Ministers open new €14.1 million School of Education at Maynooth University

Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD, President Philip Nolan and Minister Joe McHugh TD at the Opening of the Maynooth University School of Education
Thursday, February 21, 2019 - 11:30

The outstanding contribution of Maynooth University to the education system and teaching profession in Ireland was underlined at today’s official opening of its €14.1 million School of Education by two of its proud alumni - Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh, TD, and Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD. 

The building provides an important centre for Maynooth to build on its strength in providing outstanding teacher education, innovative education research, and in preparing a new generation of education leaders.  It is providing capacity for the rapid growth in student enrolment to the University’s three education departments, which has expanded from 700 to 1,400 since 2014.

With a history in teacher education dating back to 1926, Maynooth University is unique in Ireland as the first institution providing the full spectrum of teacher education from early childhood to adult education.  Maynooth produces more than 600 education graduates each year who make a vital contribution to our education system.  This includes early childhood education, primary teachers, second level teachers, higher education teachers, and guidance counsellors and school leaders.  Maynooth University is also a centre for research in education, with over 80 people engaged in doctoral degrees in education, including adult education.

Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh, TD, who graduated from Maynooth University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1992, and a Higher Diploma in Education in 1993, said:
“Maynooth’s record in Irish education is a long and proud one – defined not only by excellence and evidence-based research, but by its understanding of the roles teachers can play in shaping lives and indeed communities. Because of its core belief that widening access to higher education and teacher education should go hand in hand, Maynooth University is broadening the definition of who can be a teacher. Its influence reaches into every county in Ireland, and I am sure in some cases, to every secondary school in every county as well as a growing number of primary schools. 

“For those of us who studied here, our memories are extremely happy and rich and we see the quality of Maynooth in our colleagues throughout the teaching profession going back generations.”

Speaking at the opening of the building Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD, who graduated with a Master of Education Degree (M.Ed.) in 2002, said:
“Maynooth University has been a beacon of leadership in teacher education for generations and continues to innovate to show us the way into the future. This is vital not only for the development of our young and not-so-young students, but also for our national competitiveness.  This superb new building will help facilitate the continuance of their mission.”

Maynooth University President, Professor Philip Nolan, said the opening of the School of Education helps centralise and crystallise the University’s offering.  “This new home for teacher education and education research at Maynooth will enable the University to continue to build upon decades of outstanding work by our academics and graduates, whether in the classroom, as school leaders, or as policymakers. Being the first Irish university to offer the full spectrum of teacher education under one roof is a wonderful achievement, but it also speaks symbolically to the inclusive and holistic approach we take to education. We view our role as preparing teachers as leaders in society, as role models that can diversify the teaching profession, and as experts in providing evidence-based research to inform decision-making.  This new building serves as an academic hive for these activities, and will help us develop a teaching profession and infrastructure to serve Ireland’s needs over the coming decades.”

Recent developments and innovations in the School of Education include:

  • A focus on the development of leadership and career progression within teaching through the provision of postgraduate diplomas in Educational Leadership & Management. These have provided a vital energy to the teaching sector and are proving to be a magnet for those wishing to become senior school leaders or change career within education.  Over 300 teachers are taking these courses annually.
  • The development of a Bachelor of Science in Education, which leads straight through to a Professional Master of Education, helping to increase the number of STEM graduates into the teaching profession by over 10% in recent years.
  • Allowing students the option to take work placements in three cities in China as part of their Professional Master of Education.  So far 30 students have taken this option.
  • The development by Maynooth of a BSc in Mathematics and Computer Science (with Education). to service the new Leaving Cert Computer Science curriculum.
  • The Master of Education Research in Practice programme which promotes inquiry-based practice which supports engagement in school self-evaluation

Maynooth is also dedicated to increasing diversity in education at all levels. Statistics show that over 90% of teachers at all levels are white, middle-class females.  The “Turn to Teaching” programme at Maynooth University is working to broaden the teaching base by introducing the profession to those from diverse groups of people.  In this three-year programme supported by €750,000 in state funding, participants from the Traveller community, migrants, people with disabilities, mature students and lone parents complete a foundation year aimed at preparing them to transition to full-time teacher education.

As part of this innovative project, the “Rising Teachers, Rising Leaders” programme brings both second-level students and teachers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds together to help students consider teaching as a viable career and to recognise and develop the leadership skills of the teachers involved.  Maynooth is currently working with 20 teachers and 40 students across 19 schools in Dublin and Kildare on the development of this programme.
The €14.1 million building cost was funded by a combination of University resources, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and a donation from the Dominican Sisters following the transfer of Froebel College of Education to Maynooth University.

The School of Education is part of the planned expansion of the Maynooth University on its North Campus, and forms a gateway opposite the Library, also designed by architects Scott Tallon Walker.