Able Programme for young people

Able Programme for young people

General Context: 

17-year old young man  having great difficulties in completing training course. We suspect him of being involved in drug abuse. His academic skills are average. He has completed secondary school. Has no job experience. The biggest obstacle to completing the current course is that he is often absent from class. When he is present he is often distracted and has a de-motivating influence on other students


The main departure points on the ABLE programme from existing programmes were:

  • Establishment of Individual Learning Plans for each student
  • Choice of core and elective subjects
  • Application of Adult Education methodologies (groupwork, encouraging reflective learning etc.)
  • Continuous assessment through portfolio and group based activites
  • Importance of workplace visits and work experience placements
  • Provision of supports throughout programme
  • Voluntary ethos to participation and breaking link between participation and financial betterment


The main barriers we faced in delivering the ABLE programme were:

  • Overcoming prior negative experience of formal education
  • Adapting to new schedule
  • Engagement
  • Beliefs and attitudes
  • Working in groups
  • Financial expectation for participation
  • Malaise in the opportunities available to them
  • Low self esteem

Fear of success


61 young people across both the Finglas and Cabra locations participated on the ABLE programme in the 2010/2011 academic year. Of the 61 who started the programme, 36 students completed the programme with 25 students submitting FETAC portfolios. Of those who submitted work, 14 successfully achieved a full FETAC Level 4 General Vocational Studies Award. 42 males and 19 females took part in the programme. All students who participated on the course had some level of success even if not earning full qualifications. Many students who did not complete the programme struggled with attendance or personal issues that prevented them from making the necessary commitment to the programme.

At the end of programme review with Coordinators, tutors and support staff, the following recommendations were made for further initiatives:


  • Deposit of BTEA grant of €500 to be returned at the end of the programme
  • Maximum of 12 students in class
  • Payment dependent on attendance and administered direct through Department of Social Protection
  • 10 day absence as absolute maximum in line with FETAC regulations
  • Fixed venues to house both programmes
  • Shorter class day (9am-2pm)
  • Minimum success rate on pre-course assessment tests


The ABLE 18-21 programme won the National Projects in Progress STAR Award at the AONTAS launch of the 2011Adult Learner’s Festival which raised the profile of ABLE for potential students but also gave recognition to the achievements of the participants who took part.

Individual's commments: 

I believe that the participants were aware that substantial effort was being made to offer an alternative to existing programmes. There were areas of traditional Adult Education methodology that students had difficulty adapting to as they offered increased independence and autonomy in their learning which they had not been given before. This was destabilising and took considerable time to overcome.


After the initial month, and the core group was formed, the group set their own limits on what was acceptable in terms of behaviour so this became self regulating and the students did appreciate the trust that was given to them.

Author's Position: 

My current role is as Guidance Worker with responsibility for Special Programmes in North County Dublin. This would involve working as a Guidance Worker within the Local Employment Services as well as coordinating programmes in areas of need to the clients accessing the service.


I worked from 2010 to 2011 as Coordinator of the Adult Better Learning and Education (ABLE) 18-21 programme. This programme was funded under the Labour Market Activation Fund and was a full time programme aimed at offering a full FETAC 4 Award to early school leavers aged 18-21 who sought a programme to reengage in education as a means to accessing PLC programmes across the city

Professional context: 

The context in which I worked with young people was in a) initial guidance b) literacy, numeracy and motivation assessment administration c) teaching the FETAC 5 Young People and Society module and d) programme coordination with support and guidance for the young people throughout the duration of the programme towards progression beyond the scope and timeframe of the programme.

Formal documentation: 

A final review of the ASLE programme was produced in August 2011 and forwarded to the

Steering Group and Department of Education and Science for review. In addition. I wrote on the experience of delivering training to early school leavers through an Adult Education methodology which is due to be published in the 2012 Adult Learner’s Journal in August 2012.


As the programme was funded on a fixed term basis, the programme has not been renewed as it was dependent on external funding. As a result the momentum of the programme was lost which hampered the effectiveness of the initiative.


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