Vocational Education and Training week in Brussels (November 2017)

Alison Jones, ALO from GRETB, went to Brussels to receive the special award from the EU as part of the Vocational Education and Training week in November 2017. The award was given in the category of Innovation in recognition of the project to establish literacy and numeracy supports for apprentices. The jury said that:

The jury considers the effective method of improving literacy and Math capabilities in apprenticeships a good practice. Remedying numeracy and language skills as soon as possible will foster participation in future schooling activities that are necessary for continued employability.

The support takes the form of tailored Maths assessments, Maths support classes, Study Skills using a dedicated Study and Learning Handbook for Apprentices, as well as individual study help in reading, comprehension and language as needed. Technology Enhanced Learning is also being used in the programme and new literacy friendly materials and resources developed. An ‘Ideas for Integrating Literacy’ book for craft instructors and tutors has also been produced which includes a section on TEL and Dyslexia.

Launch of new UIL publication on family literacy and learning

A new FL resource has been developed by UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning (with a sub Saharan African focus) .

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) is launching a new publication highlighting the critical role family literacy and learning play in breaking down barriers between different learning contexts and engaging hard-to-reach adults and children in education. Learning Together Across Generations: Guidelines for Family Literacy and Learning Programmes was developed as part of a family learning project initiated by UIL in 2016. Based on the experiences of promising family literacy and learning programmes implemented in all world regions, with a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa, it provides stakeholders in Member States with evidence-informed guidance on how to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate a pilot family learning programme, stressing, in particular, the value of an intergenerational approach in addressing the learning needs of disadvantaged families and communities.

An innovative approach to literacy and learning

The innovative family-centred and community-based approach to literacy and learning has great potential in overcoming the barriers between school, home and community. It requires providers of early childhood care and development or pre-school education, primary education, and adult literacy and education to work together to redress educational disadvantage among vulnerable families. Evidence shows that such an approach also helps to overcome gender disparities. The publication provides guidance on how to respond to the learning needs of women and their families through the strengthening of positive, gender-conscious and culturally sensitive intergenerational learning practices.

The Guidelines are divided into three sections:

  • A theoretical introduction clarifying the concept of intergenerational and family learning.
  • A set of guidelines supporting potential providers in planning and delivering a pilot family learning programme.
  • A collection of examples of pedagogical materials.

The Guidelines aim to support stakeholders in Member States in successfully piloting a family learning programme. The principles, recommendations and examples of pedagogical materials featured in the publication were gathered during the International Workshop for the Development of a Resource Pack to Reach Vulnerable Families with Intergenerational Approaches to Literacy, which took place in Hamburg, Germany, in November 2016.

While they speak to all Member States, the examples included in this publication should resonate most with those who plan to implement a family learning programme in multilingual and multicultural contexts in rural or peri-urban areas in sub-Saharan Africa.

This piece is taken from:


This document is available to download in the ALOA downloads page.

‘Looking after the family, Looking after me’ (Clare Family Learning Project)

Review of ‘Looking after the family, Looking after me’ Pilot Project

Clare Family Learning Project in conjunction with St. Vincent de Paul

Spring 2017


While promoting Family Learning courses to members of St. Vincent de Paul it was suggested that many parents SVP meet need help with household budgeting and general home management skills, including cookery. A seven week pilot programme was developed by Clare Family Learning Project in conjunction with guidance from SVP. The programme was delivered from 20th January to 10th March 2017 in Ennis. SVP funded the tuition costs, while CFLP provided venue, materials and ingredients.

Programme curriculum

A tutor with the CFLP was tasked with expanding the key topics for a seven week course. She provided a wide range of topics and useful links, resources and recipes for learners. A handbook was developed for tutors to use. Due to the nature of the course it was felt that two tutors would work together to support learners. Some may need extra support as sensitive information may arise. As this was a pilot project a pre and post short survey was used to gather information to assess the impact of the new learning.


The pilot project was mentioned at a number of LCETB programme managers meetings and Local Area Network meetings. This resulted in a number of agencies contacting CFLP requesting the handbook for use with their own clients e.g. homeless group and women’s refuge organisation.

The course was promoted in and around Ennis through SVP, Clare Family Learning Project and relevant community and government agencies locally: Clare Immigrant Support Services, Clarecare, Public Health Nurses, Home School Community Liaison Coordinators in schools, Traveller Primary Healthcare Project, etc.

