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Educational Disadvantage Centre

EDC News 2014 - 2006



The National Strategy Group for Hunger Prevention in Schools, established by the Educational Disadvantage Centre, is composed of Noreen Flynn for the INTO (former President), Gerry Murphy for the Irish Primary Principals Network (former President), Kevin Callinan (Deputy General Secretary, IMPACT), Áine Lynch (CEO National Parents' Council), Sinéad Keenan, Project Co-ordinator, Healthy Food for All and Dr Paul Downes.

On Wednesday December 17th, 2014, Aine Lynch, Gerry Murphy, Sinead Keenan and Paul Downes had meetings with the Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson, Charlie McConalogue and the Sinn Féin, Education Spokesperson, Jonathan O'Brien in Leinster House to discuss the Group's Hunger Prevention in School Document to advocate for the development of a National Strategy for Hunger Prevention in School.

Click here to access this document 


Dr. Paul Downes has given an invited presentation, Access to Education In Europe: A framework and agenda for system change, at the EUCIS-LLL (European Civil Society Platform on Lifelong Learning) Seminar and Launch of the flagship initiative on ‘Inclusive Education. Fighting inequalities in education and training’. 10th December, 2014, University Foundation, Rue d’Egmont 11, Brussels. The Panel discussion in response to his  presentation included: MEP Brando Benifei, Gina Ebner, Secretary General of the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA), Thomas Huddleston, Programme Director Migration and Integration, Migration Policy Group, and Giuseppina Tucci, Board member of OBESSU.

Please click here to access presentation

Please click here to access EUCIS POSITION PAPER: On Europe 2020 Strategy - From political will to implementation 

Paul Downes EUCIS

AWW-Inform       Wintersemester 2014/15  Nr. 49  (See page 6)


The  European  Civil  Society  Platform  on  Lifelong  Learning  (EUCISGLLL)  is  an umbrella  association  that gathers  36  European  organisations  active  in  the  field  of education  and  training,  coming  from  all  EU Member States and beyond. Currently these networks represent more than 45 000 educational institutions (schools, universities, adult education and youth centres, etc.) or associations (involving students, teachers and trainers, parents, HRD professionals, etc.) covering all sectors of formal, non-formal and informal learning.  Their members reach out to several  millions  of  beneficiaries.     


Paul Downes has given an invited presentation, Priority Issues for Early School Leaving Prevention for ET2020 Working Group on Schools Policy, to European Commission Directorate General, Education and Culture, Experts’ Workshop on Early School Leaving, Rue Joseph 11, Brussels, 5th December  2014.

Please click here to access presentation 


Dr Paul Downes, Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, is a member of the coordinating team for the consortium which has been successful with the EU tender, “Network of experts on social dimension of education and training” (N0 EAC/08/2014).

The network will consist of 47 experts covering complementary areas of expertise in education and training representing 28 EU Member States, Norway, Serbia, Turkey and the US, led by scientific coordinator, Professor Georgios Kleanthi Zarifis Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, together with Public Policy and Management Institute, Vilnius, Lithuania. It will provide reliable, independent and rigorous scientific support and advice from the research community to the European Commission in relation to equity and social aspects of all types and levels of education and training.

This support will include:

•               providing access to the most relevant evidence from existing European and international research;

•               carrying out a limited amount of primary research and/or secondary data analysis;

•               contributing to the dissemination of policy relevant knowledge and evidence on social aspects of education and training;

•               Acting as a knowledge broker: bridging the gap between EU policy coordination and the academic world; contributing to the feedback from research to policy.

It is the successor to the EU Commission NESET Network of Experts on the Social Aspects of Education and Training (2011-2014).

Dr Downes’ role on the coordination team for the new network is as one of four expert advisors to the two scientific coordinators. This role includes to actively participate in the network management decision making and to perform tasks of quality control and quality assurance for the research and policy reports produced by the network experts for the EU Commission, Directorate-General, Education and Culture.


Paul Downes gave a presentation, Implementation Questions for PREVENT Policy Recommendations Report, Towards a Differentiated, Holistic and Systemic Approach to Parental Involvement in Europe for Early School Leaving Prevention, at the Urbact, PREVENT Transnational Meeting, Usti, Czech Republic, November 5, 2014. His presentation can be accessed here

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The report, Towards a Differentiated, Holistic and Systemic Approach to Parental Involvement in Europe for Early School Leaving Prevention, by Dr Paul Downes, Director of St. Patrick’s College’s Educational Disadvantage Centre, has just been published by the European Union, European Regional Development Fund, Urbact Programme, Paris.

The report is part of the Urbact, PREVENT project across 10 European cities led by Nantes Municipality.

Click here to access the report.


Representatives from five primary schools gathered at Google Docks in Dublin recently to join the Changemaker global school network which focuses on teaching children skills in empathy, creativity, teamwork and leadership. 

Among the participants was Fiona Collins, Principal of Francis St. CBS. Fiona is an Alumnus of St Patrick's College having completed her B.Ed and M.Ed, Special Option in Educational Disadvantage in the Educational Disadvantage Centre here in the College.

Click here to access the Irish Times article in which Fiona was featured. 


The European Commission’s Directorate General, Education and Culture, European Education and Youth Forum, 2014 took place on October 9-10th in SQUARE, rue Mont des Arts, Brussels. The Forum’s objectives are to discuss "FUTURE PRIORITIES OF THE ET 2020 STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK FOR EUROPEAN COOPERATION IN EDUCATION AND TRAINING AND SYNERGIES WITH YOUTH POLICY". Dr Paul Downes gave an invited presentation to provide the introductory overview for Workshop 5 at the Forum, Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship. His presentation, Nine Challenges to Promoting Equity, Social Cohesion and Active Citizenship, involved an analysis of international quantitative research findings from the OECD Education at a Glance Report 2014, as well as PISA, TALIS (The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey) and PIAAC (Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) findings. Based on this comparative analysis, a range of key issues were highlighted for discussion in the workshop.


Click here to access workshop details and Dr Downes' presentation

European Education, Training and Youth Forum 2014: Future priorities of the ET 2020 strategic framework 


On September 9th 2014, Dr. Paul Downes, Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, St. Patrick’s College, gave the keynote presentation, at the 48th session of the Working Group on the Quality of Childhood at the EU Parliament, Rue Wiertzstraat 60, Brussels. His presentation was entitled, 'Developing inclusive systems across Education, Health and Social sectors for early school leaving prevention'. The session was Chaired by Michiel Matthes, General Secretary of Alliance for Childhood European Network Group and hosted by MEP Julie Ward.

Dr. Downes’ presentation involved a criticism of influential thinkers in developmental psychology, Bronfenbrenner’s system’s theory and Rutter’s resilience theory. In seeking to highlight features of system blockage to move towards inclusive systems, he highlighted barriers to system change at levels of communication, structures of exclusion, fragmentation and resistance. Dr. Downes proposed a specific agenda for reform of systems across education, health and social sectors to address these areas of system blockage affecting early school leaving. Based on international research and the research of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, he identified a set of structural indicators for system change for early school leaving prevention, for policy makers to address at EU, national, regional and institutional levels.

There is a growing awareness of the need for a holistic approach to early school leaving prevention that includes a focus on mental health and the emotional wellbeing of the child. Such a holistic approach requires a policy and practice response that can build bridges between health, social and education sectors and systems. This requires a significant change to system practice as many of these sectors still tend to operate largely in isolation from each other across many European countries.

An aspect of such cross-sectoral working includes the need for a greater focus on developing multidisciplinary teams to work in and around schools on measures designed to prevent young people leaving the education system prematurely. Even if common strategic goals centred on the needs of vulnerable children and young people can be identified across professional boundaries, it is still far from evident that habitual systemic practices in schools and agencies working with children and young people are open to change and reform.

Click here to access the presentation

A focus on system blockage and displacement: Beyond Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems approach in developmental psychology

System habits resist change. The dominant paradigm for understanding systems in developmental psychology is Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. Yet this framework only belatedly acknowledged the vital issue of time and change. This system framework largely ignores the need for a heightened focus on system blockage, on system resistance to change, on overcoming system inertia.

