Educational Disadvantage Centre

EDC News 2012/2011


Primordial Dance

Dr Paul Downes' (Education Department , St Patrick's College) new book, The Primordial Dance: Diametric and Concentric Spaces in the Unconscious World (Oxford/Bern: Peter Lang 2012) was launched in St Patrick's College recently. With over 100 people in attendance, the event was Chaired by Professor Mark Morgan, Cregan Professor of Education and Psychology in the College and Acting Co-Director of Growing Up in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin. The launch address was made by Professor Graham Parkes, Head of Department of Philosophy, University College Cork. 

Professor Parkes observed that “this wonderful book…deals with many…profound things…the whole book is very cleverly designed based on the tension between these two forms of spatial interaction that he says are going on right now…in the psyche of each of us today…a fascinating read”, “his model can really make sense of [psychosis] in a brilliant way”. Professor Parkes further stated that: “…in chapter 10 he goes back to Heidegger’s Being and Time which was informing the early chapters and does a very, very interesting analysis of spatiality, of our being in space according to Heidegger and shows how one can go far beyond that, one can do a lot more with it than Heidegger did, I’m a great fan of Heidegger’s but I was persuaded by that chapter, I think that is a very, very important chapter”, “…[concerning] prelinguistic discourse, he uses Edvard Munch and Gustav Klimt as examples to demonstrate how this idea of diametric and concentric structures translates itself into a medium that is before language, namely, painting, and I think he does that brilliantly”. At the end of his launch address, Professor Parkes referred to The Primordial Dance as “such a complex dance, such an ingenious book”.

Dr Downes stated that the book is "trying to argue that the level of being is not just a mere metaphor, that when we talk about a being level that this actually corresponds to deep spatial structures in our experience...concrete structures, they influence at the being level also our thoughts, emotions and behaviour...this deeper level has rested largely undiscovered within Western thought". He seeks "an attunement to layers of silence...a harmonious silence we've been displaced from in Western culture...attunement to the spaces in immediate experience". See Publishers Report. 



44 primary school boys and 20 parents from the North Inner City, Dublin 1 community came to St Patrick's College for the final day of this semester’s Sport 4 Success. The children were also accompanied by four of their teachers and the Principal of St Vincent’s BNS, North William Street, Pat Courtney. First, there was an award ceremony with certificates of attendance and contribution handed out to the boys by three of the Pat’s volunteers, BA students Alanna Marron, Nathan Unwin and Fergal Donegan. Pat Courtney then addressed the boys and their parents about the importance of education, using his and the volunteers’ progression from Infant Class to getting a degree in a college like St Patrick's as living examples; Valerie McLoughlin, coordinator of the afterschool homework support and sports programme for the Educational Disadvantage Centre, thanked the St. Vincent’s teachers and the College volunteers for their cooperation and enthusiasm.  The link teacher with St Pats, Sinéad Lambe, completed her MEd. with the Educational Disadvantage Centre in 2011.  

After the ceremony the little visitors and their parents had dinner in the College canteen.

Sport 4 Success 2013 will start again on Wednesday 23rd January 2013 


Dr Paul Downes was an invited participant at the European Commission's Directorate-General for Education and Culture and Directorate-General for Health and Consumers Expert Workshop on the role of mental health and social and emotional learning in promoting educational attainment and preventing early school leaving, Luxembourg, 9 October 2012.


Dr Paul Downes gave an invited presentation, The prevention and reduction of social exclusion (related to LLL and adult education) through public policies: Opportunities and obstacles for systemic change through incentivisation, at the European Commission Directorate-General, Education and Culture, Workshop: Lifelong learning and adult education: New needs for research and policy development. Place Madou, Brussels, September 27, 2012.


On September 21, Paul Downes visited the new community outreach access centre in the Cottonera region of Valetta, Malta, as part of his advisory role to the University of Malta’s new access initiative.


Dr Catherine Maunsell and Valerie McLoughlin attended a study visit on the 12th, 13th and 14th September 2012, whose central focus was ‘How prisons learn from prisoners'. Dr Maunsell facilitated a workshop on a proposed Green Paper/ Position Paper on prison education. The study visit was hosted by Vollzugsdirektion, the Austrian Prison Service, and workshops were held in two prisons in Vienna, Wein-Simmering and Wien-Josefstadt.


