Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and the Teaching Council today (Friday 19 March) announced the publication of the Report and Action Plan of the School Placement Working Group.
The School Placement Working Group (SPWG) was convened by the Teaching Council in November 2018 to review the implementation of school placement guidelines and the recommendations of Teaching Council commissioned research on school placement. The Group was also requested to convey recommendations including a costed action plan to the Department of Education’s Teacher Supply Implementation Group.
The Group has identified a number of key challenges with regard to school placement, including the sourcing and administration of school placement, the financial cost of school placement, and the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders (with a particular focus on supporting teachers who host student teachers). These challenges formed the basis of an Action Plan on School Placement and the final report outlines three priority action areas:
- The creation of a national central school placement system and integrated online portal.
- The launching of a demonstration model to include piloting of the placement system and professional learning programme to support Treoraithe (previously called co-operating teachers).
- Support for the development of school-HEI partnerships in the area of research and recognition for the work of all those involved in school placement.
The SPWG recommended that a number of working groups be established to progress actions in each of these areas. Due to the impact of COVID-19 on system resources and work practices, it has only been possible to establish the working groups in 2021.
Revised timelines have recently been confirmed by the Teaching Council which focus on priority actions 1 and 2 and include the establishment of the following:
- School Placement Project Team (Teaching Council, DE, Inspectorate) (Q1 2021)
- Placement System Working Group (Q2 2021)
- Treoraithe Professional Learning Working Group in (Q4 2021)
Minister Foley said: “I welcome the publication of this school placement report, and wish to acknowledge the work of the Teaching Council’s School Placement Working Group in developing this report and action plan.
“The publication of this report today provides a platform for my Department to continue the collaboration with the Teaching Council to bring forward implementation of its key recommendations, commencing firstly with the setting up of the school placement on-line system portal working group.
“This report on school placement is an important step for initial teacher education (ITE) policy, with school placement having such a central role within ITE, providing an important link on the continuum of teacher education. By initially prioritising work on the development of a school placement system it is reflecting the recommendation that will have the most immediate benefit for students, schools and higher education institutes. My Department looks forward to engaging with the Teaching Council and other education stakeholders to progress the implementation of the key actions in this report.
“I share the vision of school placements developed by the School Placement Working Group, which recognises that ‘School placement is a central feature of initial teacher education, where student teachers are welcomed and supported by HEI tutors, school principals, class teachers and the school community and student teachers’ rich contribution to pupil learning and school life is recognised and celebrated’.”
The Chairperson of the Teaching Council, Mr. Seán McMahon said: “School placement is a vitally important experience for all our student teachers, our colleagues of the future. We know this from our own professional experiences as teachers. Our school communities benefit from it in the high calibre of persons who qualify as teachers every year. I particularly want to thank all those teachers who have been supporting our student teachers in this process for so long. This includes principals, deputy principals and the middle leaders in our schools.
“The publication of this report is a great opportunity to give the formal recognition to this work that it so richly deserves. It also gives us the drive and impetus to push ahead with the implementation of its recommendations, as outlined by the Minister. I look forward to our collaboration with the Department of Education and all stakeholders in Irish education in advancing the actions recommended in this report as a matter of the utmost priority.”
A copy of the report is available here