Ennis Community College Leads the Way in School Retention

Ennis Community College Leads the Way in School Retention

On Tuesday, Ennis Community College played host to an international delegation of European educators who were in Ennis for an international conference on school retention. Ennis Community College and Ennis Schools Completion Programme are involved in a Europe-wide project called STAYON, which stands for “STrategies And systems to reduce YOung people’s Non-completion of upper secondary vocational education”. STAYON is part of the Comenius Education programme of the EU.

The STAYON programme aims to reduce school dropout levels and ensure young peoples’ completion of courses leading to transferable qualifications. The delegation was given a one-day in-service training course at the college.

Delegates were received in the school foyer by the Principal Mr John Cooke , Deputy Principal Ms Vivienne Hogan and School Completion Programme Co-ordinators Ms Aine Meehan and Ms Catherine O’Donnell as well as other members of staff and the school ceilí band conducted by Mrs Kathleen Tuohy.

Sixty eight delegates attended the session with representatives from European countries including England, Sweden, Greece and Norway. Mr Cooke gave a brief history of the school and the influence of the school in the community. He explained that the emphasis on the Stay on Programme is in practical achievement in practical subjects such as metalwork, woodwork, home economics , art and music as well as the school’s ORBITAL programme where students learn outside the classroom through visits to local enterprises such as Shannon Aerospace and Tola Cheese Farm.

Mr Cooke said that the STAYON Programme has a 93% success rate at the school.

The Comenius project uses quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate and develop means of meeting the “Completion Challenge” in an innovatively trans-European context. This challenge is defined as the urgent social and economic necessity to reduce dropout rates and ensure young people’s completion of courses leading to qualifications.

STAYON has explored, developed and evaluated practical means of meeting this challenge “on the ground” asking “what works where and why?” within a variety of socio-economic, cultural and educational contexts and regions in 5 European countries: Ireland, Greece, Norway, Sweden and the UK.

Ennis Community College was selected to present some aspects of best practice in school retention and progression that are employed at the school. A short film was made and presented along with case studies showing the initiative in action at the school. Practical demonstrations and instruction were provided by the students themselves to the delegates in woodwork and metalwork, led by teachers Mr Dennis O’Rourke and Mr Liam Fitzgerald and Ms Caroline O’Rourke’s home economics class prepared lunch for the entire delegation.

The training concluded with a presentation from members of the School Completion Programme led by Ms Meehan and Ms O’Donnell as well as the Home School Liaison Officer, Ms Lisa O’Brien. Mr Cooke thanked the delegates for their interest in the school and complimented the students for their exemplary behaviour.


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