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Together Towards Inclusion: a toolkit for trainers (2)


  • Focused research into post primary needs North and South
  • Identification of common needs North and South
  • Identification and response to common challenges North and South
  • Addressing whole school and classroom challenges at post primary level North and South
  • Promotion of the inclusive post primary school/classroom
  • Enhanced provision for post primary sector
  • Sharing best practice

A conference for 120 delegates was held in the Grand Hotel Malahide on Friday 3rd April 2009 to disseminate best practice in this area.


Teacher Education for Special Educational Needs in the North and South of Ireland Sharing Cases of Practice

To organise a conference entitled “Student Teachers in Special Settings: policy and practice in Ireland. The Conference will be held at The National Institute for the Study of Learning Difficulties, Trinity College. Floor 4, 3 College Green. Dublin, on Thursday & Friday March 22nd and 23rd, 2007. The attendance will be initial teacher educators with responsibility for special educational needs in the Universities and Colleges of Ireland, members of General Teaching Councils and the Education and training Inspectorates in each jurisdiction. The Conference will aim to provide an assessment of pre-service teacher experience of pupils with disabilities and to provide answers to a range of research question.

Together Towards Inclusion – A Toolkit for Trainers

  • Support for teachers, linguistic and intercultural
  • Provision of opportunities for a cluster of teachers to work collaboratively North and South, to inform the outcome
  • Focused research at institutional level (IILT TCD & SELB)
  • Promotion of respect for diversity and challenging prejudice
  • Promotion of an inclusive school/classroom
  • Enhance provision of English as a second language
  • Share best practice
  • Disseminate best practice through the use of the Internet


Special Educational Needs in Initial Teacher Education (SENITE)

22 – 23 March 2004
Trinity college, Dublin

In the context of Special Educational Needs and Initial Teacher Education the conference sought to conduct a shared review and assessment of practice in the North and South of Ireland, to establish a supportive network of researchers and practitioners and to develop a rationale for future action.

Hugh Kearns and Michael Shevlin introduced the conference theme from the perspectives and contexts of teacher education in each of their own jurisdictions. Paddy Manning (Department of Education, Education and Training Inspectorate Northern Ireland) and Don Mahon (Department of Education Inspectorate, Republic of Ireland) each reviewed SEN provision in schools in their jurisdictions. These introductions outlined the implications of recent and emerging trends in Initial Teacher Education and in provision for Special Educational Needs North and South. They developed a rationale for the organisation and the objectives of the conference and the issues upon which the views of representatives needed to be sought.



The Just Children Story Sack

Education for a Just World, is a new partnership initiative between Trocaire and the Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship Education, St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Dublin. The partnership has just launched the Just Children story sack. Aimed at pre-school educators and Infant class teachers, the sack is built around the colourful children’s story of Mama Panya’s Pancakes. Set in Kenya, the story depicts the journey made by Adika and his mother to their local market to buy food to make pancakes. On their way Adika, despite his mother’s reluctance, invites an increasing number of friends for pancakes. To Mama Panya’s relief, the friends do not arrive at the pancake party empty handed, but with food and music for a feast.  

The handbook and resources included in the sack build on this story. Developed in consultation with educators and early education experts, the handbook contains a programme of learning experiences designed to introduce children aged 3 to 6 years to concepts such as: fairness, interdependence, near and far, similarity and difference and another perspective, in a global context.    With a puppet, songs, a CD and photographs, the sack provides an example of how education for a just world can begin in pre-school educational settings. 

 For more information on the story sack go to:

Teachers, Human Rights and Human Rights Education

The Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship Education, St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, has just launched the results of its research into Irish Primary teachers understanding of human rights and human rights education. This study provides the first national baseline data in relation to primary teachers’ knowledge and perceptions of human rights and HRE and contributes to the development of a research base on HRE in Ireland. The findings of the study help identify the needs of teachers and schools in relation to the delivery of HRE and also point to the level of compliance of the Irish state with regard to its commitment to implement HRE in primary schools.

While the study’s findings were positive in relation to respondents’ attitudes and openness towards human rights and HRE,  the results support concerns regarding the level of knowledge of human rights and human rights instruments amongst teachers (Osler and Starkey, 2010; Imber, 2008; Casas, Saporiti, Gonzalez, Figuer, Rostan, Sadurni, Alsinet, Gusó, Grignoli, Mancini, Ferrucci and Rago, 2006; Fritzsche, 2006; Tibbitts, 2002). What emerged from the survey are many examples of practices occurring in primary schools and classrooms which respond to human rights concerns and incorporate rights respecting approaches. However, these activities tend to be inexplicit in their relationship with human rights. Furthermore, despite much of the literature reflecting the potential for HRE to provide transformative learning experiences and critique social injustices (Tibbitts and Kirscshlaeger 2010; Magendzo, 2005; Tibbitts, 2005; Tibbitts, 2002), respondents’ conceptualisation of human rights tended to ignore hierarchical social structures, whilst their approach to HRE focused on improved social cohesion rather than empowerment.

To view a full version of the research report go to:

Young Children’s Engagement with Issues of Global Justice

Education for a Just World, is a new partnership initiative between Trocaire and the Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship Education, St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Dublin. The Partnership has conducted research into young children’s engagement with issues of global justice. The research approach taken was qualitative, informed by the ‘mosaic’ approach (Clark and Moss, 2001) and drawn from existing classroom practices.

The children in the study appeared able to identify other people’s needs, to consider what would happen if these needs were not met and on some occasions made direct links with poverty. The previous experience of children was an important factor in their engagement with ideas of poverty and need. In all settings, children had a pre-existing knowledge of Africa and had already made an association between Africa and the issue of poverty. Only in the senior infant setting did the children use the language of poverty and wealth.  For younger children it appears that there is a conceptual understanding of people not having enough but that use of terms such as “poor” and “rich” develops later.  This supports the findings of Ramsey (1990) that children have a limited understanding of the causes of poverty and also suggests that their understanding is an emerging one.

The research makes a contribution to education literature in a number of ways.  This is the first time research of this nature has taken place in the context of development education in an Irish context.  The findings are consistent with current post-structural theories of childhood which hold that children are capable of independent thinking, agency and can understand issues beyond their own self-interest. Most significantly, the research identified starting points which can inform development education programmes for young children on food and other global justice issues

For a full version of the research report go to:

Spiritual Education: New Challenge, New Opportunity

Project Aims

  • Transfer knowledge from international researchers regarding the increased competency in focusing attention, the improved maintenance of emotional balance and the enriched resilience in the face of life’s challenges for children/young people who experience spiritual education.
  • Familiarise educators with mediation practice that may provide a simple way to support the development of core emotional and social competencies that underlie successful learning and help students and teachers excel.
  • Introduce educators to an expert educator practitioner in the field of contemplative practices for children/young people.
  • Explore an inter-spiritual approach to intercultural and interfaith education in a North-South context through situating exchange in shared practices.
  • By- providing a two day action-research (AR) workshop on spiritual education.