Five members of Stranmillis staff attended the 17th annual SCoTENS conference held on 17-18 October 2019 in the beautiful surroundings of the Slieve Russell Hotel, Ballyconnell, County Cavan.
This year’s theme was “Leadership Across Boundaries: Challenges for Educators and Teacher Educators”, a theme which resonated with delegates given the pressures and challenges resulting from the widening diversity of student needs, increasing accountability, performance management, reducing budgets and a prescriptive policy context.
Almost 100 delegates attended from all over the island of Ireland, and were welcomed by Dr Noel Purdy (Stranmillis University College – northern co-chair) and by Mr Ian McKenna, International Cooperation Section, Department of Education and Skills (funding department) who commended the outstanding work of SCoTENS.
There were two outstanding keynote addresses: by Professor Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Cawthorne Professor of Teacher Education for Urban Schools, Boston College; and by Professor Paul Miller, Head of the School of Education and Professor of Educational Leadership and Social Justice, University of Greenwich.
This year for the first time there were also research presentations following a ‘call for papers’. This attracted a wide range of insightful presentations by researchers from north and south of the border, leading to stimulating questions and discussions.
The conference also featured the third annual doctoral roundtable where ten doctoral students were given an opportunity to present their ongoing research work and receive informal feedback from their peers and SCoTENS committee members.
On Thursday evening Professor Cochran-Smith launched a newly published book on ‘Teacher Preparation in Northern Ireland: History, Policy and Future Directions’ authored by Dr Sean Farren (UU), Professor Linda Clarke (UU) and Dr Teresa O’Doherty (Marino Institute of Education). This was followed by the presentation of this year’s John Coolahan Award by Professor Miller to Lorraine Harbison (DCU) and Shauna McGill (UU) for their seed funded report on ‘Universal Design for Learning as a Context for Embedding technology in Primary School Mathematics’. At the close of the conference dinner, Mr Andy Pollak, founding Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies, launched the 2018 SCoTENS Annual Report.
The final session of the conference was a Panel Discussion chaired by Dr Conor Galvin featuring both keynote speakers as well as invited guests: Sam Gallaher (Chief Executive of the GTCNI), Dr Margaret O’Donovan (UCC), Lady Rosemary Salisbury (Freelance Educational and Commercial Training Consultant) and Dr Joe Moynihan (UCC).
In his closing remarks, Dr Noel Purdy (northern co-chair) paid tribute to outgoing southern co-chair Prof Kathy Hall (UCC) and thanked her for her dedication, professionalism and commitment during her three years in office. He announced that the incoming southern co-chair would be Dr Maria Campbell, St Angela’s College, Sligo.
For further information about the conference including photos and recordings of the main sessions, please go to the SCoTENS website www.scotens.org
To read more about the removal of funding to SCoTENS by the northern government departments, please see the BBC news article https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-50144561