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As the class of 2019 graduates today releasing new stream of qualified teachers into the workplace, Ulster University’s School of Education has been recognised for its excellence and strategic leadership in the Education Training Inspectorate’s (ETI) most recent report.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the School of Education has played a vital role in the changing landscape of teacher training and the education sector by preparing students for a rewarding career in the classroom and responding to the emerging demands of the curriculum and schools’ leadership.

Speaking ahead of the graduation ceremony at the Coleraine campus, Dr David Barr, Head of the School of Education at Ulster University, said:

"There can be few more rewarding careers than nurturing young people to reach or exceed their potential through primary and post primary education.  We are very proud of our class of 2019 who now embark upon their careers in a profession that remains a true vocation for many.  Along with our student the University also acknowledges and thanks the many outstanding primary and post primary schools across Northern Ireland who have supported student learning by providing placement opportunities that enrich the experience of our students.  As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, the Inspectorate’s report is a fitting reflection of the commitment of our staff and the collaboration with partners across the sector.

"At the heart of preparing teachers for the classroom, Ulster University's School of Education has seen a huge range of changes in policy, practice, legislation, expectation, educational needs and interventions and in the business of education over half a century.  From curriculum developments to pastoral care to running a school, with all its financial, management and leadership complexities, an ever changing workplace requires innovation in how we prepare young people for careers in education.  The classroom that I experienced in the 1980s is very different from the classroom today, but the vital importance of education in the formative years of our young people remains a constant. For every one of our talented students in the School of Education, we know that they will reach and influence many children and young people in the course of their career, and by extension the families of those school pupils. ”

Through the inspection and subsequent report, the ETI promotes the highest possible standards of learning, teaching, training and achievement throughout the education, training and youth sectors. Referring to Ulster University’s Primary Education Course Team, the ETI Report highlighted the evident focus on continuous improvement and ensuring provision was aligned to the emerging and current needs of children in primary school.  In regards to the post-primary PGCE, the report praises the “outstanding” strategic direction of the leadership, planning and provision. In terms of student wellbeing, the report applauded Ulster University’s support services available to students in need of immediate assistance.

Dr Barr concluded:

“The most recent ETI report acknowledges the hard work and skill of our academic team in preparing future learning leaders amid a period of unprecedented societal and technological developments.   Our academic programmes benefit from being influenced and informed by our ground breaking research in education which was ranked joint first amongst UK HEIs for research impact in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF), judged to be 100% world leading and internationally excellent.

“We will soon be celebrating the 20th anniversary of our UNESCO Centre which has built a national and international reputation on improving educational practice and policy, integrated education and academic selection.  This has extended globally to include partnering with major international institutions to deliver projects examining the role of education in peacebuilding, international development and conflict.”