Mary Mitchell O’Connor details the Fine Gael policy on:
This Government’s ambition is to build a knowledge society. Education is at the heart of
a more cohesive, more equal and more successful society, and it will be the engine of
sustainable economic growth. Ireland has experienced a decline in educational outcomes
in recent years. We will draw from top performing education models like Finland to
reverse this trend. Even in our country’s crisis, we can make progress in education and
protect frontline services.
Early Childhood Care and Education
We will maintain the free pre-school year in Early Childhood Care and Education to
promote the best outcomes for children and families. We will improve the quality of the
pre-school year by implementing standards and reviewing training options.
As resources allow, this Government will invest in a targeted early childhood education
programme for disadvantaged children, building on existing targeted pre-school supports
for families most in need of assistance such as the young ballymun project.
Empowering Schools to Improve Standards
A priority in education will be to recruit, train and support the highest calibre of teachers.
School leadership will be fundamental to furthering this aim.
We will give greater freedom and autonomy to school principals and boards to raise
educational standards by devolving more responsibility locally, with greater freedom to
allocate and manage staff with required flexibility and to delegate management
responsibilities to teachers as school priorities require.
We will require schools, with the support of the Inspectorate, to draw up five year
development plans for their schools and individual teachers.
Administrative functions, relating to maintenance, school building projects and coordination
of support services currently carried out by principals will be devolved locally.
Protecting the Frontline
Education will be a priority for this Government. It will endeavour to protect and
enhance the educational experience of children, young people and students. To that end,
it will endeavour to protect frontline services in education, and seek efficiencies in work
and school practices, in line with the Croke Park Agreement.
A longer term aim of this Government will be to position Ireland in the top ten
performing countries in the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment
We will review Junior and Leaving Certificate systems and implement reforms necessary
to encourage greater innovation and independent learning, building on the National
Council for Curriculum and Assessment’s work in this area.
Maths and science teaching at second level will be reformed, including making science a
compulsory Junior Cert subject by 2014. Professional development for maths and science
teachers will be prioritised.
The system for evaluating schools will be reformed so parents have access to more
information when choosing a school for their family. A new system of self-evaluation
will be introduced, requiring all schools to evaluate their own performance year on year
and publish information across a wide range of criteria.
A bonus points system for maths, which is linked to specific maths or science courses,
will be introduced to encourage greater participation in courses where skills shortages
Making Literacy a National Cause
This Government believes that no child should leave an Irish school unable to read and
A national literacy strategy for children and young people will be developed as a matter
of urgency, with school-level targets that are related to national targets. Every school will
be required to have a literacy action plan, with demonstrable outcomes. Responsibility
for achieving these outcomes will be vested in the school principals, who will also
receive continuous professional development to support the implementation of the
Pre-service and in-service training in teaching of literacy for all primary and secondary
school teachers will be improved, with dedicated literacy mentors to work intensively
with teachers in most disadvantaged primary schools.
Together with a new focus on how literacy is taught, time spent on quality literacy tuition
is important. DEIS primary schools will be required to teach literacy for 120 minutes per
day; non-DEIS schools to teach literacy for 90 minutes per day. This time includes
incorporating structured literacy tuition into teaching of other subjects.
Local authorities will be supported in developing Right to Read campaigns involving
community supports for literacy, from within existing budgets such as more spacious
social housing, longer opening hours for libraries, homework clubs and summer camps
that improve literacy through sport and games.
21st Century Schools
This Government will end the treatment of ICT in education as a stand-alone issue, but
will integrate it across education policy. This will begin with merging the National
Centre for Technology in Education with the National Council for Curriculum and
Assessment. A new plan to develop ICT in teaching, learning and assessment will be
developed. This plan will incorporate the integration of ICT policy across other agencies,
such as the Professional Development Services for Teachers, the State Examinations
Commission, and Project Maths.
The primary priority for investment in ICT in the immediate term will be the integration
of ICT in teaching and learning across the curriculum and investing in broadband
development to ensure schools have access to fibre-powered broadband. Investment in
ICT will be maximised through pooling of ICT procurement.
Greater use of online platforms will be made to offer a wide range of subjects and lessons
online, and to enable schools to ‘share’ teachers via live web casts. These online lessons
will be made available through a new Digital School Resource, bringing together existing
resources from National Council for Curriculum Assessment, Department of Education
and other sources as a cost effective means of sharing expertise between schools.
