Droichead: Exploring and Eliciting Perspectives, Experiences and Narratives
In Autumn 2018 the Council commissioned Marino Institute of Education and Trinity College, Dublin to research teachers’ experiences of Droichead, the professional induction framework for teachers. The research project explored a range of topics, including the roles and responsibilities of those engaging in, and supporting, the Droichead process, resourcing and supports for the process, the impact of Droichead on school culture, and the connections between the Droichead process and initial teacher education. It focused in particular on small schools, Gaelscoileanna, DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) schools, and special education settings. The key findings and recommendations (published 19 October 2021) will inform the Council’s review of policy.
School Placement in Initial Teacher Education
As part of the criteria for initial teacher education (ITE) which were published in 2011, the Teaching Council required all ITE programmes to include an extended and reconceptualised school placement experience, based on a partnership approach between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and schools. In the school placement guidelines which were adopted as an addendum to the criteria, the Council recognised that implementation would be challenging for schools and HEIs, owing to the many complexities which would need to be addressed. The guidelines also acknowledged that time would be required for the guidelines to bed down and noted that the Council’s requirements would be subject to review and change, as informed by further research.
With that in mind, the Council commissioned a team of external researchers, led by Professor Kathy Hall in University College Cork, to gather evidence of current practice in relation to school placement, and make recommendations to inform the Council’s thinking and future policy on school placement. The research was conducted over a period of almost four years, with fieldwork beginning in late 2014 and continuing into early 2018. The project incorporated a review of relevant international literature followed by a short account of policy on school placement in selected countries. Methodologically, the study adopts a mixed methods design with quantitative and qualitative dimensions. It was based in six different HEIs that provide a variety of ITE programmes. Qualitative and quantitative fieldwork took place in both primary and post-primary undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Student teachers, HEI staff and school staff associated with these programmes were surveyed through questionnaires and interviews to establish their views and experiences over time. An additional aspect of the study was that it included a number of illustrations of effective practice involving partnership between schools and HEIs.
Research on Entry Requirements in Initial Teacher Education
Following a consultation process (2012-2013) on the requirements for entry to initial teacher education, the Teaching Council concluded that due to the complexity of the issues raised, further research was necessary. It subsequently commissioned the ERSI to carry out this research. The findings (published 10 November 2016) offered key insights into ITE entry requirements and application procedures, the profile of applicants, and the implications of changing entry criteria. The report situated these findings within the international context, and informed the Council’s deliberations and the advice that it submitted to the Department of Education and Skills.
In July 2010 a team of four post-doctoral teachers, in collaboration with Professor Mark Morgan from St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, was funded by the Council to carry out research entitled “Practice-based Research Encompassing Professional Development”. The four researchers are convinced of the viability of this form of CPD for busy practitioners who wish to improve their practice, and/or understanding of practice while developing as professionals. The research was school-based and grounded in teacher self-evaluation whereby teachers acknowledged the core values informing their practice and tested how these values are lived out daily in their professional practice within their classroom work.
Research on Teachers' Professional Development
In July 2010 the Teaching Council commissioned the ESRI to compile a report on its behalf in relation to continuing professional development among primary teachers. The study was based on data obtained through the Growing Up in Ireland longitudinal research into nine year old children. As well as focusing on children and their parents, that study collected very detailed information on their teachers and the school context over 2007/2008. For each of the 8,000+ children in the survey, questionnaires were completed by their classroom teacher and school principal.
Research on Job Satisfaction and Occupational Stress in Teaching
In July 2010 the Teaching Council engaged the ESRI to compile a report on its behalf in relation to primary teachers’ job satisfaction and stress levels.
The study was based on data obtained through the Growing Up in Ireland longitudinal research into nine year old children. As well as focusing on children and their parents, that study collected very detailed information on their teachers and the school context over 2007/2008. For each of the 8,000+ children in the survey, questionnaires were completed by their classroom teacher and school principal.
As part of its role in promoting teaching as a profession, the Council commissioned a survey on attitudes to the teaching profession in 2009. This survey of 1,000 adults, carried out by independent market research company, iReach Market Research, showed that overall, there were positive attitudes to the teaching profession. The majority of respondents were satisfied with the way teachers do their jobs and have a high level of trust in teachers. There was also a strong endorsement of the valuable role teachers play in our society and a good level of understanding of the complexity of the role and the skill level required.
Research on the Continum of Teacher Education
In 2007, the Teaching Council commissioned research on the continuum of teacher education in Ireland and internationally. This included initial teacher education, induction and continuing professional development. The research was done in two parts, the first of which was a background paper prepared by John Coolahan, Professor Emeritus of Education at NUI Maynooth. This was followed by a detailed study undertaken on the Teaching Council’s behalf by Dr. Paul Conway, Dr. Rosaleen Murphy, Dr. Anne Rath and Professor Kathy Hall from UCC.
BEACONS stands for Bringing Education Alive for our Communities On a National Scale. BEACONS is an innovative process designed by the Teaching Council to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders from across the school community for conversations on education. At a BEACONS event, students, parents, teachers, principals and local and national stakeholders engage in facilitated conversations with no preset agenda. The aim of BEACONS is to promote engagement between local communities and national consultative processes on issues of common interest and importance.
BEACONS was one of 18 projects which were awarded funding from the Public Service Innovation Fund in 2019. This fund and innovation network are led by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
In 2020, expertise and support to the value of €400,000 was granted under the EU Technical Support Instrument to the Teaching Council and several other education partners to develop an innovative model of local school community engagement to strengthen education policymaking and enactment. The EU engaged the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to support this exciting two-year project which will yield a roadmap for implementing the new model of local school community engagement. With nearly 4,000 schools in Ireland, the model aims to enhance education policymaking and enactment in Ireland by strengthening the relationships between education and the wider community and society, with a view to fostering citizen-centric innovation.
This project is ongoing and is due to be completed in October 2023.
School Placement Innovation Report
The Teaching Council compiled a School Placement Innovation Report in celebration and recognition of the innovative practice that developed in school placement in response to COVID-19 measures.