Department of Education Trip to China

Educational partnership and the exchange of information and ideas are central to the work of the Department of Education in Maynooth University. It is through engagement with others that we deepen and develop our own thinking and practices.
It was in this spirit that Professor Sharon Todd and Dr Thomas Walsh undertook an educational trip to China in the last week of May 2017 alongside Ms Helen Kirrane from the International Office. The first stop was the Hailiang International School ( located in the Zhejiang Province where six of the Department’s PME students are undertaking a school placement for more than a month over the summer period. This is the second year in which the school has facilitated the placement of Maynooth University PME students and two students who travelled last year remained teaching at the school following their graduation from the course. The school has a very impressive campus and caters for students from Kindergarten to post-primary education across a range of different types of schools.
Maynooth University PME students are undertaking their placement in the Cambridge International School and in the Hailiang Foreign Languages School. They are also organising a range of Irish cultural offerings for students, including sporting, musical and dance events.
Professor Sharon Todd and Mr Ying Xin, General Principal of the Hailiang International School, unveiled a plaque celebrating the practicum arrangement and relationship between both institutions. During the two days spent on the campus, Professor Todd and Dr Walsh had an opportunity to visit the classrooms of a number of Irish student teachers as well as Chinese and international teachers in the Hailiang Foreign Languages School. The visit culminated in a presentation to invited language teachers from across the campus entitled
Thoughts on Teaching: Reflections on Hailiang International School. The presentation focused on current issues in education in Ireland and China and offered some suggestions on strategies for developing teacher professionalism into the future.

Professor Sharon Todd and Mr Ying Xin unveil a plaque to celebrate the relationship between Maynooth University and Hailiang International School

Following the visit to Hailiang International School, Professor Todd, Dr Walsh and Ms Kirrane undertook a fruitful meeting at the East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai ( ) . ECNU is a renowned university in China and has its origins in teacher education. Maynooth University has a strong partnership with ECNU and already engages in formal student exchanges. During the meeting, possibilities about extending this partnership within the Department of Education were explored. Many areas of overlap in terms of the philosophy of both departments became apparent during the meeting and discussions included the possibility of both staff and student exchanges. Further work will be undertaken in the coming months to advance the discussions and to build on the progress made at the meeting.

From left to right: Professor HUANG Zhongjing, Head of Department of Education; Dr YANG Fuji, Associate
Professor and Director of the International Affairs Division of the Faculty of Education; Mr. WANG Subin, Deputy Director, ECNU International Exchange Division; Professor Sharon Todd; Dr Thomas Walsh; Ms Helen Kirrane

Overall the trip was highly educational and revealed many commonalities across the education systems. Many avenues for future partnership were identified at a research and exchange level. We wish all our PME students a rich and engaging experience for the remainder of their time in Hailiang International School. We look forward to building and extending these relationships into the future
and to offering increased opportunities for a placement abroad to our student teachers.