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.

‘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

Family Learning Longitudinal Group, Co. Clare

Mary Flanagan tells us about a group of parents of children at high risk of not making the transition from primary school to second level school who were invited to attend a Family Learning course in 2002. A very strong inter-agency group of community and adult education supports was put in place around the group and this was reviewed annually. Five settled Irish and two Traveller mothers attended and progressed onto Further Education and Training Awards Council (now Quality Qualifications Ireland) Level 3. A number of students then progressed onto Level 5 courses and one completed Level 6. All their children went on to second level. As the mothers became more confident they got involved in the community campaigning for a playground and another as a Family Resource Centre Board member for a number of years.

See below interviews from two of the mothers:


Interview 1 with mum in February 2015 –  13 years after starting Family Learning.

Completed Level 5 Art

Mums voice:

My kids were young and my friend introduced me years ago.

There was classes starting so I gave it a go.

They helped me put my kids into the crèche at the time and supported it.

Which was good for me as it got me out of the house, mingling with other people and you know what I mean, I suppose learning, I was good at school but I wasn’t that good at school. Crafts and maths and communications and stuff like that.

Then moved from that then to Level 3, same thing, same group of people and new people came in then on top of it.

And took it from that then to when we all kind of split up, went our own ways.

People I knew did Childcare, I did Art, other people did different things. We were all in the same group.

More than anything it was just getting out, getting support, and getting help

I felt good about myself

Getting up in the morning, getting the kids out, mingling with adults and having an adult conversation and just instead of being stuck in the house, that’s how it started out, instead of being…I felt isolated at home and I was getting out and about.

I suppose with Emily anyway or Amy (she’s the oldest), when I did do the maths from what I remember… what I was learning I was going home and if she asked me something, because years ago being in school, you would forget bits and pieces like.

So that actually helped.

When I started doing the crafts and found what I wanted to do, like with Amy I’d actually help her with the art like I was pretty… I found what I wanted to do and it was the art, but helping her, it felt good like.

I always liked it but never had confidence to do anything.

‘Cos I wouldn’t do it by myself.  So I’d the support of people helping you and pushing you in the right way.

Mingling with people socialising, something I wouldn’t have doing.

When I got further on and I was doing the art I actually told my sister, she lives here in Ennistymon, I actually said it to her, and she came on and gave it a go.

She did like, she did. Em she liked it and she stuck at it for a while then as well, you see she started too late. I started from the beginning and worked my way up.

I remember the time I sold my painting in the Art Gallery, the kids came along with me.

They actually still say it on and off. You know what I mean that Mam help me with my art. I haven’t done in a while, but as in they remember being there when I sold it. It made me feel good.

Years ago the way I felt as a lone parent, by myself with the kids, kind of at home with nothing to do.   With the support and the help I’d definitely give it 10 out of 10.

Helping them at home, and do you know, not, you’d just say by the time I’d got back and I got my kids, I wasn’t as do you know what I mean…cranky or whatever. I was out and about my head was clearer. Do you know that kind of way, mingling with people.

More happy like in myself, so if I’m happier in myself, my kids can see it like.

Definitely 10 out of 10 I know I shouldn’t… it would be because they did see a big difference.

If I didn’t do what I did back then, I probably would have gone insane.  At this stage…yea you know…

Kids… a big impact you know.

And even now my kids are 16 now and 11 and when I did move back here make and… seeing can I get back in, to pick up where I left off. Seeing where I could better myself that bit more.

So you know so it is good like … I think.

 Yea, the day I sold the painting, the day I sold the painting… I was like je… I’m worth…I can actually do this, I can do something that before I couldn’t. Like the support that they gave me is like… is like in one way I know it sounds stupid like a child supporting me, helping me, pushing me along that I could do it like do you know what I mean that kind of way. It was tough when I did the Level 5. The two years Art, that was tough.

But the support was brilliant. And I think that helped me from the start to build my confidence all the way up along to do what I did then and now I’m hoping to continue and finish it.

Build the foundations and work your way up.

