Addressing the Family Dynamic and Behavioural Factors Impacting on Educational Attainment

We gathered in the august surroundings of the Belvedere House Boardroom and anterooms. Dr Daire Keogh, the recently inaugurated President of St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra (DCU) welcomed our guests with reflections on the Ireland-United States relationship and the background to our historic surroundings.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable IUSA Education Committee event with a vigorous and well informed debate among some of the best minds in Ireland. There was a vibrant and challenging discussion of the role of the programmatic responses often developed abroad and implemented in Ireland and how they interface with the educational system and the curriculum. We discussed the varying nature and strength of evidence which underpins different interventions and the claims made for their efficacy and the challenges of measuring effect size in a non sterile environment where many factors and interventions may contribute to addressing risk and protective factors. It was acknowledged that no one master evaluation methodology is available in Ireland to map and measure the respective contributions of the many curricular and non curricular interventions contributing to educational outcomes in Ireland.

Following opening remarks by Dr Fionnuala Waldron, Dean of Education, St Patrick’s College and a presentation by our keynote speaker Dr Henry Whiteside, Cliodhna Mahony gave practical examples from her experience of supporting local families. Guests remarked on how impressed they were by the prominence and wide range of relevant backgrounds of those attending the seminar. Very senior staff members participated, with multiple delegates in many cases, from organisations such as, but not only, St Patrick’s College, the Marino Institute of Education, the Educational Disadvantage Centre, the Centre for Effective Services, the Irish Primary Principals Network, the National Behaviour Support Service, Scouting Ireland, Growing Up in Ireland, Foroige, the National College of Ireland, the IUSA itself, Ballymun Local Drugs Taskforce and Ballymun Whitehall Area Partnership as well as prominent individuals such as the previous Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Andrew Montague, former President of NCI Joyce O’Connor and Ann Colgan.

It was my pleasure to thank all of those who participated and the United States Embassy for its support for the Ireland United States Alumni Association which seeks to celebrate and further the warm and productive relationships between Ireland the US.
By Declan Dunne
Chair, IUSA Education Committee