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New UL PLACE Model encourages Engaged Learning for secondary students

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UL PLACE model – Patrick Ryan, Associate Vice President Student Engagement pictured with Ciara Broderick, Caolan Davern, Eoghan Foster and Leah Guiney Sheedy, 5th year students from Colaiste Iosaef, Kilmallock, Co Limerick at a UL PLACE Model event which took place at Plassey House, UL. Picture: Don Moloney

 Aimed at enhancing soft skills and social inclusion of secondary school students

Patrick Ryan, Associate Vice President Student Engagement pictured with Leah Guiney Sheedy, Eoghan Foster, Caolan Davern and Ciara Broderick, 5th year students from Colaiste Iosaef, Kilmallock, Co Limerick. Picture: Don Moloney

With teams from 6 European countries, the University of Limerick EU Erasmus+ funded SLUSIK project developed a new model for Engaged Learning for secondary level students. 

Entitled PLACE – which stands for: Prepare, Link, Action, Celebrate and Effect, is aimed at enhancing soft skills and social inclusion of secondary school students.  The overall design was led by the University of Limerick (UL) team and successful field trials across Europe which were completed last semester.


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The UL PLACE model encourages students to learn about their own ability to effect change in their wider community and raise aspirations for the future.  Eight students from Coláiste Ióseaf Kilmallock are heading to Brussels in November to represent Ireland at a European Service-Learning conference. There, they will present their experiences about a range of different projects that they designed and delivered in their local communities.

PLACE highlights that learning comes in many forms and guises, open to all and owned by none – it is a true opportunity to connect, to belong and to change the world around us

This is a new opportunity for Transition Year students to ‘learn through doing’ with community groups, about themselves, the environment, and wider societal issues.

The UL PLACE model is more than volunteering, students lead in co-created learning experiences, applying their ideas and making a difference in the world around them.

A student in Coláiste Iósaef said, “The highlight for me was probably the project where we went around the classrooms. It was great to get people involved in a matter that is actually so close to heart.”

Despite the enormous challenges of the pandemic, students from Coláiste Mhichíl, Coláiste Iósaef, and Ardscoil Mhuire succeeded in developing innovative community initiatives. The students’ ideas included addressing challenges in sustainable food, recycling, sexism, violence in communities, period poverty and declining bee populations. 

The PLACE model encourages personal reflection throughout, encouraging students with different skills to participate in their communities in ways they may not have thought possible.

UL will continue to facilitate the implementation of the PLACE model with interested DEIS schools, slowly expanding the number of schools involved, and encouraging the involvement of UL academic specialists as champions. The PLACE model aims to inspire and support young people to connect with community partners in new and exciting ways.

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Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the ilovelimerick.com concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.