Like I did go to school. I did do my Junior Cert and I did the Applied Leaving. But when you do leave all that you’ve kids and you’re taking care of them

You forget, you forget, you actually forget, and then your kids are coming home with their homework, and then you’re trying…. so it was easier when they came home doing even…. At the time like doing like even communications stuff like a small bit of childcare we were doing as well do you know. Stuff like that helped them and my kids didn’t see me as much under pressure, cranky. Socialising bit was the best bit and the crack and the laugh we had together was brilliant as well and meeting people as well.

Even my parents, the time when in the Art Gallery, even my family came down and everything and supported me. I thought it was brilliant.

And a painting that I did do, my mam actually still has it at home. ‘Cos like she thought it was amazing, it was really good. They always said it you were good with…but it took me to do ‘cos I had Amy at 19 and I kind of, you know…had taken care of her and forgetting about myself  but to do this helped me build myself back up to move onto more what I wanted to do and the support and help with the childcare as well. Knowing that Emily was …or Amy, I think Emily was born, she was. Yes Emily was. Yea Amy was upstairs in the crèche and Emily was downstairs so the two of them got looked after, I could breathe, do what I was doing and then you know an adult conversation as well.


Interview 2 – Completed Level 6 Childcare now employed

Traveller Mum:

You know I went to school in my early days, three hours a day in to learn for the Confirmation or the Holy Communion. I never got secondary school. I came from a family of twelve and in them times the Travellers didn’t believe in having kids in school. I came from the side of the road to be honest moved into a council house.

In 2002 I just moved into the Clare area and I was approached that family learning classes were going to take place.. My daughter was only six at the time. She was starting primary school in the area and I needed to know more as a mother would.. So I wanted to be able to help her with her homework, so I went along to the classes. I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest at first. The first day was a bit daunting. There was a lot of people that I didn’t know. … I came to the head of the road and I was actually going to turn back and not go in. Cos it is shaky, there’s no point in not saying it….you’d have this attitude you’d  be judged. You’re not going to be judged. It’s your own thought in the back of your head and it can be as big as a mountain

There was classes for maths, cooking, literacy and numeracy skills, there was art, there was no end to the classes that we done after that. And Janet and Jacinta was involved in the guiding of it, and anything that you felt you were stuck with; if you weren’t aware of where to  go or what to do you could always go back to them. They were always a support … It makes such a difference in your life. You don’t have to be a genius to take part in it.

So I met Katie and I explained I had a problem… that I wanted to go into childcare as a professional, being a Traveller I didn’t think I’d be able to achieve it,

I needed the background of family learning because I’ve dyslexia so my understanding of spelling wouldn’t be great. I could read but I wouldn’t be able to spell… So for me to put something down on paper, and awkwardness… to be able to go on and do the work, the studies and the exams, I wouldn’t be able to do it alone to be honest with you. 

I never ever thought that I’d go to work or ever go back to school and learn as much as I’ve learned. Or be able to sit and do an exam, even for the communications, to be able to stand up in front of a crowd. O my God I thought I was going to drop, but even that day when Jacinta said to me you can do so much for yourself. At the time I hadn’t self esteem. I hadn’t belief in myself. And two year after that, I had… you can do that you’re well able. 

My work was a very big bonus  when my brother died because I didn’t go back to work for two weeks. After it happening at least I could feel normal.  I had friends around me. I didn’t feel isolated. But as I said without having my job, at the time, I’d have too much time for thinking; God knows what would have come out of it.

 But when I had my daughter I wanted so much for her that I never had. And when I heard about the classes in family learning, I think that’s what made me hunger. Embarrassment and everything else went out the door when I put a foot through that door. All I wanted was to achieve so much to prove to her, that if I could do it at my age there was nothing to stop her… so that was the most thing to get me going. I knew I could do more. I know I can do more.  I will be doing more. .  It’s a whole lifestyle for yourself as well.

