Tag Archives: Education

Invitation – Educating our Children for the Future Public Meeting

I hope you had a restful and relaxing summer.

I would like to invite you to a Public Meeting on Educating our Children for the Future. This meeting takes place in Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, Killiney on Thursday, September 17th. It promises to be an interesting evening.

It will start at 7pm sharp and finish at 8.30pm. There will be a Q+A session after the guest speakers’ presentations. If attending meeting please RSVP to mary.mitchelloconnor@oir.ie by Tuesday, September 15th.

We must plan ahead to improve education system – O’Connor

Fine Gael TD for Dún Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Monday), called for an emphasis on forward planning for education as economic conditions improve.

“In Budget 2015, funding was made available for 1,700 new teachers, resource teachers and SNAs in our schools. Great strides have been made in improving the education system in Ireland; the VEC has been restructured from 33 VECs to 16 Education & Training Boards (ETBs) and SOLAS, a new Further Education & Training Authority has been established. These changes are very positive and will make a huge difference to young people around the country, but now it is time to plan ahead and to especially think about making apprenticeships available to all and providing training for University lecturers.

“Ireland is attracting investment and creating jobs largely due to the fact that we have a highly skilled workforce available. Education has been a key driver in the economic recovery and we need to assure that this continues into the future.

“Academic excellence and research are vital, but there is also a need for more teaching skills and pastoral care training in our University sector. These educators are not supported to the degree that second level and primary teachers are, and in order to assure the highest of standards, we need to look to investing in this area.

“Although there are thousands of tradespeople in Ireland, more people are needed in this area and it is essential that we facilitate training in every way possible. It is sometimes difficult to get apprenticeships, so there should be a stimulus for apprenticeships outside the traditional master-apprentice system. IT skills should also be included in apprenticeships, and where possible, if people have the desire, they should be able to continue academic education, alongside the apprenticeship.

“Ireland is a leader when it comes to education; our 15-year-olds are the 4th best in reading and significantly above OECD average in science and maths, we had the highest ever 2nd level education completion rate of 93%, above OECD average in 2012. Reform is continuing with the publication of the National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People 2011 to 2020.

“However now is not the time to be complacent. As the economy improves we must be measured and strategic in how we advance our education system. Education is vital to the success of the Irish economy and I intend to work with my Government colleagues to plan ahead and continue to develop this sector.”

€88 million investment and 1,700 new posts for Education

Fine Gael TD for Dun Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’, has today (Tuesday) welcomed the news that €88 million is to be invested in education and that 1,700 new full time posts are to be created.

“An investment of €88 million will make a huge difference to schools and to children in Dun Laoghaire. An estimated 1,700 additional new full time posts are to be created; this will mean 920 new mainstream teaching posts, 480 resource teachers and 365 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs).

“There will be no reduction in the pupil teacher ratio, there will be no increase in class sizes and this investment will allow for a €530 million capital expenditure investment.

“Over 150 new schools have been built since this Government came into power and over 100 schools have been refurbished. Further investment in buildings will be possible due to the Budget funding announced today. €10 million will also be available for Institutes of Technologies during 2015.

“I am particularly pleased to see that funding has been made available to invest in highspeed broadband in schools, to invest in the Junior Cycle and in literacy and numeracy.  A new team of early years education inspectors will also be recruited to help improve the quality of the free pre-school. The free pre-school year is hugely important, this is a key time of development for children so it is essential we use this year to its full advantage.

“The Irish people have made huge sacrifices to get the country to this point. Those sacrifices are starting to bear fruit but we acknowledge that many people have not yet felt the benefits of a recovering economy in their daily lives.

“Looking after the education of our young people is essential and it is an investment in our future. A key aspect of the recovery is job creation and the fact that we have the talent in this country to attract the best companies in the world. We need to nourish and develop this talent through investment and supports in education. Further investment in education is needed but the economic recovery is still fragile and this Government is committed to securing the recovery and maintaining the advances that we have achieved with the help of the Irish people.”