Paul Downes organised a meeting on Mental Health, Education and Social Inclusion at the Centre for Effective Services, Harcourt Street, 5 October 2012, to discuss a response from organisations in the education sector to the new proposed Child and Family Support Services Agency. He was an invited participant at a Round Table discussion in the Mansion House, Dublin, on 15 November, regarding evaluations of the Childhood Development Initiative (CDI), Tallaght, projects on Healthy Schools and Speech and Language Therapy Services. Dr. Downes was also an invited participant at the CDI, Round Table discussion on the evaluations of Doodle-Den and Mate Tricks, literacy and prosocial behaviour programmes, at Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin 2, on November 15th 2012


The QDOSS (Quality Development of Out of School Services) network, of which the EDC is a founder member, announced that John Carr, former General-Secretary of the INTO, is its new External Chairperson. QDOSS hosted three regional consultations: Limerick on the 16th October, Carrick-on- Shannon on the 18th October and in Dublin on the 23rd October. Valerie McLoughlin and Paul Downes attended the Dublin consultation. Paul Downes prepared the QDOSS prebudget submission on behalf of the network.


Coordinated by Valerie McLoughlin, Sport 4 Success continues on the college campus with 45 children from St Vincent’s BNS, North William Street taking part. 20 BA students attend each week, giving intensive support to the children during their play, homework and lunch time.


The Educational Disadvantage Centre, St. Patrick’s College and the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Andrew Montague collaborated in organising a meeting of 15 key policy makers across health and education sectors at the Mansion House on June 1st 2012. The meeting was to discuss an integrated strategic response to issues of Mental Health, Education and Social Inclusion.

Two presentations were made to the group. These were by Martin Rogan, National Director for Mental Health, Health Service Executive (HSE), on the potential connection between  Community Mental Health Teams and the education system, especially for contexts of schools and communities with high levels of social exclusion. Dr. Anne Looney, Chief Executive of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) presented on the new Junior Certificate Curriculum, specifically regarding mental health and life skills for students. The Lord Mayor welcomed the group and Dr. Paul Downes, Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, chaired the ensuing discussion among participants.

A purpose of the meeting was to build bridges of communication between health and education regarding issues of educational disadvantage. Such a cross-departmental vision recognises the need for developing a focus on mental health dimensions to social exclusion in education, and emotional supports, as highlighted in recent European Commission documents on early school leaving prevention, and in the Joint Oireachtas Committee Report on early school leaving (2010).

college art work

The children's art work on display

178 pupils from Ballyfermot primary schools St. Louise’s, Mary Queen of Angels and St. Ultan’s were brought into the college over two Thursdays in May to experience for themselves what a 3rd level college is like. They visited the Student’s Union office, the art room, the library, gym, auditorium, canteen and E201 accompanied by their teachers and the 3rd year elective students who participated on Paul Downes’ Relating to People from Communities with High Levels of Education Disadvantage elective. Many of the children displayed throughout the college the art work they had completed over the year with their Pat’s student teachers.


Dr Paul Downes, Director of St Patrick's College Educational Disadvantage Centre, has completed two reports for the European Commission Network of Experts on the Social Aspects of Education and Training (NESET). NESET's mission is to advise and support the European Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture in the analysis of educational policies and reforms, and to consider their implications at national, regional and European level.

The first report is entitled, Multi/Interdisciplinary teams for early school leaving prevention: Developing a European Strategy informed by international evidence and research. The second report is Community based lifelong learning centres: Developing a European strategy informed by international evidence and research.

IUSA Seminar, St Patrick's College
IUSA Seminar, St Patrick's College April 2012

Click here to access further information

Dr Ruby Payne gave a presentation  in St Patrick’s College Drumcondra for the Ireland United States Alumni Association Education Committee event on Wednesday 18th April, entitled What Underpins Educational Achievement ? She is visiting Ireland from the United States and her speaking engagements include addressing 400 DEIS school principals at the National Educational Welfare Board Conference in Croke Park. Dr Pauric Travers, President of St Patrick’s College was the master of ceremonies for the event which was hosted by the College.  Her presentation included many examples from her experiences of directly engaging with learners and teachers in the United States and around the world. She spoke about the importance of the size of the student’s vocabulary and the use of different registers, formal and informal on learning styles and the successful engagement with school and college. In 2011, two of her publications were honoured: Removing the Mask: Identifying Giftedness in Poverty received a Gold Medal from Independent Publishers for Education, and Boys in Poverty: Understanding Dropout received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers for Professional Development.

Dr Paul Downes was the respondent to Dr Payne’s presentation. He outlined some of the evidence base and research theory which informs the evolving understanding of the issue, including a critique of cognitive information-processing models. He also spoke about the other factors underpinning educational achievement, such as the effect of hunger on pupil concentration, exacerbated by the current economic crisis, and the opportunity that exists to link the commitment of the State to the development of young people’s mental health services in an integrated strategic fashion with schools.


