Bridge21- An Educational Initiative that takes up the Challenge for Change in Junior Cycle

Posted on: 21 February 2012

A collaboration strengthening Bridge21, an exciting initiative to bring about radical change in second level class room practice  that involves Trinity College Dublin’s Centre for Research in IT in Education (CRITE) and Suas Educational Development was signed  on February 20th and witnessed by the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn.

Minister Quinn has rightly pointed out the need for radical reform of Junior Certificate and for our students “to be provided with more active learning opportunities that promote real understanding, creativity and innovation.”

Bridge21 embodies the best in progressive educational thinking and practice. Its new approach to learning encourages creativity, problem solving and collaborative skills and a sense of personal responsibility for learning.

It has been trialled and tested in an out-of-school context and, in the formal classroom on a pilot basis nationwide in selected second level schools. The eight schools involved are Mercy Goldenbridge, Mt Anville, CBS Westland Row, St Mark’s Tallaght, Mercy Sligo, Scoil Chonglais Baltinglass, John Scottus and Coláiste Bríd Clondalkin. The goal is to expand that network to 25 schools in 2012 and 50 in 2013. 

 The model for team-based, technology-mediated learning involves a highly structured team-based learning method that facilitates collaborative working; a sufficiency of technology to facilitate the objectives of the team while promoting resource sharing; teachers who guide rather than direct; peer to peer learning; cross curriculum project based work and a learning space designed and configured to support the work of the teams.

“This partnership between Trinity College Dublin and Suas Educational Development shows our continued commitment to champion change and development in the Irish education system through the Bridge21 programme. By teaching these skills Bridge21 will better equip our students for third level and life in general. It is an initiative that will assist in placing Irish education in a leading position,” explained the Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast.

The model has been evaluated and underpinned by research conducted by the Centre for Research in IT in Education (CRITE) at Trinity College. It has been endorsed by its 30 partner schools (primary & secondary), as well as many leading national education agencies, including the ILTA (Irish Learning Technology Association) from whom the programme received an award in May 2009 for Innovation in Teaching & Learning. Social Entrepreneurs Ireland also selected the programme for social impact awards in 2009 and 2010. 

Speaking at the launch Colman Farrell, CEO of Suas Educational Development said: “Bridge 21 can play a leading role in realising the potential of young people and in particular those who suffer disadvantage in the current system.”

Notes to Editor

Bridge21 Partners

About CRITE:
The Centre for Research in IT and Education (CRITE) at Trinity College is a multi-disciplinary research centre whose focus is on creating and evaluating innovative learning experiences, inspired by educational principles and technical progress. Students and researchers from CRITE provide technically-mediated learning tools and material for the Bridge21 programme, built on the findings of current research. These learning activities will be based on a constructionist approach to learning, with the students supported in developing their own interests and experiencing a novel use of technology.

About TAP:
The Trinity Access Programmes are a key part of Trinity’s social mission and their central goal is to make Trinity’s student body more inclusive and diverse and to reach out to the wider community.  Bridge21 is one of a number of programmes involving primary and secondary school students. These programmes focus on working in partnership, through a network of School Liaison Officers, with 20 primary and 20 secondary schools in the Dublin area, designated disadvantaged by the Department of Education & Science.

About Suas Educational Development:
Suas Educational Development is a movement dedicated to supporting quality education in targeted under-resourced communities with programmes in Ireland, India and Kenya. In 2010, Suas improved the education of over 20,000 children from under resourced and marginalised communities through peer to peer mentoring and extracurricular learning initiatives, by improving resources and facilities, supporting teachers and building the management and learning capacity of our partners.