The Standing Conference on Teacher Education, North and South, has been active in supporting research projects, sectoral conferences and North-South exchanges on the island of Ireland. On 9-10 October it held its second major conference in Malahide, Co Dublin, under the title ‘Challenges to Teacher Education and Research, North and South’. The keynote speakers were David Instance of the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation and Professor John Coolahan of NUI, Maynooth.
There were workshop sessions facilitated by leading authorities from both Irish jurisdictions on the following themes: attracting, selecting and recruiting student teachers; integrating ICT into teacher education; teacher education for diversity and citizenship; teacher education and the integration of Special Needs; school placements in teacher education; training for school leadership; best practice in teacher induction; policy approaches to continuing professional development.
Challenges to Teacher Education and Research
Keiron Mellon and Conor Galvin led the workshop considering the concerns of students beginning their teaching careers. How can training institutions address these?
Integrating ICT into Teacher Education
This group discussed the recent developments in ICT North and South in the school systems. They also summarised how ICT was impacting on teacher training and how it could be developed further in the future.
Policy Approaches to Continuing Professional Development
The workshop group concluded that continual professional development is vital but the present provision is fragmentary and future provision should be more systematic. There is a need for collaboration between the north and south.
School Placement in Teacher Education
A number of issues were raised which caused concern and as a result it was decided a research study comparing the teaching practice experiences of students should be commissioned.
Special Needs Seminar
The workshop discussed issues such as inclusion, pressure for results, individualised approaches to education etc. and the differences in practice north and south.
Teacher Education for Diversity and Citizenship
The group decided that citizenship should be a whole school issue and as such should be a core part of teacher training.
Training for School Leadership
This workshop noted that there were no statutory qualifications north or south for principals and that provision of professional development for leadership was varied, particularly in the south.