Trinity Launches New Mentoring Programme for Second-Level Students from DEIS Schools

An innovative mentoring programme that involves more than 1,200 second level students from 11 Dublin schools was launched at the Convention Centre Dublin. The mentoring programme ‘Trinity Access 21’ aims to support the development of a ‘college-going culture’ in schools with lower than average higher education progression rates.

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, launched the mentoring programme. ‘Trinity Access 21’ Patron, David Puttnam, and his son Sacha Puttnam, also performed a spirited selection of songs from their ‘Puttnam plays Puttnam’ repertoire as part of the launch. The mentoring event took place ahead of the first College Awareness Week [24th-30th November].

‘Trinity Access 21’ connects 1,200 second-year students from 11 DEIS schools in Dublin with 320 volunteer mentors drawn from the Trinity Access Programmes (TAP) alumni and supporters network. The event marked the beginning of a three-year long mentoring relationship focused on developing college awareness and empowering students in their choices to participate in third-level education. The up-tempo pace of the event featured mentoring activities for students and mentors to meet and make personal connections. As part of the programme they will continue to meet throughout the year in twice-monthly on-line mentoring sessions, and again in person through events organised by teachers in the schools.

Tánaiste, Joan Burton, and 'Trinity Access 21 Patron', David Puttnam, with students from Mercy Secondary School, Inchicore.

The programme is adapted from a model developed by a US educational non-profit (‘College For Every Student’, CFES), which has had a partnership with the Trinity Access Programmes since 2011. The CFES model was successfully piloted in St Joseph’s Secondary School in Rush, Co Dublin, last year. The model is grounded in the belief that cultural change is achieved through three core practices: ‘Mentoring’, ‘Pathways to College’ and ‘Leadership Through Service’; 95% of students engaged with this model over the last 20 years have progressed to higher education.

Launching the event, the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, said: “I am delighted to launch this innovative mentoring programme. The Government is committed to enabling our young people access higher education, regardless of their social background or education attainment. The work of the partners in higher education, including TCD, as part of regional clusters of institutions on the development of more coherent entry routes and pathways for students is to be commended. I wish all involved in delivering this mentoring programme continued success. I wish the students who take the step forward to participate in this venture, a most enjoyable and fulfilling time which will lead you in a new education direction along with the many benefits of third level education.”

Speaking at the event, Chief Executive of the HEA, Tom Boland said: The TA21 project and the partnership with the CFES organisation is an exciting development because it speaks to the ideals that have been expressed throughout the HEA’s consultation process on the next National Access Plan: close partnerships between schools and higher education institutions and the crucial role of student mentoring.”

In addition to the mentoring programme, the 1,200 participating CFES Scholars will also take part in a ‘Leadership through Service’ programme, supporting them to identify and express their leadership potential through activities that make their school and community a better place. The third strand of CFES is a ‘Pathways to College’ Programme, which provides opportunities for participating to visit college campuses, interact with students and faculty, and gain knowledge about admissions process, higher education finance options, and cultural aspects of higher education.

Trinity Access Programmes Director, Cliona Hannon, commented:  “We are delighted to be working with our partner schools on implementing the CFES model. We really believe it will help to build a stronger ‘college-going culture’ across the schools and create a powerful network of role models within communities that have low higher education progression rates.”

The Principal of TA21 partner school, Mercy, Inchicore, Treasa Leahy, said: “In our school we focus on every student reaching their full potential in partnership with others. The mentoring programme helps us do this. It provides students with a unique opportunity to connect with another significant adult who will guide and support them in choosing their career path. The mentor shares their own personal school, college and career journey. This special mentoring relationship is beyond the classroom experience and helps raise and enrich students aspirations.”

‘Trinity Access 21’ is a multi-faceted manifestation of Trinity College’s commitment to innovative educational outreach and works with partners across Trinity College, including the Trinity Access Programmes (TAP), the School of Computer Science & Statistics and the Bridge 21 project based at the Centre for Research in IT and Education (CRITE), and the School of Education. Trinity Access 21’s vision is to be a catalyst for social transformation, by supporting people to reach their full educational potential through innovation, research and advocacy.

It is being delivered as part of a three-year partnership programme between Trinity College and Google, which aims to affect a significant long term change in education through a range of innovative interventions focused on the second level system. Google has provided funding of €1.5 million to Trinity College Dublin to support the programme.

About Trinity Access 21

The Trinity Access 21 network comprises the Trinity Access Programmes (TAP), and Bridge21. TAP celebrates its 21st anniversary in 2014 and has a long track record of developing innovative educational projects, courses and entry routes for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Bridge21 has a strong recent presence in this area, challenging conventional models of teaching and seeking to change the second level classroom so that students are empowered to teach and learn through technology and team work, and the teacher adopts the role of an orchestrator of learning. Those interested in learning more about Trinity Access 21’s initiatives can contact


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