Expertise and support to the value of €400,000 has been 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 has 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.
The project complements the Teaching Council’s existing *BEACONS process which sees a diverse group of stakeholders coming together for conversations on education. Through BEACONS, students, parents, teachers, leaders and other local and national stakeholders engage in facilitated conversations with no preset agenda. Initial evidence (CES 2019) suggests the BEACONS process can enhance connections and develop relationships within school communities, while also supporting a virtuous feedback loop between the local and national levels.
With the support of the EU and the Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM) and OECD, this novel project will build on existing models of engagement such as BEACONS while also exploring new, innovative approaches.
The Department of Education noted that “Engagement with local school communities is of vital importance to understand the views, challenges and ideas of those living the educational experience so we can learn from them and work towards our common goals. We welcome this collaborative approach and the support being provided by the European Union to enhance the approach in this area and ultimately improve outcomes for all.”
Tomás Ó Ruairc, Director of the Teaching Council said: “Every voice counts in education, but it is also very important that all those voices hear and learn from each other so we can develop a shared understanding, and work towards a shared future for education. We are very appreciative of the support being provided by the European Union, through its Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support and the OECD. We are delighted to be working with the Departments of Education and of Children, other public sector bodies, and with all stakeholders to develop this innovative model of engagement that will ultimately support better teaching and learning in schools throughout the country.”
The Technical Support Instrument (TSI) is the EU programme that provides tailor-made technical expertise to EU Member States to design and implement reforms. The support is demand driven and does not require co-financing from Member States. It is an important pillar of the EU’s initiative to help Member States mitigate the economic and social consequences of the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis.
The OECD’s Implementing Education Policies team works to bridge the gap between education policy and practice in schools through peer learning opportunities and tailored support for countries for effective education change. The OECD with support from the TSI, will work with the Teaching Council and other local and national stakeholders throughout the two-year project.
The Teaching Council is the lead partner from Ireland in the project. Other partners include:
- - Department of Education
- - Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
- - Ombudsman for Children’s Office
- - National Parents’ Council
- - National Council for Curriculum and Assessment
- - National Council for Special Education
The project consists of four phases
- - Phase 1 Official commencement of the project
- - Phase 2 Initial Analysis by OECD of the education context in Ireland
- - Phase 3 Design, Pilot, and Evaluation of model(s) of engagement
- - Phase 4 Development of Roadmap for implementation, and dissemination.
*BEACONS stands for Bringing Education Alive for our Communities On a National Scale. The process was developed by the Teaching Council in 2019. Eight events have taken place nationwide to date. BEACONS promotes inclusive conversations and sees students, parents, teachers, leaders, and other stakeholders engage in facilitated conversations on topics that are important to them in education. See more at www.beaconstribe.ie