Chalk Talk

News from the classroom

Andrew Lovern  and Brid McCarty in the Team Theatre Company production of  Mirad, a Boy from Bosnia. Photograph: Frank Miller

Andrew Lovern and Brid McCarty in the Team Theatre Company production of Mirad, a Boy from Bosnia. Photograph: Frank Miller


A blow for arts education
Team Theatre Educational Company has exited stage left. The innovative company emerged from under the wing of the Abbey Theatre in 1976 with an educational remit: to produce theatre for children and young people. Rather than shoving a load of kids onto a bus and bringing them up to Dublin, Team brought theatre directly to children, in their schools.

The company had an excellent international reputation but, in recent years, struggled to secure enough money to stay afloat. The last of its full-time employees left over a year ago as Arts Council funding dried up, but a number of dedicated professionals stayed on in a voluntary capacity.

The Department of Education also had a limited involvement, but its interest faded in recent years and Team had the misfortune of being repeatedly kicked back and forth between the Arts Council and the department.

Team has been a huge part of the arts ecology for a long time; its closure raises questions about any commitment to a role for art and creativity in schools .

Grinding up a gear
The grinds market is big business with parents shelling out more than €40 million per year on extra classes. The newest players in the market, and, both founded by Dublin entrepreneur Paul Stenson, have lashed out at their rivals, accusing them of being overpriced and locking teachers into exclusivity deals. Learnology offers grinds at €15 per hour, using a mix of online and face-to-face learning.

Stenson says that his companies are “all about the democratisation of the grinds industry. Parents don’t have to pay €25 or more to do grinds”. He’s one of a number of new players in the growing industry but it remains to be seen whether he, as well as the likes of, can take on the might of the Institute of Education and the Dublin School of Grinds. Parents and students, however, have more choice than ever before.

Higher Options
The Irish Times Higher Options, expo which has been bringing a world of choice in third-level education and careers to Irish students for nearly 30 years, opens tomorrow at the RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin, and runs until Friday.

This year the event, in association with the Institute of Guidance Counsellors, sees over 160 colleges, universities and institutes of further education take part over three days, allowing fifth, sixth and transition-year students to meet representatives from colleges in Ireland, the UK, Europe and beyond.

This year’s career-talk topics include gaming, science, art, nursing, agricultural science and social sciences.

There are lectures on the CAO and Hpat, UCAS application, and studying at Oxbridge or in Europe. Online bookings have closed, and Wednesday and Thursday are sold out; a limited number of tickets for Friday are available on the door, though numbers not guaranteed.

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