This idea of system blockage is developed in Downes (2014), Access to education in Europe: A framework and agenda for system change (Dordrecht: Springer). It seeks a post-Bronfenbrennerian paradigm that examines structures of exclusion in inert systems and movement towards more fluid inclusive systems. The question for current purposes is to identify key features of system blockages across education, health and social sectors that need to be addressed for a holistic early school leaving prevention strategy in Europe. To ensure effective policies and strategies for the EU2020 headline target of early school leaving reduction, systems of care in education must be developed. 

First part of presentation: key issues regarding mental health and emotional aspects

The first part of this presentation will highlight key issues regarding mental health and emotional aspects for early school leaving prevention. It will include a focus on key needs of children and young people that must be addressed through specific features of multidisciplinary teams wrapped around schools.

Second part of the presentation: framework of inclusive systems to address system blockage

The second section will develop the framework of inclusive systems to address system blockage and will identify key areas of system blockage across education, health and social sectors in Europe for early school leaving prevention.

Third part of the presentation: structural indicators for early school leaving prevention regarding mental health and emotional issues

This leads to the third section which develops an argument for the use of structural indicators for early school leaving prevention regarding mental health and emotional issues. A specific agenda will then be proposed for development across European contexts and for consideration by the European Parliament as part of an innovative approach to education in Europe.

This presentation involves a fresh proposed synthesis based on Paul Downes’ recent book and his reports for the European Commission’s Network of Experts on the Social Aspects of Education and Training (NESET) and other recent reports to which he centrally contributed in expert advisory roles.

For a list of the previous sessions of this Working Group at the European Parliament, see: 

Overall objectives of QoC meetings:

  • To gain a better understanding of the Quality of Childhood in the EU member states. This time we will focus on  'Developing inclusive systems across Education, Health and Social sectors for early school leaving prevention'.
  • To think about the role that the European institutions could play to improve the situation.
  • To get to grips with the values, principles and approaches that could lead to improvements for children both in Europe and around the world.
  • To form an effective working group and to get a sense of how to move on. 

The Irish team of the Reintegration into Society through Education and Learning (RiSE) project were invited to speak at the seminar, 'Education: Empowerment through literacy', hosted by the Association of Criminal Justice Research and Development (ACJRD), at the Law Society, Blackhall Place on 16 July 2014.

RiSE is a project funded within the framework of the Grundtvig Learning Partnership. It is a European funding program that is part of the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme 2007-2013, aiming to strengthen the European dimension in adult education and lifelong learning across Europe.

Presented by Dr Liz McLoughlin, lecturer in psychology at DCU, the theme ‘Prison education: An agency for empowerment?’ drew on the RiSE position paper (Maunsell, McLoughlin, Carrigan & McLoughlin 2013), exploring the importance of prison education as a mechanism for promoting prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration into society, with Dr Catherine Maunsell of St Patrick's College, Drumcondra, participating in the panel discussion at the close of the seminar.

Click here to access the presentation

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Pictured above from left to right: Dannielle McKenna, Dolphin House Homework Club, Rialto Youth Project; Maura Butler, ACJRD Chairperson; John Hurley, H2 Learning @ The Digital Hub; Liz McLoughlin (DCU); and Catherine Maunsell (SPD).

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On June 16th and 17th, Dr Catherine Maunsell (pictured left),  Education Department, and Valerie McLoughlin, Administrator of the Educational Disadvantage Centre (pictured right) attended the final partner meeting of the Outreach Empowerment and Diversity (OED) Grundtvig Network research project and  the OED conference  in the Goethe Institute, Brussels. They were accompanied by Ms Liz Waters, CEO of An Cosán and President of AONTAS,(centre) who had been engaged to analyse and test the methodological guidelines produced by the network. These guidelines outline practical steps to be taken when engaging with hard to reach groups such as Roma and migrants.

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In recent weeks, the Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, Dr Paul Downes, has been invited to give presentations in Sweden, Germany and Greece, to national and EU-level conferences and projects, which are looking at social inclusion and tackling early school-leaving.



On 26 May, Dr Downes gave the keynote presentation, Towards a holistic, integrated approach to motivation in working with socio-economically excluded groups, at the Unga In Staff National Conference in Stockholm. On 27 May, he also gave a keynote presentation at the Unga In (Youth Integration) National Conference at Fryshuset, Stockholm, entitled Towards a differentiated, holistic and systemic approach to engaging socio-economically excluded groups. The conference was organised by Unga In through the Swedish Employment Ministry, and included speakers such as Elisabeth Svantesson, Swedish Minister for Employment; Erik Ullenhag, Swedish Minister for Integration; Clas Olsson, Deputy General Director, Swedish Public Employment Service; and Milad Mohammadi, lawyer and political scientist.

Dr Downes identified key features of the Unga In national project as offering progressive practice in a European context for engaging early school-leavers and those experiencing long-term unemployment. These include Unga In’s active outreach approach employing members of their target groups as key stakeholders; their relational approach; and development of multidisciplinary teams, including with a strong focus on mental health supports. Unga In is located across six sites in Sweden.

Click here to access the presentation


On 3 June, as part of the Urbact PREVENT project, Dr Downes facilitated a session, Towards a Differentiated, Holistic and Systemic Approach to Parental Involvement in Europe for Early School-Leaving Prevention, with representatives from nine European city municipalities in the Department of Education and Sports, Bayerstrasse, Munich.

Click here to access the presentation


On 4 June, Dr Downes also gave an invited presentation at the Cedefop Workshop, The Role of VET in Reducing Early Leaving from Education and Training, in Thessaloniki, Greece. Cedefop is the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training and works closely with the European Commission; EU Member States’ governments; representatives of employers and trade unions; as well as Vocational Education and Training researchers and practitioners. It provides them with up-to-date information on developments in VET as well as opportunities for policy debate.

Dr Downes' presentation was entitled, Structural indicators for good practice as part of a holistic and systemic approach for prevention of early leaving in VET (Vocational Education and Training), and took place in the Session: Monitoring and evaluation of policies. The other presenter at this session was Anna Rubin, from the OECD. The evaluation framework of structural indicators is based on his new book, Access to Education in Europe: A Framework and Agenda for System Change(Dordrecht, Springer Verlag), with the foreword by Sue Waddington, who was President of the European Association for the Education of Adults between 2008-13.

Click here to access the presentation


 The report, Preventing Early School Leaving in Europe – Lessons Learned from Second Chance Education, by Ecorys UK (Day, Mozuraityte, Redgrave & McCoshan) has recently been published by the European Commission, Directorate-General Education and Culture(DG EAC). Dr Paul Downes, Director of St Patrick College, Drumcondra’s Educational Disadvantage Centre was an expert advisor for this report.

Commenced in 2012, the report analyses 15 examples of good practice in projects across 10 European countries (Austria, England, France, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Sweden). The overall purpose was to identify the elements of second chance education that have proven successful for re-engaging and supporting young people and young adults at risk of social exclusion. The transferability of these elements to the mainstream formal educational system was then explored, with recommendations given to the European Commission for development of these issues.

A number of the research findings from reports of the Educational Disadvantage Centre over the past decade were cited in the report. The work was commissioned against a backdrop of growing recognition of the scale of the challenge presented by Early School Leaving (ESL) in Europe, as enshrined in the target to reduce ESL to 10% Europe-wide within the EU 2020 strategy.

Click here to access report


On Monday April 28th, the student volunteers with Sport 4 Success were invited to St Vincent's BNS by Principal Pat Courtney to receive commendations for their work throughout the year. In his speech to the students, Pat praised their dedication to the programme and emphasised the hugely positive effects this had on the boys; he said "...our pupils have many obstacles to overcome in their learning and need a lot of support. The Sport 4 Success programme provided structured opportunities for our pupils to participate in learning and social activities. The programme was an outstanding success thanks to the preparation, skills, enthusiasm and commitment of the Sport 4 Success volunteers who worked so hard to build bonds of friendship with our pupils. You made our pupils feel valued and capable throughout all the activities".

Certificates of attendance and participation were distributed to the boys, everyone of whom had attended the programme throughout the year.

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The  Educational Disadvantage Centre’s (EDC) student volunteer Sport 4 Success project completed its final session for this academic year on Monday 31st March 2014. Started by the EDC in 2004, the homework club has worked with hundreds of children from various DEIS schools around the city over the last ten years. For the last few years, the EDC has worked with St Vincent’s Boys’ National School in North William Street, Dublin 1. This past year has seen every boy in the school getting an opportunity to come onto campus and work with the College’s volunteer students. Each Monday the boys are brought to the college by bus, they spend time doing physical activities, outdoors weather permitting, attending to their homework with their mentors and enjoying a hot lunch. They are then returned to their school.

