DCU research centre to develop new Educate Together framework

Sally Dobie

Image Credit: Galway Daily

DCU’s Centre for Evaluation, Quality and Inspection (EQI) was commissioned by Educate Together to develop a “national Quality Framework for Ethos in Educate Together Schools”.

Dr Shivaun O’Brien, a lecturer in the Institute of Education and member of the EQI, is leading the research project. She said Educate Together approached the DCU-based research centre to develop the framework. “We have a profile for this kind of work at a national level, particularly around the area of school improvement and self-evaluation.”

“It’s basically a research project for them, and a training plan,” explained Dr O’Brien. The framework will help to set out “standards and statements of effective practice” for schools to use as part of a self-evaluation process.

Educate Together schools are state-funded and focus on equality-based, child-centred education. The framework hopes to “support schools to self-evaluate”, and draft guidelines for the self-evaluation of ethos and will be tested in 21 primary and post-primary Educate Together schools over the 2019/2020 academic year.

During this pilot phase, Dr O’Brien will conduct four training sessions for appointed school self-evaluation (SSE) leaders from each participating school to help them implement the self-evaluation process.

The schools involved will also be supported by Programme Manager Sandra Irwin-Gowran, Ethos Guidance Officer Aoife Blood, and the Education & Support programme in Educate Together.

According to the latest press release from the project, the feedback from the first of these sessions was very positive.

Dr O’Brien previously worked with Educate Together when she worked for Louth and Meath Education and Training Board. During her time there they helped to set up a post-primary school, whose joint patrons were the Louth and Meath Education and Training Board and Educate Together.

“I would have been on the first board of management of that school,” she said, “and been involved in recruiting the first group of students that went there.”

According to their website, Educate Together operates 92 primary schools and 17 secondary schools, and caters for more than 30,000 students. The new guidelines developed by the project will be implemented after the pilot phase, before the start of the 2020/21 school year.

The DCU Centre on Evaluation, Quality and Inspection was established in 2006 and is one of the leading national research agencies on school evaluation, quality assurance and inspection.

Sally Dobie

Image Credit: Galway Daily