Student Learning Journey

Student Profile (Male aged between 50 & 60)

Richard suffered from depression for many years he was attending a psychologist who encouraged him to go to the local literacy service to address his literacy difficulties this was 2012. He was extremely nervous at the first initial meeting and he started in one to one tuition. Richard really enjoyed working with his tutor one to one but it was obvious he had better literacy skills than he thought and so he was encouraged to progress into group tuition.


This was another big step for Richard – going into a group class. He attended a Basic English class with a number of other men and they all just clicked as a group. In fact Richard got very friendly with some of his class mates and progressed a weekly game of golf outside of the centre. He then attended an ITABE group where he was introduced to maths for the first time. Richard found he had an aptitude for maths he didn’t even know he had. In fact Richard was working out maths problems on a daily basis in his work as a building contractor so he was familiar with angles, fractions, measurement etc. Up to this point all the courses were unaccredited.


The next step was achieving accreditation. So in September 2013 Richard started Junior Certificate Foundation Level English class and Level 3 Maths class in which he was very successful obtaining a B in Junior Cert English and getting his QQI Level 3 certificate in Maths.


September 2014 saw more challenges for Richard he started a QQI Level 4 Maths and a two year Leaving Cert English programme. The plan was for Richard to sit his Junior Cert Ordinary English exam in year 1 and to sit the Leaving cert English exam in year 2. He also agreed to partake in the TV3 documentary series ‘Getting the Numbers Write’ During the first half of the year Richard appeared on breakfast time TV, national radio with Pat Kenny and in the local papers.


By June 2015 Richard had achieved and a C grade in Junior Cert ordinary level English and a QQI Level 4 certificate in Maths. At this stage this was as far as the Adult learning service could bring Richard in terms of his Maths and although Richard wanted to sit the leaving Cert in Maths all the BTEI programmes were during the day and this didn’t suit Richard as he worked full time.


Finally in June 2016 Richard achieved his goal of obtaining his dream of passing his Leaving Cert English exam – achieving a C1. He was over the moon he was the first member of his family to sit the leaving cert.


In November 2016 Richard achieved his long term goal to train as a One to One tutor. Richard successfully attended the initial tutor training programme and was looking forward to starting with a student in 2017. Unfortunately Richard hasn’t managed to start tutoring yet as he has ongoing health problems which prevented him from getting started.



Three years ago, we were looking for a new way of encouraging students to engage in the enjoyment of reading.  We came across ‘The Six Book Challenge’, which is organised by the Reading Agency in England.  We looked at this programme and tailored it to suit our needs.  We had received a grant from Better World Books Fund and we used the grant to purchase the necessary resources to offer learners this programme.  These included diaries, Quick Reads, pens and an incentive to take part in the Challenge.

For the Reading Challenge to work, we needed a simple and effective tool to build local partnership, so the starting point was the local library. We wanted to encourage the use of the local library and we were fortunate that the staff at Killarney Library were delighted to help in whatever way they could.   They have been a great support to our Adult Literacy Centre.    There is now a partnership agreement with Kerry ETB and Kerry County Library to fund the printing of the diaries and the certificates.  The Reading Diary is the key element of the programme which students take pride in completing.

The Reading Challenge encourages less confident readers to pick six reads, record their reading in a diary and write a piece describing their experience in less than fifty words, in order to receive a certificate and an incentive.  There is no ‘set’ of books or resources for the Reading Challenge and no stipulation that only books can be used.  This is what makes this programme unique and so successful.

The whole aim is to engage students in text and that may be best achieved for new readers through books, magazines, newspaper articles, ebooks, poetry or social media.

A successful pilot programme was run in 2013.  After that, tutors (group and 1:1) were encouraged to introduce the Reading Challenge to their students.  This was a slow process but now the tutors see the benefits for their students in reading, writing, spelling, listening and speaking.  The Reading Challenge is a programme to be incorporated into the literacy class.  So from humble beginnings, forty two students completed the Reading Challenge in 2016 and the 2017 Reading Challenge is already underway.

Tutors and students need to take ownership of the Reading Challenge and instead of being a chore, it has become a nice way to finish the class session each week.

The benefits for the students are many –

  • It stimulates an interest in reading
  • Reading independently, often for the first time
  • Being able to read a story to your child at bedtime
  • Using the library – intergenerational taking your children or grandchildren to the library
  • Being able to express an option about a piece of reading, this in turn builds the student’s confidence.

Quote from a student

“Taking the time to sit and read has opened a new door in my life.  Wherever I go from here I will always have a book with me.  For me this has been a wonderful journey, it has helped to open up my mind again.”


Mary Concannon – Adult Literacy Organiser, Killarney (Kerry ETB)