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This year, twelve volunteer students from the College have worked and engaged with the boys who are each week accompanied by teachers, SNAs and the School Completion Programme worker. The commitment and enthusiasm of all the adults, teachers and College students, working with Sport 4 Success is truly remarkable and everyone gets something from the experience. On Monday April 28th, the volunteer students have been invited to St Vincent’s school for a ceremony where they will be presented with certificates by the principal, Pat Courtney. The pupils of the school will in turn be presented with awards by Valerie McLoughlin, administrator of the Educational Disadvantage Centre and coordinator of Sport 4 Success, acknowledging their participation and attendance. It is envisaged that as many of the boys’ parents as can make it will also be there.

The EDC extends its sincere thanks to all of the volunteers who have given their time and energy to this initiative over the years, especially over this past year.


Dr Paul Downes, Director of the College’s Educational Disadvantage Centre,
is the Thematic Expert Advisor to the EU URBACT initiative, PREVENT project,
led by European Minds and Nantes municipality. PREVENT is a 10 city research
project on early school leaving, parental involvement and family support
across cities in France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Sweden, Estonia, Spain, Netherlands,
Germany, Italy and Czech Republic. Dr Downes has led the development of
a Structural Indicators Matrix tool to review and develop city strategies
to involve parents in the prevention of early school leaving. This reflective
practice tool of system level structural indicators is designed to aid research
into the system level needs of the 10 participating city municipalities across
Europe; it operates within a systems theory and community development theoretical
paradigm to inform each of the municipalities’ forthcoming Local Action Plans
for early school leaving prevention.

Each of the 10 cities has provided responses to the issues addressed by the
Structural Indicators Matrix tool. These responses were discussed at a recent
meeting of the URBACT, PREVENT project in Antwerp, Belgium on March 12-14.
During this Antwerp meeting of the municipalities, Dr Downes presented at
and facilitated a session, ‘Policy Recommendations: What Kind of Role for
Structural Indicators? Developing Reflective Practice for Early School Leaving
Prevention Strategies across the 10 EU Municipalities’, in order to inform
strategic development of the 10 municipalities’ Local Action Plans for early
school leaving prevention.

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Paul Downes' interview in Antwerp 


Dr. Paul Downes' latest book, Access to Education in Europe: A Framework and Agenda for System Change (2014) was published by Springer Verlag, Dordrecht. The foreword to the book is by Sue Waddington, President, European Adult Education Association (EAEA). Professor Alistair Ross, Jean Monnet ad Personam Professor of Citizenship Education in Europe, Emeritus Professor of Education, Institute for Policy Studies in Education, London Metropolitan University comments on the book: ‘Too many educational practices entrench social exclusion: it is an urgent priority across Europe that social justice policies are implemented for the inclusion of marginalised groups. Paul Downes' analysis of these issues is timely. His conclusions are considered and practical: this book is a valuable and constructive resource for practitioners, academics and the policy community’.

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Downes, P. (2014). Access to Education in Europe: A framework and agenda for system change. Dordrecht, SpringerVerlag. Foreword by Sue Waddington, President, European Adult Education Association (EAEA)

Downes, P. (2014). Access to Education in Europe: A framework and agenda for system change. Dordrecht, SpringerVerlag. Foreword by Sue Waddington, President, European Adult Education Association (EAEA) - chapter details

Access to Education in Europe: A Framework and Agenda for System Change (2014) identifies key elements of an international framework to develop systems-level change to promote access to education, including higher education, for socio-economically marginalized groups. It is based on interviews with senior government officials and senior management in universities, non formal education and prisons across 12 countries in Europe. The book identifies systemic obstacles to and opportunities for promotion of access to education for socio-economically excluded groups that are issues transferable to other countries’ contexts. It adopts a systemic focus on access across a range of domains of education, both formal higher education and non-formal education, as well as prison education. Through a focus on a more dynamic structuralist systems framework it develops an innovative post-Bronfenbrennerian view of system levels in lifespan developmental and educational psychology. It also develops an international agenda for reform in relation to these various system levels for access to education for socio-economically marginalized groups, through extraction of key structural indicators to evaluate reform progress in a transparent, culturally sensitive manner. The book identifies current gaps and strengths in policy, practice and structures that impact upon access to education, including higher education, across a range of countries. These gaps and strengths are illustrative and are to inform a strategic approach to system level change and development for the promotion of access to education for socio-economically marginalized groups in Europe and beyond. 


The Final Report of the EU Commission, Directorate-General, Education and
Culture, Thematic Working Group on Early School Leaving has been published,
'Reducing early school leaving: Key messages and policy support'.  Dr. Paul
Downes, Director of the College's Education Disadvantage Centre, gave an
invited presentation, 'Developing multi-agency and cross- sector synergies
in and around education: Future steps for meeting the EU 2020 10% target
for early school leaving prevention' to the Thematic Working Group in January
2013 to inform this subsequent report, especially regarding multiprofessional
teams for early school leaving prevention. This presentation was based on
another report for the EU Commission with Professor Anne Edwards, Director
of Research, Department of Education, University of Oxford, Edwards, A. &
Downes, P. (2013). Alliances for Inclusion: Developing Cross-sector Synergies
and Inter-Professional Collaboration in and around Education (EU Commission
NESET - Network of Experts on Social Aspects of Education and Training).

Click here to access the new report



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Dr Catherine Maunsell, Dr Liz McLoughlin, Dr Jane Carrigan and Valerie McLoughlin editors of the RiSE: Reintegration into Society through Education and Learning Position Paper, were invited to showcase the project as an example of a successful Grundtvig project at the Léargas joint Lifelong Learning and Youth in Action conference. The RiSE stand depicted the work accomplished by the partnership over its two years cycle. The conference, Live, Share, Inspire, highlighted the benefits of European exchange and cooperation and was held in the Marino Institute in December 2013. The RiSE partnership comprised of academics, prison educators and personnel from Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Austria and the Educational Disadvantage Centre, St Patrick College as the Irish partners.


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Dr Jane Carrigan, a Research Fellow with the Educational Disadvantage Centre, was conferred with her PhD from St Patrick's College). Her research interests include educational disadvantage, health inequalities, penal reform and the effect of state policies on the lives of individuals. Her doctorate concentrated on the impact of education on the lives of students who are currently imprisoned in Ireland and are attending classes within the prison and is entitled Prisoner learners' perspectives of prison education within the total institution of the prison: a life history methodological approach. Jane is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin (BA, MSc in Applied Social Research) and Dublin City University (MA in Communications & Cultural Studies). She is pictured here with her supervisor, Dr Catherine Maunsell

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Dr. Paul Downes has given two keynote presentations at recent EU Presidency conferences in Vilnius, Lithuania.

On November 18th  2013, Dr. Downes gave the opening address at the European Network of Education Councils (EUNEC) conference on Early School Leaving in the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas). The title of his presentation was, A Holistic Approach to Early School Leaving Prevention in Europe: Key Strategic Priorities for System Level Development’. This conference was organised by EUNEC, in conjunction with the European Commission and the Lithuanian Government (Ministry of Education and Science) in the context of its EU Presidency.

A podcast of the above conference of the European Network of Education Councils (EUNEC) “Early School Leaving” is available for download here - Dr Downes' presentation is to be found at 24 minutes in on Part 1.

STATEMENTS on Early School Leaving Vilnius November 2013

Report of the conference on Early School Leaving, Vilnius November 2013

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On November 14th, Dr. Downes’ keynote presentation was for the European Commission’s, European Social Fund (ESF) Conference, Tackling Youth Unemployment in Europe: Building a Better Future for Young People, in Vilnius. His presentation at the plenary session focused on lifelong learning issues, together with approaches to prevention of early school leaving,‘Giving early school leavers fresh opportunities: Prevention and second chance measures’.This conference sought to examine priority issues and themes to inform funding priorities for the European Social Fund. It was organised by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security of the Lithuanian Republic, in conjunction with the European Commission’s Directorate General, Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.