I have six sisters and six brothers, two deceased. None of them actually work. Actually none of them worked. My father is going through his seventies. My father sat down a few weeks ago, and he said ‘I’m proud of you. You’re one out of the lot that made something of yourself. I never got the chance when I was young. We were reared outdoors, living from house to house, waiting for handouts to survive. I done as much as I could with you,’ he said, ‘from what I had, but you went on.’ 

So that, without the family learning we wouldn’t have the courage to be honest with you. I got on and done that and it was from here that I got the courage to do my driving test.  My daughter got a seizure in my home one year. And there was nobody here driving, …and I said I’d never be caught like that again. Within six months I had applied for my driving test. I failed the first time round and came back and applied the day I failed. I sat the test six weeks after.  I passed my full driving test and that was six years back (and I haven’t) and there’s been no end to me after that

Aw, look some Travellers say to me ‘Aw you’re too big in your boots. I say ‘No you are never too big in your boots.’ I’ll want for my daughter what I never had. Now that I have ambition, I’m going to pass it on. I’m not afraid to work, not afraid to learn, and I have great support. So there’s no point in excuses ‘O , I can’t do it, I can’t do it!’ You can do it if you want to do it. I always keep telling Lily and I mean, why wouldn’t I tell her, she’s my priority, she’s my daughter, she’s my responsibility.

But as I said without the family learning, none of this would ever be achievable, not to my family anyway. If I wasn’t in these classes, I’ll tell you what I’d be doing at the moment, I’d be home scrubbing the tables and putting on the dinner, and I wouldn’t be out working and I wouldn’t be involved in community. I’d be half scared to mix with the community


But, it felt like just walking into part of your family, from stage one.   Everyone introduced each other and there was no pressure on anybody. Everybody discussed their own kids, there was confidentiality, there was nothing taken away from it. And even if you wanted to talk about a personal  problem,  with a child, it was just like family bonding. You didn’t feel like you were alone, and that was a good thing. As I said I moved into the county, I didn’t know anyone in the county and it was  a great step for me personally.. to understand that I wasn’t the only girl in the county that was struggling.

If something happened in class, and the class had to be cancelled, you’d be kinda disappointed that you couldn’t go, didn’t meet my friends this week,

The first classes that was ran, achieved so much for so many families in the parish…without that I don’t think a lot of those families would reach a quarter in their life. It’s been a very very big bonus to us…

You’re involved in a whole community. Even at times myself and my daughter,  we actually went and done fund raising for other members of other communities, other parts of this community. There’s no way in the world going back,  I’d get involved in this. I just wouldn’t.  I wouldn’t have the courage.  I was on a Board of Management of the Family Resource Centre for four and a half years. I’ve only stepped down in the last few years. I’m involved in other bits around, it will keep me busy. I’m involved in any fundraising that comes up, for the school my daughter is going to, anything that I can help with, if anyone wants to they can ring me.

You know I‘ve been involved in meetings with Clare County Council on behalf of Travellers. I spoke up for Travellers. You know going back to me fifteen years ago … I never thought that it would ever, ever happen, the experience or having the inspiration or having the self esteem to do something like that.

Now my daughter is eighteen and she’s still in school. She is doing her Leaving Certificate next year.

She has done work experience in Childcare up where I work. And I want her to go down that road, only if she likes it. And if she falls back on anything, I know there is support here for both of us.

Lilly is finding it difficult, she’s like me as well;  she has dyslexia and is getting special help in school. She get’s stuck at homework and there are always two or three friends you can ring.


Really and truly I think health is your wealth but your education is the biggest thing in life. Because without education you know nothing, you can go nowhere.

To have the confidence to step in and do the work, for me without my qualification I wouldn’t be able to do anything. So I’d be there depending on the husband coming home with the Social Welfare, Lily still inside in school and I’d have no independence. So from this I have gone on I’ve done Level 5 through the strength and support of family learning

From being an ordinary parent, to teaching kids as a childcare worker in a crèche, (I knew I had to have a Level 5 and Level 6 before I could step in to take up a full time position or part time position.)

I’m fifty years of age next February for God’s sake. I started late in life to learn. But I tell you I’m not sorry. It still is wonderful to be able to go out, do a day’s work, learn, meet your friends…

Financially, I’m able to save a bit more. I appreciate what I’m earning because I’m doing it for myself. I can go home and I feel, I feel  I know but that’s how I feel as well that my family are looking up to me because I’m going out and doing it.


I’ve got a lot of inspiration from my family learning classes from day one. And every day I get up I push …and I’m glad I got the opportunity.

Because the overall picture has been very beneficial to me, very beneficial to my lifestyle, very beneficial to my daughter, to my husband to my family. My sisters can ring me up, they’ve, most of them have got kids, there’s something going on with the kids, I can actually discuss that and give them advice on it. I’ve done special needs and I’ve done training in child behaviour and all that.

As I said we took up art classes under this programme, and I actually sold one of the pictures I painted here to a local, and that’s actually hanging in her hall. And it’s those kind of things you never forget.

Without them it wouldn’t have been possible. You know , they, they actually believed in me.  They saw more in me at the time, than I saw myself.




Clare Family Learning Project

Here is a letter from a mother who attended an Introduction to Second Level Maths course when her children were moving into First year.


Dear Ms Flanagan

I recently attended the North Clare Opportunities Event in Ennistymon and was introduced to you by an Adult Literacy Tutor.

I first met the tutor in September of 2008 when I attended a series of evenings to introduce parents to the mathematics that their children in first year of secondary school would experience. One of my daughters had been identified as having dyscalculia and although she wasn’t due to go to secondary school until September 2009, I felt the funding may not be available 12 months on, and so I should seize the opportunity and go in September 2008. I was aghast at the detail in mathematics which my children would face and quickly realised that I would be quite useless should they ask me anything related to the course when they were doing homework. The tutor provided a number of supports that we could use once the course was over – relevant websites as well as an extremely useful book: Usborne’s Dictionary of Mathematics. These have since come in extremely useful.

However, I think one of the most useful things to come out of the course was that it caused me to assess my own position both in terms of parenting and what I could achieve when returning to the workplace. I was feeling quite inadequate and particularly out of date and out of touch with modern education. This resulted in me deciding to return to full-time education and I went on to apply for a FETAC Level 5 business course in North Clare. I took eleven modules, one of which was mathematics. The mathematics part of the course took place after Christmas, so I had plenty of time to change my mind about taking that module – the longer I had to think about it, the more determined I was not to do that part of the course. However after trying to ditch it several times, the two administrators on the course – convinced me that there was no harm in trying – and that I should just give it a go.

Day one only reinforced my view – the first subject we were to tackle was algebra – something I had completely skipped because I had a fundamental disconnect with the logic – I couldn’t follow the process and after trying in secondary school, I just gave up and said it was something I would never understand. So I just parked it, avoided any questions related to it in my exams, never went back to it and never gave it a second thought. Until the Spring of 2011.

I was delighted to get my results of the FETAC Level 5 business course and all the additional modules I tackled. But I was completely and utterly over the moon to realise I had achieved a distinction in my mathematics. For me, this was a mountain I had to climb. But the teaching was more modern, the teacher understood exactly how we felt, and I was delighted that no question I asked was too foolish – no matter how many times I asked it. Once I had learned and understood algebra, I felt the rest of the mathematics course would be less of a struggle, and I gained a huge leap of confidence from that alone.

In the autumn of 2011 I decided to take the FETAC Level 6 Business course – again in North Clare. I will happily sing the praises of the adult education facility at the school because of my own personal experience. That was the reason I was invited to the North Clare Opportunities Event to represent the adult student body of the school and I can definitely say that I am 100% more confident now than I was in September 2008 and I would certainly stand a much better chance when applying for work.

All the success I have achieved, can be directly attributed to the initial course which the Adult Literacy service ran back in 2008.

So I would like to say a huge thank you to you and the Adult Literacy Tutor for opening the door and lighting the path to what, for me, will be a much more fulfilling and rewarding future.


Kind regards,


March 2012.

MSLETB: Innovative Responses to Referrals from DSP

In February 2016, MSLETB met with DSP to explore ways to refer clients who had low levels of education or very little formal education. Through discussion, it emerged that there were very few courses for men who wanted a job. They didn’t want to study or return to education. If this group were to be engaged, it would have to be a ‘Hands On’ practical course.

The Adult Learning and Education Centre looked at apprenticeship courses at Level 5/6 that were offered in Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim. It was felt that many who applied for apprenticeships didn’t have enough grounding in maths to complete the apprenticeship phases successfully. Level 5 and 6 was a step too far for many who left school with little or no formal education.

We decided to bridge the gap between what was offered at Level 5/6 and to offer a pre-apprenticeship level. Many learners were afraid of maths but were interested in practical subjects so ALEC combined Maths QQI level 3 (3N0929) with Electrical skills QQI Level 3 (3N0527).

We started this in April 2016 and ran it until July 2016 for 6 hours per week Mondays 2-5pm and Thursdays 2-5pm for 14 weeks and based it on the ITABE model. We aimed at recruiting 6-8 men but sixteen men signed up. Twelve completed the course with two gaining employment during the course.

The class combined Maths and Electrical skills rather than having set times and days for each module. Sometimes Electrical skills were first up, followed by maths and on other days the reverse happened, depending on the particular objectives for the tutorial.

Students learned the basic concepts of electricity by taking a plug apart. Another lesson given was where two lemons, a few coins and a few nails were connected together to make a simple ‘lemon battery’ which in turn was used to power a simple kitchen clock/timer. (The tutor got a clap when the clock was seen to be working from ‘lemon power’). This simple experiment appeared to captivate students and the range of questions arising from this set the tone for the course.

Electronic kits were used and allowed the students to test different circuits that were drawn and discussed on the whiteboard. In addition to the electronic kit, students were shown a number of experiments from an ‘electricity and magnetism’ kit. This kit demonstrated the key role in /electricity and electronics.

On the maths side, there were lots of discussions on topical items, economy, budgets etc. while data collection was a practical experience where students carried out a survey of cars and the findings were examined with great interest.

Every student was very interested in electrical skills so attendance was guaranteed in the class from the outset. Students gained confidence; there was energy in the class with many questions being asked. There was integration between different nationalities with everyone helping each other. By combining subjects, boredom and lack of interest was never a problem.

Ten of the twelve have gone on to Level 4 electronics.


electronics_kit3              magnetism_kit_box


Mná Tí – Skills for Work Initiative in Gortahork



Mná Tí from Gael Linn summer colleges who took part in a 9 week Skills for Work course (a National programme run in Donegal by Donegal ETB) in Nutrition – Food Allergies and Food Intolerances.  The women spent time identifying and learning about the different allergies and food intolerances that exist. They planned meals for students with special dietary requirements and they assessed these in terms of nutrition, cost and ease of cooking.  Towards the end of the course they spent some time cooking these new menus.



Mná Tí Ghael Linn a ghlac pairt i gCúrsa Cothaithe , Neamhoird Bhia agus Ailléirge.  Cúrsa 9 seachtaine faoin chlár Scileanna don Obair – clár náisiúnta atá á reachtáil i dTír Chonaill ag Bord Oideachais agus Oiliúna Dhun na nGall.

Chaith na Mná Tí tréimhse ag fiosrú agus ag foghlaim fána ailléirge agus eadulaingtí a thig leis a bheith ar na páistí  faoina gcúram. Rinne siad béilí a phleanáil do réimse daoine le riachtanais bia speisialta agus rinne siad iad a mheas ó thaobh cothú, costas agus indéantacht.  Ag deireadh an chúrsa chuir siad an méid a d’fhoghlaim siad i bhfeidhm nuair a rinne siad na béilí seo a chócaireacht.





Donegal Education and Training Board (ETB)                    skills-for-work-logo

Erasmus + Key Action 1 Mobility Program 2015


From the Wild Atlantic Way to North West Sicily, ERASMUS+ provided a very rewarding training opportunity.
Donegal and Kerry ETB’s Adult Basic Education Service Staff shared an exciting training opportunity in Sicily in early September.

The course, funded by Leargas under Erasmus + Key Actions and supported by Donegal and Kerry ETBs, was delivered in Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto in North East Sicily. The core elements of the programme included:

  • Working in an intercultural environment
  • Communication challenges related to multicultural students
  • Motivation – extrinsic and intrinsic
  • Managing staff and managing change
  • Development of problem solving skills
  • Developing team working skills and sharing ideas and strategies

The training programme and information material for the course were developed by EProject to meet the objectives of ERASMUS+ applications made to Leargas by both Donegal and Kerry ETBs. Initial preparation included exploring the willingness and feasibility of the basic education staff of two ETBs combining to attend a training programme. This meant comparing both applications and, most importantly, ascertaining staff willingness and motivation to participate. The staff in both ETBs welcomed the prospect of sharing training. A comparison of the application forms highlighted shared objectives. Emails passed between Donegal and Kerry as dates, locations and course providers were verified, discussed and finally agreed upon.
In March 2015 EProject, ERASMUS+ approved trainers, were contacted with a view to exploring the possibility of providing a course to meet the needs of the staff of both Donegal and Kerry ETBs. From that initial email, EProject were helpful and supportive and were willing to negotiate and accommodate in respect of dates, duration and content. Dates and course content were agreed and the staff of EProject organised accommodation and transfers. All was set for a September training course.

The Sicilian sunshine and the staff of EProject created an atmosphere that was both motivating and conducive to engagement. The mix of participants (from two different ETBs located at opposite ends of the Wild Atlantic Way) and the facilitation skills of Natalia Seriakova from Germany created a positive energy. Training started with an overview of ERASMUS + Key Actions and some general information on Sicily. As training progressed, Natalia presented scenarios, case studies, group and individual tasks which generated lively debates, discussion on developments and circumstances and a willingness to view issues and topics from different perspectives.


Small group work and ‘walk and talk’ during cultural outings meant that the Donegal and Kerry participants worked, laughed, learned and shared together. Participants availed of an opportunity, in a very different setting, to explore and reflect on their own practice and to investigate new approaches and strategies. Back home and with winter beckoning and the surf of the Wild Atlantic Way pounding both coastlines, the contacts made and the skills gained through this shared training will ensure continued links and sharing between the Basic Education Services of both Kerry and Donegal ETBs.

Grasie Mille


kerry-etb          erasmus-logo       Donegal Education and Training Board (ETB)


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




Integrating Literacy and Numeracy in GRETB Training Centre

picture1The Adult Literacy Service is active in supporting apprentices in Training Centres across the country and a number of initiatives to integrate literacy and numeracy are underway. Here in Galway we have incorporated support that aims to help apprentices with maths, comprehension and reading skills. We also support those who are in the first phase of becoming an apprentice (those who are on the job), in order to help them to prepare for phase two, which is in the centre.

Our initiatives in the centre are as follows:

Study and Learning Guide for Apprentices: this is a tailor-made workbook which covers aspects of study, taking notes, how to learn as well as exam preparation. It also gives details of what to do to get extra support. The workbook is taught as a classroom activity in three sessions and is done by all apprentices.

Drop in support: we have a dedicated room with resources on site. Apprentices can drop in or make an appointment and typically receive help with reading, taking notes and comprehension.

Maths support: Each group is assessed for maths skills at the start and following this, small group classes are offered as needed to each trade group. Topics covered are specific to those trades e.g. Ohm’s law for Motor Mechanics.

Ideas for Integrating Literacy booklet: this booklet is for instructors and is full of examples of different types of worksheets that can be used to good effect for those who are struggling with following the course texts and the theory side of their work.

Phase One: help is offered at induction stage of phase one and any apprentice can start classes in their local ABE centre. Apprentices are taking us up on this offer of help, with classes taking place in Galway, Roscommon and Castlebar to date.

Feel free to contact Alison Jones on 091 706289 or for more information on any of this.