Something for everyone: Hartstown’s Community Education

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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Ever wonder how community education programmes come into being? We spoke to Andrew Farrell of Hartstown’s Adult and Community Education Programme. He told us about the programme, popular courses and how classes get added to the mix.

Hartstown’s Community Education programme offers a vast array of different evening courses. Did it take a long time to get such a good mix?

It took many years to get so many courses onto the programme. We started small, with approximately 12 classes in our first year. This allowed us to test the market and whether or not the classes would take off in the area. It flourished from there with many of the local community taking up places on each class each term.

From there we have added further courses to the programme each term. We also regularly assess the take-up on all courses, with less popular courses being removed from the programme. This means we can introduce of new courses to replace them, which appeal to the public. We now offer over 100 courses each term.

How long has the Community Education programme been running?

We have been offering Adult and Community Education classes since 1996. That’s 21 years.

How have the courses changed over the years? There must be trends in what people want to learn.

Yes, cycles of classes seem to come into operation. Many run successfully for over 10 years before their popularity drops, due to various different reasons.

Previously, computers and languages were very popular, but there is less interest in them now. There is always a large interest in exercise classes. However the type of exercise classes on offer needs to be changed or updated every so often to keep up with current trends. Classes like art, dance and craft type classes also seem to move through cycles. They can be very popular for a number of years, interest may drop then for a little while and the interest returns again after such a lull.

What are some of the most popular courses?

Some of our most popular courses are oil painting, crochet, pilates, yoga, bootcamp, and zumba, plus hairdressing and barbering. Other popular courses include English as a Second Language, Spanish, sewing and craftwork, Asian cooking, cake decoration, mindfulness and guitar.

You offer a number of different language courses. Can you tell us a bit about what’s available?

We offer Irish, English as a Second Language, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian. We have noticed a significant decrease in the level of interest in language courses. As a result, we have removed some of the languages previously offered from the programme.

There are a number of different computer courses for beginners and business. Can you tell us a bit about these?

Again we have noticed a significant drop in the number of students taking up such courses. We have redesigned what we have on offer to adapt to the choices students wish to make.

We have a number of different computer classes. Firstly, we offer a computer class for complete beginners. There is also a computer class focusing on Internet usage, and a class based on iPads, tablets and smartphones and how numerous apps can be beneficial to people. There is also an intermediate computers class based on some of the ECDL modules and a web design class. Furthermore, we have a “Fix Your Finances” class, a manual book-keeping class and a computerised accounts course.

We try to offer what is relevant at the time. The business and computer market is changing all of the time and we try to update along with them. We offer classes that are hopefully going to be progressive and beneficial to our students.

I see you have recently introduced a sign language course. How do you decide which new courses get added?

Sometimes I will try to find a niche, where there are courses not on offer in many places, if at all. Then I will look for a qualified tutor for such a course. On other occasions, potential tutors will send in a course outline to me and put a course programme together. We will then meet and discuss the course in detail to best suit the requirements of the public. Sometimes a course may be offered as a follow-on course to another, where the level of expertise or skills being taught are at a higher level.

If somebody would like to teach a course, how would they go about that?

They can forward on a course title with an outline of the course to us on email or by calling us in the office (01) 8209863.

There must be some people worried that they have been out of education for too long. What would you say to someone concerned that they won’t manage?

We regularly have students attend classes that haven’t been in education for a long time. On occasion it has been as long as 60 years. They have all gained great benefit from our classes. The classes are open to everybody, regardless of their background in education.

It can be daunting, but the team I have in place are very sensitive to each and every student’s needs. We find that by engaging with all students in a warm and welcoming manner from their very first communication with us, it allows them to have a very positive experience here in Hartstown Community School.

It is my own personal policy that every enquiry receives a response, whether it be through email, by phone or in person. I have also instilled an atmosphere of inclusion and encouragement throughout the enrolling and learning process. We walk all students down to their classrooms and introduce them to their tutors, highlighting confidentially any particular concerns that they may have to the tutor. In addition, we have staff on-site every night to deal with any requests or concerns that students may have. We believe that it is hugely important to listen to our attendees and learn from all of the feedback that we receive.

Have you done any of the courses yourself? If so, can you tell us which ones?

On the rare occasion that I get a chance to sample the excellent teaching on offer, I have partaken in some of the classes over the years, namely guitar for beginners, pilates, yoga and bootcamp. I have found them all very enjoyable, both for the fact that the tutors conducted and offered excellent classes and that there was a brilliant atmosphere among the students attending the classes also. There are many more that I would like to have a go at, so here’s hoping I manage to find an hour free some night over the coming years!

When is the next enrolment?

Next term of classes will begin on 25th September. Our online enrolment is available at from 18th August. In addition, students can call us in the office on (01) 820-9863 between 10am and 3pm. Our enrolment night in the school 11th September between 7 and 9pm. If anyone wants further information they can contact us at or by phone on (01) 820-9863.

Anne Sexton

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  1. Crumlin 12th June 2017 at 9:15 am

    Hartstown’s Community Education Programme is outstanding. Andrew is extremely helpful and generous to other providers of Adult Education. Kathy O’Neill, Director of Adult Education, Crumlin College of FE

  2. Noreen Maher 12th June 2017 at 12:23 pm

    I’ve been a tutor for genealogy and family history research at Hartstown a number of years on and off and have always found Andrew and staff helpful and encouraging to myself and my students. There’s a great atmosphere there and I’ve attended classes in Hartstown myself over the years.

  3. Jarlath 13th June 2017 at 12:11 am

    So happy to be near Hartstown Community College as it is great for class you always hoped to learn something about.
    This year it was guitar a few years ago it was oil painting. Great teachers and cost is so reasonable.

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