Launch of landmark new research institute for teacher education in the West of Ireland

May 18 2021 Posted: 12:30 IST

New Western Institute for Studies in Education (WISE) / Institúid SAOI will enhance the research, teaching and community and school engagement of the three major teacher education providers in Galway, Mayo and Sligo 

NUI Galway, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and St. Angela’s College Sligo are delighted to announce the foundation of the Western Institute for Studies in Education (WISE)/ Institúid SAOI, which will support collaboration among the three institutions to enhance and promote teacher education in the Western Region.

WISE will enable the three institutions, leaders nationally and internationally in teacher education, to bring together their diverse but complementary expertise, and further develop their teaching and research in teacher education. WISE will significantly help to consolidate and raise the profile of teacher education in the region.  WISE will include the development of an innovative virtual platform to support collaboration and nurture engagement with a range of stakeholders involved in teacher education in the region. WISE will be formally launched in September 2021.

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD said:  “I am delighted to welcome the launch of WISE, strengthening the existing links and close collaboration across these three proud institutions. As a teacher I understand the importance of initial teacher education programmes as they provide the foundation for our future educators’ careers, nurturing learning and shaping the education experiences of their students. This new institute is a very welcome development that will consolidate this centre of excellence for initial teacher education in the West/North-West region.”

Minister Harris said:
This is a really exciting partnership between three of our colleges. WISE aims to create a Centre of Excellence that will serve to strengthen the collective expertise of three teacher education providers in the National University of Ireland Galway, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) and St. Angela’s College Sligo. The establishment of the Institute will aim to future proof teacher education provision, including in the context of the potential emergence of a technological university in the West/ North West such as is proposed by the Connacht Ulster Alliance of GMIT, IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT, by bringing together the teacher education providers in the region. I want to offer my congratulations to all involved.

Founding Director of WISE and Head of the School of Education, NUI Galway, Professor Gerry Mac Ruairc: “We are delighted to announce the launch of WISE, which represents the culmination of several years of partnership and collaboration between the three main providers of teacher education in the West and Northwest: St. Angela’s College, Sligo; Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology; and NUI Galway. Each of the three institutions has established reputations, nationally and internationally, in teacher education; and WISE will facilitate a cooperative strategic alignment to promote and enhance our research, our teaching, and our engagement with the community, and our partner schools”. 

Amanda McCloat, President of St Angela’s College, in welcoming the establishment of WISE, noted “this Institute builds on the excellent national and international reputation and close working relationship of NUIG, St. Angela’s College and GMIT and collectively will serve to enhance teacher education provision and research”.

Dr Orla Flynn, President of GMIT, in a strong endorsement of this new alliance said: “WISE will greatly facilitate all three institutions in enhancing teacher education provision and research and in responding collectively and innovatively to the specific educational needs of young people in our region.”   

In the last decade, two major reviews of the structure of teacher education in Ireland were undertaken, authored by the leading Finnish educationist, Professor Pasi Sahlberg. This new WISE development reinvigorates and consolidates the Sahlberg policy recommendations (2012, 2018) by recognising formally the commitment of each of the three partners to come together under the platform of WISE on the basis of equality and reciprocity. WISE is underpinned by a strong commitment to become a collaborative, complimentary and creative force in teacher education regionally, nationally and internationally. 

Noting the significance of WISE for teacher education, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh: “I am delighted to see the Sahlberg Reforms implemented in this exciting new initiative for the coordination and enhancement of teacher education West of the Shannon. My congratulations to Professor Gerry Mac Ruairc and the School of Education team at NUI Galway; Ms Amanda McCloat and colleagues at St. Angela’s College Sligo; Dr Orla Flynn, Dr Paddy Tobin and Dr Dermot O Donovan and the School of Design and Creative Arts, GMIT in implementing these important policy recommendations for higher education, and specifically the future of teacher education in our region and in Ireland. It respects our values of openness to new ideas and to partnerships in excellence, sustaining the future of research-led teacher education which itself sustains our future as a society. I wish the new WISE Institute well as it grows and develops in the coming years”.  

The individual and joint achievements, and capacity for enhanced collaborative expertise, of the three WISE partners were recognized explicitly by the review team in the Sahlberg teacher education reform (2018). In this regard the quality of the relationship underpinning the collaborative efforts was clearly identified as a firm foundation for future developments. WISE will now coordinate and build on these acknowledged successes.