Engagement and Impact
As a designated research Centre of Dublin City University EQI has a strong commitment to the core values underpinning the University Strategic Plan, Transforming Lives and Societies. At the most basic level EQI sees its engagement with schools, school communities, the education system and community and professional groups as providing an opportunity for it to help transform educational provision for the greater benefit of society as a whole.
EQI’s engagement with key stakeholders is an all island endeavour and it is delighted to have been able to work with partners in Northern Ireland as well as the Republic of Ireland.
EQI intends to have an impact on educational provision on the island of Ireland and beyond and seeks to work with partners from all sectors of society to transform what we do and why we do it.
In Northern Ireland the research partner network is focused on integrating co-professional school evaluation into the schools system. Using government devised instruments such as Together Towards Improvement, all schools in Northern Ireland are now expected to have in place a school self-evaluation plan that is subsequently quality assured by the Education and Training Inspectorate. This process of school self-evaluation for improvement is well established in schools and there have been significant positive outcomes arising from it. Among the most important of these have been the improvement and subsequent normalisation of required standards for teaching and learning in priority areas such as Literacy and Assessment. Challenges have emerged, however, not least the observation by Barber quoted in McKinsey (2010) that in many jurisdictions schools are judged as being ‘good’ but fail to improve to ‘great’. This perception of a plateauing effect despite the best efforts of inspectorates, schools, management bodies etc. is seen as being problematic across Europe.
Taking up the challenge of moving schools from good to great, EQI in a post Brexit era -and as part of DCUs strategy for civic engagement - has developed a two-strand implementation process for School Continuing Professional Development and collaborative Action Based Research Evaluations with clusters of dedicated EQI research schools throughout Northern Ireland. Working with 163 schools in 23 research partner led clusters the outcomes of this EQI project suggest that, while government mandated school self-evaluation initiatives have significantly improved the quality of teaching and learning in schools. According to the co-ordinator of the project, Dr. Martin Brown, “this two-strand action based model of school self-evaluation and planning has far exceeded what we initially expected and as required in mandated policy and practice. From good to great, there are many positive lessons to be learned from schools in Northern Ireland”.
EQI researchers include: Dr. Martin Brown, Dr.Paddy Shevlin, Professor Joe O’Hara and Professor Gerry McNamara
For further details contact Dr Martin Brown (email@example.com)
In the Republic of Ireland EQI has been working with schools to help them develop the skills and process to necessary to effectively engage in self-evaluation – a mandatory requirement since 2012. While there is a commitment to the idea research shows that many schools -both in Ireland and internationally - find it challenging to get the time to plan and to engage in the process effectively. EQI has provided guidelines for schools in their research partner network to address the practicalities of the process. Representatives from Research Partner Schools received training in the organisation and facilitation of the process, tools for gathering and analysing data, the development of self-evaluation reports and school improvement plans. All participating schools applied the learning and all produced high quality self-evaluation reports and school improvement plans.
The initial roll out of the support process involved the pilot testing of a model of support for school self-evaluation in 11 secondary schools and its subsequently being made available to over 100 schools in the DCU Partnership for Learning Programme. The model of support involved the provision of a training programme entitled “Let’s Help You to Lead SSE in Your School” as well as a number of other supports. A participant from each school was trained to facilitate the school self-evaluation process in their own school and in this way building the capacity of both the individuals involved and the schools. Each participant also received a course completion certificate in recognition of the expertise that each developed during the programme. A second iteration of the project has seen the focus of the support change from individuals to teams.
Speaking at a recent event the project Co-Ordinator Dr. Shivaun O’Brien stated that “it is wonderful to see schools going above and beyond to form links with a university and to become active research partners. These schools are ambitious for their learners and committed to improvement and excellence”.
The Research Partner Networks in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland build on a number of research projects carried out by EQI which focus on inspection, accountability, evaluation and improvement in schools. EQI has developed strong working relationships with schools over the years and representatives from the Centre recognised the willingness and innovation of the schools involved in the research project. It is intended in June of this year to bring together schools from both networks to share good practice and to explore ways in which they can help improve the quality of education at a local level- an improvement that is sure to have an impact nationally and internationally.
EQI researchers include: Dr. Shivaun O’Brien Professor Joe O’Hara, Professor Gerry McNamara and Dr. Martin Brown
For further details contact Dr. Shivaun O'Brien (firstname.lastname@example.org)
EQI senior researcher, Dr. Shivaun O'Brien in conjunction with the School of Policy and Practice at the DCU Institute of Education, has developed a series of targeted Continuous Professional Development modules designed to facilitate staff development and improvement in our partner schools.The programme was developed in order to build on and strengthen the relationship between DCU and schools and specifically to recognise the support provided by Cooperating Schools to DCU initial teacher education students. The support of Cooperating Schools and teachers is of the utmost importance for successful school placements. The goodwill of school management and teachers is recognised and appreciated by DCU. The courses are not restricted to Cooperating Teachers and all will be provided free of charge. The face to face courses will take place in DCU and while these are not accredited, DCU certificates of participation will be provided.
Further details can be found at the link below or by contacting Dr. Shivaun O'Brien (email@example.com)