FET Learners as Leaders - Empowering Advocates in Further Education and Training - Nov 2021

1 Dec 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.

Since the start of this academic year, AONTAS has continued to support learners with the learner panel component of the ongoing Inaugural review of Quality Assurance in Education and Training Boards undertaken by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). AONTAS hosted three training sessions with the below Education and Training Boards:

  • Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board, 18th October
  • Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board, 19thand 22rd October
  • Kilkenny and Carlow Education and Training Board, 9th and 18th November
  • 82 learners and graduates took part in these capacity building skills training sessions.

    This academic year, the project continues to focus on building learners’ capacities to represent their Education and Training Boards 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 breakout room activities. During the training, a graphic harvester developed visual representations of learners’ understanding of key aspects of learner voice, such as the importance of safe spaces and hearing from a diversity of learners.

    Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board

    Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board

    Kilkenny and Carlow Education and Training Board

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

    “It allows us to express ourselves and learn from each other.”

    Another learner commented, “nothing about us without us.” Learners praised the process, sharing that authentic learner voice engagement occurs when, “you build a safe space, you don’t just say it.”

    After the training sessions 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 Education and Training Boards. All learners who took part in the evaluation either strongly agreed or agreed that they learned a lot from the programme.

     Next Steps:

    With phase two of the Quality Assurance reviews ongoing. AONTAS looks forward to supporting more learners through this process in 2022, with events currently scheduled with:

    Following the completion of the reviews, AONTAS plans to expand the training to cover learner voice and advocacy capacities more broadly, to support learners to take up representative positions in their Education and Training Boards.

    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: or by phone on 087 192 1071.