The Discourse of Partnership and the Reality of Reform: Interrogating the Recent Reform Agenda at Initial Teacher Education and Induction Levels in Ireland

  • Judith Harford
  • Teresa O'Doherty
Keywords: teacher education reform, partnership, policy-making processes, initial teacher education, induction


Over the last decade, teacher education in Ireland has experienced radical reconceptualization and restructuring at both initial teacher education [ITE] and induction levels, with reform of continuous professional development now in the planning phase. The establishment of the Teaching Council (2006) as a statutory, regulatory body, with a role in the review and accreditation of teacher education, increased the visibility of and policy focus on teacher education. Significant reform of initial teacher education was announced in 2011 that included both an extension of the duration of programmes and, most notably, the period the student teachers were to be engaged in school-based professional development. This increased period has been accompanied by a shift in the understanding of what is involved in practicum and implies a redefinition of the respective roles of the university and the school, and the development of a new form of partnership between both agencies. The period of induction and probation has also become an area of reform with an emphasis on school-based coaching and the evaluation of newly qualified teachers, which devolves decisions on teachers’ full recognition and membership of the profession, to principals and colleagues.
This shift, which changes the established approach to induction for primary level teachers, has resulted in the withdrawal of cooperation with this policy by the main teacher union and to the implementation process being stymied. Both policy developments bring the concept of partnership within Irish education into sharp focus: a partnership between schools and universities in ITE, but also partnership in policy development and implementation in the case of induction.


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