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New DCU Institute to transform Irish educational landscape

Minister for Education & Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD has today launched a report outlining the vision and structure of a ground-breaking new Institute of Education which will improve the quality of education for all the children of Ireland.  This will be created through the coming together of Dublin City University, St Patrick’s College Drumcondra, Mater Dei Institute of Education and Church of Ireland College of Education.

The Institute will represent the largest critical mass of education expertise on the island of Ireland.  It will provide initial teacher education and continuous professional development for teachers and educators from early childhood through primary and secondary to third and fourth level.

For the first time in Ireland, DCU will create a space enabling different Christian traditions to teach and learn collaboratively side-by-side.  In line with DCU’s ethos as a non-denominational, secular university with a strong commitment to pluralism, the new Institute of Education will provide a place of mutual respect for the formation of teachers for denominational (Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland/Reformed Christian traditions), non-denominational and multi-denominational schools. 

 Speaking at the launch of the report, A New Vision of Education for all the Children of Ireland, Minister Quinn said,

 “I warmly welcome this development.  I want to commend the institutions involved for showing leadership in creating this flagship institute of education.  I am particularly pleased to see the commitment to interdenominational diversity, the Church of Ireland, Roman Catholic, non-denominational and multi-denominational traditions all side by side and working together; it is a wonderful symbol of a mature, modern Ireland.”

 The Minister continued,

 “I am delighted that significant progress is being made across all the publicly funded teacher training colleges as they move from being 19 separate institutions into six centres of excellence.  These structural changes are complementing the curricular reforms I have already introduced in order to position Ireland at the forefront of teacher education and ensure we continue to have excellent teachers.”

 The Institute will constitute a fifth faculty of DCU.  It will conduct pioneering research in priority areas such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, special-needs and inclusive education, literacy and numeracy, arts education, further education, assessment, digital learning, as well as ethical and values-based education.  It will engage extensively with schools throughout Ireland and represent an authoritative source of expertise for educational policy development. 

 Dr Martin McAleese, Chancellor of DCU, said,

"As Chancellor of DCU, I am particularly pleased with this historical development. The significance for the island of Ireland is immense. Here we have institutionalised diversity and respects for all faiths and none embedded in an Institute of Education that will have a transformative impact on the futures of all the children of Ireland."

 The core curriculum for teacher preparation will be denominationally neutral but will allow for the delivery of denominational modules to prepare teachers appropriately for schools of different religious traditions and none. 

 The distinctive ethos and identity of each of the incorporating institutions will be respected and upheld within the ‘new DCU’.  This will be achieved through the creation of Centres for Denominational Education within the Institute (a Centre for Catholic Education and a Church of Ireland Centre).  The Directors of the two Centres will be members of the Institute of Education Management Committee, ensuring that each Centre will be fully part of the structure, staffing and governance of the university.  Each Centre will receive guidance from its respective Advisory Council on upholding denominational ethos, values and traditions as well as curricular content relating to specialist areas of programmes.

 Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Archbishop Michael Jackson jointly welcomed the new development,

“We have great pleasure in welcoming the new Institute of Education within Dublin City University.  It is a truly significant development in Irish education.  It represents an exciting vision for the education of children in Ireland in the decades to come.  The Institute will provide multiple opportunities for collaborative engagement in the formation of the teachers of tomorrow. This will be in an environment and setting which is pluralist and respectful of the academic enterprise as a whole. It also honours the formative contribution which understanding one’s own tradition within Christianity brings to education together with understanding the faith tradition of others who are different from us.

We are happy to see that the traditions to which we both belong and the heritage of our institutions, will find such a welcome in Dublin City University.   We see in this an assurance of the vitality of our respective denominational modules and a recognition of the pivotal contribution of our respective schools.

We wish to thank the Minister of Education and Skills along with members of his Department and the President and Chancellor of Dublin City University and all who have worked on this project and we look forward to further collaborative engagement to bringing it to full realisation.”