Séamie Ó Néill is Head of Education and Director of School Placement in the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education. He began his career as a primary school teacher, having graduated from St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. He subsequently served as Principal of Queen of Angels Primary School in South County Dublin before joining Froebel College of Education in 2001 where he gained extensive management and leadership experience as a member of the Froebel College Board of Governors, chairing the Academic Council and co-ordinating the Strategic Planning and Development Workgroup.
Within the Froebel Department, Séamie’s role as Head of Education is to provide academic leadership, with a strong focus on the strategic development of the Department, in line with its mission statement in the context of the transition to Maynooth University in 2013. He is an active member of the Academic Committee, Research Committee and Development Inter-Cultural Education (DICE) Committee. He is currently Chair of the School Placement Committee. Séamie teaches on the B.Ed., PM.Ed. and Master’s of Education programmes. He has been to the fore in the development of the reconceptualised B.Ed. programme and in the design of a new Master’s of Education (Research in Practice) programme, launched in August 2018. He was programme leader of the B. Ed. programme for a period of eight years. He currently acts as dissertation supervisor on undergraduate and post graduate programmes.
The founder of the Dissolving Boundaries Leadership Programme for final year students, which allows students to engage in community leadership projects, Séamie also designed, and teaches on, an elective module entitled Dissolving Boundaries:Education Projects in the Community. He is the founder of Machnamh, the Froebel Department newsletter.
He is a strong supporter of the Froebel Department / Hope Foundation Teacher Education Partnership and he has provided professional development to our partner teachers in Kolkata, and previously in Kenya. Séamie contributes in a variety of ways to Froebel Week, an annual celebratory festival of Froebelian practice.
Séamie has wide experience of educational reform nationally, having been an
active member of several committees of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), including the NCCA Language Advisory Group, which informed the development of the new Integrated Language Curriculum for primary schools. He acted as chair of the Early Childhood and Primary Language Development Group (EPLDG) for a period of four years.
He is a member of the National Interagency Committee National Pilot Project on Teaching Induction; the North-South Student Teacher Exchange Committee; the Forum of Heads of Education, and the Standing Committee of Heads of Education and Teacher Unions. He regularly advises national education bodies on education policy and practice. Séamie is co-author of a report for the Standing Conference of Teacher Educators North and South (SCoTENS) Supporting the Role of the Supervising Tutor on School Placement. The report represents a synthesis of the findings of a collaborative enquiry by Directors of School Placement North and South on the area of professional learning for supervising tutors in initial primary teacher education. He is currently one of three External Examiners for the B.Ed. and P.ME. programmes in DCU and provides advisory support to the DES Gaeltacht Education unit. He also sits on the panel for the UL EHS Excellence in Teaching Awards. In November 2018 he was appointed to the Teaching Council School Placement Working Group.
Séamie’s research interests include developing best practice within initial teacher education, with a particular focus on the development of student teacher professional agency. He is also interested in self-study practitioner research, inclusive education, modhanna múinte na Gaeilge, culturally responsive teaching, school partnerships and developing leadership ability among student teachers.
As part of his research on Irish language learning and teaching methods, Séamie has developed programmes for the primary school and has worked closely with
publishers to produce materials for the classroom. He is the creator of ELeathanach (electronic newsletter), which is distributed to around 2,000 primary schools on a weekly basis. ELeathanach was awarded the Language Label, the European Award for Languages.
Tá suim nach beag aige i gcúrsaí Gaeilge. Mar chomhordaitheoir ar Roinn na Gaeilge i gColáiste Froebel chuir sé tús le plean stratéiseach don Ghaeilge sa choláiste. D’éirigh an Roinn an cultúr Gaelach agus an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn ar bhealach tarraingteach, forásach. Mar thoradh ar an obair sin, fuair an coláiste aitheantas ó Ghlór na nGael, COGG agus Léargas.
In collaboration with colleagues, he was successful in bringing the INTO School-College Partnerships Seminar and the Erasmus+ project Conference: A Digital Journey in Europe and the INTO Joint Seminar: School College Partnerships Seminar to Maynooth in the last academic year.
In his role as Director of School Placement, Séamie oversees the organisation of approximately one thousand placements annually, supported by Vera Timmons, School Placement Officer, the School Placement Committee and a team of HEI tutors (supervisors), many of whom are experienced teachers and principals. He regularly convenes focus groups for partner schools with a view to improving the school-university partnership. In the current academic year, Séamie has become involved in the Turn to Teaching programme, working with student teachers to mentor and support students on the programme.
In his free time Séamie, as a passionate enthusiast of hurling, is part of the backroom team which manages the Maynooth University Fresher’s hurling team.