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Mediation Services

Some level of conflict between individuals inevitably arises in any situation where people meet and interface. Thankfully, in the majority of cases, the parties are able to recognise and reconcile different and competing interests at an early stage and are able to work out reasonable solutions. There are, however, situations where reasonable solutions are not arrived at and what may initially be a relatively minor matter can be left to fester. This allows an atmosphere of mistrust to develop whereby other issues develop and compound the original problem. In the ideal world, all staff would operate on a collegiate basis where there is the common purpose of providing an education guided by the overarching mission and vision of the school while respecting each other’s abilities and approaches in working toward that purpose. Good management would have systems in place to recognise the importance of:

  • fostering professional collegiate relationships between faculties and individuals in the school
  • having early warning systems of recognising and dealing with conflict situations as and when they arise

The Board of Management as the governing body of the school have a macro responsibility in this regard and need to have a checklist in place to ensure that periodic staff training and facilitation is arranged for the staff in their employment. We all know we do not live in the ideal world, and conflict and competing interests do arise. Thankfully only in a minority of cases does it develop into serious internal conflicts between senior management and staff, between colleagues and between members of the senior management team. In such cases, staff rooms have become fractured and the very cohesion of the school is put at risk. Such cases if left untreated will inevitably lead to the courts potentially exposing the Board of Management and, assuming adequate and appropriate insurance cover, the insurance companies to significant awards. As the insurance companies base their future premiums on the level of award payouts in preceding periods, ultimately the cost comes back to the school sector leaving fewer resources for day to day education service provision.

The contribution of Cúram.ie:

Both Luke Monahan and Conor O'Brien have significant experience in dealing with conflict management in the education sector at both primary and post-primary levels. They have worked in the past and continue working with staffs, school managements, Boards of Management, trustees/legal patrons, senior department officials, union and management bodies, legal and insurance firms in attempting to bring conflicting parties and groups together and source acceptable solutions.

Luke Monahan and Conor O'Brien are qualified, certified and experienced mediators. They have founded a related dedicated mediation service - the Mediation Foundation of Ireland - www.mfi.ie. This Foundation in addition to offering a wide range of conflict resolution and mediation services also trains individuals and groups in the skills of mediation.

Cúram.ie is also available to assist within the agreed grievance procedure including acting as the independent chairperson of the independent tribunal under stage 4 of the standard grievance procedure.

Constructive Intervention Strategies:

  • effectively diagnose the key elements in the particular context
  • engage with integrity each person involved
  • explore the range of possible ways forward
  • enable the participation of all concerned in choosing a course of action
  • execute the course of action
  • evaluate the implementation and support as necessary

In framing an intervention, the following key skills are deployed:

  • relationship building
  • relevant knowledge gathering
  • innovative thinking
  • competent follow through

One of the core principles in the Cúram mission is to provide independent support to school communities without conflicts of interest arising. We believe we are well placed therefore to provide a mediation service which will have credibility and acceptance to all parties to a dispute. Cúram.ie aims to resolve issues before they unnecessarily escalate. While intervention strategies are the most common responses required, Cúram.ie is also involved in preventative strategies where the skills and competencies of mediation and conflict resolution are facilitated before a crisis arises. These strategies include individual professional coaching, seminars and in-school inservice training.

Contact Curam for more information...

 

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