“School is not for everyone,” says Eddie Manning, staffer at Youthreach, an education, training and employment program for early dropouts aged 15 to 20.
Over the years, this service has played a key role in giving young people new opportunities to realize their potential outside the formal school system.
More recently, we’ve seen a big shift in the service’s student profile.
“We used to take in a lot of students with behavioral problems. Rather than falling behind in school and pretending they didn’t know anything, they were kicked out of school for playing maggots.” ,” says Manning, Youthreach in Swords central coordinator.
“We currently have many students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds with social anxiety, depression and mental health issues.”
Many students who come to the service have traumas in their lives, adds Christine Hughes, Coordinator of Youthreach Services in Rush, Dublin.
“It can be bereavement or family separation, and the effects at school spill over to them. I get frustrated and demotivated by not being able to complete it,” she explains.
Colm Fagery, Deputy Coordinator of Youth Reach at Lush, says some young people are struggling in an education system with a highly loaded curriculum and time pressure to deliver it.
“We treat our students like adults. We are first-name-based and believe in facilitating their learning. There is a sense of, and they see themselves improving with continuous evaluation,” says Feighery.
What do young people think about it? At Lush Youth Reach, we spoke to three of her students who dropped out of school and found a way back into education through this alternative approach.
“I was full of anxiety…the teacher was unfriendly.”
Kelly Gilmartin (22)
Looking back, Kelly Gilmartin said that attending the first reception of new secondary school students with her twin brother set her on a very difficult road.
“I was smart and enjoyed school, but my brother took a bad turn, drinking and being rough with people who were much older. I was the exact opposite.” , anything he did received backlash,” says Gilmartin. Skerries, Dublin, Colorado.
When her brother was expelled in third grade, she lost the will to go to school. “I was mitching a lot during her sophomore year, but she stayed until junior year to get her junior certificate,” she explains.
Gilmartin says he disagrees with the approach to retirement certificates. “The exam is about what you remember in the day, not what you know,” she says. She dropped out of school a few weeks into the senior cycle.
Looking back, Gilmartin says he was “full of anxiety.” Even if I was sad or angry, no one could help me. ”
Gilmartin joined Youthreach with a group of friends. “All my friends were here. I thought there was no way out at that point,” she explains.
Many of the people I came to youth reach with were successful, but I wanted to do it.had to break the cycle
— Kelly Gilmartin
She credits her life with one-on-one counseling with a Foroige Youth Club counselor. “I was living in my boyfriend’s house. There was no adult female figure in my life. She [the counsellor] I realized that I was relying on drugs to hide from problems I didn’t know I had. ”
After completing Level 4 at Youthreach’s Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), Gilmartin got a job as a catering assistant at Dublin Airport. The following year, she returned to Youth Reach and earned her Level 5 qualification in her QQI. She said, “I did business administration with modules on workplace safety, IT communication. I had all the subjects applicable to my job and they motivated me.”
Gilmartin is currently working as a supervisor in a restaurant and bar at Dublin Airport and is in training to become a manager. She says the relationship skills and personal coping skills she learned in her youth reach were helpful.
“I applied everything I learned here. Many of the people I came to youth reach with were successful, but I wanted to do it. I had to break that cycle. I was the first of my friends to get a job and drive a car.”
“I was told that if I didn’t get good grades in junior certification, it wouldn’t do me any good.”
Isabella Leach (20)
Isabella Leach, from Skerries, County Dublin, says he felt “devastated” by life at school. She recalls her teacher commenting on her when she was having trouble coping. “I was told that if she didn’t do well with her junior certificate and leaving certificate, she would be nothing,” she says. “I thought life was like that. You’re so young that when an adult says something to you, you think it must be true.
After finishing secondary school, she dropped out of secondary school in north Dublin because she was “severely bullied”. After that, she went to another secondary school, which she attended for a year, after which she dropped out completely.
“I was angry and frustrated. I didn’t go in half the time. Then I spent most of the next year in my room. was.”
If I hadn’t come to Youthreach, I wouldn’t have been able to speak to The Irish Times.I could barely order food before coming here
— Isabella Leach
Leach started working for Youth Leach in Rush, County Dublin when he was 16 and stayed there for two years.
“I liked the small class size. There was no pressure to keep up with everyone, the teachers had time to keep up with each of us. And there was no homework, which I loved.” she says.
At school, Reach would often eat lunch on his own, so he really appreciated the fact that at Youth Reach, staff and students shared a dining room and could sit with teachers during breaks.
After graduating from Youth Reach in the summer of 2022, she trained as a hairdresser and worked at a Skerries cafe.
“If I hadn’t come to Youthreach, I wouldn’t have been able to speak to The Irish Times. I’m thinking of a way to have
“I didn’t like the pressure and how the points I scored determined my future.”
Killian Gregan (21)
Killian Gregan remembers taking the Junior Certificate exam once. After that he never returned to school.
“I was plagued with a lot of anxiety. I took a few days off and when I came back they told me how much I had missed. So I stopped going to school for months. The pressure and I didn’t like how the points I earned determined my future,” says Gregan, who plays for Swords, Dublin.
He was very angry at the time, he says, “I thought I was crazy.” But then he went to counseling and his mother and he agreed to change.
Youth Reach has made a huge difference for me in terms of confidence and coping with anxiety
— Killian Gregan
Gregan participated in Youthreach in Swords and has qualified for QQI Levels 3 and 4. Based on continuous assessment modules designed for each student by Youthreach teachers, this self-directed approach to learning is complemented by one-on-one support.
Gregan says this approach to learning worked very well for him. After his time in youth reach, Gregan went to college for further education with a view to attending college and studying medicine. However, he changed his mind about the course and is now working for a year while he reconsiders his 3rd level education options for September 2023.
“Youth Reach has made a huge difference for me in terms of confidence and dealing with anxiety,” he explains. “The coordinator was very easy to talk to when we had issues and the group work and presentation allowed us to talk to people in a very natural way.”