Delvin Youthreach opened in 1991, the centre was based in the courthouse on the main street of Delvin where it remained until it was demolished in 2005. Being located in the courthouse had its advantages, because court was held on the last Friday of every month all classes had to cease much to the delight of the students. Kathleen Wright was the Co-ordinator of the programme until her retirement in 1998.
When the programme opened there were 20 students. Subjects included Computers, Sewing and Crafts (May Nash), Woodwork, Electronics along with Life skills, Maths and Communications. May is still a key member of staff in the centre.
In February 2000 Bridget Geagan was appointed as Co-ordinator. 2005 brought big changes to Delvin Youthreach, we moved from the Courthouse, which was demolished, to temporary accommodation in Castletown Court. In order to help us settle in and as part of their art course students completed a mural on the wall of the computer room, it was a great team building exercise and the results are there for all to see.
Delvin Youthreach has changed a lot since back in the late 1980’s but this change has always been driven by the needs of the early school leavers attending the centre. The centre is housed in two units in the new courtyard complex which is situated on the site of the courthouse.
Staff numbers are 2 full-time and to 10 part-time teachers including services from a counsellor and SOLAS Advocate.
The centre now caters for 25 students. The typical student is very different today from the early days when several members of the one family would attend the centre and where all students were from the immediate locality. Students are now younger and from many different areas, many students are also in families who have just recently moved to Co. Westmeath.
The current staff endeavours to provide the best possible learning environment in the centre and we feel that the work we are doing is testimony to our commitment to the young people we work with.
Youthreach is delivered through SOLAS and is a central part of the Government’s contribution to the achievement of a lifelong learning society.
The staff at Delvin Youthreach are committed to meeting the educational needs of our students to help us document the work carried out in the centre we take part in Youthreach’s Quality Framework Initiative (QFI). The aim of the Initiative is to develop and implement a quality assurance system that would lead to continuous improvement in the service offered by centres and in a manner that meets the needs of students, staff and management.
We started this process in 2007 with a three year centre plan the plan covered areas from policy making to a review from students, with actions to carry out over the three year period. Every year we collaborate to develop a Centre Evaluation & Improvement Plan. This involves centre staff creating an annual plan with actions to be carried out throughout the year, with funding from the DES for two days facilitation. Our facilitator is Ann Marie Beattie who continues to be a great help to us with this process. As Youthreach is a Centre of Education we are visited by the DES inspectorate.
Youthreach is great because you get treated like an adult and have more freedom than you would if you were at school