More information available here: http://www.ahead.ie/aheadannualconference2012

AHEAD in the News:

UCC head’s views are ‘widespread’

Heated argument

 

Staff Picks:

Back to the future – where are they now?

Death of tireless campaigner for the vulnerable

Most influential and finest journalist of last 25 years

The Case for a Four-Day Work Week

The only way is up when you upskill

 

Higher & Further Education News & Views

Entry points for colleges to rise

Seven steps to CAO success

Colleges spend €750k on taxis in two years

Sporting chance beckons in NY

UK academic to head science body

DCU to lead €3.75m science initiative

Irish mathematician cracks immunity code

UCC head rejects criticism from staff over speech

Disabled or disadvantaged?

Jobs boost is reason to go to college

The rule is simple: list CAO courses in order of preference

Help your children in the career process

Are you eligible for a grant or a scholarship?

DARE Application Advice Clinics

 

Disability Headlines

Offering stepping stones to local manufacturing

Race against time to fund ‘bubble’ boy’s life-saving surgery

Life-changing op to help Casey dance after €30,000 raised

Cerebral palsy boy’s assistance dog banned from school

Dental care for disabled kids

I was told I’d never walk again — today I’m aiming for the Olympics

Isolated twins now talking to world thanks to student project

Hospital doesn’t have to revive disabled boy

We’ve got wheels

Hands On

 

General Education Stories

Budding boffins put projects under microscope

Science & Innovation – Embracing change is key

Opposites do not subtract

Science key to future of State – Kenny

Minister calls for review of teacher cuts at disadvantaged schools

Rabbitte leads delegation to lobby Quinn

Prioritise maths in primary school, says NCC report

At-risk school schemes improve learning

Primary school prepares for the worst

Principal offers to buy e-voting machine — for €1

Ruairi Quinn admits DEIS cuts mistake

 

Mental Health in the Media

Suicide agency names ambassador

Senator: Suicide policy not working

Suicide debate highlights mental health

I needed a break from ‘me’

HSE trains groups in suicide prevention

Mental hospital ‘should remain in public hands’

 

Employment Features

Man with a plan to get people ‘back to work’

Bruton says new initiative aims to generate thousands of jobs

Courses encourage jobless into education

Waterford firm to create 250 jobs

I attended the LIN (Learning Innovation Network) Conference in the Aisling Hotel on 27th October and came away with a lasting impression of very innovative and inclusive teaching going on in higher education. It was a very positive and energising day and well worth attending.

It covered key areas in higher education – first year experience, diversity and staff development and gave a platform to share and talk about highly innovative activities in higher education. At all these events you take away a few good ideas. My favourites were the key note speaker, Douglas Thomas who espoused a very novel idea. Learning should be pleasurable, a joyful experience. He emphasised the need to move away from learning as the absorption of information to one where learning taps into a sense of playfulness, natural curiosity, passion and a need to experiment. That is the basis of all positive learning. Since when does enjoyment not equate with learning.

One talk that really stood out for me was given by Dr. Barry Ryan from DIT on empowering student learning through knowledge production. OK the title sounds boring and does not do justice to the inspiration and passion he brought to the age old problem of engaging his students with a very boring subject. He described how he evolved a combination of action learning with group work and technology such as mind mapping and visualisation to ensure the students could keep their eye on the big picture and not get bogged down in the detail too early. He also built self development into the activity with self reflection exercises on individual learning styles, creating spaces for self awareness and inner learning.

Blogged by Ann Heelan, Director of AHEAD

Thursday Thoughts:

Check out our new blog post from AHEAD Director, Ann Heelan:

You get what you measure

 

Staff Picks:

Bright spark: Dublin student wins top European young scientist prize

EU higher education gets with the programme

Ireland’s first ever international disability film festival abära commences this october

RTÉ Player

Two for the Road:  Episode 5

Higher & Further Education News & Views

Can Higher Education Be Fixed? The Innovative University

And the award goes to . . .

LIT graduates set off for NASA

UCD opens €5m environmental research facility at Belfield campus

The graduates: where are they now?

Disability Headlines

Is Having Autism A Defense For Hacking?

Diary of a Schoolteacher: The spiralling human cost of axing Special Needs Assistants

I’m SNA for two kids in two rooms

Special education council publishes allocation list

General Education Stories

Gene Kerrigan: Furthering inequality in divided society

Awkward truth of assessing portfolios

Quinn set to back ‘radical’ plan for new Junior Cert

Muslims say they cannot get into schools

Irish language pack for schools stresses rights

Please sir, will you be my Facebook friend?

In my opinion: School policy has as much impact on pupils’ achievements as curriculum

Facebook and texting guidelines part of new teachers’ code

Irish teen wins top EU science prize

One-third of people teaching maths not qualified to do so

350 fewer resource teachers

Quinn ‘powerless’ to get teacher details

Mental Health in the Media

Central Mental Hospital staff to vote on industrial action

Funds plea for woman to get care in Britain

‘More resources’ for mental health

Employment Features

IBEC calls for integrated language education policy

Good worker morale is essential to a successful enterprise

Google announces €75m new investment in Ireland

You get what you measure 

 

I attended two separate but related events this week which raised serious challenges for the education system.  The first was the Transitions Conference organized by the HEA and the NCCA which looked at changing the Leaving Certificate and its relationship to college entry, the CAO points.  There was great emphasis put on the backwash impact  the CAO process  is having on teaching and learning in secondary school and how the Leaving Certificate as an assessment instrument, has become the tail that wags the curriculum dog. On the basis that you get what you measure, the Leaving Certificate, particularly when combined with the CAO college entry selection criteria, does not encourage or nurture the learning of the generic skills that all young people must have to negotiate their way in an ever changing world of knowledge and technology.  Skills such as independent learning, analysis of information, problem solving, critical thinking and on and on…

 

Yet there was also recognition of the integrity and public perception of fairness embedded in the Leaving Certificate and CAO system which it was felt must be preserved in any change initiative.