ESF CONFERENCE “Tackling youth unemployment in Europe: building a better future for young people” Conference papers can be downloaded here

Final report of the conference can be accessed here


The Health of Nations: Conceptualising and Implementing the Right to Health in the Baltic States and Peoples
Call for Papers for a Special Issue of the Journal of Baltic Studies




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The final Study Visit of the Grundtvig RiSE,Reintegration into Society through Education and Learning partnership took place in Luxembourg from June 12th to 14th 2013. The purpose of the Study Visit was a Press Conference to launch of the RiSE Position Paper on prison education and its role in the prisoners’ reintegration into society, the culmination of two years’ work by the RiSEpartners.  The Position Paper was edited by the Irish team; Catherine Maunsell, Liz McLoughlin, Jane Carrigan and Valerie McLoughlin.

The press conference was held in Maison de L’Europe. Two Luxembourgish members of the European Parliament were on the panel, M. Georges Bach of the Christian Democrat party, and M. Claude Turmes, a member of the Green Party.  The panel also included M. Luc Reding from the Luxembourg Ministry of Justice, the RiSE coordinator Irina Meyer from FCZB, Berlin and Dr. Catherine Maunsell, St. Patrick’s College.  The Luxembourgish partner, Défi-job, hosted the event and its CEO M. Mario Della Schiava chaired proceedings alongside Mme. Paula Gomes, RiSE coordinator for Luxembourg

Drawing deeply on evidenced based practice, the Position Paper heralds an innovative approach to prison education with its first of five principles being the acknowledgement of ‘the person at the centre of his/her own learning’.

View the Press Release

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On May 28th 2013, the European Commission published its NESET (Network of Experts on the Social Aspects of Education and Training) report, by Professor Anne Edwards and Dr. Paul Downes, Alliances for Inclusion: Cross-sector policy synergies and interprofessionalcollaboration in and around schools. The foreword to the report is by Jan Truszczynski, Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture.

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Professor Anne Edwards is Director of Research, Department of Education, University of Oxford. She is a former President of the British Educational Research Association and was Director of the Education Department at Oxford University between January 2010 and December 2012. Dr. Paul Downes is Director of St. Patrick’s College’s Educational Disadvantage Centre and Senior Lecturer in Psychology in its Education Department. Both Dr. Downes and Professor Edwards are members of the European Commission’s NESET (Network of Experts on the Social Aspects of Education and Training) since 2011.

Building on this independent report authored for the European Commission, Professor Edwards and Dr. Downes conducted a seminar on May 28th in Brussels, for over thirty European Commission officials from its Directorate General, Education and Culture and Directorate General, Research and Innovation, entitled, Cross-sector policy synergies and inter-professional collaboration in and around schools: Examples and evidence. Key issues explored include bridges between mental health and education for early school leaving prevention, different models of such multiprofessional collaboration across European countries, as well as the need for a guiding framework of structural and process indicators as enabling conditions to go beyond ‘off the shelf’ prepackaged programmes that are insensitive to local contexts. It was also highlighted that such interdisciplinary teams can offer a flexibility to meet the dynamic levels of developmental need of highly vulnerable children.

Click here to access the new report


The inaugural conference of IMPACT’s new education division took place in Kilkenny on Monday 15th April  2013. The conference, which took place over three days, saw a packed programme of conference motions, debate and panel discussions. The conference also hosted three lively panel discussions, covering issues of education policy as well as bullying and suicide prevention. Guest speakers and panellists included Newstalk journalist Margaret E Ward; Dr Paul Downes, director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre; Tom Healy, director of the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI); Ian Power of SpunOut; journalist Sara Burke and Robert Carley of Suicide or Survive.


In Key Emerging Features of a Mental Health Focus for Early School Leaving Prevention – 
illustrations from Ireland
NESET Expert author Dr. Paul Downes outlines systems' levels of care in the approach to mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, disruptive behaviour, eating disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder which can negatively impact on a child’s school success, as well as general well-being.





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The QDOSS network held its national conference, Celebrating Childhood Beyond the School Bell: Framing Policy and Practice for Quality Out of School Services, at Croke Park, on April 18th. The conference was opened by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, who participated in the subsequent discussion, after presentations by John Carr, Independent Chairperson of QDOSS and former General-Secretary of the INTO, and by Professor Pat Petrie, Institute of Education, University of London.

St Patrick's College’s Educational Disadvantage Centre is a founding member of the QDOSSnetwork, established in 2006, with staff members Dr Paul Downes (2007) and Dr Catherine Maunsell (2011) having previously served as its Chairperson. The Centre’s administrator, Valerie McLoughlin was centrally involved in the organisation of this year’s conference, as was Centre Director, Paul Downes, in key issues concerning its design. 
On behalf of QDOSS, John Carr called for a national strategy for out of school services, building on key strengths of both national and international practice.Image removed. Minister Frances Fitzgerald expressed her strong interest in developing this area at national level, in dialogue with QDOSS. Professor Pat Petrie highlighted key features of out of school services in France and Scandinavia, while Dr. Ann Higgins, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick highlighted research to illustrate the benefits of such out of school services, especially for those at risk of social exclusion and early school leaving. 
Building on the QDOSS agenda for development document by Paul Downes (2006/2010), regarding key features of a national strategy for out of school services, Imelda Graham, Barnardos, presented key findings from the recent regional consultation report on out of school services, commissioned by QDOSS. The conference was funded by the Irish Youth Foundation.

QDOSS membership includes: Barnardos; Border Counties Childcare Network; Children's Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin; City and County Childcare Committees; Crann Community Childcare; Dublin City Childcare Committee; Early Childhood Ireland; Educational Disadvantage Centre, St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra; The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN), representative body of 52 Local Development Companies in Ireland; Limerick City Childcare Committee; National Voluntary Childcare Collaborative; Roscommon Childcare Committee; Transforming Education through Dialogue, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. QDOSS is a network of stakeholders who share different perspectives, expertise and the common aim of enhancing and developing the field of Out-of-School services to influence and enable positive educational outcomes for children and young people, particularly those experiencing poverty and social exclusion.


Dr. Paul Downes was an invited speaker and panel participant at the IMPACT Education Division Inaugural Conference, ‘A new voice for a new vision – IMPACT and the issues in Education’, 3-5 April 2013, Kilkenny. The other speakers were Professor Kathleen Lynch, UCD, Dr. Tom Healy, Director, Nevin Economic Research Institute, Michael Moriarty, General-Secretary, Irish Vocational Education Association.


Dr. Paul Downes, Educational Disadvantage Centre, Director gave an Invited Presentation,Key issues regarding early school leaving prevention for the EU2020 headline target, at the Estonian Civic Forum, at Tallinn National Library, March 6, 2013. The invitation was funded by Tallinn Foreign Ministry, Estonia. The presentation included a specific focus on themes relating to Russian-speakers and social exclusion in Estonia, building on his 2003 book,Living with heroin: HIV, Identity and Social Exclusion among the Russian-speaking minorities in Estonia and Latvia (Legal Information Centre for Human Rights, Tallinn, Estonia)


Paul Downes is the Thematic Expert Advisor to the EU URBACT initiative, PREVENT project, led by European Minds and Nantes municipality for their 10 city research project on early school leaving and family support across cities in France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Sweden, Estonia, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Czech Republic (2012-2014). 

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Dr Catherine Maunsell (Education Department) as Irish Co-ordinator and Valerie McLoughlin (Educational Disadvantage Centre, EDC) as Administrator on behalf of St. Patrick's College and the Educational Disadvantage Centre hosted the Dublin Study Visit of the RISE project on January 31st and February 1st 2013.

RISE, Reintegration into Society through Education and Learning, is an EU Grundtvig Learning Partnership (2011-2013) focussing on educational approaches which enhance the transition from prison back to society, with eight partners from 6 countries - Austria, Belgium,  Finland, Germany, Ireland and Luxembourg.   Participants were welcomed to the College by Dr. Fionnuala Waldron, Dean of Education; Dr. Daire Keogh, President and Dr. Paul Downes, EDC Director.   The focus of the RISE Dublin Study Visit was on prison education policies, practices and learner participation, the outcomes of which will inform the upcoming meetings in Mainz in April and the final meeting in Luxembourg scheduled for June 2013.

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Dr. Paul Downes gave an Invited Presentation, Developing multi-agency and cross- sector synergies in and around education: Future steps for meeting the EU 2020 10% target for early school leaving prevention, at the 5th meeting of the European Commission, DG EAC, Thematic Working Group on Early School Leaving, 28-29 January 2013, in Brussels. This meeting was attended by senior officials from the Ministries for Education of almost all EU States.

