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|School of Education|
|University College Cork|
|School of Education|
|University College Cork|
Community Engagement Committee
The work and focus of the School of Education (SoE) Community Engagement Committee arises from the UCC Academic Strategy (2018 – 2022) and more specifically from one of the key priorities of that strategy – to ‘develop a connected curriculum building on existing strengths and best practice globally’. Within the six areas of focus of the Connected Curriculum, Civic and Community Engagement features strongly.
The work of all aspects of the SoE is underpinned and supported by community engagement. This two-way process is centralised within the student-placement requirements of many of our programmes. Placement schools and early years settings provide invaluable placement opportunities for students following the Professional Master of Education programme, Early Years and Childhood Studies, Sports Studies and Physical Education, BSc Science Education and BSc Education Gaeilge. Reciprocal learning is in evidence throughout these experiences as students reflect and learn from their experiences, feedback this learning into their course module experiences and in doing so balance theory with practice in the co-construction of their learning. Students also bring much initiative, enthusiasm, learning and innovation to their placement settings to the benefit and development of all learners.
Many experienced teachers and others, returning to the SoE at a post-graduate level to study in areas of Educational Leadership (PDEL), Innovation through Design Thinking (PDIDT), Special Education (PDSEN) and at Master of Education (MEd) and Cohort PhD in Education level, contribute significantly to reciprocal learning and community engagement experiences for their colleague students and staff within the SoE.
There is also a significant and well-established pattern of engagement with staff from placement schools and the wider education community, presenting to SoE students within their formal modules, on practice experiences and on excellent initiatives that have been developed at school level. Similarly, SoE staff engage both formally and informally in supporting placement schools, and school leadership across a range of activities and initiatives. This reciprocal experiences represent significant formal and informal community engagement across the programmes of the SoE
A further community engagement focus has been the establishment of a formal SoE Community engagement committee in 2018 to act in parallel and to highlight and share learning with the community arising from these initiatives and programmes. This committee aims to track the myriad manifestations of community engagement within the SoE, identify opportunities to celebrate these engagements, encourage the further development of these initiatives and to map local, national and international research links across the SoE as a further scale of community engagement.
The committee has recently made a significant contribution to UCC Community Week (October 2021) through an SoE organised webinar sharing the research of two of our recent PhD students. A further contribution, to celebrate and share learning and research for the SOE, has been the organisation of (2019), an occasion to invite our education partners to experience the learning and research that is ongoing in the SOE. A further EDFEST is planned for May 2022.
As part of the various programmes in UCC that lead to a formal qualification as a teacher, student teachers undertake periods of school placement in partner schools. Each programme in the School of Education has a school placement coordinator who liaises with these partner schools. Partner schools are secondary schools in Cork City and county but, depending on local school availability and students own circumstances, are also located in Kerry, Waterford, parts of Limerick and Tipperary.
Student teachers are encouraged to make a positive contribution to the partner school by getting involved in various activities both within the school and outside the school, e.g. assisting the treorai (the teacher providing the mentoring to the student teacher) to prepare materials for lessons, organising handouts and worksheets, assisting with setting up laboratory practical classes, assisting with the running of practical classes, , discussing lesson plans with the treoraí, helping with stock taking, assisting students prepare projects, assisting students with special needs, accompanying students on visits to events held outside the school, assisting in preparing exams, assisting the resource teacher, etc
The model of school placement in operation in UCC ensures a good synergy between the time that students spend on school placement in schools and the support that they receive in UCC. The partner schools in which students undertake school placement are partners with the School of Education at UCC in developing the professionalism of student teachers. Continual consultation takes place between school personnel and the student teacher’s School Placement tutor about the growth and quality of each student’s progress and overall professional attitude and behaviour.
The Eureka Centre
The Eureka Centre is the home of Science Education in UCC. It is located on the ground floor of the Kane Building The Eureka Centre is where Science and Education meet in a very tangible and visible way and consists of four components:
The facilities may be summarised as follows:
- Science education laboratories These two laboratories are modelled on laboratories typically found in secondary schools and are thus ideal for training science teachers to carry out all the laboratory practical work associated with the teaching of Junior Cycle Science and Leaving Certificate biology, chemistry, physics and Agricultural Science.
- Eureka Office An office with two desks for administration work.
- Eureka seminar room This room is used mainly for meetings and for small group tutorials for BSc Science Education students as well as Peer Assisted Learning activities run at evening time by the School of Chemistry and Department of Physics.
- The Eureka Resource Room is the busiest room in the Eureka Centre and is at the very heart of the Eureka Centre. It contains all the fundamental resources required by student science teachers to prepare lessons for the pupils that they teach. Items such as school textbooks, school workbooks, teachers' handbooks, teachers' guides to curricula, school laboratory manuals, school science syllabi are not usually found in university libraries. Every experienced science teacher would have these items in their study at home but trainee teachers would not even be aware of many of these resources. Science Education Resource Rooms are an integral part of science education centres throughout the world.
