n March 2019, University of Limerick signed the Learning Limerick’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signalling its commitment to advancing Limerick’s progress as a Learning Region. Learning Limerick is a partnership forum to promote awareness of the importance of lifelong learning for every person, family community and workplace in Limerick, and to influence education and skills policy on a local, national, and international level. The Forum also looks to position learning at the centre of development planning in the Limerick region in all communities, sectors, and settings. Speaking of the initiative the then Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr James Collins said: “The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding reinforces and strengthens the collaboration that is the hallmark of the Learning Limerick initiative. All the signatories realise the importance of lifelong learning, be it for personal or professional reasons, and we all strive to provide the best education opportunities and supports. Learning Limerick and the Learning Limerick Festival has been an important development for the city and county as it brings learning right into the heart of communities allowing people who may think learning is not for them, to get involved.”
In November 2019, Dr Joanne O’ Flaherty, School of Education lecturer, was awarded a prestigious teacher researcher award within the national –T-REX (Teacher’s Research Exchange) Module Innovation Framework. Dr O’ Flaherty’s is responsible for the Coordination of the Micro-Teaching Program (a lab-based practicum experience prior to school placement which focuses on the development of a number of competencies and practices of the beginning teacher). Her expertise is in critical decision-making and global citizenship education and she works with pupils, teachers, and post-primary schools, as well as work in teacher education with pre-service teachers, teacher educators and policy makers. Coordinated by Mary Immaculate College, Limerick with partners NUI Galway, University of Limerick, and Marino Institute of Education, Dublin - T-REX is a nationally funded online platform and set of tools to support teachers and educational researchers and professionals to collaborate, undertake and share research, and is freely available to all teachers in Ireland. Of her award Dr O’ Flaherty said: ‘“This funding from the T-REX Module Innovation Framework will support the development of a community of practice between pre- and in-service teachers, thus providing opportunities to critically reflect and problematise professional competences of the teacher.”
In May 2019, a year-long pilot programme aimed at developing strategies for teaching numeracy across the school curriculum was launched at University of Limerick. EPI∙STEM, the National Centre for STEM Education based at University of Limerick, announced the new Numeracy Across the Curriculum (NAC) initiative. The year-long research and development project aimed to develop strategies for teaching numeracy across the curriculum and will be piloted in primary and secondary schools across Limerick and Clare. Numeracy connects the mathematics learned at school with real-world situations that require problem-solving and critical judgment. The NAC project looks to develop teachers’ understanding of numeracy, while also guiding teachers on how to recognise and embed numeracy opportunities within their subject area.
This programme will provide teachers with ideas, classroom activities and resources that they can use to develop students’ numeracy skills and will offer practical guidance for both schools and teachers. Jerry O’Sullivan, Deputy Chief Executive, ESB, welcomed the initiative. “The Numeracy Across the Curriculum project will provide teachers with ideas, classroom activities and resources that they can use to develop students’ numeracy skills and will offer practical guidance for both schools and teachers,” he said. “ESB is committed to supporting STEAM education and learning as a way of empowering young people to fulfil their potential and encouraging them to positively engage with the issues and challenges facing society.
"Bringing the University to the Community and the Community to the University"
The ‘Access Campus’ is a unique partnership initiative between Education (University of Limerick), the Limerick Enterprise Development Partnership (LEDP), and the technology sector (DELL) creating a mini campus which supports Limerick people in realising their potential through outreach educational opportunities. The Access Campus caters for a diverse range of learners, ranging from primary school children to mature learners. All groups using the Access Campus can use state of the art technology in the centre's computer lab, with broadband internet access. The Access Campus, which is based in Roxboro, Limerick is fully wheelchair accessible, and is a model of what partnerships between an academic institution, community-based organisations and a private enterprise can achieve when all are working together to a common goal - furthering the educational opportunities of the Limerick community. The Access Campus study club supported 136 secondary school students in 2019, 298 adult learners, 42 members of the travelling community and 14 learners from Direct Provision.