Return to Site

Link to video of panel

0.10 Chair: Tomás Ó Ruairc – The Teach Council.
Tomás introduced and summarised the content of the conference so far and identified the role of the “practitioner’s voice”. He highlighted in particular the importance of permanent links between higher education institutions and schools.

2.50 Dr Louise Heeran-Flynn, Hibernia College.
What are some of the challenges that we face conducting research in the classroom? Louise summarised her own PhD research, which she undertook when she was a practicing teacher. Her research explored the relationship between language, social class and power, specifically how language is used within education. Louise identified the challenges of moving out of “comfort zones”, the research skills required, connecting the theory and practice, the sensitivities of local cultural context, managing research relationships, views on a research topic and credibility, time shortage.

18.35 Brendan McCabe, IPPN.
Brendan began by saying that research is the lifeblood of educational improvement. Teachers are natural researchers. He highlighted that the school environment and the school day results in a frantic work environment. Space and time are the key issues. The importance of research from the point of view of a practicing teacher is its relevance. The ITEs have impressed upon student teachers the importance of being reflective practitioners. However there’s no funding for Masters and PhDs. There are needs for conduits for disseminating research, particularly relevant and Irish research. Research is a tool for teachers to improve their practice, but they need the time and space to use that research.

25.20 Clive Byrne, NAPD.
Clive discussed the structure of Irish second level education, and that are schools viewed as a method of filling universities (that is what parents want) and argued for the need for a broader mindset of what education is for. Clive predicted change in the system, partly as a result of Teaching Council requirements. He always welcomed researchers because of the professional dialogue that would result from their presence in the school and staff room. Clive argued that a systemic shift needs to happen – such as the structure of the school day, the challenge of doing “something meaningful” in 35-40 minutes – Clive questioned what might happen if the norm was an hour long class?

32.20 Áine Lynch, National Parents Council.
Welcomed the parent voice being heard. The parent dilemma – parents want their children to experience excellent, evidenced based education, but they don’t want children to be negatively impacted by research. Need reassurance that best practices are happening in research in schools. Highlighted ethical research guidelines developed by DCYA ( She focused on the importance of children’s participation, and highlighted the importance of awareness of the power relationship in the school context. Áine also emphasised the issue of consent and how this should be looked at when research is taking place in schools.

38.43 Dr Jane Carrigan, Griffith College.
Jane outlined her research in Mountjoy Prison, the prison school and prisoner education. She highlighted three key issues; time, access and negotiating a research ethics committee. Important to carve out the moments to carry out and disseminate research. How crucial access is. Research ethics committees can be daunting for researchers, a hurdle to get over, but it is also an opportunity to explore what are the responsibilities of the researcher to the participants. The ethics process can make the researcher more aware of their power in the relationship. Jane also highlighted the importance of disseminating research, not just in academic journals, but in other contexts.

Questions and comments
46.15 We spoke earlier about compulsory CPD, how do we prioritise what strands of research will be communicated, are there areas that should be compulsory?
50.08 With new PMEs coming in, all students will be doing action research projects; speaker suggests bringing together the best of this research to disseminate it. Teachers should have access to high quality academic resources for contextual work.
55.47 Discussion has focused on structured research, but we haven’t discussed a research active culture in schools, how do we develop that in schools, and in our approach to teaching and learning?
1.02.30 Teachers need to be more “research literate” – some teachers are reluctant to get involved with small scale research projects. Discussion about research in schools has not been part of the culture.
1.04.35 Panel chair Tomás thanked panellists and commented on the value of further discussion.
Closing comments
1.06.09 Dr Nicholas Breakwell, Executive Dean of Hibernia College, summarised the day’s discussions and themes. He thanked all those who contributed to the conference.