On the 10th March, 74 learners from Cork Education and Training Board convened at a regional meeting of the National Further Education and Training Learner Forum. Learners met to share their experiences in further education and training and offered their opinions on how to improve further education and training services to ensure they were meeting learners’ needs. The meeting took place at the Radisson Blu, Cork and involved learners from a variety of Further Education and Training courses offered by Cork Education and Training Board.
The National FET Learner Forum is a collaborative effort between AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation; SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority; and Education and Training Boards. This meeting was one of a series of regional meetings that will take place across the country this year. Last year over 1000 learners from across the country took part in these events.
Ireland is leading the way in making a commitment to learner voice with the establishment of a National FET Learner Forum. As a learner-centred form of provision, SOLAS is striving to make Further Education and Training responsive to learner needs. This Forum acts as a way for learners to directly influence Further Education and Training provision. Their suggestions for improvement will result in a clear outline of recommendations which AONTAS will share directly with policy makers and Education Training Boards.
Speaking about today’s Forum, Niamh O’Reilly, CEO of AONTAS, said: “The Forum provides FET learners from Cork Education and Training Board with the opportunity to have their voices heard, and to help shape further education at local, regional and national level. AONTAS believes that learners are experts of their own learning, they can identify what is working and what improvements are needed to ensure learner success, retention and progression. We look forward to using the deliberations from the Forum in supporting SOLAS and Education Training Boards in creating a world-class Further Education Training system that is learner-centred.”
John Fitzgibbons, Director of Further Education and Training said that Cork ETB offers a pathway for every learner and the learner voice is very important to Cork ETB in informing how to improve our service to meet learners needs. Cork ETB is planning to develop a Learner Charter to outline how it engages with learners and suggestions for this were gathered on the day.