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Seirbhís Oideachais d'Aosaigh & Breisoideachais Fhine Ghall Fingal Adult & Further Education Service
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My Journey to Adult Education

by Martina Larkin, QQI Level 5 and 6 Early Childhood Care and Education VTOS Student

I came from a mainly business administration background, but unfortunately at the beginning of the recession in 2007, both myself and my partner lost our jobs months apart.  Two months later we were blessed with baby news and our first son was born in December, motherhood was no walk in the park but I was so proud to have such a beautiful healthy bouncing baby boy. 


When I got myself back on my feet I began looking for employment, but there was very slim pickings!  I applied for every job I could find available and I wasn’t even getting any replies.  With this my confidence plummeted to rock bottom. It was very difficult for us as a couple that always worked and had our own money to spend on whatever we wanted suddenly we had to rely on social welfare to keep a roof over our heads, keep us warm and fed.  I'm not knocking it and I think it's great that we have this cushion to help us in times of need but we found it a bit demoralising.


Roll on two and a half years later and again we were hearing the pitter patter of baby feet knocking on our door, our second son was born in May 2011. With many sleepless night knee deep in nappies and bottles at this stage, I was starting to loose myself and every ounce of confidence I had. 


In 2013 I found out about Balbriggan VTOS course at Fingal Adult Education and the services they offer. With that I went online and had a look at the courses they had on offer.  I could not see myself going back into an office environment ever again; scrolling down through the courses I came across Childcare level 5.  I always had an interest in Childcare but because of lack of money I never had the opportunity to go study it in college after my leaving cert.  So I got side tracked into jobs I never really wanted to do in the first place.  Anyway, I applied for the course and I was delighted to get called for the screening and then the interview. 


I was deemed to be an appropriate candidate and I got offered the Childcare Course, which I started in September 2014.  Yes the work was difficult at the start but once I got into a routine and was getting positive feedback my confidence began to grow again.  I also have a wonderful partner Peter which was extremely helpful to me allowing me time to complete my assignments.  I passed my level 5 in Childcare in June 2015 and progressed onto level 6 in Childcare which I began in September 2015.  I am currently half way through this course now and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I feel I have grown so much over the last two years with Balbriggan VTOS, so much so, I have decided to apply to do a degree in Psychology which is another area of interest to me.  I will also mention Majella here and the wonderful help, as she assisted me a lot when I was applying to CAO.


I am so grateful to all the staff and tutors (Pat, Roberta, Suzanne & Lily) in Fingal Adult Education for helping me regain my confidence, the support and most of all having a routine to follow every day.  I will be sad to leave in June 2016 and I will thoroughly miss coming into the VTOS prefab every morning, I felt so welcome and I met a lot of really nice friends along my journey. 


Thank you so much Balbriggan VTOS and Fingal Adult Education for the wonderful experience back to education and in helping me find myself again.


My Experience as an Adult Returning to Education

by Anthony Igweze


I decided to go back to education two years ago when I was not able to secure a job in my trained career choice and after many years of my being out of school, I needed to upgrade my skills in order to find a suitable job. But, the questions were, ‘What do you think you can do at this age?’, ‘What skills do you want to acquire?’ and ‘How do you tend to cope with family and education at the same time?’ These and other questions  continued to flood my head until I discussed  my worries with a friend who advised me to go to Fingal Adult Education Centre in Balbriggan, that there I should  get my answers to all my questions. He gave me the address and the phone number. When I got there I met the receptionist who advised me to make appointment with Majella, the school guidance counsellor. When I met Majella, she received me and asked me few questions in a very, warm, friendly but professional manner of which I told her all my fears and concerns. Majella helped me to get back on track with guidance on courses that best suited my interest.

