Written answers

Thursday, 4 July 2024

Department of Education and Skills

Teacher Training

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin Bay North, Fine Gael)
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271. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will indicate the expenditure on in-service training her Department incurs; the number of participants; and if she will distinguish between training relating to curriculum changes, digital skills, teaching methods, and leadership. [28679/24]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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My Department views teacher education as a continuum from initial teacher education to induction and ongoing professional learning.

The Department promotes the quality of teaching and learning through the provision of quality initial teacher education programmes, professional learning experiences (PLE) and other support for school leaders and teachers. This is achieved through the teacher education programmes, education support centres and Oide –the department funded teacher professional development support service - for principals and teachers at primary and post-primary level.

The volume and nature of professional learning in any given year will depend on needs identified on foot of curricular reform, educational strategies, and the particular cohorts of teachers involved.

Many of Oide's teacher professional learning events cut across a number of the themes outlined in the Deputy’s question - for example the professional learning for the new Primary Maths Curriculum includes online leaders’ collaboratives which support school leaders from similar school contexts to lead learning and teaching in the primary classroom. This is then followed by a full school closure day for school and curriculum leaders along with the support of an Oide Professional Learning Leader who works with all teachers as they move into the implementation phase of the Primary Maths Curriculum. This is then complemented by a series of five stage-focused workshops that aim to equip teachers with the confidence and competence to enact the Primary Maths Curriculum and the associated teaching methodologies, including embedding digital literacy skills in their class setting, while enabling teachers and school leaders to share practice within their school and with the wider community.

As an organisation, Oide works across its divisions throughout the scoping, research, design and quality assurance phases – Oide divisions include Leadership, Digital Technology, Primary and Post-Primary.

In total, in 2023 my Department invested in the region of €65 million in the professional development of our teaching staff. As well as direct programme delivery, running and administration costs, this figure includes the pay cost of over 365 seconded teacher educators and funding for substitute teacher cover in schools, where deemed appropriate. Given the integrated nature of design, development and product of PLE offered by Oide and other providers, it is not possible to completely disaggregate the individual costs associated with curriculum changes, digital skills, teaching methods, and leadership.

In terms of annual volume of PLE, in 2023, Oide and its predecessor support services facilitated over 230,000 interactions with teachers, including online and in-person modes of delivery. In the same year, over 500 school leaders availed of its coaching programmes and over 250 school leaders participated in its Post Graduate Diploma in School Leadership (PDSL). In addition, over 4,400 teachers took part in the Droichead programme for newly qualified teachers.

This funding also enabled Education Support Centres to facilitate Oide's national PLE programmes and to address the professional development needs of teachers in their local catchment area, and a range of other external groups to provide PLE, such as through the Teacher Professional Network (TPN) funding scheme and Teacher Fee Refund Scheme.

In addition to the PDSL programme mentioned above, other post-graduate programmes are offered to teachers. These include:

  • SPHE/RSE Post Graduate Programme: a new post graduate programme to upskill post-primary teachers who teach Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE). This programme, provided by Dublin City University (DCU) Institute of Education, provides a pathway for progression for post-primary teachers interested in developing their skills in teaching SPHE/RSE and in so doing build capacity and leadership within the teaching profession in relation to SPHE/RSE.
  • The first cohort of 34 students commenced in February 2023 with a second cohort of 44 students commencing in February 2024. Depending on demand for this programme, further intakes may be offered in the future.
  • Programmes to upskill existing teachers in targeted subject areas: The Teacher Supply Action Plan, published in November 2018, contains a range of actions including the development of programmes to upskill existing teachers in targeted subject areas. Upskilling programmes are provided over two years on a part-time basis and are available for registered teachers to upskill in subjects where teacher supply is constricted. These programmes are free of cost to participants.
My Department and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) issued a funding call in 2019 to initial teacher education (ITE) providers for upskilling programmes in mathematics, physics and Spanish. Following the successful completion of the funding call, these programmes commenced in January 2021.

Over 900 teachers have completed or are in the process of completing these existing programmes.

  • Special Education Needs Post Grads: On an annual basis my Department provides funding for two distinct categories of post-graduate programmes for Special Education Teachers:
    • Post-Graduate Diploma Programme of Teacher Professional Learning for Special Education Teachers (295 places available)
    • Graduate Certificate in Autism Education for teachers working with Autistic Pupils in Special Schools, Special Classes or as Special Education Teachers in mainstream Primary and Post-Primary Schools (18 places available)
M.Oid. san Oideachas Lán-Ghaeilge agus Gaeltachta (M.Ed. in Irish-medium and Gaeltacht Education).

Funding has been provided under the Policy on Gaeltacht Education for a blended-Learning M.Oid. san Oideachas Lán-Ghaeilge agus Gaeltachta (M.Ed. in Irish-medium and Gaeltacht Education). For students commencing the programme between 2018 and 2022, this course was provided by Mary Immaculate College. The contract for the continued provision of the M.Oid. was awarded to Trinity College Dublin in March 2023 and that course commenced in September 2023. 26 students are registered on the M.Oid in Trinity College for the 2023/24 academic year.

My Department also supports PLE with specific areas of focus provided by agencies such as the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), and the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) in my Department, which also have a remit to provide educational supports to schools as part of their work.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin Bay North, Fine Gael)
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272. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which in-service training courses undertaken result in a certified qualification with international recognition; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28680/24]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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The professional development needs of our teachers are met through the provision of an induction programme for newly-qualified teachers, dedicated support for school leaders, national professional learning programmes for curricular and policy reform and a range of ongoing support for teachers in pedagogical areas. Much of this is facilitated by Oide, an integrated teacher professional development support service. This support is not formally certified but is provided to support schools and teachers in implementing a wide range of curricular and education reforms and to enable improvements in teaching and learning for all students.

