Following the impact of COVID-19 and how young people will engage with learning in the future, NUIG set about creating safe learning spaces with a focus on vulnerable learners from marginalised contexts.
While the focus is on all learners, the project has a core objective of enhancing and reimagining the educational infrastructure around learning spaces for marginalised and disadvantaged learners who typically struggle.
The ‘Bridging Worlds - New Learning Spaces for New Times’ project is a collaboration between NUI Galway’s School of Education and UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, Foróige, collaborating with Insight Research Centre for Data Analytics and NUI Galway Student Services. In addition, the Rethink Ireland Innovate Together Fund plays an important role in funding this project.
Training and engagement
The initiative works with and provides training for Transition Year (TY) teachers and youth workers who would like to upskill in new projects that can be delivered in TY. Training in online and blended learning provision is provided along with learning more about youth work and approaches to education. The training introduces innovative evidence-based programmes developed for non-formal settings to be delivered in an out of the traditional school environment.
The project has been conceptualised – from the outset – to support young people, teachers, school leaders and youth workers with a shared focus on the quality of all young people’s learning.
The immediacy of the need for such a project was initially a challenge for the project coordinators. Coupled with that, school closures mean it’s difficult for teachers to attend the training given the current personal and professional demands on their time. The unpredictable school calendar and programme of work teachers need to do because of remote learning, are additional challenges.
Despite these challenges, the project is driving forward and has employed experienced staff to develop a blended learning training programme. The Bridging the Gap Training Programme is available to Foróige staff and teachers and facilitates the connection and the link between youth workers and teachers to support young people in their learning and to ensure positive educational outcomes for young people.
Securing funding from Rethink Ireland ensures a practical, concrete and innovate project with immediate impact, and the support is invaluable.
To date, the NUI Galway and Foróige projects, supported by Rethink Ireland, and the combined extensive experience of the partners involved in this initiative, demonstrates strong evidence of the importance of achieving high quality outcomes in education, particularly for the young and marginalised.