Gathering information

Participant analysis

Ten participants attended the course, seven Irish and three migrants attended.  Two male and eight female. One person wanted to get support as she would soon be living independently. Nine were early school leavers. Three have disabilities, while one is a migrant worker.  Five are Long Term Unemployed, two are unemployed less than a year while two are not in the Labour Market while one is employed in low paid job.

Learners were aged between 32 and 71, with an average age of 41.

Four had primary education, four had lower second level education and two had some upper second level education.

Two were Brothers of Charity referrals, and one was referred from Department of Social Protection.

Attendance was very good with four of those attending having 100% attendance, while two missed just one day out of seven.



On the first day after introductions, learners completed a short survey on what they currently do at home regarding budgeting and managing. They were then provided with a selection of topics they could choose from. The following were chosen: Easy home management and cookery, Cleaning and maintenance, Food health, Food hygiene, Consumer skills and shopping, and Basic First aid. Each class included a cookery demonstration.

Pre and post results for six learners:

  • Learner one

Is more careful when using home heating, has less food going off now, is trying a new recipe once a week, is sorting out paperwork weekly, and is now saving money monthly.

  • Learner two

Now always watches for special offers, reduces home heating when necessary, sorts out paperwork more regularly, is doing regular exercise previously did no exercise. She is talking with her children about healthier diets.

  • Learner three

Watches for special offers, is more careful of using energy in the home, has tried some recipes and has become more aware of healthier options when shopping.

  • Learner four

Started to repair clothes, makes meal plans before shopping, uses new ingredients more.

  • Learner five

Reduces the heat now, is cooking meals at home more regularly, tries the odd new recipe, and less food is going to waste.

  • Learner six

Less food is going to waste, making a daily meal plan has helped, using tumble drier less now.

Weekly objectives

The group decided themselves on class objectives and it can be seen that after the course there was a definite improvement in their knowledge:

I’d like to know more about food health and how to deal with stress

Learner 1 Learner 2 Learner 3 Learner 4 Learner 5
Pre course 4 5 6 5 6
Post course 8 9 9 8 7

I’d like to be a smart shopper

Learner 1 Learner 2 Learner 3 Learner 4 Learner 5
Pre course 4 4 5 5 7
Post course 8 7 8 8 9

I’d like to know more about different cleaning products

Learner 1 Learner 2 Learner 3 Learner 4 Learner 5
Pre course 4 2 3 5 8
Post course 8 6 7 9 10

I’d like to be more organised

Learner 1 Learner 2 Learner 3 Learner 4 Learner 5
Pre course 3 5 5 5 7
Post course 9 8 9 9 9

Where was I before I started the course?

Learner 1 Learner 2 Learner 3 Learner 4 Learner 5
Pre course 5 5 7
Post course 9 9 9

Issues among class group:

Week 1

  • Struggling to find things, forgetting to pay an energy bill and getting cut off, found learning to eat Gluten free useful for family,
  • Tips from group: Write in red marker on outside of envelope not to forget what it contains, e.g. bills for ESB etc.

Week 2

  • Tips from group: Put a wet cloth in microwave and turn on for short while the steam softens the grime making it easier to clean. Clean one room at a time. Do jobs in the morning before you get tired. Turn music on helps to get on with cleaning the home. Don’t overload sockets in case of fire. Make sure batteries are in smoke alarms.

Week 3

  • Tips from group: Try deep breathing exercises to de-stress. Finding out about the body e.g. BMI is good and they plan to reduce their sugar intake. One person will buy natural sugar substitute. Two aim to do some exercises daily. One plans to make homemade soup.

Week 4

  • Tips from the group: Plan to waste less food by using it in new recipes now. Plan to buy less food and avoid waste.

Week 5

  • Went on shop visit to spot consumer tricks, food labelling.

Week 6

  • Used YouTube to learn how to put someone in the recovery position. First Aid tips.


  • Literacy, numeracy and digital skills were embedded in each class in a natural way. The high attendance rate showed this type of class works to retain learners. Having two tutors was very useful to support the learners and gather information. The project has been very successful in supporting those on low incomes to better manage their finances.

Report by Mary Flanagan

Tutors: Noelle Eakins prepared the Resource Pack and co-facilitated the course.

