At a gala dinner and award ceremony in the historic dining hall at Lady Margaret Hall, one of 38 colleges at Oxford University, CFES Brilliant Pathways CEO & President Rick Dalton recognized 11 Irish schools for their historic accomplishments over the last five years.
The schools, part of the Trinity College Dublin’s access program, are “one of the reasons why Ireland has achieved historic gains in the percentage of citizens attaining college degrees over the last quarter-century,” said Dalton, while addressing 120 Irish and British educators at the Transforming Education conference.
“You’re moving the needle in your schools, in your communities, and in your country. We know that when you change a young person’s life trajectory, you lift up way more than one student. You lift up a Family,” said Dalton.
Since 2013, the 11 Irish schools have participated in the CFES pilot program led by Trinity College officials, where they have used CFES practices—Mentoring, Pathways to College and Leadership through Service, as well as other teaching and learning strategies—to achieve “tremendous success,” according to Cliona Hannon, director of Trinity Access Program. Ninety percent of the school graduates in the pilot are pursuing postsecondary studies, while all 11 schools have built strong college-going cultures and innovative teaching and learning practices.
The success of the pilot program has lead Oxford to adopt its own pilot to admit low-income students over the last two years and according to Alan Rusbridger, former Editor-in-Chief of the Guardian newspaper and current Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Cambridge University will be following Oxford’s example and admitting a cohort of underserved students in the next year.
During the first day of the conference, Lee Elliot-Major, professor of social mobility at University of Exeter, spoke about the high inequality in Great Britain. Elliot-Major noted that private tutors who are hired by wealthy families give their children an even greater advantage in entering Britain’s prestigious universities.
In the final keynote of the conference, Dalton equated these private tutors to independent educational consultants in the United States who orchestrated the college admissions scandal, where one counselor from California helped kids from wealthy families cheat on tests and lie about athletic accomplishments.
“Those children who need help the least, get the most support on the path to college. We need to make sure that our low-income children have those same supports,” said Dalton.
As part of its ongoing strategy to level the playing field, over the next 12 months, CFES will train and credential 500 college and career advisors who will support low-income students.
“Trinity Access and CFES have transformed our school,” said Daragh Nealon, counselor at Saint Joseph’s Rush, one of the pilot schools.
“The transforming education initiative began five years ago for us, and all of us now feel the wind at our back,” said Nealon.