Teacher's Pet


It is one of the most radical education documents published in recent years, so why has the response to the report on teacher education been so muted? The report backs a major rationalisation, with just six institutes of education replacing the current 19 teacher-training colleges.

Among the changes, the programmes at Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin would decamp to Marino College, and the University of Limerick’s would move to a new institute based at Mary Immaculate College. The Higher Education Authority will outline a roadmap for change shortly.

Will these changes actually take place? It might take a while. The word from senior figures at UCD, TCD, UL and the rest can be summarised in one phrase: over my dead body. One university source said: “Ourselves and TCD moving out to a Christian Brothers-controlled college in Marino? No chance.”

Next year’s Church of Ireland synod, meanwhile, will decide on the proposed transfer of its college of education to St Patrick’s in Drumcondra, where it will also team up with Dublin City University and Mater Dei Institute of Education. The synod will want cast-iron assurances that its strong separate identity will not be swamped in the big new college. It’s possible we could see separate Church of Ireland and Catholic education colleges functioning within the one campus at St Pat’s. Critically, the institute at St Pat’s will be overseen by the governing authority at DCU. The Catholic church will forfeit its control.

That, at least, is the plan. But why do we think the devil will be in detail when it comes to this long-promised shake-up of education?

* Pat King, the general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, was the subject of much comment in the education sector last week after that interview with Cathal Mac Coille on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. He was questioned about claims that the unions had abandoned new entrants to teaching. Here’s an edited excerpt:

Mac Coille“For new entrants, it looks increasingly like those who are in a job already have pulled the ladder up on them.”

King“I’m here today . . . and I am speaking for new teachers and I am saying this is unacceptable, Minister, and you have to change it.”

Mac Coille“What are you going to do about it?”

King“I am calling on the Minister first and we’ll see.”

* Last weekMinister for Education Ruairí Quinn referred to the difficulties Irish universities face attracting students from India. That may be about to change. The Bollywood blockbuster Ek Tha Tiger (right), shot in part at Trinity College Dublin, is a box-office sensation. It is showing in 3,000 Indian cinemas and in 23 other countries, with an expected audience of 100 million. It features lingering shots of the Trinity campus: good news for TCD’s vice provost for global relations, Jane Ohlmeyer, who has ambitions to boost the number of foreign students at the college.

* The gunhas been fired on the great succession race at UCD as president Hugh Brady prepares to leave in January 2014. Two (!) committees have been established: a search committee, to organise the process, and a selection committee, to nominate the chosen one. The good news? The selection committee will be chaired by Don Thornhill, the wise and very shrewd former head of the HEA. Other members include Gerard Casey of the school of philosophy, Marie Clarke of the school of education, and Ronan Fanning, professor emeritus.

Early favourites include the head of business at UCD, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, deputy president Mark Rogers and Brigid Laffan, head of human sciences. Philip Nolan, the former UCD president who has made such a strong impression as the new president at NUI Maynooth, has also been tipped. But he has told colleagues he has no intention of leaving Maynooth.

The question now is whether Brian MacCraith, the dynamic DCU president, will be a contender.

€705,000Settlement made by Padraig O’Shea, manager of St Joseph’s College in Tipperary, with Revenue.

He attracted controversy when he refused to enrol a pregnant teen at St Joseph’s in 2009, and again after she gave birth in 2010.

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