Colette O’Brien documented and co-facilitated the course.

A Window Into The Creative Talents Of Portlaoise Women

Live original performances of spoken word and music from a Portlaoise mother and son rounded off the launch of a special exhibition of work in the Dunamaise Arts Centre last Thursday, March 2.
‘Window of Opportunity’ is a new project comprising artwork and storytelling, showcasing the talents of eight local women, all parents of children who are attending Scoil Bhride in Knockmay.

The project was run in Scoil Bhríde Knockmay in association with the Home School Community Liaison Officer in the school and Portlaoise Further Education and Training Centre.

As part of the project, the women wrote and illustrated short books for their children.
One of the talented first-time authors, Rhona Walsh read out her work at last Thursday’s launch, which saw a huge crowd turn out despite the inclement weather.

Rhoda dedicated the story, ‘The Buddy Bench’, to her five children, and at the conclusion of the event her 16-year-old son, Curtis, performed his original track, ‘Million Dollar Shakes’. Curtis, who attends the Academy of Popular Music in Cork, represented Laois at the Irish Youth Music Awards recently, and is the youngest person ever to have played at the Electric Picnic.

Besides Rhoda, the other women involved in the project are Ellen Momo, Karla Jordan, Deirdre Redmond, Edel Phelan, Nicole Delaney, Sabrina Bowden and Nicole Redmond.

Michelle De Forge, director of the Dunamaise, said that ‘Window of Opportunity’ was a fantastic project and the Dunamaise was really excited to have the group exhibiting on the wall of the centre used to host local artists.

Giving the women and their families complimentary tickets for a forthcoming show in the Dunamaise, Michelle expressed her hope that everyone would come back to the centre often.
“The door’s always open for you,” she said.

Deirdre Delaney, home school liaison officer with Scoil Bhride, congratulated the women on their achievement, and said there were tears of joy when they handed over the finished pieces.
Praising their hard work, she said she hoped the women continued to engage with future projects.

Kathleen Dunne, Adult Literacy Organiser with Laois Offaly ETB, congratulated tutors Denise Dunne and Mary Delaney, who gave their hearts and souls for the project.

Muriel Wall-Coughlan, principal of Scoil Bhríde, received copies of the women’s books for the school, and there are also copies for the county library.

The exhibition runs at the Dunamaise Arts Centre for the month of March.


Ryan Dunne

Successful Meeting with Minister Halligan

Aoife McCormack, Chair, Tara Kelly, Vice-Chair and Alison Jones, Secretary, met with Mr John Halligan, TD, Minister for Training, Skills and Innovation in Leinster House today.



ALOA Website Launch

The ALOA, Adult Literacy Organisers’ Association, today launched their new website at their annual Forum which is being held in Cork. Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, Mr. John Halligan, officially launched the new website at the opening of day two of the conference entitled ‘Leadership and Innovation’.

Adult Literacy Organisers work within ETBs nationwide, managing adult literacy and basic education services. The Association provides collective representation of the Adult Literacy Organisers. The new website will provide a platform for collaboration, learning and sharing practice as well as promoting excellence.

ALOA Members at New Website Launch Oct 2016

IRISH TV Cavan Maters - ALOA

Karina meets with Dace who is the manager of a local restaurant and bakery in the centre of Cavan Town. She explains how this venture is going and tells us about the support of the community.

We move then to the Cavan Adult Learning Centre where the local ETB is based. Karina chats to three trainees – Stephen, Sharon and Michael – who have gone back to adult education.

We learn how this has changed their lives. She also visits the Slieve Russell Hotel in Ballyconnell where the Annual Adult Literacy Organisers Association (ALOA) Conference is taking place.

We talk to chairperson, Siobhan McEntee, along with Martin O’Brien, the CEO of Cavan / Monaghan ETB, and Aoife McCormack from Kerry ETB.

Finally, Karina gets a work out at the CrossFit Centre in Cavan. She chats to Barry Murphy about these fitness classes and what they provide its members.

Check out ALOA on IRISHTV here. Info starts at 5.52 minutes in.

Empowering Adult Learners Through Digital Literacy

group-keep-calmCelebrating Adult Literacy Awareness Week 2016

Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board (ETB) with Waterford Library Services saw Mayor John Hearne launch a Digital Literacy Project called ‘Keep Calm and Love Learning’ in Central Library, Waterford City.

