Educational Disadvantage Centre

EDC News 2014- 2013


The Hunger Prevention in Schools Strategy Group 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

paul downes czech republic

Paul Downes


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


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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OED logo

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.

Kay maunsell liz waters and valerie mcloughlin




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.

S4S vincentss4s more vincentss4s letter


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.

Sport 4 Success

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.

Paul Downes

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’.

Access to Education

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



RiSE logo

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.


kay jane and valerie


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

Kay and Jane




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

Dr Paul Downes, keynote address at EU Presidency Conference

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

RiSE Cover



On May 28th, 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.

cross synergy photo


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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Ouality Developement of Out of School Services Conference


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.Minister Frances Fizgerald in conversation with Dr Paul Downes 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). 

Prevent logo



Paul Downes Radio Nantes



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.

RISE Dublin




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