Leaving school wasn’t the end of the line for these two teenagers, who now look forward to a bright future with help from the Peter McVerry Learning Centers, writes Deirdre Reynolds
“Ever since I was in elementary school, I was nervous about going to school,” she shares. “I think it was just the whole social thing.”
The Crumlin teenager was fortunately steered towards one of two Peter McVerry learning centers in the capital, aiming to keep young people in education longer who cannot access mainstream school for various reasons.
Currently pursuing her education at YouthReach, a separate national program for early school leavers, her dream is now on track.
“Now I wouldn’t be in pain at all after coming here,” said Emma, who returned to the trust’s CMS learning center in the south city center to chat with Review+ on how it helped her. “I wouldn’t really have any anxiety.”
“I think it was just a lot to do with regular school. Here they watch you, whereas in regular school it’s kind of like once you’ve done your homework, that’s all – that’s all they want.
“I found when I did the Junior Cert it was a lot easier,” the fourth-year student continues.
“I thought it would have been a lot harder than it was because I think in regular school you’re under a lot of pressure to focus on exams – it’s not focused at all. about you or your sanity.
“I’ll probably take a beauty course when I finish school. I would love to do something like this.
Like his friend Emma, Finglas boy Darragh Moran took his Junior Cert at CMS last year after leaving his local school.
Although he came to the center under different circumstances, the 16-year-old also praises the smaller classes of four or five students and the more relaxed atmosphere which has helped him to bend and pass his exams.
“I was referred here (by the school liaison when I was kicked out of my old school,” he says. “I think I screwed up too much.
“I was halfway through my third year and got kicked out, so I had to finish my Junior Cert. So they said I could come here to repeat third year to do my Junior.
“I went for a meeting and all to see the place before coming here. It’s like the regular school, just reduced.
“The staff are friendly, the smaller setting was a bit better for me too.
“We do English, math and all the usual subjects. When I was preparing for my Junior, we studied hard.
Also based in Lucan with Carline Learning Centre, the specialist centers are designed to provide young people – who may need additional learning support or who have emotional, social or behavioral issues – a high quality education.
Additionally, the program strives to have students see the positive impact lifelong learning has on their future, as they work towards their Junior Certificate, a short-term certificate course. junior, such as literacy or animal care, or a certificate in general learning.
Graduate students like Emma and Darragh are also advised on continuing education opportunities, learning and employment opportunities, and continuing education colleges, among other prospects, to help them continue to thrive.
For her part, Emma has no doubt that she wouldn’t still be in school if she hadn’t found her way to the CMS Learning Center – but she’s glad she found another way.
“I don’t think I would have gone to any other school; I don’t think I would have been able to. I know myself that I could not have.
“Like it wasn’t the issue of education or anything – it was just the environment.
“I just found it easier to interact with people in a small group. You found the people you socialized with easier because there was no judgment there.
“I think there’s a big stigma around leaving school. There’s a shame (in there),” she continues.
“Even for me, I thought, oh I don’t know, what would people think if I left school and came into this type of environment? But I just think you have to adapt, like what’s best for you, what will help you in your future.
The inspirational teenagers were among 71 students welcomed into the junior cycle at the two centers in September last year, almost double the figure for 2020.
When asked if he would have gone back to school without the support of the Alternative Education Center, Darragh honestly replies, “Probably not.”
“I’ll probably plan to do a PLC when I finish Youthreach – maybe business.
“I (would) just say: if you’re struggling in school, consider coming to a place like this where the environment is smaller and more relaxed,” he offers his advice to other students in difficulty.
“You’ll probably do better here than you would at a regular school.”