Maynooth University’s HEA-funded PATH 1 programme, Turn to Teaching, is entering the latter half of Phase Two of its maturing widening participation project which aims to diversify the teaching profession in Ireland.

It adopts a lifelong, continuum approach, supporting students from diverse and under-represented groups into (via its Foundation Cert and outreach work), through (undergraduate and postgraduate), and beyond ITE (i.e. early career, emerging leaders) in a range of educational sectors (Early Childhood, Primary, Post-Primary and Further Education).

The work of Turn to Teaching is orientated in critical educational values and practices that centre around participation, reflexivity, collaboration, care and a commitment to personal and systemic transformation in the fundamental aim to widen participation in teaching and HE more generally.   These values and practices are reflected in the programme’s approaches to pedagogy, research, project management and evaluation.

We have had many successes in the first five years of our work (2017-2022). Through our innovative and high quality foundation certificate course for ITE (Think about Teaching) and the two year school outreach and CPD programme (Rising Teachers Rising Leaders Programme), 120+ participants have successfully completed their respective programmes. Even with incomplete data for the Rising Teacher cohort, we can acknowledge that a significant majority of these participants across the various strands of the project are in ITE or on ITE pathways in Maynooth University and various higher education institutions.
 

The numbers tell one side of the success story, and  the deep and profound impact on participants’ lives, sense of identity and development of confidence to pursue a professional pathway as teachers were clearly articulated in the qualitative evaluation of the project across its various activities …
 
"… after completing the TTT course I feel like I will be just as good as anyone else on the [ITE] course and feel confident that I will make a good teacher."
Carole (pseudonym), Foundation Cert graduate
 
As well as these successes, the programme has worked closely with a group of teachers from under-represented groups (Rising Leaders) who have successfully completed a Level 9 Postgraduate Special Certificate in Leading Transformative Education at Maynooth University.   This committed community of emerging educational leaders are central to the continuing work of the project.   The project has also supported many of the Rising Leaders to progress to further postgraduate study in educational leadership at Maynooth University.