Community Education Practitioner Focus Group

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On the 14th October 2020 Aontas, Ireland’s National Adult Learning Organisation, held 2 community education practitioner focus groups.

Community Education Practitioner Focus Group

The Focus groups were held as part of a larger research piece on Community Education in a Time of COVID-19, which will include the pilot of the first ever Community Education Census.
18 practitioners representing 17 different organisations from 7 different counties took part in these focus groups. Participants were broken up into two different focus groups for discussions, each lasting 40 minutes. Focus groups were held on Zoom.

During these discussions, participants were asked to reflect on some of the
challenges faced in the transition to remote learning and some of the positive learning that has come out of this period. Discussions also focused on priorities for the coming months and what is needed to ensure community education is able to deliver quality learning to a diverse group of learners in the context of the pandemic.

The findings presented in the report reflect the major topics raised during discussions.

• Not all learners could meaningfully engage in remote learning
• Not all community education centres had the technology necessary to move online
• The benefits of face-to-face learning are being lost even in the modified opening of
community education centres
• Community education centres are running waiting lists
• During the pandemic, community education outreach cannot happen in the same
way and vulnerable learners are most impacted
• Phone calls are essential to keep learners connected, but they are very resource
• Community education facilitators and tutors are at greater risk of burnout
• Communication with local Education and Training Boards posed new challenges
• Community education centres were relied on to deliver critical supports during
• The funding structure of community education in Ireland challenges the sector’s
ability to respond to the crisis
• Challenges that vulnerable learners faced before were compounded by the crisis
• Learning space poses a significant challenge for vulnerable learners
• Colder weather months pose greater challenges for community education providers
• Childcare poses a major challenge for learners

Read the full report Community Education Practitioner Focus Group report is Ireland’s largest part-time course finder database, with thousands of part-time courses, evening, morning and weekend classes and adult education courses to choose from. You’ll find your perfect course on


Gemma is a nomadic writer, filmmaker, & journalist.
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