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Open Policy Debate - An Alternative Approach to Educational Reform and Improvement

An Alternative Approach to Educational Reform and Improvement

Date:25 June 2015
Host:Department of Education and Skills 
Purpose: To inform the Department’s reform agenda by reflecting on the experiences of Finland and its success in terms of educational reform and good student outcomes
Venue:The Clock Tower, Department of Education and Skills, Marlborough Street, Dublin 1. D01 RC96

This Open Policy Debate was chaired by Seán Ó Foghlú, Secretary General of the Department.

The keynote address was given by Dr Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish educationalist and visiting Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. In his address Dr Sahlberg

  • Reflected on the experiences of various countries and education systems in their endeavours to reform education
  • Outlined the reasons why some education systems do not improve while others are successful
  • Commented on curriculum reform and teacher professionalism               
  • Examined the factors that contribute to high performing education systems

Dr Sahlberg’s address was followed by a response from a panel of educational experts:

  • Professor Dympna Devine, Head of School of Education, University College Dublin
  • Dr Harold Hislop, Chief Inspector, Department of Education and Skills
  • Professor Aidan Mulkeen,Vice-President Academic/Registrar and Deputy President at the National University of Ireland Maynooth
  • Niall Murray, Education correspondent with the Irish Examiner

Each panellist reflected on Dr Sahlberg’s presentation and commented on whether the ideas contained within it were applicable to the Irish context.

This was followed by comments and questions from the invitedaudience, which was made up of relevant stakeholders from the world of education, representatives from other Government Departments, representatives from industry and the press.

The panel discussion and comments from the floor focused on issues and questions such as:

  • The need to maintain and develop the status of the teaching profession
  • What is the real purpose of schooling?
  • The tension between a commitment to equality and parental choice of schools
  • The focus on early intervention for children with learning disabilities
  • Teacher autonomy in determining curriculum and assessment issues

Conclusion

The Open Policy Debate drew attention to a range of issues which will contribute to the reform agenda of the Department of Education and Skills. The session was live-streamed and is available to watch

Video clips of Dr Sahlberg and Panel:
Video clips of Dr Sahlberg and Panel:
Video clips of Dr Sahlberg and Panel:

Video clips of Panel Discussions

Video clips of Panel Discussions

Video clips of Panel Discussions