Shared Network Across Ireland
Professor Harold Hislop, School of Policy and Practice, DCU Institute of Education, Dr Patrick Shevlin, Senior Researcher EQI DCU Institute of Education, Professor Anne Looney, Dean of DCU Institute of Education, Faustina Graham, Chief Inspector Department of Education Northern Ireland, Yvonne Keating, Chief Inspector Department of Education Ireland, Dr Martin Brown, Head of School of Policy and Practice, Co-Director EQI The Centre for Evaluation Quality and Inspection
DCU Institute of Education

Findings from a DCU and EQI Study, 'Towards Civic and Public Engagement' Launches in Northern Ireland

DCU Institute of Education chairs a historic cross-community education initiative in Northern Ireland, the report was launched with education stakeholders from across the Island of Ireland.

A report on a ground-breaking, cross-community educational initiative on effective professional learning, involving a network of over 150 schools across Northern Ireland that was initiated and coordinated by Dr. Patrick Shevlin and Dr. Martin Brown (EQI-The Center for Evaluation Quality and Inspection, School of Policy and Practice, DCU Institute of Education) entitled Towards Civic and Public Engagement: The Continuing Journey and Impact of the DCU/EQI Shaped Professional Learning Research Network–Looking Back and Looking Forward was launched at Stormont Buildings, Belfast.

Commenting on the report, Professor Daire Keogh, President of Dublin City University stated:

‘As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, and with DCU’s commitment to transforming lives and societies, I consider the DCU/EQI Shaped Professional Learning Network initiative to be an outstanding example of the power of education. It shows how a shaped professional learning network, truly owned by the schools themselves, can play a part in healing the boundaries that exist in our too often divided society’.

Professor Anne Looney, Dean of Education, DCU Institute of Education added:

‘The report clearly indicates the culmination of a long-term commitment by DCU Institute of Education to civic and public engagement with stakeholders across the continuum of education. There is a long held view at DCU that when working collaboratively with all stakeholders; collectively we can develop unique and targeted solutions to the greatest challenges facing lives and society’.

Among the topics analysed and collated as individual case studies in the report is “Improving attainment in Numeracy and Wellbeing for pupils and staff at Braniel Primary School, Belfast."

According to the School, “We have made very good progress on most pupils achieving an improvement in their Mental Maths scores with the average Mental Maths test score in almost all classes increasing.  We have made excellent progress on the majority of pupils participating in our Recovery Curriculum activities actively and experiencing a positive return to school [following the closure of schools due to the pandemic]. We have also made very good progress on the majority of staff participating in wellbeing activities actively and using the wellbeing resources available to them”. 

Another area examined relates to that of ‘Improving Assessment for Learning’ at St. Patrick's Academy, Dungannon where some of the improvements consisted of:

  • A significant decrease in the number of referrals to the school counsellor in relation to pressure and anxiety of assessments as most pupils were able to manage the assessment process.
  • Improvement at GCSE level - 5+ GCSE A*-C of 2.19% from 2019.
  • Improvement at GCSE level - 7+ GCSE A*-C of 2.25% from 2019.
  • Improvements at A-level - 3+ A*-C of 3.3% from 2019.

Dr Shevlin, Senior Research Fellow at EQI, DCU Institute of Education, commented; 

“The key focus of our research was targeted school improvement with a variety of forms of data, together with the use of innovative techniques for evaluation and continuing professional learning. This collaborative endeavour has essentially been about schools working collaboratively and taking ownership of evaluation for improvement in their own communities.”

Dr Brown, Head of School of Policy and Practice and co-director of EQI the Centre for Evaluation Quality and Inspection also commented; 

“Put simply, we undertook this large-scale collaborative initiative with one overarching aim which is to improve the life chances of learners from all school types and from all sections of society”.

In conclusion, Professor Daire Keogh stated:

“I congratulate the school leaders, staff and pupils involved in the network and commend Dr Shevlin and Dr Brown for initiating and facilitating, in an entirely voluntary capacity, this ground-breaking initiative."