Mary Immaculate Secondary School, Lisdoonvarna motivated to upskill

FROM SMALL beginnings, great things can sometimes grow.  Mary Immaculate Secondary School in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare has become one of the county’s centres of excellence for adult education over the last 15 years. 

From modest beginnings, the school's list of courses has grown steadily over the years culminating in a number of FETAC Level Six courses being introduced in the school last year - with more than 200 day students and dozens of night students each year. 

“We started off the adult education in the school in 1995 and at the beginning we were focussed on the basic night-classes, one day a week.  But gradually then it began to get more involved and as the only provider in the greater Burren area we felt that we could offer more for the local people,?” said Marion O'Callaghan. 

“We quickly realised that there was a huge demand from the general public for this and a lot of people were looking to up-skill or retrain in a number of different areas. We started off then with a number of post-leaving cert courses, especially in the area of tourism which is very popular in this part of the county. 

Gradually it expanded on from there  and we got more and more into other areas such as IT and computers and it has kept growing over the years.  We have more than 100 adult learners at the school at the moment doing day courses and we have more again doing night courses". 

Over the last number of years we have been offering FETAC level five courses in things like childcare, business studies, community and health studied and art and design. 










Pictured above (LtoR) Joanne McMahon receiving the FETAC Level 5 award in Childcare from Sr Maura Crowe, Chairperson of the School Board of Management.

We’ve had a lot of graduates who have come through these courses over the years and many of them wanted to go one step further but were not quite ready for college for one reason or another - so we decided to look at the idea of doing FETAC level courses.

Last year Mary Immaculate Secondary School took entries for two FETAC level courses for the first time in it’s history.  After a successful 12 months of hard study, the school recently hosted it’s first ever graduation day for FETAC level six students. 

"The numbers getting involved are growing and growing and quite a lot of people have gone onto third-level colleges and we have a number of graduates who have gone onto teaching or nursing. 

I think it is especially helpful for families who have children going onto school or college and the parents have more time themselves to move on a bit further with it,?” continued Marian.

“The progression rate has been phenomenal - the number of people who have gone into employment or started their own business has been just phenomenal. 

“But I think it has had an impact on people’s lives that does beyond education or up-skilling.  You might have people who might be out of the workforce for a number of years, because of family or for whatever reason, and this is great for helping to build up confidence again.

“There is also a great social element to this that you cannot ignore.  The course allows people to get out of the house and meet people and that can be very valuable.

They all have different reasons for getting involved in further education and a lot of people might have started the course as a way of getting out of the house and then all-of-a-sudden realised that they really like it and they want to learn more.”

Mary Immaculate Secondary School, Lisdoonvarna

Click here to view mission statement and a brief history of the school.

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