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Teacher Education

 

This conference was held in the College on Thursday 26th January 2006 and its theme was the opportunities and challenges of teaching in diverse classrooms in Northern Ireland with a specific focus on ethnic diversity and language issues. An outline of the day is presented below.

 

Morning Sessions

Dr Margaret Reynolds welcomed students and visitors to the conference. Growing numbers of children from ethnic minorities are attending schools in Northern Ireland. Teachers need to be prepared to meet their needs and maximize the benefits of increased diversity in their classrooms.

 

Tom Stewart, principal of Stranmillis Primary School, outlined his school’s diversity policy which focuses on respect for the individual and human rights. Year 5 pupils from the school presented the work they had done on children’s rights with the help of teacher Gillian Neill.

 

Susan Hampsey (principal) and Claire McGeary (teacher) from St Patrick’s Primary School Dungannon then gave an account of their experience. There has been a rapid increase in the number of migrant families in the area especially from Eastern Europe. The teachers outlined some of the challenges they faced.

 

Susan Goode from the South Eastern Education and Library Board followed with an account of the SEELB’s provision for children with English as an additional language.

 

Project Launch

During the morning break guests joined the Acting Principal, Peter Finn, the Global Dimension Team and many college staff for refreshments and photo opportunities to mark the launch of the Global Dimension in Education project within the College.

 

Peter Finn then addressed the conference outlining the importance of the global dimension in education in today’s changing global community. The three-year DfID project began in September 2005 and aims to enhance the provision for the global dimension in teacher education through taught programmes, access to resources and research.

 

Workshops

Six workshop sessions then followed:

 

  • Niall Moore and Eamon Keenan from NICCY the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People used the Power Line activity to demonstrate prejudice and discrimination in society;
  • Ronald Vellem from NICEM the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities looked at the importance of developing anti racism practices;
  • Nisha Tandon from the Indian Community Centre in Belfast led a session;
  • Jamal Iweida from the Belfast Islamic Centre dealt with the issue of racism and the role of the media;
  • Áine McMullan from the Belfast Education and Library Board raised awareness of initiatives to promote international development;
  • Sean McMahon a teacher of English as an additional language shared some ideas for working with EAL learners.

Student reporters were assigned to each group to record each of the workshop sessions and prepare an evaluation of the day.

 

Wendy Young from the Centre for Global Education joined the conference and project launch.

 

Afternoon Sessions

The afternoon plenary session was led by the student reporters who shared their workshop session and gave some useful feedback on the day.

 

Closing remarks were given by Mrs Angela Miyanda, director of Angels in Development, a Zambian organisation providing opportunities for orphaned children. She spoke to staff and students at the conference on the opportunities afforded by education. Mrs Miyanda who had been visiting the College as part of the Global Dimension International Exchange programme gave a number of presentations about her work during the week.

 

Staff and students involved in Project Zambia are involved in fundraising efforts to support related projects and will travel to Zambia later this year to see how these projects develop.

 

Dr Margaret Reynolds concluded the day with a summary and thanks to all involved.

 

Students were presented with certificates of attendance at the end of the day.