The Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D, today announced the launch of a new Access to Post-Primary Teaching initiative by St. Angela’s College. This initiative will see the development of a new entry route from Further Education into post-primary teacher education programmes in St. Angela’s. Over the course of the project St. Angela’s will be partnering with up to nine further education colleges from the Border Midlands West region.
The Access to Post-Primary Teaching (APT) Project is being supported by the Department’s Programme for Access to Higher Education (PATH 1) funding. This funding was awarded last year to the NUIG and St. Angela’s Centre for Teaching Excellence.
PATH 1 Funding has also been awarded to five other Centres nationally to promote access to teacher training by target groups in the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2019. The groups targeted include people from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, students with a disability, and members of the Traveller community.
Minister Mitchell O’Connor, said, “The initiative that is being launched here today will develop, for the first time, a new pathway from further education to teacher training. This will support more people from under-represented groups to become teachers.
“The development of closer links between NUIG, St. Angela’s and the nine further education colleges will also help support the achievement of national policy objectives to broaden opportunities for graduates from further education to progress on to higher education.
“Teachers play a critical role in shaping student expectations and by having more teachers in the community who come from that community is essential in terms of having more role models with whom young people can identify.
“We are lucky in Ireland to have such a dedicated and committed teaching profession. Teacher training centres, teachers and school leaders will continue to play a pivotal role in helping children to achieve their potential.”
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Notes for Editors
Funding has been made available to six Centres of Teaching Excellence, including NUIG-St. Angela’s through the Programme for Access to Higher Education (PATH).
The six centres of teaching excellence are as follows:
- University of Limerick/ Mary Immaculate College/ Limerick Institute of Technology (NISE)
- National University of Ireland, Galway/ St. Angela’s College
- University College Cork
- Maynooth University
- Dublin City University/ St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra/ Mater Dei / Church of Ireland College of Education
- University College Dublin/Trinity College Dublin/National College of Art and Design/ Marino Institute of Education
Further to a competitive call process and evaluation by an independent panel of experts, funding of over €2.5 million has been awarded to the six centres over a 3-year period as follows:
PATH 1 Allocations
NUIG & St Angela’s
National Access Plan
The National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education, 2015-19, identifies 6 target groups, which are the priority groups for PATH 1 funding:
- Students with a disability
- Students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds
- Students progressing from Further Education
- Mature students
- Part-time students
There are also sub-groups such as lone parents and students from ethnic minorities which are also expected to benefit from the measures being funded under PATH 1.
Examples of specific initiatives
Some of the specific measures that are being supported under PATH Strand 1 include:
Aspiring Teachers Pathway: this project by Maynooth University (MU) to attract 20 students in DEIS schools who have an interest in becoming teachers. Students will be supported through academic supports (Maths, Gaeilge), mentoring, and practical support with completing HEAR/DARE/SUSI applications. Students who successfully complete the programme will be supported to access places on ITE programmes through additional reserved DARE and HEAR places in MU.
Rising Leaders Programme: this programme by Maynooth University will be open to teachers who were themselves from an access target groups and/or are teaching in a DEIS school with progression rates to third level of less than 30%. Over the two-year programme, participant teachers will strengthen their leadership skills, and develop culturally responsive teaching and cross-cultural communication skills. They will in turn act as mentors to aspiring teachers and help create a poster and video series about the need for diversity in education. They will also gain academic credits towards a postgraduate diploma in educational leadership.
Direct entry route from Further Education: St. Angela’s College are providing for the first time a direct-entry route from Further Education into the undergraduate BA/Professional Master of Education (PME - post primary). The College will work with 9 Further Education Colleges in the BMW region to attract 18 Further Education students into the concurrent 5-year BA/PME. Pre-entry supports will include information sessions, assistance with CAO ITE applications, module delivery in areas of need (e.g. Gaeilge. Maths), as well as ‘in-reach’ activities to bring the students into St. Angela’s College for lectures, workshops and mentoring. These will be combined with post-entry academic, financial (scholarships) and personal supports.
Bridging Advanced Programme Pathway. DCU will support students in the FE sector who have expressed a strong commitment to teaching as a career possibility by supporting students to complete a recognised and accredited module from a level 8 or level 9 ITE programme. This module can be subsequently considered for exemption upon successful entry to an ITE programme. Students will be supported by a ‘pathway coordinator’ who will be a guide and mentor in supporting the student.
Community Outreach Lifelong Learning Hubs: DCU has established hubs in Darndale and Kilbarrack to promote access to the new DCU Institute of Education. The centres are providing education sessions (including ITE taster courses) with a focus on mentoring and information sessions about teaching as a career, as well as academic supports in areas pertinent for accessing teaching such as Gaeilge and Maths.
Student Teacher Transition Programme (STTP): University of Limerick is developing an intensive one-week experience for all successful new ITE entrants from the access plan target groups. This intensive programme will prepare new students for their higher-level education experience, their specific course of study and introduce them to their mentoring and academic support framework. Students on the programme will be asked to keep reflective portfolios that will capture their experience of earlier education, early transition and their journey through the first year of their teaching programmes. This will assist in the evaluation of what strategies are effective in easing the transition to ITE for access students from the target groups.
Appointment of a Project Officer in Equality and Inclusive Education: UCC have appointed a full-time project officer whose duties will include monitoring of all entry points and completion rates, input into furtherance of objectives of the proposal as well as teaching, presenting, mentoring, placement, liaison, research and advocacy duties.