In the early 90s a Teachers’ Study Group was set up at a meeting convened in Donegal Town, with the support and encouragement of Eileen Kent, Department of Education Inspector. In 1997 an education centre was sanctioned for Co. Donegal, with full-time status to be named County Donegal Education Centre. This formed part of the expansion of the network of full-time education centres from nine to twenty.
The total land area of County Donegal is 486,091 hectares, which represents 6.9% of the total land area of the state, encompassing also six offshore islands. Donegal is home to the largest Gaeltacht area in the country occupying almost one third of the land space of the county. This large geographical spread and peripharility presents its own set of challenges for the centre, in the delivery of the national and local continuing professional development for the teachers in the 178 primary and 28 post-primary schools in the county. These factors are taken into consideration when designing and delivering customised courses to address the locally identified needs of the teachers and schools in our catchment area and also the necessity to outreach throughout the county to ensure equity of access for all teachers.
In 1998 the centre piloted an Anti-Bullying project in collaboration with the Anti Bullying National Centre, Trinity College for the Department of Education and Science. The centre continues to promote and deliver this programme which adopts and embraces the wider school community approach and provides training for and liaises with, many regional and national bodies and agencies, wishing to avail of the services of our highly trained and experienced team.
County Donegal Education Centre due to its geographical position and the fact that it shares the border with three of the counties in Northern Ireland it behoves the centre to embrace opportunities for involvement in cross-border projects. Through these very valuable and fruitful partnerships the centre has developed and delivered accredited courses in the area of mediation and diversity.
The Department of Education and Science in acknowledging the need for specific resources for the teaching of Irish in Gaelscoileanna and Gaeltacht schools in the state, funded the Aiseanna Teagaisc na Gaeilge project. The project is managed by County Donegal Education Centre and the project team has designed and developed all materials for the teaching of Irish in all the Gaeilscoileanna and Gaeltacht schools in the country.