On Monday March 26th, the Ballymun Whitehall Area Partnership held a seminar, 'Miss School, Miss Out 2012' in the Axis Theatre, Ballymun, to announce the results of the evaluation of its Ballymun School Attendance Initiative. Dr. Paul Downes, Director of the College's Educational Disadvantage Centre, gave a presentation entitled, 'Connecting strengths of school, family and community and implementation of recommendations of the evaluation report of the Initiative'.

Minister Frances Fitzgerald T.D., Minister for Children and Youth Affairs spoke, at the seminar, of the potential of this initiative to be developed in other areas. Other presentations were from Clare Ryan, CEO, National Education Welfare Board, Susan Bookle, Evaluator of the initiative, Kate Hogan, Chairperson, Ballymun Principals Network, Colma Nic Lughadha, Education Programme Manager Ballymun Whitehall Area Partnership and Declan Dunne, CEO, Ballymun Whitehall Area Partnership.

The conference papers are available here.


Dr. Catherine Maunsell (Education Department,) and Ms. Valerie McLoughlin (Educational Disadvantage Centre), St. Patrick's College attended a study visit of the RISE project in Ghent, Belgium in March. The research focus of the Reintegration into Society through Education and Learning – RISE Grundtvig Learning Partnership (2011-2013) is on educational approaches which enhance the transition from prison back to society. Different models of educational networking between the 'inside” and the 'outside” are being examined. The partnership comprises of prison education personnel and academic researchers with overall co-ordination by FrauenComputerZentrumBerlin e.V. (FCZB). The study visit incorporated a full day in the Ghent Correctional Facility, liaising with prison educators and other prison personnel. Focus in the research workshops was on development of individual education plans (IEPs) and exploring models of good practice regarding IEPs in prison education within the partner countries which include Germany, Belgium, Finland, Luxembourg, Austria and Ireland 


Dr Catherine Maunsell, Acting Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre (EDC), St. Patrick's College and Valerie McLoughlin, Administrator, participated in the initial meeting of the Outreach, Empowerment, Diversity (OED) Research Network. The European Adult Education Association (EAEA), as coordinators of the network, hosted the initial meeting in Brussels on the 23rd and 24th January. The meeting, chaired by Gina Ebner, Director of the EAEA, was attended by representatives of the 16 partner organisations. 



On 9 November 2011, Dr. Paul Downes was the keynote speaker at a public seminar entitled 'Promoting Resilience in Education: Increasing access to post-secondary and tertiary education in Malta' organized by Dr. Carmel Cefai, Director of the European Centre for Educational Resilience and Socio-Emotional Health at the University of Malta. The aim of the seminar was to launch the University-led project which deals with increasing access to tertiary education from particular regions in Malta. Professor Juanito Camilleri, University Rector, launched the access initiative at the seminar. Dr Downes’ presentation, ‘European perspectives on systems change to promote access to education’ was based on his research report on behalf of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, St Patrick’s College presented this year to the EU Commission, ‘A Systems Level Focus on Access to Education for Traditionally Marginalised Groups: Comparing Policy and Practice in Twelve European Countries’. Key themes highlighted in the presentation included: the need for a community outreach strategy for the university to engage traditionally marginalized communities, for structural reform at university level to give voice and representation to these communities, to offer university campus facilities for free to community groups, for an access strategy commencing at primary level, for diverse entry routes into university and adequate academic and emotional supports for students.  Dr. Downes is external advisor to the longitudinal study taking place as part of this University of Malta access initiative.

  • '12 students to shine light on early school leaving'. (Thursday November 10th 2011.Times of
  • 'Local university studies reasons for early school drop-outs'. (Wednesday November 10th 2011 Times of

Dr. Catherine Maunsell and Dr. Liz McLoughlin, Research Associate of the EDC gave a presentation on ‘Prison Education in an Irish Context’ at  the first meeting of the RISE Reintegration into Society through Education and Learning – Grundtvig Learning Partnership (2011-2013)  hosted by FrauenComputerZentrumBerlin e.V. (FCZB), Berlin from 16th-19th November 2011.


