MINISTER FOR EDUCATION OPENS NATIONAL CENTRE FOR EXCELLENCE IN MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE TEACHING & LEARNING
Mr. Ruairí Quinn TD, Minister for Education & Skills, officially opened the National centre for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching & Learning on 26 May 2011. Based at Mary Immaculate College and under the aegis of the Shannon Consortium, the Centre will support primary maths and science teaching and learning through its programme of postgraduate
studies to Masters and PhD level and through its programme of continuing development for primary teachers of maths and science. The NCE-MSTL at MIC will address the teaching and learning of mathematics and science at primary level with the aim of increasing students’ levels of achievement at primary school, and subsequently at second, third and fourth levels.
Before officially opening the Centre, Minister Quinn said, “The funding of the National Centre under the Higher Education Authority’s Strategic Innovation Fund constitutes acknowledgement of the importance of such national initiatives for the economic, social and cultural future of Ireland. you.” We have a mandate for change and hopefully the next five years are going to be an exciting time
for education. An investment in education is an emotional investment, a talent investment, an energy investment and a collaborative investment, of which this Primary Centre of Expertise is an excellent example. I congratulate everybody involved and I salute you.”
In his welcoming address, Prof. Peadar Cremin, President of MIC stated, “This Centre builds on a long tradition of partnership through which we have promoted science education and maths education at primary level. Drawing on the research interests of our staff, it will make a key contribution towards increasing the number of people coming out with high level research skills and by the very nature of its work with and alongside teachers, it will have a multiplier effect in increasing the skills of Irish children in areas that need attention.”
In explaining how the Centre will work to improve standards of numeracy nationwide, Noreen O’Loughlin, key driver of the Centre of Expertise (Primary Maths) at MIC, said, “In the context of primary maths, the Centre here at MIC is in a unique position to support and enhance teaching and learning... It can build on solid foundations being laid at the level of initial teacher education, draw on the expertise and support of our colleagues in LIT and UL, collaborate with the DES, Education Centres and the support services to work with teachers, parents and pupils in the area of primary maths to improve the mathematical learning experiences and outcomes of each and every child.”
Neil Ó Conaill, leader of the Centre of Expertise (Primary Science) at MIC, explained that “while science and scientific literacy has been to the fore in public discourse largely for economic reasons for the last decade and more, it is easy to forget that Ireland has a very strong scientific heritage.” He went on to describe how researchers at the Science Centre in MIC were investigating the current decline in pupils’ interest and enjoyment of science associated with the transition from primary to post-primary school among other projects and how various CPD courses run at the Centre would address the desire among teachers to improve their knowledge in the area of science education.
Also speaking at the opening, Prof. Paul McCutcheon, Vice-President, University of Limerick said, “Limerick is the centre for teacher education, with MIC producing primary school teachers and UL producing second-level teacher, together we provide the professional expertise for the educational enterprise in this country. Teachers will require frequent upskilling as mathematics and science alters, at the speed it does these days. This Centre delivers and will continue to deliver knowledge transfer and continuous professional development activities and it extends the work done in laboratories back in the classroom. Congratulations to our colleagues in Mary Immaculate College on taking centre-stage with regard to primary maths and science.”
Finally, Prof. Cremin presented Minister Quinn with a crystal candle-holder, symbolising the college’s motto, ‘Briathar Dé mo Lóchrann,’ or ‘The Word of God is My Light.’ Guests were then invited to visit a poster display of several of the projects currently being run through the Centre, in the Mathematics and Science Teaching Space, which consists of specially designed laboratories dedicated to the teaching of those subjects, in the State of the art teaching building, TARA, which was officially opened in September 2010.