iScoil is an online learning community offering young people an alternative path to learning, accreditation and progression.

Interview with Brian Fitzsimons, CEO

Why was iScoil set up?

In 2007, we identified a cohort of young people who, for a range of reasons, had disengaged from mainstream school and had no access to education.

With the emergence of digital technologies, we saw an opportunity to respond to this need in an innovative and transformative way.

What impact has Rethink Ireland had on iScoil?

Support from Rethink Ireland has laid the foundation for our success in recent years. It has enabled us to enhance our offering, develop scalable systems, innovate and pilot partnerships that have become sustainable income streams. During this time we have seen a 300% increase in the number of young people we work with annually.

What are your plans for iScoil’s future?

As a national service, our vision is simple: we want to be able to respond to the increasing demand. Despite iScoil’s growth in student numbers, we continue to turn down high numbers of referrals each year due to a lack of resources. We know that behind each referral is a young person, a family, a community, and we will not stop until we can offer young people access to a quality education they deserve.

iScoil is more enjoyable because we get praised for the things we do and it makes us feel more confident to keep going – Quote from a student

What advice would you give to budding social innovators?

Make your decisions with the user in mind. At iScoil, we keep our students at the centre of our organisational decisionmaking. This value system allows us to partner with like-minded organisations, improve our service and bring people with us as we innovate and grow.

What is your best experience with iScoil?

The best experience is, without doubt, when we hear from our past students and their families. Our students have gone on to become builders, vets, computer programmers, hairdressers, and personal trainers. For many, the opportunity to access iScoil can come at a challenging time in their lives. To hear from past students about how iScoil gave them the opportunity to believe in themselves again, and to change the trajectory of their lives is powerful and energising.

By far the best education experience I’ve had – Quote from a student