The Educational Research Centre (ERC) was established as a designated statutory body of the Department of Education and Skills under Section 54 of the Education Act (1998) on 9 September 2015 (S.I. no. 392 of 2015 and S.I. No. 309 of 2017). For the previous 50 years it operated as a functionally autonomous part of St Patrick’s College now incorporated in Dublin City University (DCU).
The Establishment Order (SI 392 of 2015) draws a distinction between two objects of the Centre:
- Providing an assessment support service to schools and centres for education
- Conducting independent research on all aspects of education and at all levels of the education system.
Working in partnership
The ERC is a partner in a range of Department of Education and Skills policies and strategies.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of activities consistent with the furtherance of the objects of the function of the Centre based on Articles 8 and 9 of the 2015 Establishment Order.
- Enabling schools to assess the attainment levels and academic standards of students as required under Section 9(k) of the Education Act, 1998
- Enabling schools to report systematically on the attainment levels and academic standards of students to parents, students, boards of management, the Minister for Education and Skills and others
- Assisting schools to identify the special educational needs of individual students
- Providing advice to schools and centres for education on the assessment of the attainment levels and academic standards of students
- Carrying out national and international assessments of the attainment levels and academic achievement of students and reporting on such assessments to the Minister
- Maintaining, storing securely and publishing information on the attainment levels and academic standards of students in schools and centres for education in Ireland
- Engaging in the evaluation of educational programmes and activities
- Initiating and conducting research consistent with the objects of the Centre, and publishing and disseminating the findings of this research
- Building capacity for educational assessment and research in Ireland by making provision for the professional development of staff of the Centre and by providing to others training in, and advice on, areas of its competence
- Serving on national and international bodies of relevance to the Centre
- Co-operating with other bodies, as appropriate, in research, assessment and evaluation studies and in the dissemination of findings concerning research, assessment and evaluation
- Providing consultancy services
- Co-operating with other bodies, as appropriate.
In line with its independent mission, the following actions are carried out by the ERC:
- Publish or submit for publication personally authored or co-authored articles, books and reports
- Initiate research other than research on behalf of the Department, in accordance with agreed work-plans
- Carry out research with and for other bodies
- Develop assessment instruments and related material for distribution and sale to schools;
- Comment publicly on education policy and practice on the basis of its own research and on the basis of the research literature more generally
- Seek to clarify any matters relating to media reports of ERC work
- Maintain a relationship with schools and the education community more generally that is different from the relationship between these parties and the Department (for example, information supplied by individual schools to the ERC is not shared with the Department unless the school has been made aware in advance that this will happen)
- Have its own website and develop this website and other forms of electronic communication
- Publish the Irish Journal of Education.