Every year at Anseo.net, we make predictions for what we think will be the big stories for the following year. Last year, we thought special educational needs would be the big story of 2014 and it certainly was one of them with the NCSE proposing a new model for allocating resources, which was met with dismay by most schools. It has been put on the backburner by the new Minister for Education while more thought has been put into it but I would not be surprised if the same proposals are introduced into schools in 2015. It’s a story that isn’t going away.
However, I think 2015 will overall be a year where primary schools are going to be largely ignored and all the focus will be on our second level colleagues in their resistance against Junior Cycle Reform. It’s going to be an interesting battleground but I think it’s going to take almost all the focus of the Department of Education. I think most of the changes that happen in primary schools will be those that have already been set in motion.
The biggest story, I suppose, will be the introduction of POD, the Primary Online Database. It appears that most schools are not going to resist against the database and there doesn’t seem to be many moans coming from education partners. On one hand, the whole thing might come in without a whimper but on the other hand, someone somewhere might put a spanner in the works. It might be a group of parents who object to handing over sensitive information such as PPS numbers to the Department of Education. Maybe a number of schools will refuse to cooperate with the system. However, most likely, I believe POD will be used in some way to make cuts to funding in schools based on some of the criteria that is entered. It may not happen in 2015 but watch out for the time of the October census!
Last year we talked about changes to the curriculum and sure enough, this is underway, albeit a little more slowly than I expected. I can’t see how the new literacy curriculum is going to happen by September but you never know. We are also yet to hear what subject has to be focused on for SSE in its third year. I have a feeling that this will be a rushed, last minute decision with no training provided and either we will be asked to choose a non-core subject ourselves or we will have to do Gaeilge or Science, depending on which subject is in the mainstream news at the time. Another possibility is that the government will forget about SSE with all the distractions of the second level fighting.
From a technology point of view, the tablet explosion never really gripped primary schools and is still very much in its infancy. I reckon that 2015 might see a battle between the tablet and the laptop, specifically the Chromebook. This will all depend on broadband access, which I believe will be one of the only pieces of gold that will be bestowed on primary schools. If POD is to be compulsory, the government have to provide good broadband. I believe that all schools will enjoy a minimum of a 10Mb broadband service depending on where they are in the country. I expect some primary schools will get a 100Mb connection too.
However, overall in the world of technology, I think it will be a reasonably quiet year with little in the way of new innovations. The only possibility is that Interactive Whiteboards will begin to be replaced with large touch screen televisions as they become much cheaper. I also think we will see more schools embracing services such as Facebook and Twitter as they become more and more accepted by primary schools as valid ways of communicating. Again, depending on Broadband, we might see more video conferencing between schools.
In all reality, 2015 is probably going to be dependant on the world of politics. Will the current government still be in power? If not, will the new government give any focus to education? If so, will Jan O’Sullivan simply spend her time pacifying teachers after Ruairi Quinn’s proposed changes to the sector? The government are also going to be under pressure to please the voters after a horrible year. There is simmering hostility within the education sector after cuts affected every school in the country in some way or another, be it small schools or disadvantaged schools. Will one group of teachers who have been affected by the cuts rise to the surface and cause mayhem? Will the INTO decide to follow their second-level colleagues with threats of strike action unless cuts are not reversed. Usually education is left out of good news giveaways so I wouldn’t be holding my breath but with so much tension everywhere, I wouldn’t be surprised if the government are forced into some form of action.
What do you think are going to be the big stories of 2015 in education? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below. We’d love to hear from you.