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HEA welcomes the publication of The Structure of Teacher Education in Ireland: Review of Progress in Implementing Reform



By Maura O'Shea

Posted: 22 May, 2019

HEA welcomes the publication of The Structure of Teacher Education in Ireland: Review of Progress in Implementing Reform, 22 May 2019

The Higher Education Authority today publishes The Structure of Teacher Education in Ireland: Review of Progress in Implementing Reform. The Review was conducted by Professor Pasi Sahlberg, Professor of Education Policy at the Gonski Institute for Education at the University of New South Wales, Australia, and advised by Professor Áine Hyland, Emeritus Professor of Education at University College Cork.

The Review outlines the progress in the implementation of the structural reforms identified in the 2012 Report of the International Review Panel on the Structure of Initial Teacher Education (known as Sahlberg 1), by reference to the consolidation of the 19 discrete initial teacher education (ITE) providers to six centres of teaching. Significant progress has been made, including the full incorporation of DCU; St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra; Mater Dei Institute; and the Church of Ireland College of Education into DCU Institute of Education and of Froebel College of Teacher Education into Maynooth University. The incorporation of St Angela’s College, Sligo into NUI Galway is also nearing finalisation. The Review compliments all of the centres of teaching excellence for their efforts to collaboratively work together, and for their commitment to implementing the wider reform agenda.

The Review also considers the effect of the reforms in creating the critical mass and the scale to enhance the quality of teacher education provision. It references the anecdotal evidence provided by the centers to indicate the success of restructured ITE programmes. However, it identifies that there is a lack of empirical evidence to assess the impact of restructured ITE programmes, and states that this should be addressed promptly. It suggests that a survey instrument should be designed to monitor the progress and further development of ITE in Ireland.

The recommendations of the Review reinforce the vision for research-based, internationally inspiring ITE proposed in Sahlberg 1. The high standard of student research is noted, but the view that not all ITE students share an understanding of the value of a research approach in their future positions as teachers is expressed. The Review accordingly recommends that research-based approaches to ITE should be further strengthened and that an enhanced understanding of research-based ITE should be fostered among teacher educators and students. It is also suggested that synergies across programmes to enable the sharing and dissemination of good practice across various elements of ITE programmes should be encouraged.

CEO of the HEA, Mr Paul O’Toole commented: ‘I would like to extend our gratitude to Professor Sahlberg, and to Professor Hyland, for their considerable efforts in furnishing this considered Review. I would also like to thank the staff and students of the centers of teaching for their engaged participation with the Review process. The Review identifies that the centers of teaching are emerging from a process of major reform in the context of restructuring, up to and including incorporation, as recommended by Sahlberg 1 and in line with the vision set out in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030. The centers have delivered this alongside a parallel process of programme reconfiguration, and have done so in a relatively short timeframe and in a challenging economic environment. I commend the centers and their staff for their dedication and tenacity in delivering such significant changes to the landscape and provision of ITE in Ireland. I welcome the commitment of the Department of Education and Skills to developing a comprehensive policy statement, which will provide renewed clarity to the sector in respect of the future direction of initial teacher education.’

The Structure of Teacher Education in Ireland: Review of Progress in Implementing Reform

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