The Youth Academy works with high ability primary school children in the local community to support their learning and academic development. The programme aims to inspire entry into university by introducing children and their families to university life and by creating positive perceptions of the university and its academic programmes.
The Youth Academy is a collaboration between Ms. Mary Dempsey (College of Engineering and Informatics), Dr. Caroline Heary (School of Psychology), Ms. Lorraine McIlrath (Community Knowledge Initiative) and Dr. Colm O'Reilly (Irish Centre for Talented Youth, Dublin City University).
Our partner institution, the Irish Centre for Talented Youth (CTYI) which is based in Dublin City University provides dedicated support and teaching for high ability children. Over 35,000 students have accessed CTYI courses since its establishment in 1992. These courses are designed to maximise children's potential and are designed to stimulate and challenge children with high ability. However, the majority of these courses are delivered in Dublin, with much less supports available in the Western region.
A small-scale pilot study was conducted in 2010, in the School of Psychology, NUI Galway in cooperation with the CKI and CTYI. This involved delivery of one course (Psychology) by university students to local primary school children. Feedback from University students, children, parents and stakeholders was very positive. Demand for this activity indicates that we should mainstream a suite of courses aimed at primary school children (10 to 13 years of age). The roll out of this proposed programme will be multi-disciplinary in nature, led by Psychology, Engineering and the CKI but will include contributions from other disciplines in the University (e.g Science and Italian).
The programme aims to inspire entry into university by introducing children and their families to university life and by creating positive perceptions of the university and its' academic programmes. The Youth Academy will also make efforts to engage young people who may not have had a history of third-level education in their family such as children from more disadvantaged backgrounds. This programme will ultimately enhance links with the local community and its hinterland. This builds on NUI Galway's on-going commitment to civic engagement and work with local primary schools through student volunteering in over twenty homework clubs. The roll out of this programme dovetails with the NUI Galway Strategic Plan 2009-2014 that highlights the centrality of relationship with regional stakeholders and that the needs of the community, be they economic, cultural and educational, are met (NUI Galway Strategic Plan 2009-2014). This activity will continue to enhance relations with the region while responding to the educational demands of students who crave disciplinary expertise and new educational challenges. The Youth Academy also compliments the vision for higher education in Ireland moving forward to 2030 when it proposes a multi sector response to deficits in educational attainment of students particularly in the area of STEM and the need for greater cooperation, engagement and partnership between and across different educational sectors (National Strategy of Higher Education to 2030, HEA 2011).