We’re delighted to announce our brand-new podcast series created in partnership with SOLAS and co-hosted by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen, authors of the ‘Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling’ series. As Further Education & Training alumni, Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen will be putting learner voices from across Ireland behind the microphone to explore how FET has helped people of all ages and backgrounds to find their paths! And there will even be a special appearance from Minister Simon Harris later in the series!
Emer and Sarah sit down with Simon Harris, the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. He speaks about his education journey, from enjoying school to leaving college early to take his seat in the Dáil. He doesn’t rule out returning to education at a later stage, saying his aim as a Minister is to make flexible learning and apprenticeships a priority.
Also featuring this week are Caitríona Murphy, Chief Executive Officer of Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB, and Paddy Lavelle, General Secretary of Education and Training Boards Ireland, who speak about how Further Education and Training has changed over the years.
Destination Anywhere – using the FET highway to get there
Emer and Sarah talk to Fiona Kavanagh, who always dreamed of becoming a primary school teacher but says she struggled to understand her own learning style in secondary school. When she didn’t get the points she’d hoped for in the Leaving Cert, she found a new route to make her dream career happen – a Childcare Special Needs course in Whitehall College of Further Education. She went on to do an education course in DCU, and then decided to go back and do her Masters of Education during the pandemic. She is now working as a sixth-class teacher.
Emer and Sarah also speak to Emer McMullin who went straight into the world of work after leaving school. After the bank she worked at left the Republic of Ireland market, she worried that while she had years of experience, she didn’t have any qualifications that would help her find new opportunities. Emer rang Donegal ETB who told her all about ‘Recognition of Prior Learning’- tune in to find out more!
Returning to Learning
Emer and Sarah speak to Liam Cleere, who had a bad experience in school but totally transformed his life through Adult Education in Tipperary ETB. Just eight years ago, Liam could read a little bit, but couldn’t write his own name. Now, he is about to publish a book.
Similarly, Dolores Millea has changed her life for the better by participating in Family Learning after leaving school at 13. She has taken cookery, gardening and woodwork courses, and this year she is planning on gaining IT skills through a computer course.
Everything you didn’t know about Apprenticeships!
Whatever you think you know about Apprenticeships, Emer and Sarah are here to turn that upside down. In this episode they meet Lorraine Carey, an Accountancy Technician Apprentice coming to us from Kerry ETB, and all-round superwoman, and Aisling Cleary who is currently completing a Supply Chain Manager Apprenticeship at Masters Level through Laois Offaly ETB.
Bringing the Great Outdoors into the studio.
Emer is a self-confessed lover of the great outdoors. She swims in the sea, and not only owns a pair of hiking boots, but also hiking sandals! She and Sarah chat to Mick Kane, Director of Achill Outdoor Education Centre, as he maps his journey from a teenager obsessed with the outdoors to embodying his environmental passions by working in conservation.
They also speak to Tadhg Boyden, a teacher of outdoor learning at Cork Education and Training Board. After leaving school feeling ‘lost’, he says he stumbled across outdoor education and tells Emer and Sarah how adventuring outdoors has helped him overcome fears.
The Leaving Cert really isn’t for everyone – PLC learners have their say!
Emer and Sarah meet two young learners who have some thoughts on the Leaving Cert.
Abbie Foley struggled during school and left without sitting her Leaving Cert but with the support of her guidance counsellor, found a path into a PLC in Journalism, Digital Media and Public Relations at Dunboyne College of Further Education which she felt was ‘made for her’. Emer and Sarah also chat to Amanda Jonaityte, who completed a Level 5 PLC in Business Studies and Computing in Ó Fiaich Institute of Further Education, Dundalk back in 2018. She is now in her final year in Law at Trinity College Dublin, and she has a special interest in data protection law.
A Love Letter to Ballyfermot – Emer and Sarah go back to where it all started for them.
Did you know that best-selling authors of the Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling book series Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen met at Ballyfermot College of Further Education? Listen to them recount their path through Further Education and Training (FET) after deciding university wasn’t the path for them. They also chat to John Moriarty, formerly of Ballyfermot College and now Director of Transformation and Knowledge at City of Dublin Education and Training Board and Cleo Knight, a learner who left school feeling she wasn’t academic and now inspires the next generation of students coming through Ballyfermot College.