Five Education Programmes Shortlisted


The shortlisted programmes include: The Preparation for College Programme, run in partnership between South Dublin County Partnership (SDCP) and TU Dublin (Tallaght Campus), is a ten week course that aims to provide a step towards third level and a taste of college life and academic work for learners. Students receive one-to-one and group support in study skills, academic English and a range of other taster subjects culminating in a Special Purpose Award (NQF Level 6). The programme is shortlisted in the category, ‘Adult Learning Initiatives that Promote Third Level Access and Engagement’.

Secret Street Tours, based on Windmill Lane, Dublin 2 is a unique initiative that offers street tours of Dublin by guides who have experienced or been affected by homelessness. The tours are developed in partnership with guides who share their story with those on the tour as they explore landmarks of their local area. The project aims to empower guides with skills and confidence to take the next step toward independent living. It is shortlisted in the category, ‘Adult Learning Initiatives that Promote Sustainable Employment’. The Health & Wellbeing Services at Dublin Simon Community aid people experiencing homelessness and addiction, to regain control over their health and wellbeing through education and participation. The service runs Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) education courses, a gym, a football team, and health promotion classes for all in-house respite, detox and recovery clients. It is shortlisted in the category, ‘Adult Learning Initiatives that Promote Health and Wellbeing’.

The Participation and Development Service at Dublin Simon Community is dedicated to improving wellbeing, self-esteem, socialisation and independence for adults experiencing homelessness. The Service coordinates activities including literacy tuition, Mental Health groups, computers, art, gardening, music, creative writing and client volunteer programmes. It is shortlisted in the category, ‘Adult Learning Initiatives that Promote Social Inclusion’. And finally an Cosán Virtual Community College (VCC) enables people across the country to access education through a blended learning approach, regardless of location or personal circumstances. VCC collaborates with community education partners and offers accredited courses through IT Carlow, with a special focus on community development, leadership and drug addiction studies. It is shortlisted in the category, ‘Adult Learning Initiatives that Promote Third Level Access and Engagement’.

Commenting on the shortlist, Niamh O’Reilly, CEO of AONTAS, said: “The STAR Awards are an excellent opportunity to celebrate the powerful contribution that adult and community education initiatives make to individual adult learners, local communities and wider society. The quality of nominations this year was exceptional, resulting in a highly competitive process. The impact that these projects have on the social, cultural and economic development of its local area was evident to see and we’re delighted to have such  wonderful initiatives shortlisted for a STAR Award.”

Judging of the STAR Awards comprises two stages: In the first stage, nominated projects are shortlisted by an independent judging panel, whose membership is drawn from key stakeholders in the education sectors. The second stage gives staff and learners from the shortlisted projects the opportunity to meet with the judging panel before they make their final decision. Learners and staff from shortlisted programmes will invited to the AONTAS STAR Award ceremony on Monday, 4th March in the Pillar Room at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin 1, when the STAR Award winners will be announced.

The STAR Awards form a key part of the programme of events for AONTAS’ annual Adult Learners’ Festival. This year, as AONTAS celebrates its fifty year anniversary (1969-2019), the Festival theme is #EveryDayImLearning, recognising the diverse range of everyday learning opportunities that take place in community settings throughout Ireland. The STAR Awards is proudly sponsored by the European Social Fund (ESF), the Open University in Ireland, The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) and the Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCN NI). Sponsors will be offering special prizes to 2019 STAR Award winners.


Sarah Brooks

Sarah Brooks

Sarah has worked in marketing and content creation for many years. In her role at Newsgroup, she is the online editor of with a particular interest in local news and events. Sarah also works closely with our editorial team on our printed editions in Tallaght, Lucan, Clondalkin and Rathcoole/Saggart. If you have a story and would like to make contact please email Sarah at


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