Mary Mitchell O'Connor launches new initiative between NUI Galway and St.Angela's

From left, Tomás Ó Síocháin, External Engagement Programme Manager, NUI Galway; Dr Manuela Heinz, PI APT Project, NUI Galway; Dr Eileen Kelly-Blakeney, PI APT Project, St. Angela’s College; Fiona Crowe, Head of Education; Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D.; Dr Anne Taheny, President St. Angela’s College; Dr Andrea Lynch, APT Post-Doctoral Researcher, NUI Galway; Amanda McCloat, Head of Home Economics, St. Angela’s College; Declan Courell, Registrar, St. Angela’s College
Apr 19 2018 Posted: 15:49 IST

Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Minister of State for Higher Education, recently formally launched the St. Angela’s Strand of the “Access to Post-Primary Teaching (APT) Project” at St. Angela’s College, Sligo. The APT Project is a three-year joint initiative between St. Angela’s College and the National University of Ireland Galway, which aims to recruit and support individuals from under-represented socioeconomic groups in their initial teacher education programmes. This project, which targets students at the school, further education, undergraduate, and post-graduate levels, is spearheaded by Dr Eileen Kelly-Blakeney of St. Angela’s College, and Dr Elaine Keane and Dr Manuela Heinz of NUI Galway.

The APT Project at St. Angela’s specifically focuses on recruiting students with a Further Education QQI/FET qualification to their second-level teacher education programmes and is conducted in cooperation with five Further Education providers in the Border-Midlands-Western (BMW) Region: Sligo College of Further Education, Castlebar College of Further Education, Monaghan Institute, Errigal College, and Cavan Institute. During the next two years, the Project hopes to create additional partnerships with more Further Education providers in the region.

Students who transition into the teacher education programme will all study Home Economics, in addition to one elective subject of their choosing, either Irish, Biology, or Religious Education. Students are also provided with a €1000 equipment bursary on entry to Year One, and a €500 School Placement grant each of their five years of study. Additionally, students receive faculty mentoring, peer support, academic writing, and subject specific guidance over the course of their studies.

In attendance at Monday’s launch were the President of St. Angela’s, Dr Anne Taheny, staff and students from the College, local government officials, representatives from each of the five partner Further Education providers, colleagues from NUI-Galway, and associates from the Irish Teaching Council.

In her speech, Minister O’Connor noted the significance of direct-entry routes, such as the APT Project, which ultimately aim to increase access to third level studies, while also acknowledging the great achievements made by students in the Further Education sector. As the minister explained that the APT Project, “will also help support the achievement of national policy objectives to broaden opportunities for graduates from further education to progress on to higher education.” Additionally, she also remarked on the important role that teachers play in the lives of young people, and she projected that “Teacher training centres, teachers and school leaders will continue to play a pivotal role in helping children to achieve their potential.”

Dr Anne Taheny, President of St. Angela’s referred to the College’s long standing commitment to equal opportunity and to widening access and participation in Higher Education in association with NUI, Galway. This is demonstrated through the provision of an Access Foundation Programme, an Access Schools Programme, entry routes for mature students and entry through the HEAR and DARE Schemes. Speaking at the launch, Dr. Taheny noted:  "This new direct entry route from Further Education into our Initial Teacher Education Programme through the Access to Post-Primary Project is an exciting addition and much welcomed progression route for students in the Further Education Sector."

This project supports the diversification of the Irish teaching body in Ireland and recognises the positive contributions that teachers from underrepresented groups make to classrooms throughout the country each day. For more information on the APT Project, or to learn more about St. Angela’s initial teacher education programmes, please see the College website at: Additionally, interested individuals can contact the post-doctoral researcher for the APT Project, Dr Andrea Lynch at 087 1129868.



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