17 Aug 2017

AONTAS Congratulates Adult Learners Receiving Leaving Cert Results

Adult learners are amongst almost 56,000 students celebrating their Leaving Cert results today (16.08.17), according to AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation. 

Congratulating them, Niamh O’Reilly, CEO of AONTAS, said: “Many adult learners once again completed Leaving Cert exams this summer and, today, are celebrating their achievements. 

“In Ireland, 20 per cent of people aged 25 to 64 have never completed upper secondary-level education - returning to education to complete the Leaving Cert can provide a vital second chance for those who left school early.

“For someone who has had a past negative educational experience, or has been out of formal education for a long time, returning to education can be overwhelming. Supports for adult learners, including appropriate guidance and information, are essential.

“We would like to congratulate all adult learners who received their Leaving Cert results today, and we wish them every success.”

Mature Student, Patrick Kelly

One of the adult learners celebrating his Leaving Cert results today is Patrick Kelly, 41 from Drogheda, Co Louth.  

Following an initial negative experience of school Mr Kelly struggled with English and as a result failed his Leaving Certificate. After becoming unemployed in 2008, he decided to return to education through the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) run by Louth and Meath Education and Training Board. 

Commenting today, Mr Kelly said: “The first step is the hardest but it’s a matter of just making the effort and walking in the door.

“It can be very challenging when, like me, you’ve had a bad experience of school but returning as an adult has been a very positive experience for me. There is plenty of support available such as the Adult Guidance Service, they were really helpful and allowed me to talk through my options. They also encouraged me to keep progressing­­­.”

Patrick is hoping to go on and study Engineering in Dundalk Institute of Technology.

Access to Affordable Education

AONTAS’ 2018 Pre-Budget Submission to Government focuses on ensuring all adults have access to affordable education.

“Irish adults who are currently most likely to engage in lifelong learning have completed the Leaving Certificate. Adult learning must be made accessible to all adults in Ireland, particularly those who have previously had negative experiences of education and are disadvantaged in society,” said Niamh O’Reilly.

Lifelong learning has many benefits: it is not just a route to employment, but also allows a person to become fully active in society and develop on a personal level.

For adults looking for further education and training options, the One Step Up website ( details learning opportunities that are available in Ireland. Adults can also call the Freephone Helpline on 1800 303 669 for more information, or to receive a copy of the new One Step Up information booklet.


For further information, contact: Katie O’Rourke, Communications Lead, AONTAS, Tel: 087-9086168 / 01-4068220.