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Power 2 Progress

Despite significant growth in the Irish economy in recent years, there remain areas of considerable disadvantage in Irish society and nowhere is this more acute than when it comes to education.

Even though free secondary education was introduced into Ireland over fifty years ago, young people’s experience of education continues to be directly impacted by their socio-economic status (HEA, 2019).

A HEA (2019) report found that 32% of those with the highest grades in Higher Education Institutions nationally were from the wealthiest families, compared with 3% from the most disadvantaged. These inequalities persist into adulthood, impacting health and career options, and is usually inter-generational. Pupils in DEIS schools (schools located in areas where the average socio-economic background of the community is below the national average) in Ireland are 9% more likely to drop out before securing their Leaving Certificate, compared with their peers in non-DEIS schools (DES, 2019, p. 2)*.

The Power 2 Progress (P2P) programme aims to combat this inequality by supporting DEIS schools to address educational inequality. This programme will be the first of its kind and its key aim is help to level the playing field for students in Ireland, regardless of their socio-economic circumstances.

About the programme

In 2019, the Z Zurich Foundation (ZZF)  committed to support University College Dublin (UCD) with a four-year grant of €307,100 in collaboration with Zurich Insurance plc in Ireland (Zurich Ireland) to develop and implement the ‘Power 2 Progress’ program. The grant runs from 1 September 2020 to 31 August 2024.

‘Power 2 Progress’ seeks to foster educational resilience in the Irish educational system with a three-year intervention plan for approximately 600 senior cycle DEIS school students across 15 schools and by informing on educational policy for future students via an integrated four-year PhD.

Programme activities

  • School based student learning supports

UCD student teachers will provide additional educational support to participating students through weekly tutorials over the course of their senior cycle.

  • Outreach days

The programme will facilitate onsite visits to UCD and Zurich offices based in Ireland to encourage students to pursue further education and professional careers.

  • Community outreach

Community engagement activities to garner local support for the programme and spread its positive impact across the participating students' communities.

  • Inform future educational policy in Ireland

As part of the project, Z Zurich Foundation will fund a 4‐year PhD to generate a much-needed evidence base to inform on future educational policy in Ireland.

Expected results

  • Improved well-being and self-esteem of pupils (and teachers) and wider community.
  • Improved literacy and numeracy rates.
  • Improved attendance and retention rates.
  • Improved progression rates onto further and higher education.
  • Demystification of the professional workplace.
  • Influence educational policy reform.

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