15 March, 2019 - Minister for Education and Skills attends International Summit on the Teaching Profession in Helsinki, Finland

“Education system can implement sustainable change through collaboration,” says Minister McHugh 

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. today, Friday 15 March, led the Irish delegation at a major OECD conference on the teaching profession in Helsinki, Finland. 

The Minister said: “We can find sustainable ways to develop and implement reforms in our education system through effective collaboration between government and all the education partners.” 

The International Summit on the Teaching Profession is an annual OECD gathering at which Ministers for Education, teacher union leaders and policy makers from across the world meet to discuss emerging policies and global challenges for teaching and school leadership. The Irish delegation was led by Minister McHugh and included John Boyle, General Secretary Designate of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation and Kieran Christie, General Secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland. 

Minister McHugh said: “I was delighted to be able to share with my ministerial colleagues in the OECD the steps we have put in place in Ireland to involve teachers, parents, students, school leaders and others in curriculum development, actions on teacher supply, investment in school leadership and the pacing of education reforms. 

“A further focus of the summit was the need for investment in early years’ education. It was clear to me that the priorities that Ireland has set out in First Five, A Whole of Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families are well-aligned with international developments. I am committed that my own Department will work closely with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on implementing this ambitious programme of development in the early years sector.” 

The OECD summit noted a number of commitments that the Minister and other Irish delegates had made during the summit: 

  • Stakeholder engagement in planning implementation and pacing of reforms: Use the recently established Primary Education Forum and other appropriate fora at primary and second level to ensure that stakeholders are involved in giving careful consideration to the implementation of education reforms, including pacing, resources, student and teacher well-being, and the professional capacity building and leadership required. 
  • Early Years education: Implement, in collaboration with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and other stakeholders, the relevant education-focussed actions from “First 5, A Whole of Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families 2019-2028” including actions on workforce development, curricular development (including work on Early Years to Primary transitions), and quality assurance. 
  • Teacher professionalism and leadership: Continue to invest in high quality school leaders and a well-qualified teaching profession as key contributors to the Irish education system; this will include working with teacher unions, the Teaching Council, providers of initial and continuing professional development (CPD), the Centre for School Leadership and other stakeholders to sustain and improve the supply of teachers and school leaders; to continue to advance improvements in the middle management of schools; and to implement the recommendations of the Minister’s Teacher Supply Group. 
  • New entrant teachers’ pay: Continue ongoing engagement and constructive dialogue between teacher unions and government on post-2010 entrant teacher pay and seek to work towards a resolution within the context of the Public Services Agreement.