Access Paul Downes' presentation here


Dr Catherine Maunsell and Valerie McLoughlin attended the 3rd planning meeting of the Outreach, Empowerment and Diversity (OED) Grundtvig Network research project in Vienna from 16th-18th January 2013. The focus of the meeting, hosted by the Austrian partner Die Weiner Volkshochschulen, was on the analysis and dissemination of the good practice examples collated by the research partners in the areas of outreach, empowerment and diversity in adult education. A report on the first phase of the research was written by the German Institute for Adult Education. The two models of Good Practice provided in the Irish context were Pavee Point and Fáilte Isteach /Third Age. Ms McLoughlin was Group Rapporteur in the workshop on 'Learner Voice and Choice'. The Irish partner will be conducting the evaluation of the research outputs in Year 3 of the project, commencing November, 2013.

Follow OED on Twitter @OutreachEmpower



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).


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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.


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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.


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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’.


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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



Paul Downes was an invited speaker at the 'Health and Welfare in the Nordic and Baltic States' seminar at University College London on Friday 26th November 2010. His presentation was entitled Social Exclusion, Ethnicity and HIV in Estonia: A Case for a Visit from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health?


On November 12th 2010, Paul Downes was an invited speaker at the wider network meeting of the Regional Education Network, an initiative of the Northside Partnership. His presentation was on the merits of a holistic approach to combating educational disadvantage, using the Familiscope model as particular reference. His paper was entitled A Community Based Multidisciplinary Psychological Support Service for the Northside Partnership Area: Building on the Familiscope, Ballyfermot Model of Early Intervention and Prevention


The full programme, including speeches and presentations, can be viewed here.

The Belgian EU Presidency Conference, Breaking the cycle of disadvantage – Social inclusion in and through education, took place on September 28 and 29 at the University of Ghent, Belgium. Paul Downes, Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, St. Patrick's College, was an invited speaker at the Conference Workshop, Pupils at risk of social exclusion: overcoming school failure and reducing school drop out. The other speakers at the workshop were Adam Pokorny, Head of the Unit on School Education and Comenius, European Commission, Directorate-General, Education and Culture, and Fred Voncken, Director for Early School Leaving in the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Netherlands. The Workshop was chaired by Jean Gordon, Director of the European Institute of Education and Social Policy, Paris. The Workshop discussants were Maria Hrabinska, Expert, Policy Reporting, European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) and Michael Stark, Senior Official of the British Government, until recently Deputy Director, UK Department of Education and Head of Policy on narrowing gaps in achievement of disadvantaged pupils in English schools.

Dr. Downes' presentation 'It's the heart stupid'. Emerging priority issues for prevention of early school leaving: A solution-focused approach' argued that recent influential documents such as the OECD's Ten Steps to Equity in Education (2007), Overcoming School Failure (2010) and the European Commission's (2009) document on Progress towards the Lisbon objectives in Education and Training have neglected a cluster of issues pertaining to early school leaving regarding pupils' emotions and the need for multidisciplinary community based emotional support services working in schools.


The 2010 Education Fair took place in Ballymun Civic Centre on Thursday 9th of September. Sean Haughey TD, Minister for Lifelong Learning, officially opened the fair in conjunction with special guest, President of DCU, Brian MacCraith.

The Ballymun Education Fair was organised by the Ballymun Whitehall Area Partnership to promote learning, education and training opportunities for both adults and young people right in the heart of their own community. Forty organisations such as DCU and Coláiste Dhúlaigh were in attendance providing information on what education opportunities are available to people from the Ballymun Whitehall Area. Valerie McLoughlin, the administrator of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, is a member of the Lifelong Learning Subgroup of the Education Working Group which is the driver of this annual education fair.

Guest speaker from Ballymun Ronnie Byrne spoke about her experience of returning to education after 60 years away from the classroom in an enthusiastic and energetic way and highlighted how it has changed her life and also how accessible it is for anyone.

Minister for Community, Equality & Gaeltacht Affairs, Pat Carey TD, spoke to attendees as well as presenting local organisations and individuals with awards in recognition of their continued and committed work in promoting education and lifelong learning within the area. Roisín Shortall TD also spoke and presented FETAC Level 5 awards for Childcare to individuals who had completed the programme


The Educational Disadvantage Centre in the College has been centrally involved in the completion of two recent reports, one on the theme of community based after school projects and one on initial assessment instruments and processes internationally for those who have previously experienced alienation from the formal educational system.

Ivers, J., McLoughlin, V. and Downes, P. (2010). Current Steps and Future Horizons for CASPr. Review of CASPr North-East Inner City After Schools Project. North Inner City Dublin: Community After Schools Project (CASPR).

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This strategic evaluation of North Inner City Dublin's, Community After School Project (CASPr) includes a review of the international literature to highlight the key role of community after-school projects in engaging with children and families at heightened risk of alienation from the school system. This report was launched in the Mansion House on June 9th by the then Lord Mayor, Emer Costello.

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Carrigan, J. & Downes, P. (with Byrne, I.) (2010). Is there more than what's the score? Exploring needs and skills checking for literacy as part of a holistic initial assessment process in a lifelong learning society.

This evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of initial assessment instruments and processes internationally concludes with recommendations regarding key dimensions of a holistic needs-and-skills-check process to engage with adults returning to education. The initial assessment report was funded by the Department of Education and Science (now Skills).

Copies of both reports are available from the Resource Library of the Educational Disadvantage Centre in St. Patrick's College

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On 8 June 2010, a group of 14 Psychology of Education students and their Professor, Bruce Mortenson visited St Patrick's College. The group is on a study visit to Ireland with regard to learning about DEIS schools and supports for children at risk of early school leaving. Dr Paul Downes, Director of the College's Educational Disadvantage Centre facilitated a seminar for the group and gave a presentation entitled, Key issues in DEIS schools in Ireland: A reference point for the US experience??.

The Educational Disadvantage Centre also arranged for the group to visit a primary school in the DEIS programme, Francis St., Dublin 8, with the kind assistance of its Principal, M Ed graduate Fiona Collins.


A celebration event for the Dundalk Incredible Years Programme took place in Dundalk Institute of Technology on Wednesday 26th May 2010. The programme focuses on positive strategies for both parents and teachers in engaging with children. It has been established in Dundalk by the local school completion programme, in conjunction with 8 local schools. Dr. Paul Downes was an invited speaker at the event.

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Members of the Expert Advisory Group to the Joint
Oireachtas Committee on Education and Science


The report of the Joint Committee in Education and Skills on Early School Leaving was launched at Leinster House on Tuesday 25 May 2010. Entitled Staying in Education: A New Way Forward - School and Out-Of-School Factors Protecting Against Early School Leaving, the report identifies the reasons behind early school leaving and offers solutions. The report was produced by Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames on behalf of the Committee with assistance from Dr Jude Cosgrove of the Educational Research Centre. Launching the report, Paul Gogarty, TD, Chairman of the Joint Committee, described it as a timely and important contribution in an area of fundamental importance. He congratulated the ERC and the College on its contribution and on its initiatives in the area of access and disadvantage. The members of the expert group which assisted in the preparation of the report included Dr Peter Archer, Dr Paul Downes, Dr Ann Louise Gilligan, and Dr Jude Cosgrove.

John Walshe's article in the Irish Independent on Monday 31st May 2010 can be accessedhere


The European Commission's Directorate-General for Education and Culture held meetings of an invited external Expert Group on Lifelong Learning on February 5 and March 25, 2010 in Brussels. Dr Paul Downes, Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, St Patrick's College, Drumcondra, is a member of this group and attended both meetings. Other members of the Expert Group are from: the University of Florence; Munich University; University of Lille and the European Civil Society Platform on Lifelong Learning; Roskilde University, Norway; the Slovenian Ministry of Education and Sport; the University of Nottingham; the University of Jyväskylä, Finland and the European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network; TARKI Social Research Institute, Budapest; Danube University Krems, Austria, and the University of Malta.

A key focus of these meetings has been on identifying critical factors and good practice throughout the European Union with regard to implementation of Lifelong Learning Strategies to inform future developments for EU Commission policy in this area.


