A Learner Voice National Assembly is set to give more opportunities for Ireland’s 200,000 ETB Further Education and Training Learners to have their voice heard. ETBI hopes to have the assembly up and running for the 2024-2025 academic year when learners will be invited and supported to have their say on everything from curriculum development to learner supports and the future direction of FET.

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While local and regional learner voice models have been developed to date within the FET sector, the role of the proposed Learner Voice National Assembly is to support learner participation, engagement and consultation at a national level through the provision of a structure which enables leaners to provide their views and opinions on FET activities and developments, and issues concerning access, participation and progression informed by their lived learner experience. This National Assembly will consist of learner representatives across all 16 ETB’s, who represent the extensive range of FET provision and the wide-ranging learner profiles engaged in FET to include background, culture and abilities. Such learners may be representatives of their local learner forums and networks, providing opportunity to bring local issues nationally also. In addition, a National Assembly Learner Panel will be convened and made available, made up of additional learners with specialised knowledge and experience who may be interested in providing their personal experience in FET on request.

This National Assembly and Learner Panel will be managed and convened by ETBI, as a representative of all 16 ETBs, providing the links between potential stakeholder engagement opportunities and the National Assembly and Learner Panel. This will enable ETBI to directly engage with learners on planning provision and also external agencies on delivering support services such as AHEAD, curriculum development, quality assurance and improvement with QQI, and future strategy with SOLAS.

To support learners contributing to FET Learner Voice National Assembly, capacity building opportunities will be provided to enable learners to identify and address areas for further development and ensure they can effectively carry out their role and expand on their knowledge and skills. Examples include workshops on effective feedback techniques, participation strategies, leadership, advocacy and planning. ETBI is also examining the possibility of involving alumni learners, up to 12 months, within the National Assembly and Learner Panel and may offer additional opportunities through learning partnerships and mobilities on European Erasmus+ initiatives to both practitioners and learners involved with the development and establishment of the FET Learner Voice National Assembly.