Belfast Telegraph

Service to remember pioneer of education reform

By Staff Reporter

A woman who made a huge contribution to Northern Ireland's education system will be remembered at a service today.

Catherine Coxhead was the first and only chief executive of the Northern Ireland Council for Education Development, founded in 1999, and, five years later, the CCEA (Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment).

Catherine died last November and her life will be celebrated at an event today.

She led both the introduction of the first Northern Ireland common curriculum and later initiated its radical revision.

To inform that review, she commissioned from the National Foundation for Educational Research one of the first - and perhaps only - cohort studies of the views of young people about the curriculum.

The study continued for seven years under the leadership of Dr John Harland and exerted a massive influence on the revision of the curriculum.

Dr Carmel Gallagher from the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland described Catherine as an "inspiring educationalist who really believed in research-informed development and was a powerhouse of creativity behind that shy and self-effacing exterior".

She added: "Her legacy lives on - not just in Northern Ireland's schools and in the education of its students by many wonderful teachers - but also internationally, s the ideas she championed are now being embraced across the world.

"Catherine is sadly missed by her many loyal colleagues and friends here in Northern Ireland."

During her career Catherine commissioned a literature review of development of 'thinking skills' interventions, which was then disseminated across the UK and had impact far beyond.

As a result, Northern Ireland was one of the first places in the world to develop specific provision for 'thinking skills and personal capabilities' as a core element of the revised curriculum.

It is something that international organisations such as UNESCO/IBE and the OECD continue to promote today.

Belfast Telegraph


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