The Educational Action Research Project 2005-2008


Over the years Athlone CommunityTaskforce organised many “employment/enterprise” programmes which were of significant value to the many participants. However over the years it felt challenged by the number of young people who were dropping out of school and would likely be unemployable for their entire lives. The local estimate is that 40 / 45 young people drop-out or do not even arrive at secondary school each year. These young people and the Athlone community all pay a high price for this. The young people would likely be marginalised and permanently dependent on the State with the potential of their lives unfulfilled. The cash cost to Social Welfare and the taxpayer would be very large. It is calculated that each drop-out will collect some €1ml. from the State by the time they are 65. Additional costs would be social disruption even crime and substantial life-style health costs.

What to do?

In line with its mission “employment and enterprise measures leading thereto” ACT asked the Grubb Institute to join with it in seeing how drop-out might be eliminated so that all Athlone young people might complete their education and approach the world of further education and work with confidence and enthusiasm.

Educational Action Research (EAR)

The Grubb proposal was “Educational Action Research” (EAR) The essential element of this proposal was “child centred”. Only that which the young people themselves requested would be pursued. In this way all elements of EAR would be “owned” by them. The second element was the recognition that the project could only be successful with the active participation of schools and the various local organisations which worked closely with the young people. The Educational Action Research Project( EARP) was initiated by Athlone Community Taskforce in 2005 “To examine from a young person’s perspective the experience of the transition from primary to post primary school”. The research involved the participation of young people in 6th class in two local primary schools and 1st year in 5 local post -primary schools and focused on a child centred approach. Eleven initiatives were finally developed from the research and were designed to meet an overall vision “To create conditions to support young people to make a positive transition from primary to post primary school.”

The research was published as “Going to Secondary”in 2006. EAR received whole-hearted support and participation from schools, teachers and all local organisations which were addressing the interests and needs of young people. The initiatives were implemented from 2006 to the end of 2008. The implementation of the initiatives involved the collaboration of 76 statutory and non statutory agencies. The collaboration was made up of a Partnership Group and a Stakeholders Group.

EAR is successful. There are independent evaluations testifying to that. The EAR Project was evaluated by the Child and Family Research Centre, NUI, Galway. The Evaluation was published in January 2009. One EAR Project initiative, “Going2Secondary” website, was set up in 2007 as a pilot project between 6th class pupils in three local primary schools and transition year students in one local post primary school. The overall aim of the initiative was to create opportunities for the 6th class primary pupils, to experience a positive transition to post primary school through the use of Information and Communication Technology. 6th class pupils gained an insight into the post primary school by posting questions on the interactive website. The initiative was extremely innovative and was subsequently evaluated by NUI, Maynooth. The evaluation was published in 2009. APT Tullamore and the Midland Health Board (now HSE) were the major funders of the 4 year Educational Action Research Programme. ACT is deeply grateful to them all.

Click the above links to download any of the reports in a .pdf format.

Athlone Community Taskforce wins National Award

During recent years Athlone Community Taskforce has,through it’s Educational Action Research Project and with great local support , organised a number of child-centred projects to help young people complete their education and enter the world of work with enthusiasm and ambition. The advisory panel of the “Connecting Communities” initiative by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office(OCO) selected the Educational Action Research(EAR) Project for the OCO’s “Connecting Communities” national recognition event in Dublin on the 25th June 2009. Charleen Quinn, a project participant, nominated the EAR Project to the Ombudsman for Children’s Office for a national award in the category “Community Projects nominated by children and young people.” Charleen, together with Michael Oviawe, another project participant, jointly accepted the award from Ombudsman Emily Logan on behalf of ACT. This award is a great recognition of the efforts of the project’s young participants, Sheila McArdle, Project Manager and the 72 local organisations which collaborated in organising the EAR Project since 2005.

Other project participants, Lucky Oviawe, Eddie Byrnes, Zorana Balaban, Maya Balaban and Edel Quinn, traveled with Michael Fuery, CEO, Athlone Community Takforce, Delores Crerar, Project Manager, Educational Initiative and Sheila McArdle, Project Manager EAR Project. Athlone Community Taskforce initiated the EAR Project in 2005 “to examine from a young person’s perspective the experience of the transition from primary to post-primary school”. Eleven initiatives and a number of spin-off programmes were developed and implemented over the period from 2006 to 2008. The initiatives were designed to work towards the Project’s overall vision, “to create conditions to support young people to make a positive transition from primary to post-primary school.” The Project finished in December 2008 and was positively and independently evaluated by the NUI Galway and NUI Maynooth as being influential in helping young people to continue their education and to prepare them to enter the world of work with enthusiasm and ambition. ACT and the collaborating organisations wish to make the programme available to all young people who wish to participate in it and will continue to lobby for this. Success will bring considerable economic and social benefit to the entire community.

ACT would like to thank the Ombudsman Emily Logan and her staff for the Award, and for the reception and hospitality afforded to all on the day.

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