20 April, 2021 | Posted by Michelle Hogan

Secondary Schools: How to Engage Students With Third Level Education

Secondary School Portobello Institute TY Graduation Leaving Cert

Building the foundations for further and higher education is an important part of secondary school.

Forging a pathway to third level institutions has typically involved fifth and sixth year students attending open days as they make big decisions about their futures.

Portobello Institute welcomes this engagement with secondary school teachers, career guidance counsellors and students who wish to form those bonds. But we also encourage further, deeper engagement so students know all of their options and make informed decisions.

Bright futures begin with education and Portobello Institute works to make education accessible through a close knit community of staff and students, engaging tutor support, small class numbers, providing quality qualifications, modern courses, a range of delivery methods to suit individual needs and easy payment plans.

Here are some ways we encourage secondary schools to engage students with third level education:

Organise a Virtual Open Evening For Your Class

Portobello institute is happy to provide tailored virtual open events to classes of students from TY to sixth year. These open evenings involve a presentation to make them aware of our programmes in early years, business of fashion, sport and SNA and a Q&A to answer their questions. We are happy to discuss how our programmes, degrees and master programmes are delivered, what will be taught and employment or further education opportunities that are available upon successful completion of our courses. We currently offer virtual open evenings.

Complete a Module From One of Our Programmes During TY

At Portobello Institute we are happy to deliver modules to TY groups who receive certification upon successful completion as well as knowledge and new life skills preparing them for higher education. The module is structured throughout the academic year, students engage with a third level standard of education and gain real-world experience outside of the school setting. Portobello Institute successfully partnered with the Teresian School in Donnybrook to deliver a fashion buying module to their TY class, read about their experience and feedback here 

Invite Tutors and Programme Managers to Talk at Your School

Tutors, lecturers and programme managers are generally passionate about education and want to nurture future potential students towards a pathway that will benefit the student and help them to achieve their life goals. Inviting a third level lecturer or course manager to your school to talk about the programmes they work on can help to explain pathways, entry requirements and job opportunities to secondary school students as well as setting out an honest explanation and understanding of the work involved in each course.

Educate Secondary School Students on Alternative Routes to Education

There are so many ways to reach your education goals but sometimes you don’t hear about these in secondary school as so much focus is on the Leaving Cert and CAO. At Portobello Institute we believe that there is always a way to achieve your education goals whether that is through traditional routes or by exploring other options. Engaging with alternative routes to education is essential so secondary school students know that there is more than one way to do what they want after school. As Portobello celebrates 40 years of education this year, we have seen time and time again how exams don’t go to plan on the day, results that were expected don’t come through, mistakes were made on the CAO, or a student has simply changed their mind. Letting students know about other options like studying abroad, taking their course in stages rather than a four-year degree and things like internships and apprenticeships will help them to broaden their scope of possible pathways and engage with a more diverse range of colleges.

Educate Students on the National Framework of Qualifications


When secondary students understand how the NFQ works, they are opened to a world of possibilities about different pathways they can use to further their education. Knowing that you can study a Level 6 in ECCE and Montessori qualification after school and become qualified to work in one year which could allow you to work full time in early education while you continue with your Level 7 and Level 8 degrees through blended learning can open up a whole new world to students and broaden their interaction with different third level institutions.

Engage with Third Level Institutions Online

If you want to build secondary school student’s relationship with third level institutions, encourage them to follow us online. We regularly post content that appeals to younger age groups and it allows them to build this online relationship so they can be aware of what is happening and what courses are on offer while connecting with the tone of the college and staying up to date with changes, course start dates, open evenings and application processes. Find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and check out our Knowledge Zone

Pick up the phone! 

Here at Portobello Institute, we love to chat! Our expert advisors are on hand to answer any questions you might have about any of our courses. One way to build a pathway to further education is simply to talk to us about your options. Every student matters at Portobello and we work with individuals to meet their needs as best we can. