Partnership was one of the central themes of the year 2003-2004. A new partnership was forged between Cork Printmakers, Fota Wildlife Park and Bridging the Gap primary schools, which culminated in the successful ‘Tyger Tyger Burning Bright’ project. Bridging the Gap built on its partnership with Home School Community Liaison (HSCL) co-ordinators by assisting in the Maths for Fun project, the success of which was made possible through the commitment of HSCL and parents. Parental involvement and partnership in Bridging the Gap activities was most apparent this year. Partnership between University College Cork (UCC) students and Bridging the Gap became a reality through a concert hosted by music students for pupils.
Partnerships already established between schools and UCC continued. Numerous UCC staff supported school based projects, presented at professional development events and facilitated visits to the university for pupils and parents. In particular Bridging the Gap developed its partnership with the Science Faculty, Engineering Faculty and Ionad na Gaeilge Labhartha. Other established partnerships between the project and National Centre for Technology in Education continued through the provision of tuition in information technology for teachers in Bridging the Gap schools. Subsidised tickets to Cork Opera House were repeated again this year, as were scholarships for principals to the Project Zero Summer Institute at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. June 2004 saw another showcasing event at which over 1,200 pupils from Bridging the Gap schools performed on stage.
Findings from the evaluation report this year concluded that:
§ Schools make a difference: when they adopt a teamwork approach to setting clear and measurable goals, and when they track their results using performance data, very quick and significant success can be achieved. Immediate successes help to increase confidence and expand the vision of what is possible;
§ Investment in the quality of teaching and in the professional development of teachers and principals can bring considerable gains in the achievement of pupils;
§ Real education change requires community-wide commitment and strong leadership. The involvement of parents is particularly critical;
§ Adopting a community approach to gathering and analysing data - making collection and analysis of data a focus for collaborative effort - enhances the impact of the project and promotes ownership of the outcomes;
§ Targeting resources, including best teaching resources, where they are most needed produces good results; and
§ Throughout all of the strands of Bridging the Gap, we are improving the knowledge base about the effectiveness of specific interventions in promoting educational achievement and inclusion.