In 2017 a chance conversation at our annual dinner between the Guest of Honour, a visionary past pupil and an enthusiastic, determined Joeys Alumni president kick started a campaign for change that is revolutionising education; providing a fair opportunity for all students.
Brendan McGrath, recently retired CEO at Gaelectric and Joeys Alumni President David Rafferty recognised that as the environmental and educational landscape was changing our school also needed to change to meet the needs of current and future students. The goal was to overcome the new demographic challenges the school’s location now presented and rebuild the school into a proactive educational beacon bridging the gap between those students with academic talents and a nurturing family background and students with less than favourable home environments that lacked a familial educational tradition.
Joeys would excel in delivering opportunities for academic students aiming for third level education and also for students pursuing non traditional career paths. Every student would be supported in being the best.
In 2017 Brendan was interested in the school’s plans to develop a new technology lab, but felt that the plans could be extended to provide greater opportunities for students across the technology landscape.
Brendan had come across an IBM initiative called P-TECH (standing for Pathways to TECHnology) in New York High Schools.
Brendan began investigating the possibilities with IBM of initiating that program here in Ireland. With the support of the school’s board of management a working group was formed in 2018 and two other inner city schools (Larkin Community College and Marino College) were encouraged to join Joeys in a pilot scheme. A curriculum was adapted for Ireland.
Now two years on, with the support of An Taoiseach and the Department of Education and Skills, P-TECH has been a major success.
P-TECH a six year programme delivered, for the first five years, alongside the Leaving and Junior certs and significantly augments students engagements in the state exams.
(Any P-TECH modules not completed by the 5th year may be completed in the year after the Leaving Certificate.)
P-TECH brings classroom topics to life through coding and robotics. It gives traditional concepts real world context. For example in maths and sciences classes you observe many students struggling to grasp concepts that in the P-TECH environment they can easily contextualise and understand. It is amazing to watch. If you want further proof of the students' engagement in P-TECH read Katherine Donnelly's first paragraph in her article in the Irish Independent's on P-TECH in Joeys- Tech that: Past pupil power delivers future chapter for schools
P-TECH also provides all students with real world engagement in topics that are relevant across the tech industry. (If you have ever taken on students, particularly in the technology realm, directly from college who have only relied on course content, their grasp of real world applications is severely lacking and requires in-depth apprenticeship programmes. P-TECH helps to prepare students for active participation in industry from day one.) P-TECH captivates and engages all students. You watch their eyes light up as they actively problem solve, explore, test and get instant feedback from their actions. P-TECH addresses the skills gap, developing a proficient technical and professional workforce that strengthens the economy.
Success requires more than just academic aptitude it requires, amongst other skills, the ability to network, present and it requires self confidence. A powerful element in the P-TECH programme is that every student receives one-to-one mentorship from senior staff from the industry partners throughout the six years of the programme.
Each student gains practical on site work-based experience with paid internships aligned to digital technology related roles.
Industry partners include blue chip companies IBM and Cisco who partnered with Joeys and Irish Life who partnered with Larkin CC. Irish Water and Virgin Media partnered with Marino College. The National College of Ireland is the third level partner. The NEIC (North East Inner City implementation board) is also a crucial development P-TECH partner.
The connections between P-TECH and Joeys doesn’t end there. P-TECH's Project Leader in Ireland is past pupil and past principle Aidan Giblin and IBM’s Global Technology Leader and P-TECH team leader is past pupil Michael Bulman.
Aidan Giblin - PTECH Project Leader in Ireland, past pupil and past Principle addressing Joeys Alumni Business Breakfast 2019
Past Pupil and Global Technology Leader IBM addressing Joeys Alumni Business Breakfast 2019