Cog Notes: Crude lobbying over school admissions policy may prove effective

Angry middle-class parents have been bombarding the Minister for Education with letters

Jan O’Sullivan: move to limit past-pupil quota

Jan O’Sullivan: move to limit past-pupil quota

 

Angry middle-class parents have been bombarding Jan O’Sullivan with letters denouncing plans to regulate admissions policies.

In a two-month period before Christmas, the Minister for Education received more than 50 complaints about provisions in the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill that would limit the number of places schools could reserve for children of past pupils.The correspondence, released under the Freedom of Information Act, included letters dictated by the past-pupil unions of fee-paying schools in which the provisions are described as “nothing short of ideologically motivated vandalism of our education sector”.

Included are letters from Minister of State Simon Harris and Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton, passing on constituents’ concerns.

Fellow Fine Gael TDs Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Alan Shatter were also targeted with letters. One parent wrote: “In the last election when I voted Fine Gael, never did I imagine that the junior party of the Coalition would be allowed ride roughshod over the traditional values of Fine Gael voters.”

It’s not subtle, but this lobbying could prove effective in determining the Bill’s final wording.

 

Music without competition

It’s a competitive world out there, and the longer you can keep it at bay the better. So believe the people behind Corfhéile na Scoileanna, billed as “Ireland’s leading non-competitive music festival for young people”. Given the trend towards X Factor-style talent competitions, the event is a countercultural initiative, organised and run by primary teachers “who want pupils to enjoy the experience of performing without worrying about winning or losing”.

The five-day festival at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght will be opened this evening by music educationalist Gabrielle McCann. Every year, up to 5,000 children take part in the event.

 

Student creates Gaeilge app

Can’t think of that word as Gaeilge? Dundalk teenager Cormac Kinsella has come up with a nifty solution: a phone app that allows users to rapidly translate from English to Irish or vice-versa.

The second-year student at Coláiste Lú, Dundalk, is a product of Drogheda’s CoderDojo club. He developed the app as a free-of-charge service, using the internet resources of Focal.ie, the terminology database developed by DCU in collaboration with Foras na Gaeilge.

The 14-year-old released an Android app last year and has now had approval for an iPhone version.

 

Travel bursary deadline

Applications are open for this year’s EIL Travel Awards under which 35 people will get fully funded international travel in summer 2015, to immerse themselves in another culture. It’s all part of the EIL mission “to enrich lives, and inspire global citizenship”.

Categories include young programmes, an active-retirement award and themed global-awareness programmes. The awards are aimed at people who have a history of voluntary involvement in their school, college or community.

See eilireland.org/ travel-awards. Closing time for applications is 12pm on March 10th

 

Study of migrant students

NUI Galway’s school of education is seeking students to take part in a research study on the university experience of migrant students in Ireland.

PhD student Maeve Dunne, who is lead researcher, says: “There is a lot of discussion on the issue of diversity in education, yet very little communication takes place with the students themselves.”

Email m.dunne1@nuigalway.ie. Details will be confidential.

 

Any other business

  • Regional heats of the Fresh Film Festival competition continue in Dublin this week ahead of the finals in Limerick on March 23rd-28th. The festival encourages young people from Ireland and overseas, aged seven to 18, to create and share films. freshfilmfestival.net
  • The first all-Ireland conference on immersion education will be held on May 15th-16th at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. Organisers are inviting researchers to submit papers for the conference before February 28th. tumoideachas2015.ie
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