The CDU supports research grounded professional development of teachers in creating relevant and meaningful courses, methodologies, resources and assessment structures. The impetus to the formation of the CDU arose from the pressing social necessity for formal education to be significantly more responsive to the needs of all learners particularly the disadvantaged and early school leavers.
The CDU has initiated a number of projects that later have been mainstreamed in whole or in part through the post-primary and further education sector including Civic Social and Political Education (CSPE), Youthreach, Environment and Social Studies. Earlier work on the Humanities and Integrated Science (ISCIP) are congruent with many aspects of the new NCCA Junior Certificate proposals. Arising from education responses to early school leaving, the CDU developed the Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP) which subsequently became a national DES programme which has also informed developments in the new Junior Certificate. The CDU is responsible for the employment and human resource support to the senior librarian and the librarians located in thirty JCSP DEIS schools throughout the country. More recently the work of the Trocaire/CDU citizenship studies project has borne fruit in the announcement that Politics and Society will become a new Leaving Certificate subject in 2016. A previous collaboration with Trocaire gave rise to the Junior Certificate Civic Social and Political Studies (CSPE) course.
The role of the CDU is to support teachers and trainers in their professional practice of defining and realising education and training goals that ensure their learners are provided with the capacity to participate in and develop the economic, social, cultural and civic life of their community. The role of the CDU is achieved by providing a climate, resources and in-service conducive to creative and innovative curriculum development, providing leadership and management support to specifically funded projects, programmes, professional networks and services. In addition, the CDU offers support to individual teachers and schools/centres in their search for new and innovative approaches to teaching and learning and in the development and transfer of new resources and expertise. The CDU also initiates projects to explore, demonstrate or pilot evidence based curriculum enterprises that can subsequently be mainstreamed in response to local, national and international educational needs.
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