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Blog Archive

Top 10 Benefits of Returning to Education

Posted on August 26, 2015

CastlereaAONTAS017JCEvery year many adults begin their journey back to education, for some they may have had a long break from formal education and others may be looking to update their skills.  VTOS is just one of the many options open to them. Having successfully completed their Leaving Certificate, learners from VTOS in Navan share their top 10 benefits of returning to education. 85% of VTOS participants in the Louth and Meath Education and Training Board progress each year to third level education or employment.

 1.      Career Prospects

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Permanent link | Categories: Adult Learnersbenefits of educationtop 10

ICAE World Assembly, Montreal, June 2015 – A Learner’s Perspective

Posted on July 27, 2015

BL5Q2516The ninth world assembly took place in Montreal, Canada in June and it provided a forum for over 600 adult educators from over 80 countries around the globe. This year’s theme was “Adult learning and Education to create the world we want”. The assembly was attended by an Irish delegation which comprising Liz Waters, AONTAS President, Berni Brady, AONTAS Director, Niamh O’Reilly, Head of Strategic Development, AONTAS and Una Buckley, Learner Ambassador. The assembly programme consisted of a mixture of plenary and workshop activities concluding the adoption of a Final Declaration outlining the priorities for the next four years. The Irish delegation presented at two workshops; Berni Brady and Una Buckley at “The Adult learners’ Movement; comparative national experiences” and Liz Waters and Niamh O’Reilly at “A National Advocacy Network; Raising the voice of Community Education in Ireland”. The first presentation led to a lively discussion on the importance of the learner voice. Una’s input as a Learner Ambassador was particularly powerful and well received. The second workshop was prepared and presented by Niamh O’ Reilly and Liz Waters and this too produced an animated discussion and received very positive feedback.

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European Agenda on Adult Learning Update

Posted on May 08, 2015

Aontas Saint Saviours 094

The European Agenda on Adult Learning highlights the need to raise awareness and increase participation in adult learning. In 2013, AONTAS were invited by the Department of Education and Skills to participate in this EU campaign. The campaign involved a website, an online calendar of events and a Freephone Helpline number. It was supported by a Steering Committee which included ETBI, NCGE, NALA, AEOA and Leargas. In 2014 an application for further activities to promote the Agenda was successful and AONTAS were nominated as the National Coordinators of this project. The current project assisted by an Advisory Committee (which includes NALA and ETBI) will deliver on three interlinked activities and build on the work of the previous project.

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The National Adult Learner Forum 2016

Posted on April 10, 2015

Solas 23AONTAS Experience

AONTAS has many years’ experience of organising and facilitating learner events and giving people a platform to voice their issues. Examples of this include our Lobby for Learning Days in which policy makers were given the opportunity to engage in dialogue with learners, and the SOLAS Learner Consultation in which learners were given an opportunity to help influence the Further Education and Training (FET) Strategy. As a result of this work AONTAS has been named as the main lead organisation in the FET Strategy to establish a National Adult Learner Forum.

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Permanent link | Comments | Categories: National adult learner forumlearner engagementAONTAS

Navigating the CAO: A Guide for Mature Students

Posted on January 21, 2015

cao1. CAO Handbook -
The first step for mature students looking to apply to the CAO is to request a copy of the CAO Handbook. This will give you a thorough guide of the application process and will tell you everything you need to know. You can request a booklet by visiting or alternatively 091 509800 to request one. You should read your handbook carefully (note certain sections are specifically for mature Applicants). On the CAO website you will find a 'CAO Mature Student Video Guide' which will guide you through the process. Note: Generally mature applicants should be 23 years old on or before 1st January of the year that you wish to enter the course.

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What does local government reform mean for community education? Four key questions.

Posted on September 22, 2014

Tara Farrell - Tara Farrell, Deputy CEO Longford Womens' Link and AONTAS Executive Member
Tara Farrell, Deputy CEO Longford Womens' Link and AONTAS Executive Member

The past two year period has seen the further education and training sector experiencing the most dramatic reform agenda in its short existence.  The establishment of SOLAS and the Education and Training Boards along with QQI have significant implications for how community education will be supported and delivered.  For the sixteen Education and Training Boards, recent milestones include the appointment of new Board Members following the Local Elections 2014 and the completion of the transfer of FÁS Training Centres. For the community education sector, the reform process is not over.  An ambitious reform agenda led out by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government will reconfigure the local structures that organisations will have to interact with.  Community education receives funding from a range of government departments and initiatives and will need to actively engage in this process. 

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Permanent link | Comments | Categories: Local Government ReformCommunity Education

What we can learn from Education at a Glance

Posted on September 15, 2014

Berni AGM - Berni Brady, Director of AONTAS, at the organisations AGM in May 2014.
Berni Brady, Director of AONTAS, at the organisations AGM in May 2014.

 Berni Brady, Director of AONTAS reacts to the publication of last weeks 'Education at a Glance' by the OECD. 

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Permanent link | Comments | Categories: Research on adult educationLabour Market ActivationUnemployment

Five Top Tips for Adults Returning to Education

Posted on August 20, 2014

Graduates from the Open Training College1. Develop a Network

Returning to education after a long period can seem very daunting. Developing a network of friends and acquaintances can greatly enhance your experience. Adult learners often fit their classes and study time around family and other commitments and may not spend a great deal of time at their place of learning. Some people will be studying part time and may spend even less time there. Developing a group of friends who you can discuss course work and assignments with and borrow or swap notes with if you miss a class is very important. Classmates can also offer a great source of support when you are feeling overwhelmed and need a bit of extra help or reassurance. Make a positive effort to meet new people at the start of your course, even if it's grabbing a cup of coffee at a break. Remember that everyone is in the same boat as you.

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Meeting Ireland's Skills Challenge

Posted on June 09, 2014


There are a number of data sources which give us trends, statistics and insights into the skills levels of Irish adults.  The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs provides an annual progress report qualifications in the workforce, and recently found that 15% of the current workforce has a Junior Cert or equivalent qualification.  The most comprehensive study to date on adult skills was co-ordinated by the OECD and data was published in October 2013.  Almost 6,000 Irish adults in Ireland were surveyed as part of the study which is known as PIAAC.  In Ireland, PIAAC showed that 17.6% of Irish adults were below level 1 on a five level literacy scale.  In terms of numeracy, 25% of Irish adults were below Level 1. 

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Why the Local Elections matter to Adult Learning

Posted on May 21, 2014

Ballot Box - On May 23rd we will elect members of local authorities for the next five years.
On May 23rd we will elect members of local authorities for the next five years.

This Friday (May 23rd) the local and European elections take place.  On that day, those of us who cast our vote will decide on the composition of local authorities for the next five years.  Some of those elected will be appointed to the 16 Education and Training Boards which were established in July last year.  Building on the experience of former VECs, the ETBs will co-ordinate and organise adult education in their areas in line with the new, national Further Education and Training Strategy

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(93 blog posts)