Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Questions (210)

Jonathan O'Brien


210. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the type of in-service training available for teachers on racism and managing diversity in schools; and his plans to improve same. [5067/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), funded by my Department, is responsible for supporting schools in the implementation of the Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) Curriculum. A core element of the SPHE Curriculum at primary level is the fostering and development of the positive attitudes towards diversity and celebrating difference through the strand unit "Myself and the Wider World". Support is provided on request for teachers through facilitated staff inputs, in class modelling of lessons, local workshops and a range of support materials available on www.pdst.ie (primary) and also on www.sphe.ie (post primary). Through the support given at school level these issues are addressed both through the formal and informal curriculum specifically with regard to promoting a positive school culture and climate that respects individual difference. PDST also provides guidance to schools in the development of a whole school policy for Interculturalism. PDST promotes the use of the NCCA Intercultural Guidelines in schools with regard to policy formation and classroom practice.

Forthcoming supports re Anti-Bullying will address the issue of identity based bullying as part of the wider definition of bullying. The School Self Evaluation process will allow schools to choose a third subject area outside of Literacy and Numeracy to review and evaluate. Those schools choosing SPHE will have an opportunity to review their practice with regard to this issue and to apply for support from PDST if the evaluation indicates a need for same.

The National Induction Programme for Teachers (NIPT) provides an interactive workshop that focusses on the classroom environment and classroom planning to support inclusion. Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) are given an opportunity to reflect on their own individual values, behaviours and attitudes which will determine inclusive practice in their classrooms. Emphasis is placed on how to develop strategies to ensure that all pupils/students are included.

The Special Education Support Service (SESS) delivers a wide range of professional development supports for school personnel working with students with special educational needs and these focus on helping schools to meet the diverse and unique learning needs of students. Strong emphasis is placed on individual learning styles, the assessment of students' unique learning needs, and on the individualised planning of instruction to meet those needs.