Dr. Paul Downes, Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, St. Patrick's College, was an invited speaker at the National Education Welfare Board (NEWB) seminar, Mapping the Landscape, at the Hilton Hotel, Kilmainham, on March 23rd 2010. The seminar's key objective is to inform national strategic planning for integrated services across the NEWB, National School Completion Programme, Home-School-Community Liaison Scheme and Visiting Teachers Service for Travellers.

In his presentation, Needs, Policies and Practice for System Level Intervention: Key issues for the next era in moving beyond educational disadvantage, Dr. Downes presented research findings from a range of reports from the Educational Disadvantage Centre to inform future national strategic policy making of the NEWB. Other invited speakers were, Dr. Peter Archer, Director of the Educational Research Centre, and Dr. Emer Smyth and Dr. Selina McCoy of the ESRI.


Dr. Downes was an invited speaker for the 25th Annual Conference of the National Parents' Association for Vocational Schools and Community Colleges, Free Education: At What Price? on March 12th/13th 2010, in the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone. His presentation, System level reform at Post Primary: Future steps, developed the strategic implications of key themes raised across research reports of the Educational Disadvantage Centre. The conference was opened by Mary O' Rourke TD, former Minister for Education. The other speakers were Cearbhall O' Dalaigh, former Deputy Chief Inspector of the Department of Education and Science, Rose Tully, National Parents' Council Post-Primary PRO and Jim Moore, President of the National Parents' Council Post-Primary.


On the 24th February 2010, Dr. Catherine Maunsell, was invited to speak to the University Framework Implementation Network (FIN), a network jointly established by the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland NQAI and the Irish Universities Association IUA with a view to informing the upcoming research agenda of the network. Dr. Maunsell's presentation centred on EU and national lifelong learning policies and practice and drew on findings from the EU 6th Framework Research Project LLL2010 currently being undertaken through the Educational Disadvantage Centre (EDC). Other speakers on the day included, Professor John Scattergood (Chair), Dr. Jim Murray (NQAI), Mr. Seamus Fox (DCU), Mr. Tony Donoghue (IBEC), Mr. Declan Courell (St. Angela's), Ms. Irene Sheridan (C.I.T).


The European Commission's Directorate-General for Research held a meeting of invited external experts regarding social inequalities in Europe on January 18, 2010 in Square De Meeus, Brussels. Dr. Paul Downes, Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra, was one of the seven invited experts and gave a presentation - A Systems Level Focus on Overcoming Social Inequality through Education and Community Development: Early Intervention and Access - based on a range of national and international research conducted by the Educational Disadvantage Centre.

The meeting was attended by representatives from the Directorate-General for Education and Culture, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Directorate-General for Regional Policy, Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs, Directorate-General for Health and Consumers (SANCO), the Bureau of European Policy Advisors (BEPA), as well as by representatives from the Directorate-General for Research. The policy themes explored in the presentations and subsequent discussions were with a view to informing future EU Commission policy on social inequalities for the incoming Commission team.



The Ballymun Whitehall Area Partnership's conference Miss School, Miss Out, Missed Opportunities took place in the Axis Theatre, Ballymun on Monday 30th November 2009. Guest speakers included Dr Paul Downes, Director of St. Patrick's College Educational Disadvantage Centre; Dr Aisling Gillen, National Specialist Children's Services, Health Services Executive; Ms Nuala Doherty, Director of Educational Welfare Services, National Educational Welfare Board; Ms Eleanor McClorey, Chief Executive, Young Ballymun, Ms Marian Hackett, Ballymun Principals' Network and Principal of Holy Spirit GNS, Ballymun and Mary Brady, member of Ballymun Childcare Providers Partnership Network & Director of Tír na nÓg Early Years Service.

The Conference was chaired by Mr Fergus Finlay, CEO Barnardos, and Mr Pat Carey, Minister of State, Department of the Taoiseach and Government Chief Whip, officially launched the Ballymun School Attendance Initiative. Deputy Roisín Shortall, TD, Labour Party Spokesperson on Family and Social Affairs, provided a summation of the presentations.

Dr. Downes' presentation Family Involvement in Education in Ballymun, Research Study examined data on local parents' experiences of their children's preschool, primary and post primary schools, as well as their networks of social and emotional support, with a view to developing a range of policy recommendations.


The SIPTU-ASTI Centenary Seminar on Equality in Education "Springboard or Trap Door? Is Our Education System Making Our Children More or Less Equal ?" took place in Liberty Hall on Saturday 28th November 2009. Guest Speakers were Dr. Paul Downes, Director of the College's Educational Disadvantage Centre, Ms. Sheila Nunan, General Secretary of the INTO, and Professor Tom Collins, Vice-President for External Affairs, NUI Maynooth.

 The session was chaired by Mr. Joe Moran, President of the ASTI. Panel respondents included Mr. Mike Jennings, General Secretary of IFUT, with Mr. John White, General Secretary, ASTI, offering the opening address and Mr. Jack O'Connor, President of ICTU, General President, SIPTU, providing the closing remarks.

Dr. Downes' presentation Steps, Measures and Programmes for Equality emphasised the key role of the teachers' unions historically in developing initiatives for equality in education and argued that they need to play a leading part in driving future interventions in this area, specifically, regarding the need for a comprehensive national mental health strategy for contexts of disadvantage.


The National Economic and Social Forum (NESF) launched its report on Child Literacy and Social Inclusion on November 11 2009 at the Royal College of Physicians, Kildare St., Dublin. Presentations were given by Mr. Fergus Finlay, Barnardos, Professor Áine Hyland and Dr. Maureen Gaffney.

A number of members of St. Patrick College's Education Department provided significant contributions to the report. Dr. Eithne Kennedy's research paper Improving Literacy in Disadvantaged Schools: Policy and Implementation Issues was commissioned for and presented to the NESF project team. The paper is published in full in the Supplementary Report on Child Literacy and Social Inclusion. Dr. Paul Downes was an advisor consulted by the NESF project team. He also provided initial and Post-Plenary meeting submissions from the College's Educational Disadvantage Centre. Dr. Catherine Maunsell offered a submission from the Quality Development of Out of School Services (QDOSS) network, of which the Educational Disadvantage Centre is a member. From Early Childhood Education, Dr. Elisabeth Dunphy and Dr. Philomena Donnelly provided individual submissions, and Dr. Maura O'Connor contributed at the Plenary meeting. Dr. Gerry Shiel, Dr. Peter Archer and Dr. Susan Weir from the Educational Research Centre in the College were also advisors consulted by the NESF project team.

The report is available at:

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Catherine Dooley (pictured centre) Research Fellow with the Educational Disadvantage Centre, participated in a week long Study Visit in the Gothenburg Region of Sweden. This Study Visit was organised jointly by the Education Service in Léargas and the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, Cedefop, as part of the EU Transversal Programme. Bo-Göran Dahlberg, the Principal of Municipal Formal Adult Education in the City of Molndal was the Swedish Coordinator of the Study Visit on behalf of the Gothenburg Region of Local Authorities. Molndal is located next to Gothenburg city in the South-West of Sweden. The Study Visit took place between the 18th  and the 24th October 2009. Study Visits provide a forum for discussion and learning on themes of common interest around European and National priorities ensuring up-to-date information about education and training systems across Europe. The theme for this visit was Flexible Adult Education for Regional Growth and Development.

Adult Education Centers in Gothenburg city and in the Municipalities that surround it in the Gothenburg Region were visited. In Sweden they have highly developed Blended Learning methods, which allow adults to study in their own time or when convenient, using a variety of teaching methods. An Adult Open Learning Education Centre in Stenengsund where learning was 100% individualized was also visited; there are no lectures, quiet study areas are provided for participants and tutorials are used with a small group of participants occasionally. In relation to good practice to address educational disadvantage in Sweden, there is a course for teachers who work with Early School Leavers, which takes one year to complete and participants receive a certificate. In Ireland, a similar course would improve the support for Early School Leavers and enable educators to understand and cater for their particular needs more effectively.

The Study Visit involved networking and exchange of experience and Good Practice between Education and Vocational Training Specialists from 9 different countries; The Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, The Netherlands, Romania, UK, Ireland and the hosts Sweden.   Participants learned about practices and approaches in education in each other countries. Study Visits result in new contacts and inspire future project work and research between participating countries and therefore help to support policy development and cooperation at European level in lifelong learning and educational disadvantage. The Study Visit programme aims to develop insights into innovative ideas and practices adopted.

