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Cork City Learning Forum


Lord David Puttnam, noted education policy advisor, speaks to Cork City Learning Forum on the topic,

'How can we Best Prepare today’s Second Level Students for the Future they Face?’. Read Lord Puttnam's address here

Cork City Learning Forum

Established in January 2003 under the auspices of the Cork City Development Board (CDB), the Cork City Learning Forum brings together all learning stakeholders in education and training in Cork City, from early childhood learning to higher education, community education to work-based learning initiatives.

Learning is a key strategic theme within the City Development Board's Strategy ( “Imagine our Future”), which sees Cork as a place where:

“access to learning is available to all levels and ages, where there is a provision to address the diversity of learning needs within the City, where there is an ethos of quality underpinning the provision of continuous learning opportunities for all, where the City will become recognised as a centre of learning nationally and internationally, and where information and knowledge are available to act as catalysts for creativity and learning” (Cork City Development Board, 2001).

The Learning Forum is a key mechanism in achieving this vision. By bringing together all the stakeholders – policy makers, education providers and learners – it facilitates an integrated and citywide view of issues affecting learning in the city.

Forum Members

The membership of the Forum is broadly based, involving early childhood education, primary and secondary education, tertiary education and training, higher education, providers and learners, community education, trade unions, the private sector, and other relevant public service providers. Members are nominated to the Forum by their representative bodies/networks and report back to their nominating body on the activities of the Forum. 

Forum Operating Structures


1. Steering Committee

A Steering Committee guides and oversee the work of the Forum, liaises with other interest groups and assists the City Development Board in monitoring the education actions within the strategy. This Steering Committee includes representatives from education providers, social partners, learners, the community sector and others.

2. Forum Plenary Sessions

In general the Forum meets in plenary session twice each year. Plenary meetings provide an opportunity for all Forum members to meet. Each meeting includes a report back on activities from the Forum Working Groups. In addition each meeting includes a number of keynote presentations, and workshop discussions.

Reports on Plenary Sessions can be accessed by selecting this link.

Working Groups

A number of Forum working groups have been established to progress particular items of the work for the Forum and report back regularly to plenary meetings. Membership is open to any Forum member or other interested party. There are currently three thematic working groups focussing on:

  1. Lifelong Learning The key achievement of this working group has been the development of the Cork Lifelong Learning Festival which has taken place since 2004. The aim of the festival is to promote and celebrate learning in all its forms, and to raise awareness of the wide range of learning opportunities available for all age groups in Cork city. In particular it seeks to target people who may not normally participate in learning, and help bring learning out into the open with many free and accessible events in city centre and local venues.
  2. The Economic Aspects of Learning The Working Group decided to focus initially on ways to promote participation in science. Its first initiative was to organise a conference which took place on 13th November 2003, during Science Week. Entitled “Science, Technology and Education – Keys to Cork’s Future”, the event brought together primary, secondary and third level education, with guidance counsellors and science teachers, and local industry to consider the link between science education and economic success, examine the drift from science, and seek to identify areas of practical co-operation. Speakers included Sean Dorgan of IDA, Paul Kelly of the Dept of Education and Science, and a local industry speaker. Following on from the conference, the working group sourced funding for and organised an interactive science and technology exhibition, which took place in March 2005. Discovery 2005 provided an opportunity for over 4,500 school children from across Cork City and County to attend the first ever interactive science exhibition in Cork, which has successfully evolved into an annual event, the Discovery Science Festival
  3. Working Group on Access and Participation :The group undertook a survey on the recruitment and selection of mature students in higher and further education in Cork, aiming to establish baseline information on:
    • The level of participation of mature students.
    • How they apply for places and what alternative entry routes exist?
    • What links exist between further and higher education?
    • What policies exist towards the recruitment of mature students and how do institutions seek to promote participation among mature students?
    • What fees are payable and what financial supports exist?
  4. Retention Group: his group aimed to encourage the dissemination of Best Practise in secondary school retention, by making the experience of School Completion Programme co-ordinators available to schools which are not part of this programme.

For further information on any aspect of the Cork City Learning Forum contact Marcela Whelan, Learning Forum Development Worker

Tel: +353 21 4924044
Fax: +353 21 4924074