My Department also supports a range of courses with National Qualifications Framework (NQF) accreditation for existing teachers. The NFQ is aligned with the European Qualification Framework (EQF) and the Qualifications Framework of the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA). Teachers can avail of the following programmes:

  • The Postgraduate Diploma in School Leadership (PDSL)
The Postgraduate Diploma in School Leadership (PDSL) is designed for aspiring school leaders. The programme is framed to address the development of leadership capacity. The programme is designed to support participants to progress their careers through a variety of learning experiences that include:
  • Lectures: delivered by leading lecturers in education as well as a diverse mix of professional tutors
  • A robust mix of academic and practical learning including leadership visits in a school other than the participant’s own and a non educational setting
  • Engaging in professional development in a flexible format: delivered both online and in regional centres across the country.
The programme is managed and coordinated by the School of Education and the Graduate & Professional Studies Department, University of Limerick and is developed and delivered in partnership with National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG), University College Dublin (UCD) and jointly awarded by NUIG, UCD and UL.

The programme is part-time (18 months) with blended learning delivered locally in regional locations throughout the country. In addition, there is specific provision for teachers in Irish-medium schools in NUI Galway. A partnership of Higher Education Institutions has been established for the purpose of delivering this course.

Participants pay a contribution towards fees, with the balance covered by my Department. Completion of this course leads to a NFQ Level 9 Major Award.

Over 250 school leaders participated in its Post Graduate Diploma in School Leadership (PDSL) in 2023.

  • SPHE/RSE Post Graduate Programme
  • In November 2022, I announced a new post graduate programme to upskill post-primary teachers who teach Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE). This programme, provided by Dublin City University (DCU) Institute of Education, provides a pathway for progression for post-primary teachers interested in developing their skills in teaching SPHE/RSE and in so doing build capacity and leadership within the teaching profession in relation to SPHE/RSE.
  • Successful completion of this programme leads to a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 9 award of Graduate Diploma in SPHE/RSE. The programme is provided free of charge for teachers.
  • The first cohort of 34 students commenced in February 2023 with a second cohort of 44 students commencing in February 2024. Depending on demand for this programme, further intakes may be offered in the future.
  • Programme to upskill existing teachers in targeted subject areas
  • The Teacher Supply Action Plan, published in November 2018, contains a range of actions including the development of programmes to upskill existing teachers in targeted subject areas. Upskilling programmes are provided over two years on a part-time basis and are available for registered teachers to upskill in subjects where teacher supply is constricted. These programmes are free of cost to participants.
  • My Department and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) issued a funding call in 2019 to initial teacher education (ITE) providers for upskilling programmes in mathematics, physics and Spanish. Following the successful completion of the funding call, these programmes commenced in January 2021. Over 900 teachers have completed or are in the process of completing these existing programmes. The programmes are quality assured and result in an award that is included in the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) or an equivalent European Economic Area (EEA) qualifications framework.
  • In addition, my Department recently announced that Trinity College Dublin, alongside Marino Institute of Education, had secured a contract to deliver an upskilling programme for post-Primary teachers in Irish. This part-time programme, beginning later this year, will also be free of cost to participants and will be provided in a flexible and innovation manner to enable broad participation, accommodating teachers in both full and part-time roles, as well as those situated across the State.
  • Budget 2024 reflects this Government’s commitment to ongoing investment in the education system through various measures including in the provision of upskilling programmes. Funding is being provided for existing upskilling programmes as well as for an expansion in the number of upskilling programmes. Officials of my Department are currently developing additional upskilling programmes in French, politics & society, and computer science. It is intended that requests for tender will be published in the coming weeks for these upskilling programmes.
  • Special Education Needs Post Graduate Programmes
On an annual basis the Department of Education provides funding for two distinct categories of post-graduate programmes for Special Education Teachers:
  • The Post-Graduate Diploma Programme of Continuing Professional Development for Special Education Teachers (295 places available annually)
  • Graduate Certificate in the Education of Pupils on the Autism Spectrum (18 places available annually)
The aim is to provide substantial theoretical and practical continuing professional development for teachers working with students with special educational needs, contributing to the school’s overall capacity to meet the needs of pupils with special education needs, including autism.
  • M.Oid. san Oideachas Lán-Ghaeilge agus Gaeltachta (M.Ed. in Irish-medium and Gaeltacht Education)
Funding has been provided under the Policy on Gaeltacht Education for a blended-Learning M.Oid. san Oideachas Lán-Ghaeilge agus Gaeltachta (M.Ed. in Irish-medium and Gaeltacht Education). For students commencing the programme between 2018 and 2022, this course was provided by Mary Immaculate College. The contract for the continued provision of the M.Oid. was awarded to Trinity College Dublin in March 2023 and that course commenced in September 2023.

26 students are registered on the M.Oid in Trinity College for the 2023/24 academic year.

Students pay a €650 fee and the rest of the costs are covered by my Department.

In addition to the programmes outlined above, my Department funds the Teacher Fee Refund Scheme which provides funding towards the cost of course participation and examination fees on successful completion of teacher professional learning courses. The funding is available for courses undertaken by teachers that are directly relevant and of benefit to schools and that are subject to certification/award by an appropriate accreditation authority recognised by my Department. In 2021/2022, the latest available data, 789 teachers benefited from a partial refund of the cost of their studies under the scheme.

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