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The Executive Summary of the Dublin City Childcare Committee's School Age Childcare Report 2009 was launched on Wednesday 7th October 2009 by Mr Barry Andrews TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, in the Alexander Hotel in Dublin.

Representing St Patrick's College's Educational Disadvantage Centre, were members of the Dublin City School Age Childcare Thematic Working Group (SACTWG), Dr. Paul Downes and Valerie McLoughlin. SACTWG served as the advisory body for the report.

Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr. Emer Costelloe addressed the audience at the launch. The Executive Summary of the research piece examined the levels of provision of school age childcare and assessed gaps in service in Dublin City. Both the Executive Summary along with the complete research report can be downloaded from the DCCC website. Coverage in the Thursday 8th October's Irish Times can be viewed here.

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From 10–12 September 2009. Dr Catherine Maunsell and Catherine Dooley, EDC Research Fellow, facilitated workshops on international strategic priorities for access to lifelong learning for traditionally disadvantaged groups at the 9th Workshop of the EU Sixth Framework Project, Towards a Lifelong Learning Society, at the University of Nottingham. 

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An action packed Education Fair took place in Ballymun Civic Centre on Thursday 10th September 2009, from 9am-5pm. The Fair was officially opened by Minister for Lifelong Learning Seán Haughey TD with guest speakers from Ballymun sharing their experiences of learning with us. Ballymun Education Fair is organised by the Ballymun Whitehall Area Partnership and aims to promote learning, education and training opportunities for both adults and young people of all ages right in the heart of their own community. 40 organisations, including the Access Office of St. Patrick's College, gave out information on what they offer and recruited for their upcoming courses.

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Book Exchange Scheme!!!!

After a very successful first outing, the Ballymun Book Exchange Scheme will continue as follows:

Where? Ballymun Civic Centre

When? First Thursday of the month

Time? 9.30 am to 1.30 pm

Even if you cannot go on the day, try to drop books in to the Ballymun Partnership office in the Ballymun Shopping Centre (Tesco)

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On Wednesday July 1st 2009, Dr. Paul Downes, Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, St. Patrick's College, was an invited speaker for a meeting of the National Team of the Schools' Business Partnership as part of Business in the Community Ireland  (BITCI).

His presentation "BITCI - A Strategic Focus on Contexts of Disadvantage' outlined a range of priority themes for future work with postprimary schools, based on research of the Educational Disadvantage Centre in recent years.

Adding value to the Department of Education & Science 'School Completion Programme' the Schools' Business Partnership as part of Business in the Community Ireland  (BITCI) aims to positively impact on educational inclusion and address key issues in areas of educational disadvantage in Ireland. The programme does this by matching one post primary school with a large local business and engaging in various programmes. The target number of schools to be matched is 158 nationally and currently 150 are matched. Through the Schools' Business Partnership a menu of programmes has been developed to address key educational issues for these post primary schools across the country.

Catherine Dooley, a Research Fellow in the Educational Disadvantage Centre, has received a funding award from Leargas to travel to Sweden to participate in a Study Visit for Education and Vocational Training Specialists from 19th-23rd October 2009. The title of the study visit is "Flexible adult education for regional growth and development'. The visit is organised jointly by the Education Service in Leargas and the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, Cedefop, as part of the EU Transversal Programme. The purpose of the study visit is to generate an exchange of experience and good practice between Ireland and Sweden and to support policy development and cooperation at European level in lifelong learning and educational disadvantage.


The Educational Disadvantage Centre is engaged in a two year, €300,000 funded, EU Tempus Project, to develop a Masters programme for the Psychology Department of the University of Prishtina, Kosova. As part of this project, the EDC Director, Dr. Paul Downes taught an intensive week- long course on Psychoanalysis to twenty Masters students of Psychology in the University of Prishtina, from June 1st to June 6th 2009.

The project has gathered a consortium of five European universities to assist the Psychology department of the University of Prishtina in the development of a new post-graduate curriculum and in the training of its staff members.  The Educational Disadvantage Centre will also be assisting with the design of the Educational Psychology Strand of the Masters Curriculum.

The consortium is headed by the Division of Psychology of the University of Bedfordshire, UK, and includes the Department of Education and Psychology of the University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic, the Department of Psychology of the University of Prishtina, Kosova, the Psychology department of the Catholic University, Milan, Italy, the Psychotherapy Department of the Faculty of Pedagogy and Psychology of Ludwig-Maximilliens University in Munich, Germany, as well as the Educational Disadvantage Centre, St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra.


On May 11th 2009, Dr Paul Downes, Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre in St Patrick's College, was a guest speaker at the Ballymun Whitehall Area Partnership seminar. The Partnership intends to develop and implement a local framework that will support successful transitions from home to pre-school to primary to post primary school.

Other guest speakers at the AXIS Arts and Community Resource Centre Theatre, Ballymun, were Dr Hilary Fabian, Leader of Education and Childhood Studies at the North East Wales Institute, and Dr Mary O'Kane, Researcher with the Centre for Social and Educational Research in DIT and Lecturer in Child Development with the Open University.

Dr Downes' presentation, Reconceptualising transitions: The jolt in climate between primary and post-primary, argued that Bowlby's observations in developmental psychology of young children's defences of protest, despair and detachment offers a framework for understanding older children's reactions to the potentially alienating process of transition from primary to post primary.

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From January 29-31 2009, St Patrick's College hosted a project meeting for the research project LLL2010- Towards a Lifelong Learning Society in Europe: the Contribution of the Education System under the European Commission's 6th Framework Research Programme.

The participating institutions for this five year project are from Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, England, Estonia, Belgium, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, The Russian Federation, Scotland and Slovenia, with the Educational Disadvantage Centre in St Patrick's Collegebeing the Irish consortium member. The project focuses on the contribution of the education system to the process of making lifelong learning a reality for all and its role as a potential agent for social inclusion within Europe.

The Educational Disadvantage Centre is responsible for coordinating subproject 5 across all the countries, a subproject focusing on developing systemic change to promote access to education for traditionally disadvantaged groups in each of these societies. Dr Pauric Travers, President of St Patrick's College, spoke at the opening of the project meeting to welcome all the participants.

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On January 29th 2009, the Educational Disadvantage Centre, Director Dr. Paul Downes was a guest speaker at the IMPACT seminar on "Equality and Disadvantage in Education' in the Helix Gallery, Dublin City University. Dr. Downes gave a presentation entitled "Future Directions in Moving Beyond Educational Disadvantage', with Fergus Finlay, Barnardos, Dr. Dermot Stokes, Youthreach; Jillian Van Turnhout, Children's Rights Alliance and other guest speakers.

In Dr Downes presentation, he observed that unions have been a driving force historically in developing initiatives on overcoming disadvantage. He argued that there needs to be a renewed commitment on behalf of unions in the current economic climate to lobby for a holistic strategy to move beyond educational disadvantage. Based on a range of research reports from the Educational Disadvantage Centre, missing elements of such a strategy which he argued for prioritisation include: development of community based psychology services working also onsite in schools for prevention and early intervention; increased focus on literacy teaching skills for primary level and conflict resolution skills at secondary level for teacher inservice and preservice; a national out of schools service strategy and expansion of schools being open after hours as a community resource. Dr. Downes highlighted a need for reallocation of resources for a mental health strategy for contexts of educational disadvantage.



Not One Victim More

'Not One Victim More: Human Trafficking in the Baltic States' (Eds. P. Downes, A. Zule-Lapimaa, L. Ivanchenko and S. Blumberg),published by Living for Tomorrow, NGO, Tallinn, was launched on September 24, 2008 in Tallinn, Estonia. At the launch there wererepresentatives from the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministryof Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Health Development Institute, AIDS Information and Support Centre, as well as theNorwegian and Swedish Embassies and the BBC.


Founded in 1994, the European Educational Research Association's aim is to promote educational research in Europe through fosteringcooperation between European associations and institutes of educationalresearch, and international government organisations.

This year's European Conference on Educational Research, "From Teaching to Learning",took place this September 2008 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Jane Carrigan and Catherine Dooley, research fellows with the Educational Disadvantage Centre gave papers at the Conference as part of a symposium entitled "Social Justice and Lifelong Learning in Europe: mid-way findings from the EU Sixth Framework funded project LLL2010". The abstracts for these two papers can be accessed here.


