Highlights from the ESAI Conference

Prof Kathy Hall Keynote: Thursday night in St Angela’s College Sligo got off to a great start as Prof Kathy Hall of UCC delivered a tour de force critique of current trends in teaching, learning and assessment. 

Craig Skerrit of the  Centre for Evaluation, Quality & Inspection at DCU spoke about his recent paper on Irish migrant teachers’ experiences and perceptions of autonomy and accountability in the English education system (download and read here). He contrasted the typical  value base of Irish Teachers with the values they found upon migrating to work in England and the tensions which this created as they tried to reconcile personal values with very alien systemic ones in England’s Multi Academy Trusts:

  • In the MATS Teachers perceived that they need to be more…
    • Extrinsically motivated 
    • Colder
    • Individualistic and self-oriented
    • Competitor
  • As opposed to …
    • Altruistically motivated 
    • Warm and caring
    • Selfless
    • Collegial 

Irish Sign Language – a sign of the times – An audible gasp of astonishment greeted PHD researcher Michelle Mitchell when she  revealed that two different versions of Irish Sign language exist, deliberately developed by the male and female Catholic Schools for he Deaf in Dublin in order to create a linguistic divide between male and female deaf students, starting in the mid 19th century. DCU is introducing the first teacher education provision for Irish Sign Language in Sept 2019. 

SCoTENS Evaluation  and first open Call for Papers  – I am delighted to be part of a  collaboration amongst members of the Steering Committee for the unique cross border network, SCoTENS (The Standing Conference of Teacher Education North South) who presented some evidence from the evaluation project, conducted using a novel framework designed by Etienne Wenger and with the advice of this key expert.  An interesting conversation emerged at the end of the talk around accessing views of those not involved in SCoTENS ….of course it is more challenging methodologically – akin to finding out about the hole in the middle of the doughnut…which also defines it…. A recent paper reported some of the results: http://crossborder.ie/site2015/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Copy-of-the-Journal.pdf

SCoTENS Conference 2019 – Leadership across boundaries: Challenges for Educators and Teacher Educators – Call for Papers

Teaching in Texas???

I spent some time in Texas over the summer and was amazed to read this huge billboard on the road from Houston Airport to the city centre. Imagine if this said Want to do brain surgery – when can you start?  OK, I am exaggerating to make a point, but given the choice to decrease state support for public education (with concomitant increase in class sizes and decrease in classroom resources) in Texas (see below) it is unsurprising that there are difficulties in recruiting teachers for public schools.

God Save Texas, A Journey into the Future of America by Lawrence Wright
God Save Texas, A Journey into the Future of America by Lawrence Wright

I read Lawrence Wright’s new book (an insightful and balanced read) God Save Texaswhich suggests that that we should all be very interested in Texas because this is the future of America. He also suggests the decreases to school budgets may be intentionally racist –  most pupils in public schools are not white (p.281).

State General Funding Per Student (chart)
Click to enlarge: State General Funding Per Student (chart)


One of the joys of my professional career is working with the cross-border network for teacher education which was set up following the Good Friday Agreement and continues to thrive!  This week SCoTENS is in New York!

SCoTENS (the Standing Conference for Teacher Education, North and South)  –  (a unique cross-border network in times of maximal crossness about borders!)  is the focus of a Seminar at the American Education Research Association Conference in New York City on Saturday 13th April 2018.

The seminar which is sponsored by the Education Studies Association of Ireland will outline a social history of SCoTENS and also present some of the early findings of an evaluation of the value of SCoTENS which has been undertaken using a framework designed by Prof Etienne Wenger, the key theorist in situated learning who was they keynote speaker at our annual conference in 2016.

This Wordle (wordlr.com) sums up the key value of ScoTENS based on key words in the data – just to provide a glimpse of the data which we are still working on….

Evaluation of the Global Learning Project in Northern Ireland (2015-2017)

Between 2015-2017, Professor Linda Clarke and Dr Lesley Abbott carried out research to investigate the impact of the Global Learning Programme (GLP) on schools in Northern Ireland. The research included an examination of the programme’s effect on the capacity of teachers to deliver global learning. It also explored the extent to which the GLP has helped pupils achieve global learning outcomes.

The research took the form of a longitudinal study, incorporating a mixed methodology. Evidence was gathered through two main avenues:

1. In-depth interviews: Pupils and teachers were interviewed from six GLP schools in Northern Ireland. Starting from when they were either in P5 or Year 8, pupils were interviewed at the end of three successive school years to ascertain the extent to which they had achieved global learning outcomes. The teachers were interviewed annually as well. They discussed the delivery of global learning within their schools and the overall impact of the GLP.

2. Online surveys: These were completed by teachers and senior leaders from schools involved in the first two GLP cohorts. To allow the impact of the GLP on classroom practice to be monitored over time, participants filled out an initial survey in 2015, followed by two additional questionnaires in 2016 and 2017.

Joyful Learner in Bangkok

British Ambassador’s Residence Bangkok
British Ambassador’s Residence Bangkok

Today I had the privilege of attending and speaking at the UK Teacher Training Capability Showcase at the British Embassy, Wireless Road, Bangkok, Thailand. The event was funded by the UK’s Prosperity Fund initiative in Thailand. The audience of around 100 included representative from the Rajabhat universities and from Thailand’s other universities where teacher education courses are offered.

Margaret Tongue, Deputy Head of Mission in the British Embassy Bangkok welcomed speakers and delegates and Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, Thailand’s Minister of Education, opened the workshop.

Photo by mwangi gatheca on Unsplash
Photo by mwangi gatheca on Unsplash

Prof Chris Atkin of Bishop Grossteste University, Lincoln began the day by presenting presenting the review of ITT in the Rajabhat sector carried out in 2016. The Thai Teachers’ Council (TTC) was represented by Dr Tinsiri Siiribodhi who launched their competence framework – shown in the diagram – centered on the needs of pupils as Joyous Learners and deliberately couched in non-academic, teacher-friendly language.    The framework has been agreed and will be adopted across the ASEAN countries.


I was honored to be be a member of the team of academics from across the UK who spoke about each quadrant of the framework:

  • Know and understand what I teach: Dr Nick Gee – Bishop Grosseteste University
  • Help my students learn: Professor Linda Clarke – University of Ulster
  • Engage the community: Dr Aileen Ackland – University of Aberdeen
  • Become a better teacher everyday: Professor Wasyl Cajkler – University of Leicester

Joyful learner diagram

Teaching in Thailand and is not a high status profession; parents would prefer that their pupils became doctors or engineers (surprisingly, perhaps, law is not highly esteemed here either). The TTC is seeking to redress this issue by enhancing the professionalism of teachers.


The Place Model: interactive online concept
The Place Model: interactive online concept