LEHINCH National School, Hollymount, has been engaged with Trinity College Dublin for the past year in a Post Graduate Cert in 21st Century Teaching and Learning.
This course was first launched in September 2014 under the Trinity Access Movement, TA21.
This is an innovative partnership with Google to build an education system that encourages and supports every unique individual to reach their full potential, thus aiming to increase the number of people with the skills needed for 21st century employment and also seeking to address educational disadvantage.
Trinity Access 21 (TA21) endorses 21st Century learning spaces and environments along with fostering college going cultures in communities where advancement to third level education is low. Statistics show that 99% of secondary school graduates from Dublin 6 go to college while 15% go to college from Dublin 15.
Many students from Dublin 15 schools have reported not having any idea of how to go about applying for college. Throughout the rest of the country, the same educational disadvantage exists. Figures from the ESRI show that 80 percent of students from middle-class homes graduate to higher education.
The proportion going to college from working class homes is just 28 percent. However, this is starting to change through the innovative practices of the Trinity Access Programme (TA21). Students from less affluent areas in Dublin are linked with the TA21 programme and advancements to third level education are increasing in these communities.
Due to the success of the programme, it is being expanded over the coming years with an aim to reach 72 schools across the country, 20,000 students and 1,500 teachers
Lehinch Primary is engaged with the College Awareness Movement which takes place from November 20 to26.
‘College Awareness Week aims to celebrate the benefits of going to college, to support students to become ‘college ready’ and to showcase local role models’.
Evidence shows that students who visit a third level college are 2.3 times more likely to plan on doing a degree than those that never visited.
The Trinity Access report which is funded by Google also found that pupils who have a mentor are 3.2 times more likely to go to college.
Pupils from Lehinch N.S will be going on a tour of Trinity College and Athlone I.T along with having a guest, third level lecturer visit the school to carry out an interesting science workshop during College Awareness Week.
By July 2016, 320 teachers from 23 different countries completed the Post Graduate Cert in 21st Century Teaching and Learning. Three of these teachers are from Mayo.
From completing the PG Cert, Lehinch N.S reports increased levels of pupil attendance; increased confidence in teaching; better teacher student relationships and increased competence around teaching computational thinking (Raspberry Pi’s, Scratch, Python, Robotics, Problem Solving). Whilst being engaged on the Post Graduate Cert, Lehinch N.S applied for their School of Distinction award under three core practices:- ‘21st Century Teaching and Learning’, ‘Leadership’ and ‘Pathways to Careers’.
Included in this application was a description of the 21st century methodologies and activities used within Lehinch school, the efforts being made by the pupils to demonstrate leadership and the ‘Pathways to Careers’ events which explored the career avenues for primary and secondary level students in the community.
The description was as follows: “School is a place where students and teachers spend nearly 70% of their time. Our environment for learning needs to be comfortable and infusive for learning. Learning in isolation for a child that is challenged by our education system is not the way forward for that child. The importance of mentoring is not to be underestimated.
“The Trinity Access 21 report revealed that long term quality mentoring with a college student or a graduate from the same community has a meaningful impact upon student self-belief and aspiration. Primary and secondary schools need to engage more with each other and with third level colleges around us.
“It is not just at primary level the change needs to take place; it is right across all levels of our education system. The direct teacher led classroom is up for review. Students need to be given more opportunities to mentor their peers.
"In exploring a flipped classroom approach, educators are showing a willingness to be mentored themselves and to pass leadership skills over to their students. This in turn instils confidence in students and can lend to healthier and more balanced student teacher relationships.
“There is a requirement from educators to be more willing to engage in collaborative learning methods across all subject levels; to foster peer to peer mentoring and reflective practices in order to achieve confidence, resilience and 21st century learning skills from our students.”
* Sheila Jennings, principal at Lehinch National School, was presented with the award by Education Minister Richard Bruton, Cliona Hannon, Director of Trinity Access, and Paul Vance from KPMG.