Education Bill to reform schools admission

Fine Gael TD for Dún Laoghaire and former teacher, Mary Mitchell O’Connor has welcomed the news that the Education (Admission to School) Bill and the Teaching Council (Amendment) Bill will be published during the course of the coming Dáil term.

“I am very pleased to see that this term we will see the publication of the Education (Admission to School) Bill and the Teaching Council (Amendment) Bill.

“The Education (Admission to School) Bill will make the admissions process more inclusive and equitable and it will ensure that the way schools decide on applications is structured, fair and transparent. The framework also proposes a mechanism for ensuring that every child receives a school place.

“As a teacher, I have experienced first-hand the stress parents suffer trying to ensure that their children get a place in schools. It is often felt that admissions were unfair and lacked clarity. This Bill will address these concerns and make the situation fairer for all.

“The Teaching Council (Amendment) Bill will underpin the central role of the Teaching Council in the vetting of teachers and it will strengthen the statutory basis for the Teaching Council to deal with a teacher’s suitability for registration under the fitness to teach provisions.

“The Teaching Council carries out a vital role in vetting our teachers to ensure that the best teachers are in our schools and that our children are receiving the best instruction.

“These changes will make a real difference to parents, to teachers and most importantly to pupils.”

Leaving Certificate students reminded to consider all of their options

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD and former teacher, Mary Mitchell O’ Connor, today (Wednesday) called on Leaving Certificate students getting results today to remember that they have plenty of options.

“Today is an exciting day and hopefully a very good day for most students. There are however many people who will be disappointed with their results. It is important to remember that you have options and it’s not the end of the world if you didn’t get the points you hoped for.

“The results you get today will not determine the rest of your life; it is what you do with these points and which direction you choose to take that will make the difference. No matter how you feel today, you have choices.

“Students should also remember that it is often a good idea to get their results checked if they are not happy and they felt, on the day, that they did better. There is an option to view your paper with your teacher and then together, with advice, you can choose if it is worth paying to have the result rechecked.

“Today is an important day because it marks the beginning of the next chapter for thousands of students. Well done to everyone who achieved the results they hoped for but for those who are disappointed today, remember that there are PLC courses which you can still apply for. Stay calm and consider all of your options.”

“The Exam 2014 helpline is 1800 265 165 or you can log onto the Irish Times helpdesk at irishtimes.com/results.”

Teaching Internet Safety in Primary Schools will help Combat Cyber Bullying

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, has today (Wednesday) welcomed a number of key recommendations in the Report of the Internet Content Governance Advisory (ICGA) which sets out what steps the Government can take to help address cyber bullying and deal with the range of issues posed by social media and our ever growing presence online.

“The issue of internet safety and how to deal with online abuse is a complex and ever evolving area, and one which deserves a considered response. The report, which was requested by the Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte TD, contains a number of practical recommendations which could have a positive impact on how we interact with each other online.

“My primary focus on this issue has always been on education. While laws making online abuse an offence might make the headlines, I think that changing the way we talk to our children about how they act online will have a much more lasting impact. The report recommends that internet safety and digital literacy skills should be included in the curriculum at both primary and secondary level – I measure I would strongly support.

It also says that further support should be given to training directed at parents to make them aware of cyberbullying and give them tips on how to deal with it. A number of tragic high profile cases last year, when the suicides of young teens were linked to cyber bullying, shocked the nation. We need to give both children and their parents the skills to face up to online abuse and the tools to know how to address it.

“I also welcome the proposal that the Safer Internet Ireland Centre (SIIC) should develop an online platform and a helpline which would act as a resource for children, parents, teachers and anyone else with an interest in the area. This one-stop portal would contain a range of support and advice on all elements of internet safety.

“An implementation group involving five government departments has now been set up to ensure these recommendations are acted on, and a set of agreed actions are expected soon. Legislation to make online abuse an offence can only be part of the solution. Education must be to the forefront.”

