Current Volume (Vol. 45, 2022)

Dealing with and Reporting Child Protection Concerns: A Snapshot of Irish Primary Schools

Margaret Nohilly & Mia Treacy

The research reported in this paper aimed to capture the experiences of primary-school teachers at a pivotal time in 2018, following the introduction of statutory obligations on primary schools in Ireland to comply with mandatory child protection reporting requirements. It is based on responses received from 387 designated liaison persons (DLPs) to an online survey emailed to all primary schools. Data were collected on categories of abuse dealt with by schools, and on DLP perceptions of teachers’ concerns regarding their new statutory role as “mandated persons” for child protection. Findings of the survey indicate that, in schools, neglect is the most frequently dealt with category of child abuse, followed by emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. DLPs revealed that teachers were most concerned about the implications of reporting for families and about inadequate training on child protection. The paper highlights the complexity for primary teachers of making judgements about child protection and draws attention to the potential for personal consequences that may arise due to their reporting responsibilities. Recommendations include provision of enhanced supports for teachers as mandated persons and a renewed focus on the development of a framework for inter-agency communication and co-operation. [DOWNLOAD PDF]

Bouncing Back Post COVID-19: Responding to Needs Arising From the Closure of Educational Settings Within the Irish Primary and Early Years’ Education Sector

Eileen Winter, Stephen Smith, and Aleksandra Szproch

In March 2020, primary schools and preschools in Ireland were closed until the end of the school year, and again from January to March in 2021, to minimise the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This decision altered the lives of teachers, students, and families throughout the country and led to a lengthy period where learners had to remain at home and continue their education online. Teaching online, described as Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT), remained in place for many months until schools officially reopened. Drawing on recent literature and research, this paper identifies and discusses issues arising from the impact of this decision on primary schools and early years’ facilities, and on teachers, students, and parents associated with these settings. The authors examine the effects of the closures on mental health, the lack of an infrastructure needed to support ERT, and lost learning time, with special reference to disadvantaged learners. Also considered are the post-pandemic challenges involved in reopening educational settings and in minimising the impact of the closures on students and teachers. Finally, actions are recommended for policymakers, for schools and preschool settings, and for teachers and parents, as the education sector moves to a new normality. [DOWNLOAD PDF]

Strategic Leadership in all its “Nitty-Gritty” Detail: Behaviours Associated With Strategic Leaders

Brian Mac Giolla Phádraig

This paper identifies some challenges and opportunities currently faced by the education sector, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth of digital technologies, and the increasing importance of equity, inclusion, and sustainability. It suggests that effective strategic leadership is required for the sector to successfully navigate these challenges and opportunities. The paper goes on to define leadership and strategic leadership before examining four clusters of behaviour associated with strategic leaders: visioning, action planning, intelligent use of data, and networking, and providing practical examples of their application. It recognises that these behaviours operate, not in isolation from other aspects of leadership, but rather within the broader context of a leader’s values, the dynamics of a leadership team, and the environments within which leaders operate. [DOWNLOAD PDF]

Why Study in Ireland? The Experiences of Third-Level International Students

Wei Xiong

With the rapid growth of international students in Ireland from 2008 to 2020 observed by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the departure of Britain from the EU following the Brexit referendum in 2016, it is important to understand how international students make decisions regarding third-level education. This study, the first to focus on Ireland as a destination country in the international education market, examines the factors that influenced the foreign-study decisions of 24 international students attending University College Cork in 2015/2016. Using convenience sampling to recruit participants, the interview data were analysed in terms of a range of “push” and “pull” factors, not always mutually exclusive, identified in the literature on decisions relating to overseas study. The main pull factors that influenced the study participants to pursue third-level education abroad and in Ireland are: opportunities to experience a foreign culture, the natural environment of the destination country, financial considerations (the cost of living and studying abroad and scholarship availability), the quality and reputation of a university, the qualifications offered and the duration of courses. The main push factors that had encouraged the students to leave their home countries are the non-availability of preferred third-level courses and the shorter duration of comparable preferred courses in destination countries. The study findings have implications, discussed in the conclusions, for destination countries and third-level providers focussed on continuing to attract overseas students to consider in the context of a competitive international education market. [DOWNLOAD PDF]

Responding to Educational Disadvantage in Ireland: A Review of Literature, 1965–2020

Kathleen Carroll

The term educational disadvantage represents a circumstance where some persons benefit less than others from the educational system, manifesting in fewer opportunities for engagement in education, lower levels of participation in formal education, and poorer educational outcomes. While complex factors underpin educational deprivation, international research is in broad agreement that economic deficiency and social isolation contribute to underachievement at school which, in turn, perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Based on a review of literature, this paper examines the response from the education authorities in Ireland to educational disadvantage between 1965 and 2020, highlighting responses from the Department of Education that have focused on increased funding in digital and information technology and on projects providing equality of access to education from preschool to third level. Notwithstanding the growth in retention
and participation rates in education over the past 55 years, it is contended that the continuance of poverty demonstrates both the multidimensional aspect of socio-economic disadvantage and the requirement for greater interdepartmental and community collaboration in its amelioration. Finally, the paper draws attention to shortcomings in the official digital and information technology strategy for schools shown up by COVID-19 – a time of sudden school and college closures, resulting in virtual classrooms becoming a forum for learning. A wide variation in response, throughout primary, post-primary and third-level education suggests that, after 25 years of investment in digital technology, the embedding of information and assistive technology necessary for delivering lessons on line has not occurred. [DOWNLOAD PDF]