I started with Level 4 course on Office technology, and from there the tutors guided me with support, feedback, advice and encouragement. I have completed the QQI level four certificate and now doing QQI level five in Healthcare Support which have given me the opportunity to a career that I have never thought that I could access. Thanks to Joanne, the VTOS coordinator, for the trust and confidence she had in me by given me the opportunity to be part of this course. Thanks, also to all the tutors for their professionalism, warmth, and friendly support and valuable feedback I have been received from them. My new found confidence led me to apply for a QQI level 6 course in Colaiste Dhulaigh where I will continue with my education by doing a Social Care Level 6 course.

Since I started this course, I can say that my life has changed and has continued to change.

Thanks once again to Fingal Adult Education centre and its professional teaming staff.


My Journey

By Joseph Meehan

I am currently studying Healthcare Level 5 with Fingal Adult Education, having last year studied e-Business Level 5 with them. I find the subjects very interesting and challenging. Equally importantly, I find the level of support from tutors, counsellors and all members of staff to be exemplary. I have received support in every area needed. There is a very eclectic range of courses to choose from Beauty to Childcare, Healthcare, Business, Computers and many more all at varying levels, and from talking to students from other courses than my own I know that skills and talents are nurtured and encouraged by  tutors in every way. In addition there is a consistent friendly, vibrant and inclusive atmosphere. On a personal level, before I came to Fingal Adult Education, I was not very well versed in important areas such as interview preparation, now, with the aid of tutors and my guidance counsellor, not only am I achieving top Distinction level results in all modules here, I have also been aided in standing on my feet and been accepted on to even higher level Education in Social Care with options to move on to degree level. All of these developments would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago before coming to Fingal Adult Education. I feel a level of utmost confidence in myself and my abilities now that I am enjoying immensely that I know will continue on, and I know I will look back in years to come and be very happy I walked through the doors of Fingal Adult Education and will always be glad for the unquestionable support I received here.


My Experience as a Healthcare Student

by Gillian Corcoran


My name is Gillian Corcoran and I’ve taken part in the healthcare QQI level 5 healthcare support course with Balbriggan VTOS, part of Fingal Adult Education Service 2015 -2016. I was unemployed and decided to do an internship as a physio assistant in Lusk Community Unit in 2014 it was advertised on the Fas website and applied and got it. For me it was really the opportunity to see if I would I like to work in this area of caring for the older person. I found from day one that yes I would love to work in this area and I enjoy the chats and fun and laughter and stories that everyone told and shared in the unit. I was also enjoying learning about the physio sessions that people would have to help them if they had a fall or if they had Parkinson’s these classes where interesting and people from the local region would attend 6 week sessions.

I worked in the different areas in the nursing home, like helping them with feeding and activity and outings with clients, which I really enjoyed and knew that I would love this work. I then met a lady, called Antoinette, who came in for work experience. She told me that she was doing the healthcare course with Balbriggan VTOS and as I got all the information off her I decided to email the Fingal Adult Education in Balbriggan. Tracy got back to me and asked me to call in and fill out forms. After going through the application process of screening and an interview I got the course which I was delighted with.

I really enjoy the course, everyone is really lovely the three tutors Roisin, Pat and Suzanne are all very helpful and understanding. Their encouragement and support helped us all to keep going even when the assignment where getting on top of us. Thanks to them they were great! I would encourage anyone to do the course, its hard work but worth it!


My Experience on the VTOS Healthcare Course

by Michael Hussey

I have found the QQI Level 5 VTOS Healthcare Support course challenging but never dull. The subject matter in each module is interesting and all of the tutors I have had on the course are excellent. The staff in Sarsfield House, Balbriggan, have been very supportive, professional and friendly. The modules on the course are: Palliative Care, Care Skills, Care Support, Safety and Health at Work, Communications, Care of the Older Person, Human Growth and Development, Infection Prevention & Control.

I can’t think of anything negative to say at all regarding my experience of the course. I started the course September 2015 and I am currently doing work experience. The tutors I have on this course have been consistently excellent and I have learned a lot from them. They are passionate about their work and have many years of experience and are all very wise. Marks 10/10.