THE benefits of music in early childcare settings and of classroom play for children with special needs were among the research topics presented by Limerick teachers and educationalists at a conference in Dooradoyle.
This was the fifth annual education and research conference co-hosted by Limerick and Clare Education Centres - and held this year at the Limerick centre at Marshal House.
The education centres are part of a network of over 20 nationwide which are relied upon by the teaching profession for continuing professional development and which place a heavy emphasis on applying research findings in the Irish education system.
Among those to make presentations of their research this year was Frances Shanahan from Corbally, whose paper on Music in Childcare Settings focused on an ongoing programme for the youngest learners in north Tipperary.
The paper sought to demonstrate how, through music, the creativity, imagination, knowledge, confidence and skills of children aged 0-6 can be nurtured and encouraged at this crucial stage of their development.
A paper from Niamh Cooke, who teaches in St Gabriel’s School in Dooradoyle, concerned the importance of play in the special needs classroom.
Results of this study included an increase in positive communication between students, improved social skills, improved level of engagement, and more sophisticated symbolic play.
Aoife Berkery, from Cappamore, presented her research on academic streaming in Ireland and the potential effects on teenagers of being divided into supposed slow and fast lanes after they make the transition from primary to secondary schools.
These students are in the early years of adolescence and have many changes taking place on a social, cognitive and emotional level. In Ms Berkery’s research she seeks to investigate what effects, if any, the practice of academic streaming has on student perspectives of themselves, the views of other participants in relation to their perceptions of students and if it leads to inequality in education.
Others to present at the conference included Tracey Aspel from Dooradoyle; John Phayer from Castleconnell; Aine Fleury from Birdhill and Gaelscoil Chaladh An Treoigh; and Dr Joe O’Connell, director of the Limerick Education Centre, who gave the keynote address on The Learning School.
Dr O’Connell extended a warm welcome to everybody present, including Mayor of Limerick Michael Sheahan, who also gave a speech as special guest.