The Portarlington Further Education and Training Centre presentation of Awards and Certificates were held in the Heritage Hotel and Spa Resort in Killenard recently.
The purpose of the night was to celebrate with the learners and families their achievements and to thank their families for supporting them in their return to education and training – with over 110 people attending.
106 Certificates comprising of the QQI Major and Minor Awards were given out.
These included: Return to Learning with Office Skills/Introduction to Healthcare QQI Level 4; Office Administration QQI Level 5; Healthcare Support QQI Level 5; Business Management QQI Level 6; Early Childhood Care and Education QQI Level 5; The Certificate for the Accounting Technicians QQI Level 6; and The Diploma for the Accounting Technicians QQI Level 6.
While the Certificate for the Accounting Technicians and the Diploma for the Accounting Technicians is awarded by the Accounting Technicians of Ireland, Portarlington presented a Certificate of Completion to the learners.
Margaret Morrin, the Centre Director, welcomed the graduates and their families to the event.
She said: “It is never too late to come back to education and training, to take the second chance that is available in Portarlington.
“I want to thank all of the families and friends for supporting the learners on their individual journey’s – because it is the journey that is important with all the bumps along the terrain and not the destination.
“Without the support of our families we cannot make this change. Tonight is a recognition of the commitment to change; dedication and for being able to implement that change and discipline that is needed.
“What does the Cert say? It says I have disciplined myself for one to two years to achieve this cert” adopting change; overcoming as adults the fear that accompany’s change.
“Coming outside our comfort zone and taking on a challenge and seeing it through to tonight’s destination.
“It is important to recognise Portarlington FETC as the beacon for education and training in the midlands, to up-skill, and most importantly to avail of the expert teaching and supports that are readily available by the experienced Management and teaching staff, career guidance and auxiliary staff.”
Morrin thanked the LOETB for believing in the Centre and its continued support through out the past academic year.
Representing the LOETB on the night was Colin Flaherty, Adult Education Officer for FET; Anne Marie Keane, Adult Education Officer for Quality Assurance and Career Guidance, Gerard Griffith, Inspector, VTOS and Yourthreach Programmes from the Department of Education and Skills, Gary Monks, Programme Development Manager, Accounting Technicians Ireland.
Margaret Morrin recalled the growth the Centre has experienced over the past 11 years.
She said: “When I came to Portarlington FETC I had no students, no teachers and no curriculum. I had to recruit learners, conduct a needs analysis for the learners and devise the curriculum.
“Tonight, we have approximately 65 full-time days learners and 70 part-time day learners not taking into account our night time lifelong learning department.”
Presentation of the student of the year awards was presented to the following learners:
Return to Learning with Healthcare QQI Level 4 was presented to Shirley Kelly; Office Administration QQI Level 5 was presented to Triona Monaghan; Healthcare Support QQI Level 5 was presented to Olivia Foley who was in absentia; Early Childhood Care and Education QQI Level 5 was presented to Fiona McDermot; Business Management QQI Level 6 was presented to Jennie Emerson; The Certificate for the Accounting Technicians was presented to Conor Fullam; and The Diploma for the Accounting Technicians was presented to Elia Fernandez Varela.
Dr Tony Humphrey’s the renowned Clinical Psychologist delivered a vibrant talk entitled “The Genius is always Present” he spoke about the “radiant mind of the child and compared it to the feeble mind of the adult” provoking us to recall what can happen to us as children that may dull that radiant mind that leads us to the feeble mind of an adult.
Tony delivers in Portlaoise for UCC The Certificate in Personal and Interpersonal Communications QQI Level 7 and the Post Graduate Diploma in Relationship mentoring QQI Level 8.
Lynn Byrne, a graduate of Office Administration QQI Level 5, gave a beautiful testimonial on her journey over the past year.
Lynn described her journey as being a life changer for her. Lynn is now pursuing her studies on the Certificate for the Accounting Technicians.
Denise Shanahan described her journey back to education as one of a career changer. Denise is now working in a healthcare setting.
Initially, Denise tried to succeed as an accounting technician but realised after the first year of study that it wasn’t for her.
Jennie Emerson paid tribute to the Centre for giving her back her self confidence. Jennie is now working in HR and taking her degree as a lifelong learner.
Colin Flaherty, AEO, recalled that 75% of the graduates from the Diploma for the Accounting Technicians gained employment directly from the programme. He paid tribute to the learners for their outstanding achievements.
Colin recalled his own observation of the supportive relationships that exists between the learners in the Centre and their teachers, during his visits to the Centre. Last year the Centre had 95% retention rates on all of its programmes.
Gerard Griffith, DES, highlighted the broad range of programmes available in the Centre.
Margaret Morrin put the spotlight on the non accredited programmes that are available in the Centre, starting the first Monday in March is the part-time Access Programme that allows learners to dip their toes in returning to eduction and training free of charge for 3 mornings per week.
The Centre paid tribute to its partnership with the Laois Partnership Programme, in particular to Tony Bambrick who co-ordinates with the Failte Isteach programme offered in the Centre on one morning per week. This is conversational english.
The ESOL programme is supported by The Portlaoise Further Education and Training Centre. It offers Computers, Maths and Communications at QQI Level 3 on two afternoons per week.
Morrin said: “What makes studying at Portarlington Further Education so special and effective is that the environment is non-judgemental, provides a safe place that allows the learner to study at their own pace.
“Childcare supports may be available to the learners because Morrin identifies the lack of this support as being one of the biggest barriers to adult education.
“Portarlington Further Education will support learners to study on a part-time basis so that you can study around your responsibilities and still make a change to you life.
“We all need fulfilment and connection in our lives. It is through fulfilment that we will find connection. It is the lack of fulfilment and connection that may cause isolation.”
Margaret Morrin respects where each learner is at in their lives and works with her team together with the learner to make it a successful learning experience, a relationship of mutual respect and personal growth that will enrich the quality of life for all.
She concluded: “I invite you to start your journey of change by returning to education and training with Portarlington Further Education just log on to our new website or call 057 86 23161 to see what is waiting for you.”
Photographer Michael Scully was there on the night to capture all the wonderful pictures in this article.