The Oscailt network for school leaders was established in Limerick in 2009 to promote the community use of school premises and facilities, with a view to providing a comprehensive range of services to pupils both during and outside school hours. It has served the school heads in supporting each other and sharing experiences in addressing ESL and educational disadvantage.
Limerick is the third largest city in Ireland and has a large migrant population as well as a significant level of communities on the lower socio economic scale which has resulted in a high number of schools participating in the DEIS programme. The educational level of parents is low, success rates on both the Junior and Leaving Certificate are also low. With high rates of unemployment (100% in some areas), educational disadvantage is extreme in certain cases. With high rates of children with poor oral language development and emotional/behavioural difficulties there is a high level need for therapeutic services for children. The characteristics of the city described above, call for a city wide approach to address educational disadvantage and capacity building of teachers and school leaders.
Within the Oscailt network for school leaders, principals come together in a safe and supported environment to support each other and share experiences in addressing educational disadvantage. They are able to share good practice, make joint applications for funding, and find solutions not just between partner schools but with improved communication with outside agencies and other schools outside the network. Experiences are shared across the schools and through collaboration and support from national and city authorities. It is recognised that barriers to education progress in Limerick are in part caused by wider issues outside of the education system. It is also recognised that the solution is not just within the education system but also through working across other departments, through inter-agency projects and through a clear forum of communication and stakeholder collaboration for example.
- Report on the network