Educational Disadvantage Centre
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Quality Development of Out of School Services QDOSS


QDOSS is a network of stakeholders, drawn from the Out-of-School sector, which aims to promote positive educational outcomes for children and young people, particularly those experiencing educational and social disadvantage. We are committed to the reality that Out-of-School Services play a key role in overcoming both educational and social disadvantage – helping children and young people's personal and social development, their motivation and confidence to learn, preventing early school leaving and anti-social behaviour. 

Barnardos;  Border Counties Childcare Network; City and County Childcare Committees;   Crann Community Childcare;  Dublin City Childcare Committee;  Early Childhood Ireland;  Educational Disadvantage Centre, DCU; Irish Local Development Network;  Limerick City Childcare Committee;  National Voluntary Childcare Collaborative; Roscommon County  Childcare Committee;  Transforming Education through Dialogue, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick


Out-of-School services refer to a range of structured developmental programmes, clubs and activities for school-age children and young people (4-18) which take place within supervised environments outside of formal school time and include school age childcare services, after school clubs, breakfast clubs, youth groups and programmes. They take place in a variety of settings, which include community childcare services, schools and various community venues. These services are funded and resourced from a range of sources including the EU, statutory and non-governmental agencies, parents, schools, community-based groups, faith-based organisations, youth organisations and other voluntary sector groups. Focusing firstly on the needs of children.

QDOSS recommends that key parts of a National Strategic Plan for Out-of-School Services should include:

1) LONG-TERM, RING FENCED FUNDING FOR OUT-OF-SCHOOL PROJECTS THAT GO BEYOND MERELY YEAR-TO-YEAR FUNDING Ring fenced funding must be put in place so that Out-of-School Services are equally available across the country, especially in contexts of urban and rural disadvantage. QDOSS recommends:  A consistent national and local strategy for funding of Out-of-School Services, inclusive of holiday provision, coordinated across the Departments of Education and Science, Health and Children, Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Office of the Minister of Children

2) CONTINUITY OF OUT-OF-SCHOOL SERVICE PROVISION Full continuity and integration of Out-of-School provision for children starting school through to those reaching school leaving age is a vital part of any response to tackle educational disadvantage. QDOSS recommends that the National Strategic Plan make provision for integrated and coordinated Out-of-School Service provision at local level. Family support must be a key element of integrated and coordinated provision in contexts of rural and urban disadvantage. QDOSS recommends that:  The National Educational Welfare Board be adequately resourced so that Education Welfare Officers can fully engage these children and young people and their families, to support them to benefit from mainstream education as well as integrated Out-of-School Services  Out-of-School services are consistently available throughout the summer and other holiday times to provide a point of stability during a time of changing experiences for children and young people

3) CONTINUITY OF STAFF AND CAREER/PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF STAFF IN OUT-OF-SCHOOL SERVICES Continuous relations to maintain trust between staff and children and young people are vital to psychological well-being and are particularly important for children and youth at risk of early school leaving. QDOSS recommends:  The development and implementation of staff retention and recruitment strategies  The facilitation of a national strategy for staff development and progression,  Examining training and accreditation, employment opportunities and defined career progression in the Out-of-School Service sector

4) OUT-OF-SCHOOL SERVICES AS AN INTEGRAL ELEMENT IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF AN INCLUSIVE, CULTURALLY RELEVANT CURRICULUM QDOSS recognises the role that Out-of-School Services can play in implementing an inclusive, culturally relevant curriculum that can enhance children and young people's academic, personal, social and emotional development. QDOSS recommends that:  Funding is provided for Out-of-School programmes which recognise the vital role the Visual and Creative Arts can play for personal development, conflict resolution skills and in developing English language and literacy skills.  Funding is made available for school libraries to be developed as a resource within communities to enhance community based literacy schemes.  Strategies are put in place to empower parents of children/young people whose first language is not English or Irish to become involved in their children's education.

5) ALL SCHOOLS NEED TO BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE COMMUNITY AS A LOCAL RESOURCE QDOSS recommends that the National Strategy make provision for new and existing school buildings to be made consistently available as a resource for the local community before and after school hours. 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 of educational disadvantage.




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 2012, Carrick-on- Shannon on the 18th October 2012 and in Dublin on the 23rd October 2012. Valerie McLoughlin and Paul Downes attended the Dublin consultation. Paul Downes prepared the QDOSS prebudget submission on behalf of the network.




Irish Examiner, Monday May 23rd 2016

School buildings may stay open for after-class care in a new strategy being developed by the Education Minister Richard Bruton. Mr Bruton is currently drafting a three-year education strategy, which could see homework clubs and other community programmes held in schools. The issue has long been debated, with barriers to using school buildings including insurance and staffing. 


Irish Times, Monday May 23th 2016

Plan to use buildings for afterschool care and homework clubs seen as critical.  Plans to make school buildings available out of hours for afterschool care, homework clubs and other community activities form a key part of three-year education strategy being developed by Minister for Education Richard Bruton writes Carl O’Brien


Invited presentation of Dr Downes to the DCYA and DES Interdepartmental Group: School Based Afterschool Services: Key Issues for the Inter-Departmental Group to Consider. ACCESS PRESENTATION HERE


Irish Independent March 2nd 2015

Hard-pressed parents are set to benefit from a plan to use schools to provide low-cost evening time childcare.  Under proposals being prepared by the Government, primary schools would be kept open for two hours for supervised play and homework clubs writes Fionnan Sheahan


The Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton T.D., and Minister Frances Fitzgerald T.D., today, 5 December 2013, announced a new Budget initiative to provide for upwards of 6,000 additional after school places targeted at children in primary school. The associated additional funding for the initiative will be €14 million in a full year.


Irish Examiner, Friday 27th January 2012

Schools can play a crucial role in boosting children's academic performance by offering a range of after-school programmes, a report suggests.

Frances Fitzgerald

Marlene McCormack, Paul Downes and Minister Frances Fitzgerald

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 2013. The conference was opened by the then 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 QDOSS network, 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 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 and the proceedings can be accessed here

On the 14th December 2006, QDOSS, Quality Development of Out of School Services, hosted a conference 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,compiled by 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 children and their families. Professor Halpern gave the keynote address and Minister for Children, Brian Lenihan's opened proceedings 

Other presentations given at the conference included ones by Clíona Murphy(Children's Research Centre), Denise McCormilla (BCCN) and Catherine Joyce (Barnardos) together with Rachael Murphy (Foróige)