Almost 350 places available on Springboard courses in IADT and UCD

Fine Gael TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, for Dun Laoghaire has today (Monday) welcomed the announcement from the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD, that 6,100 new free higher education places are being made available to jobseekers as part of this year’s round of the Springboard programme.

Almost 350 places are being made available in the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology and University College Dublin across of range of specialties such as innovation, entrepreneurship and biopharmaceutical production. Springboard courses aim to help people who are without a job to get back into the workforce by giving them qualifications in expanding enterprise sectors.

“This is the fourth year of Springboard, which helps jobseekers to boost their skills so they can access employment in growing enterprise sectors, which are leading our economic recovery. It is great news that almost 350 places are being made available in IADT and UCD, including courses in enterprise and entrepreneurship.’

Most courses are part-time, they are all free, and they generally allow participants to maintain their social welfare payments while they are completing the course.

“This year, work placements are being offered on almost every Springboard course because such placements are a really important way of improving employment prospects. The system is also being made more flexible, as you will no longer have to be long-term unemployed to be eligible.

“The Government recognises the need for our graduates and jobseekers to have the skills necessary for our new economy, which is based on enterprise and innovation, rather than the old economy which was overly reliant on construction and banking. Springboard specifically targets areas where there are job opportunities and growth, allowing students to gain awards at certificate, degree and post-graduate level.

“I would encourage jobseekers in Dun Laoghaire looking to upskill, to check out the range of local courses available at www.springboardcourses.ie.”

Mitchell O’Connor welcomes OECD PISA results as a signal of better things to come

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy and Chair of the Fine Gael Internal Education Committee, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has welcomed the results of the latest OECD PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) report which shows that Irish students are doing well when it comes to reading and are progressing when it comes to maths and science.

“The OECD PISA report results for 2012 are very encouraging and show that out of 34 OECD countries, our 15 year old students now rank 9th for science; 4th for reading and 13th for maths. These results outline that Ireland is performing above average in maths and science and that we are moving in the right direction when compared to the result achieved in 2009.

“By ensuring that we continue to make strides in terms of literacy and numeracy, we remain focused on rolling out the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy. To that end, an additional €9 million has been made available in Budget 2014 so that we can reach our goal of ensuring that every child leaves school with high levels of literacy and numeracy.

“While any improvement in scores is to be welcomed, the fact that a small decline in the average scores across the OECD countries in maths has been recorded, which has allowed Ireland to score above average, will not be lost on anyone. It is imperative that we continue to focus on the most effective ways to encourage learning in maths and positive results.

“Recovering the ground that was lost in 2009, in respect of reading and maths, is a strong signal that what we are doing, we are doing right. In getting the economy back on track, we are focused on attracting, through the Action Plan for Jobs, companies in sectors that have the potential for growth, such as the pharma and IT sectors. This makes learning maths and science even more important so that we can ensure that we have the graduates to fill the jobs that are being created.

“Everyone who is involved in the education sector, who has responsibility for the improvements shown, is to be commended for their efforts. It is essential that we continue this good work into the future and to push Ireland’s scores further up the charts in the years to come.”

Coherent cross Departmental approach must be adopted in the fight against cyber bullying

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Wednesday) called for a cross Departmental approach to raise awareness among parents, teachers and children of how best to deal with cyber bullying. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor was speaking following responses she received to PQs from the Departments of Communications, Education and Justice about the possibility of banning harmful websites such as Ask.fm as we remember the anniversaries of the deaths of a number of young girls who died by suicide around this time last year.

“There is no doubt that ensuring that the law keeps up with advances in technology remains a challenge; a fact that was relayed to me by the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD, who said that in the fight to protect children and vulnerable persons from damaging content online, we must recognise that the internet’s global reach can make taking action against offending or offensive websites almost impossible.

