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EQI supporting the educational needs of School communities in Northern Ireland
EQI supporting the educational needs of School communities in Northern Ireland
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EQI supporting the educational needs of School communities in Northern Ireland

The provision of high-quality education is paramount to the future prosperity and stability of Northern Ireland and at the same time, education support services have been diminished in Northern Ireland over time.

Yet, the EQI Shaped professional Learning Network initiative continues to grow despite the fiscal challenges that exist, said Dr Martin Brown, Researcher Director at EQI – The Centre for Evaluation Quality and Inspection.

Dr Brown was speaking about the EQI Shaped Professional Learning Network initiative that has been in existence for the last six years at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) conference that was held in Belfast city's Titanic Quarter.

Developed by EQI senior research fellow Dr. Patrick Shevlin and Dr. Brown the primary focus of the EQI Shaped Professional Learning Network comprising of schools (cross phase – primary and post primary - controlled and maintained – across the religious divide, and including integrated and shared education is to support targeted school improvement in a variety of forms; using newly developed and innovative techniques for continuing professional development and evaluation focused on a range of first hand evidence.

As to the future and success of the EQI initiative, Dr Shevlin during his address at the ASCL conference stated:

"The objective in the medium term, and specifically within 3 years, is that the number of schools will organically grow to eventually involve a minimum of 15% of NI schools within the shaped network –140 schools.

Work and competence for Action research within this EQI cluster led by myself and Dr. Brown is done on an entirely voluntary basis by ourselves and by the schools and organically grew and is growing.

We learn from within the group and we learn for those outside of the group. School improvement owned by schools themselves provides the driving force".

Dr. Brown stated:

"Overall the evidence we have gained shows that this is an excellent example of the power of education and how a shaped professional learning network can dissolve some of the boundaries that exist in society as well as providing the best conditions in which schools at all levels can learn from each other in the best interests of their communities.

It is our contribution to the call for civic and public engagement in our communities. We now look forward to the launch of the second compendium that can be used by a range of educational stakeholders throughout Northern Ireland and elsewhere".

The compendium of case studies derived from the first phase of the research can be downloaded from the Department of Education Northern Ireland Web site at the following link here

About ASCL

The Association of school and college leaders (ASCL) is a leading professional body representing over 19,000 school and college leaders in all phases across the UK.

About Martin Brown

Martin Brown, School of Policy and Practice, DCU Institute of Education is research director at EQI – The centre for Evaluation Quality and Inspection.

He is an elected faculty member of the Centre for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment at the University of Illinois, advisor to the Teaching Council of Ireland and is presently the Project coordinator and principal investigator for the following funded research projects: Erasmus+ Supporting Culturally Responsive Leadership in Schools (CRELES); Erasmus+ Aiding Culturally Responsive Assessment in Schools (ACRAS); Erasmus+ Distributed Evaluation and Planning in Schools (DEAPS); Erasmus+ Supervising schools in the 21st century; and (SCOTENS) ITE Students Readiness to teach in a Digital World.

About Patrick Shevlin

Dr Patrick Shevlin is the President of the Association for Science Education (Northern Ireland) and a senior research fellow at EQI, DCU Institute of Education.

He is an educational consultant with the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE), the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) and the Controlled Schools Sectoral Council (CSSQ).

Before taking up these roles, he had been an Inspector with the Education Training Inspectorate (ETI) Northern Ireland for 26 years.

Within this role, he had a variety of positions, including that of Education Area Board Coordinator, which involved managing the work of a group of district inspectors within these education support services.

A former teacher, he completed his doctoral studies at Queens University, Belfast.