10 SES 16 A, Addressing Social Justice and Diversity in Teacher Education: international perspectives on teacher educators’ professional development
Ireland has seen a significant increase in attention to issues of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in higher education. All universities have signed up to a charter that aims to expand student access and implement a staff professional development framework for EDI (Irish Universities Association, 2018). The Gender Action Plan 2018-2020 (Gender Equality Taskforce, 2018) and initiatives such as the Athena SWAN gender charter (HEA, 2021) are now firmly embedded in HEIs. Furthermore, a recent policy framework focused on gender-based violence and harassment, as well as local HEI policy developments to support trans people, are indicative of sustained attention in the EDI arena. This higher education emphasis on EDI is evident in initial teacher education (ITE) in Ireland. For instance, the Programme for Access to Higher Education (PATH) includes a teacher education strand that aims to increase the number of students from under-represented groups entering initial teacher education and provide more role models for students from these groups. Moreover, the recently revised Céim: Standards for Teacher Education include explicit reference to ‘social justice’ and ‘interculturalism’ as core elements under the banner of ‘Global Citizenship Education’ (The Teaching Council, 2020). This paper will present an initial analysis of ITE policy in Ireland guided by the question: How is EDI work framed and conceptualised in ITE policy in Ireland? Our analysis proceeds with an acute cognisance of how neoliberal and neoconservative discourses continue to shape the teacher education policy/practice nexus and how such framings orientate us towards utilitarian approaches to teaching and learning that very often limit educative horizons and possibilities. Furthermore, we will investigate the extent to which the fine-grained, micro-political workings of diversity are addressed by ITE policy. Understanding the EDI ITE policy context in Ireland will facilitate the identification of gaps in EDI provision and professional development needs in ITE, as well as raising key questions that will be generative for ITE in other European contexts and beyond.
Gender Equality Taskforce (2018) Gender Action Plan: Accelerating Gender Equality in Higher Education Institutions. Available at: https://hea.ie/assets/uploads/2018/11/Gender-Equality-Taskforce-Action-Plan-2018-2020.pdf Higher Education Authority (accessed 26 January 2021) https://hea.ie/assets/uploads/2019/07/HEA-Statement-on-Athena-SWAN-Charter-in-Ireland-.pdf Irish Universities Association (2018) Ireland’s Future Talent. A Charter for Irish Universities. Irish Universities Association: Dublin. The Teaching Council (2020) Céim: Standards for Initial Teacher Education. The Teaching Council: Maynooth, Ireland.
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