Education and Training Boards across Ireland are implementing important measures to meet the challenges arising from Covid-19 and to ensure continuity of education and training for approximately 450,000 students and learners across the state.
The ETB sector acknowledges the challenges associated with this pandemic, and the impact felt by students, learners, parents and staff alike. All 16 ETBs have and will continue to engage in contingency planning for Schools and Further Education and Training provision.
A survey of ETBs conducted in late March by Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) has confirmed that a variety of measures have been put in place to respond in an agile and flexible way to support its teaching and learning community. ETB staff have been exceptional in terms of their receptiveness and adaptability in providing tuition and support to learners via a variety of means.
The survey found that innovative and positive steps have been taken by ETBs to:
- Quickly adopt to online platforms, tools and technologies
- Support staff and tutors with equipment, upskilling and professional development
- Provide alternatives to technological solutions, including physical resource packs delivered by post
- Facilitate online meetings, which provide for regular updates and responsive feedback
- Assist parents and learners by ensuring Guidance staff are available to support their wellbeing
- Enable remote working practices to ensure continuity for essential services for all ETBs.
The ETB sector has agreed guiding principles for alternative assessment methods for its Further Education and Training programmes, which will be used at ETB level. Learners will continue to be communicated with regularly and clarification provided as soon as practicable. Learners requiring assistance will be supported by their ETB as required.
Education and Training Boards Ireland, which represents Ireland’s sixteen Education & Training Boards, is also actively responding to the needs of its member ETBs. In response to a survey of immediate support needs of the member ETBs, ETBI has taken a number of steps, including: establishing a dedicated Covid-19 communication channel; facilitating all essential sectoral meetings online; and leading the engagement with the Department of Education and Skills and other agencies to provide essential guidance and clarification.
Nessa White, General Secretary of Education and Training Boards Ireland said, “I would like to express my deepest appreciation to all of our staff and students, who have done everything in their power to adapt to these challenging circumstances. I am very proud that we have been able to ensure the continuity of the education of our students and learners. I would ask all learners and ETB staff members to ensure that they adhere to Government guidelines in place during this period. I have no doubt that we will overcome this difficult period, and that in the meantime our community of learners will be provided with the education and support they deserve”.