iScoil began in 2009 and emerged from a collaboration with NotSchool UK. Before launching as iScoil, it operated for 2 years as NotSchool Ireland.
iScoil has been developed for students between the ages of 12 and 16 who have disengaged from the school system. Students include school phobics, students suffering from depression and behavioural problems and students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Funded by the Presentation Sisters, iScoil currently caters for 50 learners located in five clusters around the country - Dublin, East Coast, Longford, Limerick and Galway. It does not at this time receive any funding from the Dept of Education or other government agencies although this is being actively sought. Referrals to iScoil generally come through government agencies of some sort.
iScoil is based on blended learning where students receive both online tutoring and face-to-face workshops. The students are assigned a mentor who identifies the student's interests, facilitates their learning and helps them to work towards a FETAC accreditation. The students are not bound by a class timetable but can participate throughout the day and at their own pace as the server is open from 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.
iScoil is an online learning community offering an alternative path to further education and employment.Current studies estimate that as many as eight hundred young people in Ireland do not transfer from primary to post-primary school each year. iScoil students generally progress on to either YouthReach programmes or FAS or other training options or alternatively continue their eduction in a traditional school.
Online learning is based on a moodle based service which offers various modes of learning content. Most of this is asynchronous although some instant messaging is used and other synchronous means are being investigated. Students also meet on occasion in small groups for face-to-face group work.
iScoil is based on the premise that significant numbers of students are not progressing successfully through the current mainstream system.
Within this context iScoil aims to:
- Engage young people in learning
- Build confidence and self esteem
- Offer Accreditation opportunities
- Support progression to further education and employment
iScoil operates with 4 full time staff and about 8 part-time teachers. Teachers are either mentors who work with groups of up to 6 students or subject specialists who devise the learning pathway and curriculum for individual students.
The iScoil web site is at http://www.iscoil.ie.