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Tipperary Schools Face Changes To Teaching

With September 1st drawing nearer, Tipperary teachers are preparing to go back to school. Amidst a multitude of new changes and challenges, 2011/2012 will mark the first academic year in which ‘Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life,’ (The National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People 2011-2020.) will be implemented.

Speaking recently at the official launch of the Strategy, on July 8th, 2011, Minister Ruairí Quinn stated “It is the government’s belief that no child should leave school unable to read and write and use mathematics to solve problems. We know that there is currently much room for improvement and this strategy sets out the road map with concrete targets and reforms that will ensure our children, from early childhood to the end of second level, master these key skills.”

The estimated cost of implementing the Strategy will be €6 million in 2012 rising to approximately €19 million per annum by 2017. Given that funding for education is extremely limited at present, at the official launch of the Strategy Minister Quinn also stated that “We will have to find the necessary resources for literacy and numeracy by re-prioritising existing spending, by cutting activities that may be desirable but less important, and by ensuring that we get the very best outcomes from whatever financial and human resources we have.”

Speaking on behalf of Reading Association Ireland, Thurles native, Dr. Karen Willoughby, delivered a presentation on the new Strategy and some of its key targets for literacy at the 17th European Conference on Reading in Mons, Belgium. Speaking in Mons, Dr. Willoughby outlined that in the area of literacy (and indeed numeracy) the Strategy sets out ambitious targets across six key educational areas, namely:  involving parents, school leadership, curriculum development and revision, supporting pupils with additional learning needs, using assessment and supporting teachers’ pre-service and continuous professional development. 

Speaking to thurles.info recently, Dr. Willoughby highlighted that the implementation of a number of actions in the Strategy had already begun, most notably the requirement, effective immediately, that primary schools increase the time available for literacy to 90 minutes per day. She also expressed the view that enabling teachers to access high quality professional development in literacy (and numeracy), teaching and learning will play a crucial role, as part of efforts to achieve this Strategy’s fundamental aims.

Dr. Willoughby is President-Elect of Reading Association of Ireland, a voluntary organisation affiliated to the International Reading Association. The principal aim of Reading Association of Ireland is to promote and disseminate best practice in the teaching and study of literacy.  At its upcoming 35th Annual Conference (September 29th to October 1st in the Church of Ireland College of Education, Rathmines, Dublin), leading national and international experts on literacy teaching and learning will present on a diverse range of issues and topics.

Keynote speakers at this year’s Reading Association of Ireland conference will include the renowned Professor P. David Pearson from the University of California, Berkeley, and  Dr. Bernadette Dwyer from St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra.

Dr. Willoughby highlighted Reading Association of Ireland’s conference as one event that may prove valuable to teachers seeking professional development opportunities in literacy.

For more information on the 35th Annual Reading Association of Ireland Conference, and informative resources on best practice in the teaching and study of literacy, visit HERE.

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