Crossleigh Computer Laboratory
In addition to the University’s IT centres, the School of Education shares a PC lab with the Department of Applied Social Studies. The Crossleigh Computer Laboratory comprises 29 PCs, printing and data projection facilities. There is also a connection point for a laptop and a DVD player. All education students have access to this facility when it is not in use for teaching purposes. The PCs contain a lot of relevant software packages – e.g., Office, Media player etc. However, a deliberate policy decision was taken when developing the lab to also have lots of freeware packages of relevance to the work of a teacher e.g., Photostory, Clozemaker, Geogebra, Word Search etc. These packages allow users to develop worksheets and other student/teacher resources which can add value to one’s teaching. By introducing students to these free resources, it may encourage them not to view cost as a potential barrier to integrating ICT in one’s teaching, particularly if hardware is already available.
Teaching Research Laboratory (TRL)
From September 2016 to September 2019, Dr Stephen O’Brien and Dr Vanessa Rutherford (as co-PIs) secured funding from The Office of the Vice-President for Learning & Teaching (OVPTL) at UCC to re-imagine and renovate an exciting digital learning and meeting space hub for the School of Education. They were ably supported in this plan by Buildings & Estates (particularly Michael O’Sullivan), UCC ICT support services (particularly Aidan O’Donoghue), SILVABUILD architects and School of Education colleagues (particularly Dr Maura Cunneen, Dr Joao Costa, Dr Fiachra Long and Ms. Marcella Towler).
Our brand-new Teaching Research Laboratory (TRL) on O’Donovan’s Road is a wonderful ‘philosophy-café’ meeting space and is stocked with the very latest learning technologies (including mirror 360 and international conference call facilities) that enable critical, creative and democratic learning methods to take root.
School of Education Outdoor Teaching Space
The School of Education outdoor space was a collaboration between the School of Education and Buildings and Estates UCC with the assistance of Silva Build. The outdoor area extends the existing Teaching Research Laboratory Classroom Practice Room.
The sensory path of different surfaces is surrounded by an intriguing sensory area which includes light refractors, a blackboard, mirror, water funnel and wind chimes as the path curves towards the climbing wall.
The central area includes an accessible sand area, balance beams and a grassy mound with a tunnel underneath.
The captivating space will greatly enhance students understanding of and preparation for pedagogy relating to nature and outdoor play. The space also holds immense potential as a research site.
This Outdoor Teaching space is used by students on the:
- Early Years and Childhood Studies programme
- Sport Studies and Physical Education programme
UCC Sport aims to provide excellent sports facilities and services for students, staff and external groups and users at our sports grounds at the Mardyke Sports Grounds and The Farm, Curraheen Sports Grounds.
Our facilities at the Mardyke Sports Grounds include grass and synthetic pitches, athletics track, the Mardyke Pavilion as well as home of the state-of-the-art Mardyke Arena.
Our facilities at Curraheen Sports Grounds, affectionately referred to as ‘the Farm’ consists of 50 acres of playing fields. These pitches cater for soccer, rugby, GAA, Aussie rules, cricket, ultimate frisbee to name but a few.
The Mardyke Arena UCC is a fitness and training home to many of Ireland’s elite sportspeople, thousands of young students, business professionals, families and children. Our students have access to all of the facilities offered by the Arena.
The Arena is the first and only facility of its kind in Ireland to be accredited with major international business standards; ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), ISO 45001 (Occupational Health & Safety Management) and ISO 50001 (Energy Management). These standards demonstrate the commitment to excellence at the Mardyke Arena UCC and the dedication of our staff when it comes to delivering excellence at every level.
The facilities available to or students include:
- A state of the art gym, which has a plentiful supply of treadmills, steppers, cross trainers, bikes and rowers.
- A 25 meter x 6 lane Swimming Pool
- A Children’s Swimming Pool
- A Sauna & Steam Room & Relaxation Suite
- A Bouldering Climbing Wall
- Two state of the art Squash courts
- Three sports halls where our students can learn Athletics, badminton, basketball, soccer, volleyball among other activities
Digital Humanities Active Learning Space
The Department of Digital Arts and Humanities has a specially designed state-of-the-art Digital Humanities Active Learning Space which is a student-centred, high-tech, flexible space used for the delivery of lectures, workshops, and seminars. It also offers dedicated digitisation facilities, as well as a variety of tools and technologies that will provide students with an opportunity to ‘learn by doing’. These include 3D scanners and 3D printers, virtual reality kits, gaming systems, and high-end photo equipment. As part of DH1001 and ED2318, BEd Hons Sports Studies and Physical Education students have access to this DH room, allowing them a dedicated space in which to collaborate, study, and socialise.