Educational excellence in a changed landscape
The Institute of Education has rapidly adapted to meet the needs of students and overcome new challenges
Institute of Education principal, Yvonne O’Toole: “We are prepared for students to do both online and in-person learning.”
Planning and investment have worked in tandem at The Institute of Education on Leeson Street in Dublin to ensure a smooth return to school this September. A significant investment has been made to ensure the safety of both students and staff, while the commitment to providing the highest standard of learning remains firmly in place.
At its state-of-the-art campus, which extends to over 100,000 sq ft, €2.5 million has been spent to upgrade the IT and digital infrastructure. As a result, all classes in the school will be streamed live and also recorded, which will provide students with the option to attend classes virtually or in person.
The Institute remains committed to delivering an uncompromised educational experience and has already shown how adept it is at streaming online classes, having delivered 1,200 sessions per week throughout lockdown.
Investing for the future
Because innovation is in the DNA of the Institute, adapting to meet the needs of students and changing circumstances is second nature. In addition to the significant IT investment designed to deliver an exemplary educational experience, the school has put many measures in place to ensure its smooth running come September.
Teaching spaces are roomy and spread across the campus. Wide corridors and extra lunchrooms also mean students should feel particularly safe attending classes at the Institute.
We have our plan in place and have shared this with our parents and students
“Parents and students are of course anxious about the return to school, but it’s all about communication,” says Yvonne O’Toole, Institute of Education principal. “We have our plan in place and have shared this with our parents and students to reassure them that we are ready to welcome our students back. I have increased our teaching team, in addition we have increased our guidance team; all of these measures will ensure our students are well supported throughout the new school year.”
Other measures include signage, hand sanitiser stations throughout the campus, regular cleaning, revised timetables to minimise movement, improved circulation routes and staggered start and end times. “We will encourage all students to practice regular handwashing throughout the school day,” she adds.
“Class notes will be distributed before the beginning of term so students can choose to follow their classes from home. Students can click online and it will record their attendance and they will also be able to look back at every class recording for revision,” O’Toole says.
“Friendship is incredibly important and our students love school. We offer a step towards college: the students call teachers by their first name and it’s a different kind of rapport between student and teacher,” O’Toole says.
No matter what the circumstances, teachers are trained and experienced so that they can continue to deliver their classes in all circumstances.
The school currently provides three programmes of learning across 27 subjects:
A unique fourth-year programme
The Institute of Education’s unique fourth-year programme provides Transition Year (TY) with a difference, offering students, “the perfect balance between academic focus and personal development”, O’Toole says.
Students can choose a range of academic subjects to study throughout the year, and despite current challenges, they will still be able to participate in a number of the usual TY pursuits, such as Gaisce or Barista training.
“This provides for a transition year in the truest sense, where students can become independent, self-reliant young adults with the drive and aspiration to achieve their true potential,” she says.
Academic rigour matters here, and fourth year is no exception. Students also have the option to pursue a selection of international examination opportunities, including the Cambridge International IGCSE. Fourth years can choose to study biology; chemistry; English; maths, and physics at IGCSE level. In addition, they also have the option to study French DELF; Spanish DELE and German Goethe.
This is the first year in a three-year Leaving Cert, where students can decide just how much they want to delve into academia. The school has two dedicated staff members and a guidance counsellor to lead its fourth year programme; they do not teach during the year and are available to support and guide students when they require it.
Fifth year offers flexibility
This is a two-year Leaving Cert programme in which students can select their subjects of choice. “We have flexibility within the timetable and students can create their own; they choose both their teachers and subjects,” O’Toole says. Indeed, no school in the country can match the Institute for subject choice and versatility.
“We offer guidance and flexibility when it comes to subject choice throughout the year. Typically seventy per cent of the course is finished by the time students’ complete fifth year, and the remainder is completed early in sixth year, allowing plenty of time for exam revision,” she adds.
A focused approach to sixth year
The Institute of Education offers a unique one-year Leaving Cert, which students complete in 30 weeks. This means the entire Leaving Cert syllabus is completed in one academic year.
Continuous assessment is a key focus and because teachers know their students, they are able to understand their strengths as well as hone in on the areas on which they can improve, and work with them on those. In addition, teachers are constantly providing feedback and support as students prepare for their final assessments.
At the Institute, the emphasis is on investing to ensure educational continuity and certainty for students at a time when they need it most. “This year, more than ever, we will be there to support our students,” O’Toole says.
To find out more about the Institute of Education, visit their website.