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FET Learners as Leaders - Empowering Advocates in Further Education and Training

6 May 2021
The Further Education and Training (FET) Learners as Leaders programme is a new collaborative project delivered by AONTAS in conjunction with Education and Training Boards (ETBs). It is designed to empower learners to become learner voice advocates and participate in leadership roles within their ETB. This work is an expansion of the National FET Learner Forum, allowing learners to build on their initial experience of sharing their learner voice in FET.

In April, AONTAS hosted two training sessions to kick off this project with:

  • Mayo, Sligo, and Leitrim Education and Training Board, 21st and 22nd April
  • Cork Education and Training Board, 16th and 23rd April

Over both events, 45 learners from 8 programmes took part in these capacity building skills training sessions.

These first sessions were designed to train learners to represent their ETBs in the upcoming Quality Assurance Reviews.  The two-day training sessions covered the following objectives:

Day 1:

Day 2:

Learners covered these objectives through group discussions, interactive presentations, and simulation activities. During the training, AONTAS staff added some of the key points raised by learners to a Padlet board.

Throughout the discussions, learners shared their evolving understanding of learner voice. As one learner stated:

“I see myself as a vehicle where somebody else’s voice is brought forward and not doctored by my own.”

Another learner commented, “no-one can tell the learner what [s/he] is feeling until that learner has a voice.” Learners praised the process, sharing their belief that authentic learner voice engagement creates a space where “all voices are valid” and “people from different backgrounds can give their opinion.”

After the training sessions with both ETBs, learners submitted evaluations of the programme. Overall, the learners who took part feel that their familiarity with learner voice has increased as a result of taking the training and they now have a greater understanding of how learner representation fits into the Quality Assurance processes in ETBs. All learners who took part in the evaluation either strongly agreed or agreed that they learned a lot from the programme.

 Next Steps:

These events opened the start of a broader programme that will be delivered over the course of the year. We are currently looking forward to delivering more of these trainings in the next academic year, with events currently scheduled with:

How to Get Involved:

If your Education and Training Board would like to collaborate on these trainings or you would like further information on the programme, please feel free to contact Kalianne Farren, AONTAS Project Officer, via email at: kfarren@aontas.com or by phone on 087 192 1071.