On November 5th 2011, Dr. Sylwia Kazmierczak-Murray, a research associate with the EDC, graduated and was awarded her PhD in Education. Her inter-disciplinary doctorate thesis entitled A systems level focus on the efficacy of classroom sound field amplification on the language development of children in seven DEIS urban schools in Ireland (abstract here) is the first-large scale study on the classroom sound field amplification systems in mainstream schools in Ireland. Sylwia hopes this study will draw attention to the importance of good classroom acoustics for the language learning of young children. Sylwia currently works in the School Completion Programme as the coordinator in the Cabra area. Dr. Paul Downes was Sylwia's supervisor with Dr. Gerry Shiel, Research Fellow with the Education Research Centre, her second supervisor.

Dr Catherine Maunsell and Jane Carrigan

Dr Catherine Maunsell and Jane Carrigan (Educational Disadvantage Centre, St Patrick's College), Bent Dahle Hansen (Office of the County Governor of Hordaland, Norway), Prof Arve Asbjornsen, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Norway) and Dr Ueli Hostettler (University of Teacher Education, Bern, Switzerland)

Dr. Catherine Maunsell of the Educational Disadvantage Centre (EDC), and Jane Carrigan, Research Fellow with the Centre, were invited speakers at the inaugural meeting of the Prison Education Network (PEN) hosted by the University of Bergen and the Office of the County Governor of Hordaland which has designated responsibility for prison education in Norway.

The objectives of the meeting were to establish an international network for further development of research on prison education. The meeting explored opportunities for research collaboration within the network, discussed the development of an open access journal on prison education, research and practice and examined the need for fourth level education in the field.

Other presenters at the event included Dr. Anita Wilson (President of the European Prison Education Association, EPEA), Dr. Anne Costello (Irish Prison Educator and former EPEA president), Dr. Thom Gehring and Dr. Carolyn Eggleston (Directors of California State University's Center for the Study of Correctional Education at San Bernardino)

Jane Carrigan presented her doctoral research on educational life histories of prisoner learners in Ireland, and Catherine outlined the range of research relating to prison education that the EDC is engaged in, including the recent LLL2010 report by Dr. Paul Downes, Director of the EDC, entitled ‘A systems level focus on access to education for traditionally marginalised groups’.

Evaluation of TALES by St Patrick's College

Evaluation of TALES by St Patrick's College

As part of community outreach St. Patrick’s College was commissioned to evaluate TALES, a community storytelling project in Ballymun, Dublin 11. TALES focuses on 10 year-olds and is an initiative of  axis: Ballymun. All seven National schools in Ballymun are involved.   Professional tellers develop storytelling skills with pupils over six weeks. The purpose is to develop oracy, democratic decision making and lifelong learning of the pupils. The result is a group of children who are actively developing their own stories and telling them in their own communities. After four years of successful working, there was need to determine the value and future direction of TALES. An issue that emerged was that, as there was no model of arts evaluation available, one needed to be developed using hybrid methods. The process was evaluated for axis by Colm Hefferon, (Lecturer in Drama, St. Patrick's College), using a variety of approaches, to explore the impact of the project on pupils learning.  Learning improved significantly on a range of curricular, personal, social, artistic, cultural, lifelong learning and decision-making domains. The results were evaluated using the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Logic Model which is neither an arts model nor terminal evaluation model, rather it is a community involvement approach that is dialogic and developmental, providing evaluation that is accessible  to key stakeholders. The Evaluation was nominated for the President’s award of DCU.

The evaluation report is published by axis: Ballymun and the Educational Disadvantage Centre, St. Patrick's College.


The Educational Disadvantage Centre is a partner in two upcoming EU funded research projects: Outreach, Empowerment, Diversity – OED and Reintegration into Society through Education and Learning – RISE.

Outreach, Empowerment, Diversity – OED has a broad research focus on social inclusion and active citizenship, and more particularly on increasing the active participation of marginalised groups in lifelong learning, promotion of diversity in education and empowerment of the learner’s voice. With the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) to act as overall research co-ordinators; significantly the EDC are to be lead partners in evaluating project outcomes. The research has a three year timeframe 2011- 2014 and is funded through the EU Lifelong Learning Programme.

The research focus of the Reintegration into Society through Education and Learning – RISE Grundtvig Learning Partnership (2011-2013) is on educational approaches which enhance the transition from prison back to society. Different models of educational networking between the “inside” and the “outside” will be examined. The partnership comprises of prison education personnel and academic researchers with overall co-ordination by FrauenComputerZentrumBerlin e.V. (FCZB). The EDC will host a meeting of the Partnership scheduled for spring 2013.

On both of these projects, Dr. Catherine Maunsell is the Irish research co-ordinator, with Dr. Paul Downes as research associate and Valerie McLoughlin as research administrator.