 

But it was blatantly obvious from the presentation of research findings delivered by the ERSI and from many speakers, that the present system does not suit very many learners and the existence of the HEAR and DARE schemes are evidence of the inherent unfairness of the system for many groups, never mind those young people who complete the Leaving Certificate Applied which is not recognized by the CAO, or the many young people who simply drop out of school.

 

It begs the question, which is more important,  an education  system designed to equip all young people for life, or,  a system that is fair, reliable and has public confidence, or indeed are the two mutually exclusive?

 

The answer is obvious if not simple.  There can be no ifs and buts.  Now is the time to go back to the drawing board and design a system of assessment based on principles of universal design that would enable all students a fair opportunity to develop their potential, to learn generic skills and to demonstrate what they know.  Such a system if designed around the learning needs of all students would include a range of robust assessment instruments including portfolio’s, projects, group work, exams, competency based observations would be fair, transparent, reliable and engender integrity.  Flexibility and integrity can go together and are not mutually exclusive.

 

The Government already has a policy of inclusive education in place and now is the time to enact it by designing a universal system of curricula and assessment that would benefit all students (including those with disabilities).  Such an inclusive approach would than take away the need for inappropriate and inefficient add on schemes such as HEAR and DARE as all candidates would be assessed fairly within a framework of assessment designed precisely to measure the skills and knowledge they were designed to measure. A system of Universal Assessment would encourage and bring a wider range of pedagogical methods into the classroom with the capacity to genuinely engage the student and encourage the generic learning skills needed for life.  We have many models for such a system already in colleges of Art and Design and in the successful FETAC model of assessment in operation in the vocational sector.

 

The second event I attended brought the need for universal design in education home even more. I spoke at a Labour Party event in the Mansion House on disability where there were many parents of deaf and blind children talking about their experience of negotiating a basic education for their children.  In spite of the government rhetoric around a consultative process with parents, they feel un-listened to.  Most describe a whole confluence of systematic barriers to learning for their children starting at birth and persisting right through the education system.  The result is a generation of bright sensory impaired young people who leave school ill equipped in basic literacy to progress on to education or employment because their needs have been systematically ignored.

 

A student centred system of education, according to recent ESRI research engages students and ensures their retention within the system and serves the different learning needs of all children by offering flexibility and creativity in teaching.  It makes no sense to change the activities within the classroom and continue to examine everything thought written examinations.  This is the right time to change the Leaving Certificate, we have heard about it for years and Minister Ruairi Quinn we hope is taking the reins and embracing a move to change.

 

We support his efforts wholeheartedly.

 

Ann Heelan

Executive Director

 

Hello everyone,

the last of the four day weeks for a while! Well at least until the June Bank Holiday weekend 🙂

First up this week, make sure you check out AHEAD in the News! Ann Heelan Director of AHEAD featured in the Irish Times Education Profile. You can read the article in full here: Disability is not a bar to learning

We are also delighted to provide a link to Sinead Kanes interview with Ryan Tubridy during the week. Sinead is a current WAM Participant and a graduate of UCC. Sinead has also spoken at GET AHEAD events in the past.

You can listen to the interview here: https://getaheadblog.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/sinead-kane-on-2fm/

In other news, I’ve grouped articles together under some loose headings to make the post easier to browse! Hope this helps! I’ve also added my own personal favourite at the top of the list!

Personal Favourite:

Our daughter has a right to an education, like every other child

Higher Education News & Views

Higher education harmed by political system

John Drennan: Quinn to axe points race by 2014

Third-level heads asked to put forward proposals on reform

Waterford institute spending review

We should ensure there is not too much of an overlap in provision of courses

Graduates to get degree status under alliance

CAO apologises for posting med applicants’ test scores online

Galway’s educational institutes sign up to partnership

Disability News & Views (General)

McDonald’s to improve outlet accessibility

Helping more disabled people get into politics

Transitioning From Primary To Secondary School

Comic’s €250,000 donation is no joke

Teenager with cerebral palsy awarded €3.5m

Disabled man’s quad bike stolen from outside his flat

Mental Health in the Media

Suicide statistics ‘brushed under the carpet’

49% do not seek help for mental problems

One in five social network conversations focus on ‘negative’

Just 50% of people with mental health issues seek counselling

Family calls for more research into anti-depressants

Only 9 cells for mentally ill prisoners, claims POA

General Education News

Online learning bridges the gap from class to the digital world

Teacher’s Pet – Tues May 3rd

Minister on collision course with gaelscoileanna

Yes, we teachers just don’t know how privileged we really are

Our education failures cannot be put on backburner

Other articles of interest

Dragon’s Den judge Gallagher confirms presidential ambition

4th National APA Conference

Concerns at overuse of sedatives in hospitals

Cheap rates not for all

Arts and Disability Awards Ireland 2011

Want to know even more? Then check out the BBC Ouch! blog which has compiled a list of relevant links from the BBC this week: Disability around the BBC this week

Hopefully you’re here because you have gotten a letter from our director Ann Heelan, enclosing our Charter for Teaching and Learning. We’re really keen to see as many people as possible use this and to find it useful!

If you’d like to sign up as a supporter of the Charter, please go to the comments and leave your name, department and college. If you don’t want to leave your name in the comments you can email us at ahead AT ahead.ie (just put “supporter of the Charter” in the subject line)

You can tell us about any innovative examples of teaching and learning practices here too. This helps us to stay up to date with what’s happening all over the country and to share your experiences with others which may help them in their work.

If you have any questions about it or any other matter please contact us.