The Access to Post-Primary Teaching (APT) Project is a joint initiative between the National University of Ireland Galway and St. Angelas College Sligo which aims to increase access to, and support retention in post-primary initial teacher education (ITE) for those from lower socio-economic groups at the school, further education (FE), undergraduate, and post-graduate levels.
The St. Angelas strand of this research focuses on the development of a direct entry FE route into their undergraduate concurrent BA/PME programmes, via partnerships with FE providers in the Border, Midlands, Western (BMW) Region. In comparison, the NUI Galway strand focuses on the recruitment and retention of former Access and Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) students into the two-year Professional Master in Education (PME) programme. Both initiatives provide a range of financial and other supports to successful applicants from the relevant target groups.
This paper will provide an overview of the APT Project, along with the rationale for and key principles of this initiative. Our approach is premised upon a critical, research-informed intersectional perspective and understanding of the nature of under- and over-representation of various groups in ITE.
The steps taken by each institution towards the diversification of the Irish teaching body will be explored, and the key features of each strand of the project will be outlined. For the St. Angelas strand, this is the design and delivery of a range of pre-entry Inreach and Outreach measures for FE students in partner FE colleges, together with a range of targeted post-entry supports, which cumulatively address the ongoing process of transitioning from FE to HE. A key feature of the NUI Galway strand is the incorporation of year 2 PME students practitioner research projects into the wider APT research study which is designed to identify and critically explore motivators, enablers and barriers to ITE entry, progression, retention and completion for those from lower socio-economic groups.
The APT project is funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) of Ireland via their Programme for Access to Higher Education (PATH Fund, Strand 1: Equity of Access to Initial Teacher Education).