Kildare and Wicklow ETB Newsletter Issue 11, PARTNERSHIPS - Page 46

Bray Institute of Further Education (BIFE) as part of its widening participation, community engagement and partnership agenda recently undertook a number of community outreach initiatives to facilitate adult learners, some of whom were long term unemployed, on their journey back to employment via training and education.

In February last BIFE, in partnership with the Bray Adult Guidance Service (BAGS), organised an ‘Access to Further Education’ programme for adult learners considering returning to education, some after an absence from formal education of many years.

The key objective of the enterprise was to help students improve self-confidence- developing a ‘yes we can’ spirit, re familiarize themselves with the learning environment and in some cases experience a form of teaching which they will have been unfamiliar with having left education many decades earlier.

In all fourteen students undertook the

programme which consisted of sessions in subjects as diverse as Psychology, Communications (tracking the FETAC Level 5 Unit) Study Skills, Interpersonal communications, Ceramics, Horticulture and Career Development.

Teaching took place at the Bray campus and BIFE staff provided all the teaching apart from career development which was provided by partners Bray Adult Guidance Centre. In this unit students got the opportunity to link with a BAGC representative who was with them at the start of their journey.

The programme was organised by BIFE Deputy Principal Patricia Carraher and Bray Adult Guidance Service’s Catherine Greene and co-ordinated by BIFE tutor Karl Glynn-Finnegan.

According to Karl the objectives were: to build students’ confidence, allow them to experience some interesting and varied units, experience teaching in an adult environment, explore opportunities for advancement and ‘trial’ a potential new role/identity as student

In terms of assessment a decision was taken in the early stages not to have any formal summative assessment although students were assigned ‘practice’ essays on which they worked and received developmental feedback. Formative assessment was carried out within units to check learning. Apart from the fact that this was a relatively short programme it was felt that not having a summative assessment removed some pressure from students to perform thereby removing any ‘performance anxiety’.

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