The group with Borris Vocational School principal, John O’Sullivan
A delegation of 24 South Korean school principals and deputy principals visited Borris Vocational School this month on a fact-finding mission.
The group was visiting two ETB schools in Ireland and two training centres in the UK. The group are working with Chungnam National University and have been appointed to advise the South Korean Ministry of Education as part of a reform process which is taking place in South Korea.
The group were particularly interested in the Wellbeing Programme which is being run in Borris Vocational School. Dr Kim Min Hwan, Principal of Chungbuk Semiconductor High School was particularly impressed with how interested, friendly and happy the students were during the visit.
“They seem to enjoy their work so much, they are very busy,” said the principal.
The group discussed the fact that South Korean education consistently ranks near the top in international academic assessments, but the enormous stress and pressure on its students is considered by many to be a price too high to be paid.
Dr Lee Byung Wook of Chungnam National University Department of education spoke of the breadth of the curriculum and the range of skills which are developed in Borris Vocational School compared to the South Korean system.
The delegation were astonished at the range of extra-curricular activities in the school, with the dedication of the staff and agreed with the idea that no matter how highly qualified or skilled a person is,physical and mental health remains essential.
In South Korea an increasing number of public school teachers are enthusiastic about reforming public schools because grind schools (hagwons) are hollowing out the purpose and value of the classroom. As students learn concepts in their hagwons and stay up all hours of the night studying, more students are actually falling sleeping in class. As a result, teachers are losing their self-efficacy and passion for teaching.
“It was fantastic to be chosen for the visit, it gave us an insight into another educational culture and the value placed on education by their society and government,” said Principal John O’ Sullivan.
“It was an honour that our school community was invited to give advice and share our practices to help improve what is considered by many to be one of the best education systems in the world. It’s a credit to the entire school community.”
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