Return to Site

Bernie Balfe

PME in Primary Education

School of Education

Photo of  Bernie Balfe

Location

Louth


School

Supply Panel for 17 schools in Drogheda, Co. Louth.


Education

Degree in Music Performance at DkIT

Master’s in Research Through Music at DkIT.

Professional Master of Education (PME) in Primary Education


Research paper title

Investigating the LGBTI+ Supports Available to Irish Primary School Teachers

Education Research Papers Volume 4

Abstract

The background of this research focuses on exploring the LGBTI+ supports available for teachers within a primary school setting. Objectives include examination of the procedures, supports and difficulties in fostering an LGBTI+-inclusive classroom across the patronages. Both qualitative and quantitative methods — online surveys and semi-structured online interviews — are used in the design. The findings investigate several common themes: policies, training, curriculums and programmes, and inclusion. The findings are examined alongside the relevant literature and discuss the variables found across the patronages.

View paper

Researcher biography

Bernie completed the Professional Master of Education in Primary Education at Hibernia College in 2020. Prior to this, she worked as a musician, teaching and performing for over twenty years. Bernie currently lives with her husband and two young boys, Max and Alfie, in Ardee, Co. Louth. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Classical Music Performance from Dublin Institute of Technology and a Master of Arts in Research Through Music from Dundalk Institute of Technology. Throughout her life, she was fortunate to meet and work with diverse people who shared their personal struggles growing up. This dissertation is a small token of empathy written with great love.

My undergraduate studies were in Music Performance at Dublin Institute of Technology, Conservatory of Music and Drama where I studied the clarinet and saxophone. I then followed this with a Master’s by Research in Music at DkIT. My musical studies have enabled me to develop a set of skills that have afforded me to play and teach to a professional level for over twenty years. My love for teaching children as well as my interests in athletics and Gaeilge naturally attracted me to the Primary Masters in Education at Hibernia College. I am thoroughly enjoying my new career and I continue to teach the clarinet with the ‘Count Us In’ project through the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland. This a wonderful opportunity for children to access free instruments and music education. It is modelled on the El Systema music education programme founded in Venezuela. Learning music is a life-long gift that brings friendships, travel and self-confidence.

Research motivation

Can you tell us a bit about your research project? 

The background of this research focuses on exploring LGBTI+ supports available for teachers within a primary school setting. Objectives include examination of the procedures, supports and difficulties in fostering an LGBTI+-inclusive classroom across the patronages. Both qualitative and quantitative methods — online surveys and semi-structured online interviews — are used in the design. The findings investigate several common themes: bullying and policies; training, skills and information; curriculums and programmes; and inclusion. The findings are examined alongside the relevant literature. It also discusses variables found across the patronages. The limitations and recommendations of the research are outlined in the conclusion.

What motivated you to undertake this research? 

My genuine interest in children’s mental well-being was central to the motivation needed to carry out and present my research to the highest standards. Every child is a unique part of our society who deserves to be properly supported throughout their education. The foundations of better mental health come from providing a safe and supportive environment where understanding and acceptance can take place.

What impact has it had on your practice?

My own research together with my practical experiences of teaching have increased my awareness of the complex supports that a child might need at school. Teachers have a huge role in making sure that school is a fun, safe place where bullying is not tolerated and everyone feels included. Teaching about inclusion and acceptance can be both challenging and hugely rewarding.

How important do you feel research will be in your future practice? 

I think that this research has a growing area of interest. This has been recognised by the INTO through providing summer continual professional development courses, which I have undertaken myself. I like to be prepared for situations that might arise in the school or classroom.