“There are a number of measures and initiatives in place, such as the Department of Education’s 12 step Action Plan on Bullying; Safer Internet Day 2013, an initiative on cyber bullying targeted specifically at young people which will be repeated in 2014; and the establishment of the Office for Internet Safety, which also aims to build links between all Government Departments and Agencies, while working towards the promotion of internet safety at the highest level.

“However, in many circles, it is believed that raising awareness and increasing vigilance among adults is the way forward in stamping out this harmful practice. Encouraging parents to find out about filtering what their children can access can be of benefit, however, with the increasing number of children who have access to mobile phones this is not a fool-proof approach either.

“The special rapporteur on child protection, Dr Geoffrey Shannon, said yesterday that the time is ripe for robust legislation to combat cyber bullying. Minister Shatter has said that in the instances where it may be necessary to invoke the criminal law in cyberbullying cases, this can only happen when victims come forward to build a case. Dr. Shannon has called for a clear system of legal recourse to be provided for an offence of cyber-bullying and to encourage victims to come forward in a bid to address the issue.

“Cyberbullying is the practice of cowards as its anonymity gives them a shield behind which they can hurl abuse. Sadly, many of our children do not understand this and are severely impacted by the torment inflected at the hands of their abusers.

“I recognise the efforts being made to deal with this issue but we must keep the foot on the pedal in terms of educating our teachers and parents about cyberbullying, raising awareness about the damage it does and continue to support parents in monitoring and guiding their children about how best to deal with cyber bullies.”


Have your say: Education Committee seeks submissions on SNAs

Submissions invited on the Role of Special Needs Assistants

Mr Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, T.D., on behalf of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection, is inviting written submissions from interested individuals or groups in relation to the role of Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) in primary and post-primary schools.

All submissions and communications in relation to this matter are being handled by Deputy Ó Ríordáin; submissions should not be sent to any other member of the Committee.

Submissions should be sent, preferably by electronic means, to Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin at snasubmissions@oireachtas.ie (in which case it is not necessary to also forward a hard copy of the submission).

Where a submission is not being sent by electronic means, it should be sent to Mr Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, T.D., Dáil Éireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2, to arrive not later than 3.00 p.m. on Friday 22 November 2013. Submissions sent to any other address may not be accepted.

The following guidelines apply in relation to submissions:

  • Submissions should be accompanied by a separate covering letter containing the name and contact details (phone number and postal address and, if available, an email address of the individual or group making the submission.   If the submission is being made on behalf of a group, the position of the person in that group should be indicated.
  • Anonymous submissions cannot be accepted.
  • Submissions should –
    •  be presented as concisely as possible on numbered pages
    •  contain –
      •  a brief introduction, for example, explaining your area of expertise
      • any factual information that you have to offer from which the Committee might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other parties for their reactions
  • Submissions should indicate if the individual or group on whose behalf they are made would be prepared to appear in public session at any Committee meeting.

A more detailed document outlining the guidelines for making a written submission is available by clicking here: Making Submissions and Presentations to Oireachtas Committees

Making a submission is a public process

There is no obligation to accept your document once it has been submitted, or to publish any or all of the submission if it is accepted.  However, the operations of a Parliament are a public process, and any submissions made may be published either as part of a Committee report, or separately, if the Committee decides to do so.

Members of the Committee

Deputy Joanna Tuffy (Chair)
Deputies James Bannon, Ray Butler, Joan Collins, Clare Daly, Brendan Griffin , Jim Daly, Derek Keating, Charlie McConalogue, Nicky McFadden, Jonathan O’Brien, Willie O’Dea, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Brendan Ryan
Senators Terry Brennan, Jim D’Arcy, Marie Moloney, Mary Moran, Marie-Louise O’Donnell, Averil Power

The deadline for receipt of submissions is 3.00 p.m. on Friday 22 November 2013.

Should you have any queries in relation to this matter, please contact the Clerk to the Committee at the address above, or telephone 01 618 3481.