and work context.

Subjects taught

Modules include:

Semester 1 (Year 1)
Policy: Leadership in the context of schools as organisations
Leadership styles and perspectives on leadership
Understanding Teachers' Professional Learning and Development
Guest Lecturers: Barrie Bennett (OISE/Toronto) & Mary Nihill, Centre for School Leadership

Semester 2 (Year 1)
Mentoring 1: Classroom mentoring and the teacher-mentor
Applied Research 1: Collaborative research in the classroom
Guest Lecturers: Tomás Ó Ruairc, Director Teaching Council & Becca Lowenhaupt (Boston College)


1 year part-time


Fees: €2,500

More details
  • Qualifications

    Graduate Certificate

  • Attendance type


  • Apply to

    Course provider