The College’s Educational Disadvantage Centre continues to strengthen its links with the European Commission Directorate-General on Education and Culture (DG-EAC), regarding proposals for European policy on social inclusion in education and dissemination of the Centre’s research findings. On May 17 2011, the Centre Director, Dr. Paul Downes conducted a seminar in the Commission, Place Madou, Brussels, on structural and process indicators for assessing national and regional authorities’ contribution to access to education for traditionally marginalised groups. The seminar was attended by DG-EAC Commission policy officers in a range of areas including lifelong learning, school education and Comenius, higher education, social inequalities, vocational education and training, and statistics.

Paul Downes was also an invited speaker at the workshop, Inclusive, supportive and motivating learning environments for all and how to prevent Early School Leaving, as part of the Commission’s Comenius Regio Conference – Creating European Networks of Regions, in Bordeaux on May 11-12. Dr. Downes’ presentation was entitled, Beyond the OECD 10 Steps to Equity in Education: A Systems Focus on Emotions and Community to Prevent Early School Leaving. The other invited experts across the four conference workshops were Ursula Uzerli, German representative on the European Commission’s peer-learning working group on Teachers, nominated by the German Bundesrat, Dr. Anne Looney, CEO of the Irish National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), and Kevin Smith, Chief Executive of Young Chamber UK.


The launch of the research report on the Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management Programme took place in the Clock Tower, Department of Education and Skills on Tuesday March 1st 2011. The report was formally launched by Professor Tom Collins, President of NUI Maynooth and he was joined by a range of speakers, including Dr. Sinéad McGilloway, principal investigator of the Incredible Years Ireland Study, conducted in NUIM. Dr. Paul Downes was part of the Expert Advisory Committee advising the national evaluation of this programme.

The Teacher Classroom Management programme consists of two vital components; firstly the importance of teacher attention, encouragement, praise, motivating children through incentives and second, building positive relationships with students.  There are clear indications that the use of the TCM programme has very positive effects on the behaviour of not only disruptive children but also impacts positively on the child that does not challenge the teachers, the ‘invisible’ child.

Walshe, J. (Wednesday, March 2nd 2011) Troubled pupils are kicking and punching teachers.Irish Independent


Catherine Maunsell gave a presentation at the final conference on the Adult Learning Action Plan, Workshop 5 : Opening Higher Education for Adults Theme 2: ‘One Step Up’: Enhancing Adult Competences It’s Always a Good Time to Learn in Budapest on the 8th March,  2011. Her presentation was entitled Access to Higher Education for Traditionally Marginalised Groups in Europe

The Educational Disadvantage Centre in St Patrick's College has participated in a six year European Commission (FP6) funded project, Towards a Lifelong Learning Society: The Contribution of the Education System (2005-2011) culminating in an international conference, Do three sides always make a triangle ? Policy, institutions and learners in lifelong formal learning at the University of Leuven, Belgium from February 7-9.

Dr Paul Downes, the Centre Director, gave a presentation The role of educational institutions for promotion of access to adults to formal education based on international research across 12 European countries led by the Educational Disadvantage Centre. Sue Waddington, President of the European Association for the Education of Adults, and the European Parliament's former Rapporteur for Lifelong Learning, was the Respondent to this presentation.

Dr Catherine Maunsell (Education Department, St Patrick's College) gave a presentation entitled Lifelong Learning for All? Policies and practices towards underrepresented and socially excluded groups, with Regina Ebner, Secretary-General of the European Association for the Education of Adults, being the Respondent. Both sessions were chaired by Marc Goffart from the Directorate General for Research and Innovation, of the European Commission.

The Educational Disadvantage Centre is responsible for overall leadership of Subproject 5 of the six year project. Subproject 5 concerns access to education for traditionally marginalized groups across 12 countries – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, England, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Norway, Russia, Scotland, and Slovenia. A briefing paper, A Systems Level Focus on Access to Education for Traditionally Marginalised Groups,  was presented by Dr Downes to European Commission officials from Directorate General (DG) Education and Culture, as well as DG Research and Innovation. This paper outlines a range of key policy recommendations for the European Commission in relation to access to education for those traditionally excluded from the education system.


On January 13th 2011, Paul Downes gave a presentation to the National and Regional School Completion Officers on the limits of SMART outcomes and the application of the wider UN Framework of Structural, Process and Outcome Indicators when measuring outcomes in relation to the core elements of school completion. His presentation was entitled Measuring Outcomes in Relation to SCP Core Elements