Transformative Role of Teachers to be recognised by Teaching Council

Four innovative, collaborative and change-making projects shortlisted


FÉILTE takes place in NUI Galway on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th September


Four innovative, collaborative and change-making projects in teaching, with the potential to be scaled nationally throughout the profession, have been shortlisted by the Teaching Council as part of the Teachers Inspire initiative. These projects have been chosen by the Council as exemplars of the transformative role that teachers play in our communities and society through collaboration.


All of the shortlisted teachers will join the Teachers Inspire Gala in The Helix on 4th October next, and one of the projects will be recognised with a Desmond Award, one of five to be awarded on the evening to inspiring teachers from across Ireland.


Through this award the Teaching Council aims to recognise excellence in collaboration between teachers across Ireland. The shortlist has been selected from 46 teams of teachers showcasing at the Council’s major FÉILTE event in Galway next week.


FÉILTE is the largest annual educational event in Ireland celebrating the work that teachers do every day in their classrooms. It takes place this year in NUI Galway on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th September and will be formally opened by the Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh T.D. It provides a unique platform for teachers to share innovative teaching and learning and to network with each other and the public. The event is open to teachers and the general public and will welcome over 800 delegates and attendees. Tickets are now on general release and available at  


Four Innovative Projects

The four shortlisted projects will feature in an exhibition of 46 examples of excellence in teaching, along with interactive workshops and case studies of collaborative teaching engagements based around the theme of this year’s FÉILTE  event - “Education 360: Learning from Others”.  The 46 showcase examples were chosen from over 150 applicants and are exemplary of the highest standards of excellence and professionalism in teaching.


Integrating VEX Robotics across the Primary School Curriculum, led by Maeve Liston, together with VEX Mentors from DELL EMC Limerick, the VEX Robotics Programme of Mary Immaculate College and a group of teachers from schools across Tipperary, Limerick and Cork. This project is supporting teachers in teaching robotics across the primary school curriculum. This was achieved through the delivery of summer courses and regular professional development sessions with teachers. This model of STEM Educational Outreach aimed to build teachers’ content and pedagogy knowledge in STEM, which in turn influenced their confidence and ability to teach STEM skills.


Peer Collaboration between Primary and Post Primary Levels in Mathematics, led by Caroline Burke, Malachy Dolly and Jackie Wallace of Carrick on Shannon Community School. The school has a well-established system of peer observation in place since 2015. In 2019, the project leaders and teachers extended observation to two of local Primary Schools. First year maths teachers observed sixth class maths lessons and primary teachers observed first year maths lessons to help and support more effectively the transition from primary to post primary schools for students. This collaboration has supported a culture of sharing and trust and experimentation with new teaching methods and resources in addition to engagement in professional conversations, post-observation, to review best practice and improve the learning experience of students with the intention of bridging the gap in numeracy from Primary to Post primary and to ease the transition for our students. It is intended to expand this process into Irish and English in 2020.


Girls in DEIS Schools: Changing Attitudes /Impacting Futures in STEM, led by Karen Maye, Darragh Connolly, Marelle Rice, Rachel Farrell, Prof. Judith Harford,  Dr. Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin and Ms Aoife Cantwell of UCD. This project is focused on increasing the level of engagement of girls in DEIS schools in STEM. A cross-curricular, collaborative approach to STEM teaching is used where students explore the lives and impact of a number of female STEM pioneers, historical and contemporary. Teams of student and experienced teachers from six schools were trained in how to introduce girls to women in STEM through a story-telling methodology, underpinned by a Philosophy for Children (P4C) pedagogy. A website of resources has been developed and this provides the opportunity to transform, perhaps, pedestrian and clinical facts into a more human, enthralling story which captures the imagination of young girls and gets them to recognise, believe in, and advocate for the importance of STEM through a variety of media.


Virtual Reality Explorers, led by Marie O Connell, Mary Brosnan & Conor Kearney. Four primary schools and the Institute of Technology Tralee are working together in a digital cluster to embed the Primary Languages Curriculum. They are using Virtual Reality (VR) headsets as a tool to develop oral language, reading and writing. Through the use of this VR tool the pupils benefit from rich opportunities in experiential learning which is inclusive of all learning styles, needs and abilities. This project, and the virtual reality experience it provides, engages and motivates all learners and provides them with the opportunity to engage with the wonders of the world without leaving the classroom. The system is based around the Google Expeditions software, which is available for use by schools, free of charge. While the project is focusing on the Languages curriculum, the team are also developing it into many other areas such as SESE, SPHE etc.


Noelle Moran, Chair of The Teaching Council said: “We know that teachers have a deeply positive impact ​on the education of our young people and that also extends beyond the classroom into their own research and development of initiatives that can create an even wider benefit for ​students, schools and society in general. The Teaching Council Collaboration Award is designed to recognise that commitment and the capability to create change for the greater good of teaching and education through professional sharing and knowledge creation, which can be scaled both regionally and nationally for use by teachers everywhere. The standard of projects proposed for this award is excellent and I’m very much looking forward to seeing all of the initiatives which will be showcased at FÉILTE”.


Tomás Ó Ruairc, Director of The Teaching Council said: “FÉILTE celebrates the professionalism and contribution of teachers throughout Ireland and represents the vision of the profession to continue this contribution through collaborative sharing of learning.  By sharing these insights and developing new and exciting teaching pathways together, the profession will continue to evolve for the benefit of all teachers and society, where our role is focused on supporting and enhancing the high standards of teaching which exist throughout Ireland.”


FÉILTE (the Festival of Education in Learning and Teaching Excellence) gives teachers the opportunity to collaborate and share their work with each other and with the wider public. In addition to workshops and collaborative events, two panel discussions will look in depth at important aspects of teaching today


Keynote speakers include Irish and international experts in education, Minister for Education & Skills, Joe McHugh TD and renowned international educationalist Professor Andy Hargreaves. Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin will chair a ‘Leaders in the Community’ discussion featuring Pat McDonagh, entrepreneur and owner of Supermacs; Ciara Griffin, a teacher and the captain of the Irish ladies’ rugby team; and Éimhín Craddock, teacher and leader of the Drumadore Drummers.  The festival will close with a panel discussion on ‘Inclusive Education’ led by Katherine O’Leary (dairy farmer, mother, journalist and a home economics teacher in a special school in Cork) who will be joined by the Ombudsman for Children, Niall Muldoon, along with other voices in inclusive education.

The Teaching Council is the statutory professional standards body for the teaching profession, which promotes and regulates professional standards in teaching.