Finglas learning hub to promote access to third level education and to the teaching profession
The Educational Disadvantage Centre in DCU’s Institute of Education has today launched a local outreach community learning hub in Finglas, together with Dublin North West Partnership, with the aim of promoting access to the teaching profession.
Funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the initiative hopes to increase the number of student applications from the Finglas community to gain entry to primary and post primary education at DCU’s Institute of Education.
The Finglas outreach hub is the third hub of its kind, with ones already established by the Educational Disadvantage Centre in Darndale-Coolock and Kilbarrack areas . Since 2017, these hubs have engaged with over 400 students aged 15 upwards from lower socio-economic backgrounds and a total of 23 students from these catchment areas have since gained entry to DCU and are on their way to be primary teachers.
The hubs include informal and formal education sessions (including taster courses), with a focus also on mentoring and informational meetings about teaching as a career, access to the teaching profession, as well as supports for the Irish language, maths and academic writing. These sessions provide key information to potential applicants from the local area.
Outreach sessions seek to engage a wide variety of people from the Finglas area who may wish to become teachers. Second level students in local DEIS schools who may seek additional academic supports to access teaching are strongly encouraged to engage with the hub.
President of DCU, Professor Daire Keogh said:
“The establishment of this latest learning hub in Finglas demonstrates DCU’s long standing and positive engagement with its neighbouring communities, as well as its commitment to educational inclusion and excellence. The initiative has led to a significant increase in students applying for and attaining Teacher Education places at the DCU Institute of Education, in areas where the hubs already operate. I hope that this innovative educational outreach model can be replicated nationally and internationally to promote greater diversity in the teaching profession.”
Speaking at the launch, Professor Anne Looney, Executive Dean, DCU Institute of Education, said:
"This latest addition to the Hubs builds on the proud tradition of the great schools of Finglas, and the strong community support for education over many years. Its aim is simple… to give those great schools of Finglas access to more teachers from Finglas, as role models for the future generations of Finglas."
Professor Paul Downes, Director of the DCU Educational Disadvantage Centre, said:
“The expansion of our DCU community outreach hubs to Finglas is a significant milestone in the evolution of our hubs and builds on the track record of success in engaging students from the Darndale-Coolock and Kilbarrack area hubs to gain entry into DCU's Institute of Education, since the establishment of the hubs in 2017. These relational and educational spaces give the university a concrete presence in the local community as part of building bridges, fostering trust, confidence and a culture of aspiration for access to teaching in DCU.
The importance of diversity in the teaching profession is recognised in the HEA's National Access Plan and builds on the Educational Disadvantage Centre’s international and national research on access to higher education. It is vital that we have role models from the local community in schools to help emphasise the importance of education for people's lives, aspirations, future work and wellbeing, and for an inclusive society. The hubs seek teachers from local areas who will have the cultural competence to relate to student's lives and circumstances. It is hoped that these university local community spaces outreach education hubs can serve as a model of good practice nationally in Ireland and also internationally. ”
Coordinator of the Finglas Hub, Sarah McManus states:
“As a member of the local Finglas community and a graduate of DCU institute of Education it is an honour to coordinate the Hub project and provide a service that is invaluable to aspiring educators from the Finglas area. I look forward to being a part of the Finglas Community project and experiencing its positive impact in the years to come.”
The initiative is a collaboration between the DCU Educational Disadvantage Centre, DCU Institute of Education, and Northside Area Partnership.