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John Lawlor

Bridge 21 / Impact Programme

Awardee 2010

Bridge 21 / Impact Programme
Dara Hogan
Carmel Dunne

Bridge21 is developing a new approach to Irish education that is project-based, collaborative and student led. They aim to provide a model that can be replicated and expanded across the Irish school system.

The Challenge

The education system as it currently exists in Ireland is failing to prepare students for a career in the smart economy and a life in the 21st century knowledge-based society. There is increasing concern that the Irish education system measures average on an international scale - and average is no longer good enough.

If we harness best practice and the things we are good at, we can build an education system that we can be justly proud of and serves the nation for the 21st century. Now is the time to be bold.

The Idea

John Lawlor is a social entrepreneur with a lifelong commitment to the development of young people and a track record in leading change. Over the last 3 years John has developed the Bridge21 organisation through the pioneering Bridge to College (B2C) Transition Year and Bridge21 secondary schools programmes, which delivers a dynamic learning experience for young people. Working with over 1,500 young people, the programmes seek to lift educational horizons based on a new model of team-based workshops and technology-mediated learning.

The Bridge21 Programme brings the dynamism of the proven B2C model directly into schools, making team based learning part of the everyday school environment. This brings the entire curriculum to life, changes teacher-pupil relationships and frees second level education from the dominance of an individualised, teacher-led and exam-focused approach to learning.

The Impact

A new approach to learning would seek to prepare a young person for the challenges of life rather than the requirements of one exam. It would encourage creativity, problemsolving and collaborative skills and a sense of personal responsibility for learning, and would aim to stimulate widescale change within our education system in how young people learn.

The spirit is there in every young person; it has to be discovered and brought to light.

John Lawlor

John Lawlor, Impact Award, 2010

Group picture - Bridge21 MOU The signing of the Bridge21 MOU

John Lawlor speaking at the 2010 AwardsJohn Lawlor speaking at the 2010 Awards


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