Ballymun Education Fair was an event of theLifelong Learning Sub Group of Ballymun Partnership. The Fair was organised asa community event where education, training and learning programme providers could meetlocal people and promote their courses tothem. Over 30 different education providers displayed at the Fair. These providersoffer education programmes ranging fromearly childhood to schooling and basic adul teducation to university. The main aim therefore of the Fair was to promote learning as a possibilityand an opportunity for everybody from cradle to grave.The organisations participating in this Education Fair provided information to people from Ballymun on what education opportunities areavailable to them in Ballymun and surrounding areas. They recruited for courses and provided guidance and advice about what course or learning programme suits you to get you where you want to be in life. A programme of entertainment, demonstrations and workshops ran throughout the day of Ballymun Education Fair too. These activities highlighted the wide variety of learning experiences on offer in Ballymun.

Click here to view the brochure for Ballymun Education Fair 2008.


The Combat Poverty Agency held a conference Overcoming Barriers to Educational Disadvantage in Croke Park on Wednesday 25th June 2008. Guest speakers included Dr. Paul Downes, Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, St. Patrick's College as well asProfessor Hugh Mehan, Department of Sociology, University College San Diego and Professor Kathleen Lynch, Equality Studies Centre, University College Dublin.

Dr. Downes expanded on the conclusions of a number of recent reports published by the Educational Disadvantage Centre and highlighted the need for a mental health strategy in education for contexts of disadvantage. The sessions were chaired by Mr. Jim Mulkerrins, Social Inclusion Unit, DES; Ms. Emily Logan, Ombudsman for Children and Mr.Kevin O'Kelly, Acting Director Combat Poverty Agency. Conference papers,including Dr. Downes' presentation are available here.


The public lecture by Professor Peter Jarvis on 'Globalization,LifelongLearning and the Learning Society' took place on Thursday 7th February 2008, organised by the Educational Disadvantage Centre inthe college. A number of wide ranging themes were explored in relationto future directions for lifelong learning and society beyond modernist assumptions of individualism.

Professor Jarvis highlighted the injustices of global inequality and the need for education of the future to incorporate the social, interpersonal and communal dimensions to self. He highlighted that advertising was already one form of informal learning and the need to engage with other forms of informal learning was vital at all levels of the educational system.

Professor Peter Jarvis of the University of Surrey is the former Head of the Department of Educational Studies and is Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Adult Education, University of Georgia, USA. He has received a variety of academic honours, such as: being President of the British Association of International and Comparative Education (BAICE)1999-2000; the Cyril O. Houle World Award for Adult Education Literature from the American Association of Adult and Continuing Education; the Comenius Award - International ESVA Foundation (Outstanding Adult Educator in Europe – First Holder). He was also the first non-NorthAmerican to be elected to the International Hall of Fame of Adult andContinuing Education in USA. He was also awarded a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science research fellowship at the University of Tokyo. He was Noted Scholar at the University of British Columbia, and has been a Visiting Professor at the universities of Ljubljana, Tallinn,Tennessee, Alaska at Anchorage and Maryland.

Professor Jarvis is the author of a wide number of books on lifelong learning including Globalization, Lifelong Learning and the Learning Society: Sociological Perspectives: 2 (Lifelong Learning and the Learning Society) published in 2007 by Routledge.

The launch also took place of the National Report on Lifelong Learning in Ireland - LLL2010: Sub-Project 1: Towards a Lifelong Learning Society in Europe – The Contribution of the Education System   

A copy of this report can be accessed here.

Authors: Dr. Catherine Maunsell, Dr. Paul Downes, & Ms. Valerie McLoughlin

The National Report is funded by the 6th EU Framework Project.

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From left: Jim Cullen, Fergus Finlay, Paul Downes, Pat Carey, Ann Louise Gilligan and Mark Morgan



The launch of Beyond EducationalDisadvantage,edited by PaulDownes and Ann Louise Gilligan and published by the Institute ofPublic Administration (IPA) was held in theAuditorium of St.Patrick's College on Monday 17th September 2007. Among the 250peopleattending were Pat Carey, Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and Fergus Finlay CEO of Barnardos whoofficially launched the book. (Click here to access Fergus Finlay's launch speech). Dr. Mark Morgan chaired the proceedings with Jim Cullen, Director General of the IPA opening thesession.Drs. Paul Downes and Ann Louise Gilligan spoke about the Centre's committment tothe eradication of educational disadvantageand their hopes that this volume would have an impact on policy andpractice in the education field, inparticular in the context of disadvantage. Dr. Gilligan called for an increaseof 1% of GrossNational Product assigned to education and Dr. Downes stressedtheneed for a distinct funding strand in the Department of Education and Science for mental health and educational disadvantage. Over forty authors contributed to the thirty nine chapters in the book; half ofthe contributorswork here in St. Patrick's as lecturers andresearchers.

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Susan Quinn, a contributor to Beyond Educational Disadvantage,pictured with pupils from Rutland Street School.

The sale and distribution of the book is being handled by theIPA; it isavailable in Easons, Waterstones and Hodges Figgis. It canalso be purchaseddirectly from the IPA on their



On Thursday 28th June 2007, the report Count Us In. Tackling early school leaving inSouth West Inner City Dublin: An integrated response, commissioned by the South Inner CityCommunity Development Association (SICCDA)and authored by Paul Downes and Catherine Maunsell was launched by Minister Mary Hanafin during the SICCDAconference at the Guinness Storehouse. Paul Downes was the keynote speaker atthe conference.Other speakers included Pat Carey, Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural Gaeltacht Affairs. Minister Carey also holds the position of head of the National Drugs Strategy.



QDOSS, Quality Development of Out of School Services,hosted a conference on the 14th December 2006 in Dublin Castle. The topic was Out of School Services – their role in influencing and enabling educational outcomes for children and young people. A report entitled 'Quality Development of Out of School Services: An agenda for development,'compiledby Dr. Paul Downes,was also launched at this conference. The keynote speaker was Professor Robert Halpern, Chair of the Research Council at the Erikson Institute Graduate School in Child Development,Chicago. He holds the position of Faculty Associate at the Chapin Centre for Children at the University of Chicago. His current research focuses on the evaluation of after-school programmes for poor childrenand their families. The conference was opened by Brian Lenihan,Minister for Children.

QDOSS, working collaboratively, seeks a strategic approach at national and local community level to the provision of Out-of-School Services for those children and young people most at risk ofeducational disadvantage.

QDOSS member organisations include, along with th eEDC, Barnardos, Border Counties Childcare Network, Children's Research Centre,Foroige, Limerick City Childcare Committee, Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, TIDE and Youth Work Ireland.

The launch of a report commissioned by the Blanchardstown AreaPartnershipinto early school leaving took place on Wednesday the 6thDecember 2006. This report entitled 'Aholistic approach to early school leaving and school retention in Blanchardstown: Current issues and future steps for services and schools' is authored by Dr.Paul Downes, Dr. Catherine Maunsell andJo-Hanna Ivers.

The Educational Disadvantage Centre, in conjunction with theCentre for Human Development, have been part of a successful consortium with twelve other EU countries from Western and Eastern Europe to engage in a 5 year EU fundedproject 'Towards a Lifelong Learning Society: the Contribution of the Education System' Keythemes in this research will include social inclusion, active citizenship and access toeducation. Working in conjunction with Dr.Catherine Maunsell, Dr. Paul Downesis the Irish national coordinator.

Part of the role of the Educational Disadvantage Centre is to inform teachers of models of good practice that aim to tackle educational disadvantage in use in schools throughout the country. With this in mind, the Centre proposes to gatherinformation on Models of Good Practiceand disseminate this information on its website. If you arecurrentlyusing an innovative method to tackle educational disadvantage, please contact the Educational Disadvantage Centre at +353 1 8842021 or by email

The Educational Disadvantage Centre has been awarded a grant of 158,158 Eurofrom thePobal Dormant Accounts Fund to installsound-field amplification systems in 8 primary schools in Ballyfermot and North Inner City Dublin, and toengage in a 2 year research programme on their benefits for speech andlanguage, behaviour management and prevention of Attention Deficit Disorder.

On the 11th April 2006, Barnardos launched their new campaign on Educational Disadvantage. Their document, 'Make the Grade', accommodated a range of suggestions from the Educational Disadvantage Centre,including material from its National Forum and MonitoringGroup for theimplementation of the Forum Action Plan.