Teaching Profession Project

Teaching Profession Project


St Mary’s University College is hosting a series of free online seminars in regard to the recently launched Teaching Profession Project (TPP).

Commenting on the significance of the Teaching Profession Project Dr Nig Uidhir noted, "St Mary’s, has a long tradition of serving the educational community and delivering high quality teacher education. In that spirit of service, the Teaching Profession Project will create opportunities for teachers and other educators to share knowledge and experience about current issues of importance to the profession. The project acknowledges the importance of the role of the teacher in children's lives and opens channels for exploring key issues that impact upon professional lives. This new Project builds upon a well-established record for investing in relationships. It will provide a space for sharing professional understandings, often based on practical experience and informed by research. This will in turn generate opportunities to extend professional learning, with the first seminar very appropriately focusing on the issue of Teacher Wellbeing."


Seminar 1 Teacher Wellbeing

Tuesday, 9th November 2021

Dr Gabrielle Nig Uidhir, Chairperson, is joined by a number of panelists who will share their expertise and insights into the important issue of 'Teacher Wellbeing'.

The aim of the first seminar is to discuss the findings of a recent review of international research on teacher wellbeing which has been conducted by the report's co-author Maria Stewart. Maria, a Lecturer in Education at St Mary’s, presents the key findings from the academic literature on teacher wellbeing. She is joined by two teaching professionals, Mr Geoffrey Cherry and Ms Brenda Rankin, who share their own insights into teacher wellbeing from the perspectives of a primary school principal and a post-primary school senior teacher.

Seminar 2 Pedagogy in Irish Medium Education

Tuesday, 7th December 2021

Conall Ó Máirtín ( BBC Gaeilge and Associate Lecturer at St Mary’s University College) chairs a panel discussion on Pedagogy in Irish Medium Education. Conall is joined by: Fionnuala Ní Mhealláin (Bunmhúinteoir, Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh, Béal Feirste); An Dr Seán Mac Corraidh (Léachtóir Sinsearach, Coláiste Ollscoile Naomh Muire, Béal Feirste); and Caitlín Ní Ruanaidh (Ceann Roinne agus Teagascóir do Mhúinteoirí Nuacháilithe, Coláiste Feirste).
The discussion is in the medium of Irish with subtitles in English.

Seminar 3 New Approaches to Teacher Professional Learning

Tuesday, 8th February 2022

Mr John McCusker, Principal Inspector, Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI), chairs a discussion on 'New Approaches to Teacher Professional Learning'. Mr McCusker is joined by: Ms Geri Cameron (Principal, Loughshore School Belfast); Mr Dominic Fryers (KS2 Teacher, St Joseph's Primary School Belfast); and Dr Martin Hagan (Head of Education, St Mary’s University College Belfast).

Across Europe, there has been a commitment to improve career-long teacher professional learning along with a specific focus on improvement in the quality of leadership (European Union, 2007; 2008; 2009). In Northern Ireland, Learning Leaders: A Strategy for Teacher Professional Learning (DENI, 2016:14) sets out a vision for professional learning in which 'Leadership skills will form an integral part of all competence development from ITE and throughout a teacher's career'. To this end, 'The Learning Leadership Lens' was developed as a conceptual model aimed at developing systemic leadership for teachers at every stage of their career. In this discussion, the participants will be asked to critique the 'Lens' and discuss the challenges and opportunities it presents in terms of affecting meaningful policy change intended to meet the professional needs of teachers.

Seminar 4 St Mary’s in Conversation with the INTO : 'Valuing Teachers'

Tuesday, 3rd May 2022

On Tuesday, 03 May at 4.30 pm, Professor Peter Finn, Principal of St Mary’s University College, chairs a discussion on 'Valuing Teachers'. Professor Finn is joined by: Marie O'Shea, Chairperson of the INTO Northern Committee; Paul Groogan, Trade Union Official in the Northern Office of INTO; and Mrs Rachel Poland, INTO Intern for the academic year 2021/22.

Seminar 5: Transforming Learning and Teaching through Laudato Si’

Tuesday, 06 December 2022, 4.30 pm

Laudato Si', an encyclical written by Pope Francis in 2015 has been described as a 'love poem to the planet'. The messages contained within are even more relevant than ever as we seek to address the ecological and social justice challenges facing us as individuals and communities, now and in the future. The seminar explores how Laudato Si' is reinvigorating teaching and learning in many schools through an enriched ecological spirituality, pastoral care, the curriculum, and the school environment.
The panel is joined by Professor Peter Finn for a lively discussion on the encyclical and the role of educators in changing 'heads, hearts and minds'.