We will engage with the publishing industry to develop more online learning resources
and new mediums for their learning materials.
Building Schools for the Future
This Government will prioritise school building projects in a revised national
The objective of this Government will be to progressively phase out the inefficient
renting of school prefabs. In the interim the negotiation of prefab rental contracts will be
part of a reformed public procurement policy to encourage greater value for money,
transparency and reduce dependency on temporary accommodation.
The devolution of an annual capital budget to schools will be piloted to allow schools to
plan for capital projects.
The Department of Education’s central database of school accommodation will be
overhauled to ensure a complete inventory of school buildings and associated structures
is maintained so deficiencies are easily identifiable.
In areas of demographic growth, Shared Educational Campuses will be the preferred
model for future development of educational infrastructure. New schools will be built to
grow with their communities and to provide for more interactive, child-friendly model of
Local authorities will be required to complete Educational Impact Assessment on
residential zoning, to identify potential need for schools.
We will negotiate the transfer of school infrastructure currently owned by 18 religious
orders cited in Ryan Report, at no extra cost, to the State. In principle, school buildings
and land will be zoned for educational use, so that they cannot easily be sold and lost to
Delivering Equity in Education
We will consider recommendations of the review of the DEIS programme and use it as
platform for new initiatives to deliver better outcomes for students in disadvantaged
We will examine how to make existing expenditure on educational disadvantage more
effective, and innovative ways in which teenagers at risk of leaving school system can
stay connected, for example through use of ICT-based distance learning and projects such
We will publish a plan for the implementation of the EPSEN Act 2004 to prioritise access
for children with special needs to an individual education plan. The priority will be to
move to a system where necessary supports follow a child from primary to second level
and to achieve greater integration of special needs-related services.
We will support diversity in education of children with special needs, recognising that
both intensive education and mainstreaming can be seen to work for individual children.
We recognise the critical importance of early diagnosis of autism and early intervention
and address current deficits in this area. We will reverse the cut to the number of
psychologists in National Educational Psychological Service in Budget 2011.
We will encourage schools to develop anti-bullying policies and in particular, strategies
to combat homophobic bullying to support students.
We will improve co-ordination and integration to delivery of services to the Traveller
community across all Government departments, using available resources more
effectively to deliver on principles of social inclusion, particularly in area of Traveller
education through the DEIS programme
We will examine supports in place for gifted students and create improved links with
third level institutions on regional basis, to provide gifted students with access to new
programmes or educational resources.
Download a copy of the presentation: A Framework for the Junior Cycle Presentation
|20/02/2013||Blackrock||Killiney Castle||Afternoon||Sandra Kinsella|
|21/02/2013||Dublin West||Dublin West EC||Full Day||Sandra Kinsella|
|22/02/2013||Limerick||Castletroy Park Hotel||Full Day||Tony O’Shea|
|25/02/2013||Kilkenny||Kilkenny EC||Full Day||Paul Fields|
|28/02/2013||Donegal||Donegal EC||Afternoon||Sandra Johnston|
|01/03/2013||Sligo||Clarion Hotel||Full Day||Angela Currid|
|04/03/2013||Cork||Oriel House, Ballincollig||Full Day||Carol WelsteadorMaura Buckley|
|05/03/2013||Cork||Oriel House, Ballincollig||Full Day||Carol WelsteadorMaura Buckley|
|06/03/2013||Athlone||Athlone EC||Full Day||Christina Collier|
|07/03/2013||Blackrock||Killiney Castle||Morning||Sandra Kinsella|
|15/03/2013||Galway||Claregalway Hotel||Full Day||Maire Lohan|
|21/03/2013||Cavan||Errigal Hotel, Cootehill||Afternoon||Rosemary Cadwell|
|22/03/2013||City North||City North Hotel, Gormanstown||Full Day||Rosemary Cadwell|
- See more at: http://www.education.ie/en/Press-Events/Events/Reform-of-the-Junior-Cycle-/Reform-of-the-Junior-Cycle.html#sthash.LtJHqlaK.dpuf
To view the Framework for Junior Cycle document published by the Minister for Education, Spring 2013, click here