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Forbairt is a Leadership Development programme for a school leadership team, comprising of the principal, deputy principal  and another teacher leader. Forbairt is constructed on an action learning model and is designed to support school leaders to explore leadership in their own context.

A teacher leader is any teacher who is engaged with leadership (formally or informally) in your school. They may have a formal leadership role in the school as an Assistant Principal but this is not essential. Schools that do not have a third member of staff are equally eligible to apply for the programme.

The programme is based on an Action Learning process which enables professionals to learn and develop through engaging and reflecting on their experience in the company of peers as they seek to address real-life problems in their own organisations. It generates learning from human interactions arising from solution-focused approaches to real-time, real-world work challenges. Over the course of the year participants come together for a number of  two-day residentials, one-day courses and a number of Action Learning Community small-group meetings (ALCs). Supports are provided throughout the year as participants undertake, reflect on and gain feedback on the implementation of a Leadership Development Project (LDP) Examples of projects. undertaken are available in the Forbairt Projects section of this website. 

Forbairt has a big impact on our leadership of learning. The following feedback was given by a group of Cork-based principals and deputies when asked what they had done in the course of the school year which impacted on learning in their schools.

*The key principles of action learning communities can be summarized as follows:

  • Personal action is the basis for learning
  • Focuses on real, contextual problems which are happening in your school
  • Uses a questioning insight, geared towards goal-directed and reflective thinking, as a vehicle for learning.
  • Is a collaborative (social) exploration  (all learning is social)
  • Has emergent learning outcomes

(Fox 2009; Simpson and Bourner 2007; Pedler, Burgoyne and Brook 2005; Rigg and Trehan 2004)


The following content is explored during the Forbairt course:

The Forbairt programme contains the following elements,

  • Attendance at two residential modules (one in Term 1 and one at the Term 3, with three one-day modules in between)
  • Attendance at three one-day modules (pre-midterm Term 1, pre-midterm Term 2, post-midterm Term 2)
  • Engaging in school based action throughout the year
  • Taking part in an Action Learning Community which meets three times during the course of the year in your locality.
  • One school visit from PDST Personnel to support your leadership of the school based action


Is there substitute cover for Forbairt?

Yes. Cover is provided for teaching deputy-principals and principals on all Forbairt days.

Can a principal take part in Forbairt without their Deputy Principal, or vice-versa?

No. Both principal and deputy must apply together.



"Working together as Principal and Deputy in the context of Forbairt has been rewarding and enjoyable. As a team we really feel we are moving forward together now. Many thanks for this opportunity."

"Forbairt was excellent - reaffirming in many ways but thought-provoking and challenging in other ways. The projects are well worth undertaking. The local action groups also worked very well - effective sharing and pleasant camaraderie"

"Forbairt was a great learning opportunity and a chance to develop the relationship between myself and my principal. It was also a great chance to network with other professionals and hear about a variety of school contexts. The projects gave great insights into how how schools run and how different leaders handle different situations. Overall a very worthwhile experience and chance to develop myself as a leader."

"The whole idea of sharing good practice is wonderful and while schools may manage to do this within their own staff, it is rare to get the opportunity to share with leadership teams in other schools as we did in Forbairt. A follow up programme would be great and very beneficial."

"The whole Forbairt Programme was inspiring. I feel more energised and 'charged' with new ideas. As helpful as the I.P.P.N. Conference and that is saying something! Buíochas mór. Bail ó Dhia ar an obair agus go leanfaidh sé"

County Wexford Education Centre

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