13 Steps to Reform Irish Education

1. Secularise and reform the education of primary teachers: more civics, science, math and modern languages.
2. Limit places in teacher education, making it an elite profession from which all but the most suitable are excluded
3. Upgrade the performance of existing teachers by boosting in-service education undertaken outside school hours and between terms
4. Increase the length of the school/college year to the EU average and reduce holidays to new public sector norms
5. Introduce rigorous teacher/faculty member assessment and link outcomes to award of annual increments
6. Publish separate competitiveness school rankings within disadvantaged and other categories
7. Permit religious denominations to offer, at their own expense, religious instruction to those students who wish to receive it outside regular school hours
8. Place major emphasis on continuous assessment of pupils by teachers during the school year
9. Restructure the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment by limiting its size to 11 members of international standing; of which 5 are educators and 6 are from the private sector.
10. Reform university governance, as Denmark did in 2003: limit size of governing boards to 11 members of which 6 are external from the private sector
11. Introduce the Australian funding system whereby third level fees are repaid after graduation when income reaches a certain level
12. Permit universities to compete in the market for international talent by removing limits on individual salary offers, while imposing statutory limits on average salary levels within the university.
13. The 2010 recommendation to create a Technological University has triggered a distracting political and academic dynamic making it appear essential for most warm-blooded academics and local politicians to seek university status for their Institute of Technology. The IOTs form as vital a component of regional infrastructure as the universities: both are required. The Technological University recommendation should be shelved. One anomaly exists however: Waterford is Ireland’s only regional city without a university and there is a strong economic case for addressing this major infrastructural deficit in the South East. The Waterford Institute of Technology should be transformed into the University of Waterford with possible outreach programmes in Kilkenny and Carlow. Sub-degree work should be reassigned to the adjacent IOTs. Finance should not be an issue; most of the capital investment has already been made.

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