Podcast Show Notes: 3rd – 16th April 2024

The following are the show notes from the latest episode of If I were the Minister for Education.

The INTO Congress took place during the spring break and it’s always interesting to see the stories that the media find worthy of covering.

Before it began, the media seemed to think teacher shortages caused by the housing crisis would dominate discussions, but it didn’t end up being the big takeaway. The big story was teachers feeling unable to return from the Gulf States to teach back home as their work over there isn’t being recognised, leading to some debate both inside and outside of education circles.

It was good to see RTE cover SET Allocations and even better to see INTO members criticising the removal of Complex Needs from the criteria. That joint statement from the IPPN et al is looking more and more embarrassing. The solution, of course, can be found by trusting schools.

However, the story that I didn’t expect to make all the headlines was the one on the demand to remove the requirement to hold a Catholic Religious Certificate to work in a Catholic school. It led to lots of discussion on the media and some thoughts from me about teachers working in Catholic schools. I was extremely grateful to the Catholic teachers that spoke up and believe they are heroes.

Meanwhile, the Minister used the Congress to platform her war on Smartphones without actually doing anything beyond coaxing. At this stage, we all know children shouldn’t own Smartphones. If we can ban young people from possessing alcohol and tobacco, we can do the same for Smartphones. Separately, The New York Times had an interesting article which is worth a read: Screens are everywhere but do they help children learn?

The Cass Report was released last week which claimed the toxic debate on gender made it very difficult to do the study. It seems that the release of the report has done nothing to eradicate that toxicity.

With Catholic academics resigned to the fact that there are more teachers that believe in energy and spirits than god, there are some people trying to conflate the void left by the decline in religious practice with, what they call a “new religion” of “gender ideology.” Unfortunately some so-called Christians are happy to feed into this narrative and many turn the other cheek.

Finally, I was a little worried when I saw the press release about free books for Junior Cycle students but nothing for primary students. That has turned to a bigger worry when I saw a response to an query on it from the Department of Education.

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