The learners in attendance were nominated to join the forum by their local education groups, and included particpants from Traineeships, community education, the Youthreach programme and the Back to Education Initiative.
The agenda included a range of speakers, including the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD who officially opened the forum event; panel speakers included Paul O’Toole, CEO of SOLAS, Clare McMahon, Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) and Alan Hand, adult learner representative. John Lonergan also gave an inspiring input on the Power of Education for Change.
Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD
We were delighted to have Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD officially open the forum. The Minister payed tribute to all of the learners who gave their time to participate in this important event. He noted the value of FET in offering learners a wide variety of programmes to support employment, development of skills, and career and education progression. The Minister also noted the many positive benefits that FET has on health and well-being and how it provides great opportunities to meet new people, to engage in local communities and overall to participate in wider society more generally.
A panel compromising of key stakeholders in FET ranging from Paul O’Toole (CEO SOLAS), Clare McMahon, ETBI and Alan Hand (Adult Learner) discussed the importance of having a forum for learners in FET and how the forum places the learner voice at the centre of national FET policy.
John Lonergan, a former prison governor gave a captivating input on the ‘Power of Education for Change’. Through his many years of working in the prison service, he saw human nature at its worst - and often, unexpectedly, at its best. John spoke about how education enables us to explore ourselves and the world around us and how every person is unique and has a special gift.
Sharing the Learner Voice
Learners made a valuable contribution on the day by taking part in two key discussion sessions about their experience in FET and how their FET programme is currently meeting their needs. Learners were also given a variety of fun spaces to share their feedback through interactive games in the Learner Voice Hub. We also captured their views through photos, video and feedback forms.
AONTAS will publish a qualitative policy report based on the feedback from the learner discussions which took place at the forum. This outcomes of this report will influence future national FET policy decisions.
Some parts of the National FET Learner Forum were broadcast live on Facebook and can be viewed here. We are also creating a video that documents the event and we look forward to sharing this with you in the near future. For more information on the event, please email Karen Williams, Learner Supports Officer at: firstname.lastname@example.org.