Seminar 6: The Science of Reading

Tuesday, 15 November 2022, 4.30pm

On Tuesday, 15 November at 4.30 pm, Donna Hazzard, Literary Course Team Leader at St Mary’s University College, will chair a discussion on 'The Science of Reading'. Dr Hazzard will be joined by: Philip Lavery, Chair of the Moving Forward Together educational partnership; Geraldine Magennis-Clarke, Senior Lecturer in Literacy and Education at St Mary's University College; Jodi Snowden, Global Outreach Coordinator for Nessy Learning and Maria McGoran, Literacy Support Teacher at Holy Family Primary School.

This seminar will highlight how learning to read and teaching someone to read are two very complex sides of the same coin. For teachers, mastery in both domains is essential, and yet, despite many educators' best efforts, the data often does not reflect their hard work and dedication. Equally so, many pupils do not achieve sufficient competency in multiple literacies, necessary to navigate all aspects of life as dictated by an increasingly media-saturated world. So where might the fracture lines lie when turning the theory into impactful practice?

Rising above any one particular educational philosophy, political ideology or curricular programme, the Science of Reading (SoR) is a rising consensus among research scientists, from across multiple disciplines over the last half century as to how the brain learns to read. This multi-angled lens also tells us what can go wrong when the process breaks down. Most importantly, it presents to us, in a critical manner, the most effective instructional practices to support reading acquisition for more children, more of the time and from earlier in their school careers. Therefore, the aim of this talk is to facilitate educators in reaffirming some of their current practices, refining aspects that require such and rethinking those areas that are not as productive as maybe once thought.

Follow-up Seminar 6a: The Science of Reading (SoR): What is it and why now?

Thursday 8th December 2022

Over the last 50 years, scientists from various fields have been studying how we as humans learn. In doing so, they have made remarkable discoveries as to what can enhance (or hinder) that complex and breath-taking process. In giving up some of its secrets, multiple studies of the brain have led researchers to offer theories on how educators can effectively teach more children to read, more successfully and from earlier in their school careers. Alongside this, substantial research has been conducted into the key curricular aspects that require our attention, if our instruction is to be impactful and long-lasting. This first webinar will expand upon the brief outline that was given in the original Science of Reading talk. It will explore:

  • what is meant by the SoR,
  • who is behind the science,
  • how the brain processes information, and,
  • why it is deemed important for teachers to know the science.

The aim of this session is to familiarise educators with the rudiments of this complex area of study, in preparation for examining their own practice.

Follow-up Seminar 6b: The Science of Reading (SoR): Inside the Classroom

Tuesday 10th January 2023

In the Science of Reading (SoR) movement, practice must emanate from what has become established knowledge in the field of brain research, over the last half-century. The literature is clear that the science is developing all the time and apace, therefore, educators are obliged to keep abreast of such developments to remain effective and impactful in their provision. The key message expressed in this session is that applying the theory is a complex and long-term commitment, but one that is worth committing to for the sake of all learners.

This second webinar will explore:

  • the difference between Balanced and Structured (SoR) Literacy.
  • the deconstruction of Scarborough’s Reading Rope,
  • classroom practice relating to SoR principles,

The aim of this session is to build on the basic SoR framework that was outlined in the first webinar. It is intended to help educators begin to identify specific aspects of their planning and practice that they might wish to focus on, going forward, along with some practical ideas to assist with such moves.

Seminar 7: What makes a great teacher? Working together to get student teachers off to a good start.

Tuesday 7th February 2023

Claire Connolly, School Experience Coordinator at St Mary's University College, chairs a discussion on 'What makes a great teacher? Working together to get student teachers off to a good start.' Dr Connolly is joined by: Helena Kelly, Vice Principal of Sacred Heart Boys' Primary School; Claire Crudden a BEd 4 Primary student teacher at St Mary's University College, specialising in the subject of Religious Studies; Jim Matthews, Principal of St Comgall's Primary School, South Antrim; and Katrina Kealey, Senior Teacher at St Mary's College, Derry.


As student teachers arrive in schools for their School Experience placements, this discussion brings together teachers, principals, a teacher educator and a student to discuss the benefits and challenges of hosting student teachers in schools. Partnership is key to developing excellent teachers and the discussion explores the importance of school culture.

We address questions like;

  • How do schools go about placing students with teachers?
  • What is the students' perspective on their placement experience?
  • What support should students hope to get from teachers, schools and tutors?

The panel look at evidence of the contribution that students can make to school life. We consider the benefits of hosting a student in your school, as well as issues that may arise. Most importantly, the team hopes to share the very best practices that they have observed and developed.