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Educate Together Blog

Ethos Conference 2013

Fionnuala Ward, Primary Education Officer

Ethos Conference 2013

Three of us were involved in organising this year's Ethos Conference on Nov 23rd. Three is a nice number - small enough for genuine discussion when arrangements get going and big enough to spread the blame around when things haven't gone to plan. Organising events like this tap into something deeply primeval. What if nobody comes? What if it's just the three of us and a pile of rapidly depleting mini pastries?

As it turned out, over 90 showed up. For 90 people to give up their precious Saturday, some having headed out pretty much at dawn, is a real testament to the Educate Together model and to the importance placed on ethos within the sector.

The keynote address was given by Dr Frieda McGovern, who spoke on 'Identity and Belonging in Multi-Ethnic Settings'. Frieda has tremendous experience within Educate Together, as a principal, director and co-author of the Learn Together and it was fantastic to have one of our own, as such, speaking so knowledgeably to the group.

Everyone subsequently divided into groups for workshops. A call had been sent out for discussion topics for that first teacher session and some really meaty subjects came back in. But we only had about 45 minutes to cover everything and inevitably conversation was curtailed. A year is too long to let these issues stagnate so another means of debate will have to be found.

More workshops took place after lunch. Mary from Kilcolgan had a wonderful presentation on Student-Led conferences, whereby the pupil proudly presents a portfolio of learning to their parents. A more authentic manifestation of the child-centred principle would be difficult to find. 

And that was it for another year. By all accounts, the parents and Board of Management workshops worked through their own issues and the focus group for the ethical curriculum at second-level really got people talking.

Next year, we may well rejig. Teachers definitely need more time, for a start. But no matter what happens, we'll be there with our mini-pastries.

Address: Educate Together, Equity House, 16/17 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7, Ireland - Charity Number: CHY 11816