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Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and the Teaching Council today (2 April) announced the commencement of a ground breaking research study on teaching in Ireland that aims to ensure teachers have the best possible start to their careers.

Teachers’ Professional Journeys: The First Decade is a longitudinal research study that has been jointly commissioned by the Department of Education and the Teaching Council. It will explore teachers’ early career experiences, as they complete initial teacher education and become established in the profession.

Running to 2030 at an overall cost of €2.8 million (incl. VAT), this is a very significant study which will inform and shape policy in a range of areas including initial teacher education, induction into the profession and early professional development. It will encompass primary, post-primary and further education teacher graduates from the classes of 2019, 2022, 2025 and 2026, as well as other key stakeholders.

The research will be conducted by a consortium comprising the University of Limerick (UL), the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Mary Immaculate College (MIC), under the leadership of Professor Paul Conway from University of Limerick, Professor Emer Smyth from the ESRI and Professor Aisling Leavy from Mary Immaculate College.

Minister Foley said: “The research study demonstrates the strong commitment of both the Department and the Teaching Council to listen to the voices and experiences of teachers in a way that can shape and reshape future policy on teaching and teacher education.

I hope that all teachers in the relevant cohorts and other education stakeholders will see the value in contributing to this study, which is the first of its kind for this country.”

The Chairperson of the Teaching Council, Michelle Keane, said: “Collaborative engagement with the Department, key stakeholders and the teaching profession is fundamental to everything that we do. As this project is jointly commissioned with the Department, and will involve a collaborative, participatory approach to research design and implementation, it very much reflects our commitment to a partnership approach, and I am delighted to see it getting off the ground as I conclude my term of office as Chair. I will follow its progress with great interest.”

The Director of the Teaching Council, Dr Lynn Ramsey, said “As the regulator for the teaching profession, we establish standards for initial teacher education and induction, and promote lifelong learning across the entire career span. It’s important that our ongoing work in this area is evidence-informed, and this study will provide us with a wealth of data that will ensure our policies are robust and based on the reality of teaching in Ireland today.”

The research leads for the study Professors Paul Conway, Emer Smyth and Aisling Leavy said that: “The Teachers’ Professional Journeys (TPJ) longitudinal study will provide a valuable opportunity to understand the learning and development of teachers during their first decade in the profession. Central to realising this potential will be the contributions of teachers and other stakeholders in enhancing our understanding of their experiences of teaching and teacher education”.

Notes for editors

Background to the research study

The Department of Education and the Teaching Council decided to jointly commission longitudinal research into beginning teachers’ educational and professional journeys, taking account of significant developments impacting on teaching and teacher education.

Teachers have experienced significantly reconfigured initial teacher education programmes (now in a second cycle of accreditation, Céim, 2020) and a new model of induction (Droichead), and there is now a national framework for their ongoing professional learning (Cosán). There have also been significant national curriculum and policy developments, including:

This research therefore presents an important opportunity to investigate the influence of all of these developments, and other personal, professional, educational and systemic factors that define and shape teachers’ early careers and practice. It will adopt a ‘future focus’, identifying where and how the findings can inform and shape initial teacher education, induction and early professional development, to ensure all teachers have the best possible start to their careers.


The Teaching Council

The Teaching Council is the regulator of the Teaching Profession. Its role is to protect the public by promoting and regulating professional standards in teaching.

It fulfils that role by carrying out functions as follows:

  • Maintaining a register of qualified and vetted teachers in Ireland. This ensures that teachers meet the necessary qualification, standards, competencies, and character requirements for registration.
  • Establishing and upholding high standards for teachers in Ireland. The Council establishes standards across the entire career span for teachers including guidelines and codes related to their professional conduct, knowledge, skill, and competence.
  • Ensuring the quality of initial teacher education programmes provided by higher education institutions in Ireland. This includes review and accreditation processes to maintain high standards of initial teacher education, which in turn contributes to the quality of teaching and learning in the country.
  • Establishing standards to guide and support induction processes that are required on a statutory basis and promoting lifelong learning for registered teachers. This sets systematic benchmarks supporting the early stages of teachers’ careers and encourages continuing professional learning throughout their career.
  • Commissioning and conducting research, using data and evidence to inform decision making and policy development. This provides evidence-based recommendations and contributes to discussions on educational policies, practices, and reforms, with the intention of ensuring high standards in the teaching profession.