This Digital Literacy Project will invite adult learners from across Waterford County and City Adult Learning Centres to blog about their experiences of learning as an adult.  The aim of this project is to empower learners to express personal stories in their own words and to inspire other adults to join an adult education course.


In the OECD’s Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) 10% of Irish adults said they had no computer experience.  In the 21st century, it is important to be literate with technology.  The Internet is a way for people to network and learn new things, but also a potential barrier to further educational and work opportunities.


Finding work can be hard for adults with no digital literacy skills. At a very basic level, most job applications are now submitted online without ever using a piece of paper.  Not knowing how to use a computer severely limits a person’s ability to find work.


Waterford and Wexford ETB Adult Literacy Centres provide a range of digital literacy classes for adults including introduction to technology, computer skills, desktop publishing, spreadsheets, and internet skills.  Many of the classes include using social media for learning and teaching giving students the skills to participate in modern life. Waterford Library Services provide additional support for learners who return to education.


Learners attending classes with Waterford and Wexford Education Board are learning the Digital literacy skills that are required in the modern workplace and education environments.


For information with regard to Adult Literacy Classes please contact Joann Power in Waterford City (, Emma Coles in Tramore ( and Nicola Hanlon In Dungarvan at




Education as a Driver for Change

Erasmus+ project  


Attending the Erasmus + in-education transnational meeting in the GRETB Training Centre .

Left : Right  Alfred Berndl – ISOP Austria, Eithne Nic Dhonnchadha – AEO GRETB, Silivia Goehring –  ISOP Austria, Tricia Hartley – Campaign for Learning UK,  Caroline Manahl  & Juliet Tschank – ZSI Austria, Sheila Holland Fox & Kevin Kelly – Tuam Adult Learning Centre

The following partners were involved in the Erasmus+ project “Education as a Driver for Change.”  The focus of the transnational partnership was to provide access to new learning opportunities.

ISOP – Austria, Campaign for Learning – UK, GRETB – Ireland, Zentrum für Soziale Innovation – Austria

Project Outline:

The main aim of the “ – Education as a Driver for Change” project was to increase the enrolment in education of educationally and socially disadvantaged people who have not accessed education via the usual channels. Three different strategies have been developed and tested and the findings are intended to contribute to the further professionalisation of adult education.

Strategy 1: Aimed to activate the social environment, which has a major influence on educationally disadvantaged people engaging/re-engaging in education. developed special training for the new multipliers to raise awareness, to help them to understand the importance of their role and to support them in becoming active within their own social environment to identify potential participants.

Strategy 2: When it comes to education, people think mostly in terms of formal schooling including degrees, certificates, apprenticeships or traineeships. The main aim of this strategy was to acknowledge informal competencies, informally achieved skills and knowledge from the everyday life of socially and educationally disadvantaged adults. The recognition of those skills will help empower socially and educationally disadvantaged adults to gain a better understanding of education and access educational opportunities.

Strategy 3: This strategy was aimed at employees of adult education organisations and how their administration systems, educational programmes and training in adult education are matched to the needs of the socially and educationally disadvantaged.  Existing systems and educational opportunities were studies for those who are educationally disadvantaged and they were compared with the findings of current science and research.

The results of “Education as Driver for Change” are now available on:

gretb erasmus


Tommy Ryan Book Launch June 2016
Tommy Ryan’s Book Launch – Laois/Offaly ETB

Thomas Ryan launched his book of poetry “New Beginnings” in Portlaoise Further Education & Training Centre, LOETB, in May. Thomas’ talent was discovered in his Creative Writing Class two years ago & since then he has written 20 poems.

“It took two years to get it right” said Tommy, “the course is very enjoyable & I had a great time. I would like to thank my tutor Denise Dunne for her encouragement & support”.

Following the launch in Portlaoise Further Education & Training Centre, Thomas had a subsequent launch in Eamon’s coffee shop in Portarlington. His book is available to buy in shops in Portarlington for €10 & Thomas is giving all proceeds to the local branch of St. Vincent de Paul.

From poems about everyday life, the green bus that travels through his town & a poem about 1916, these poems are certainly worth a read. All the staff and his fellow students in PFETC wish Tommy the very best & look forward to seeing more of his writings.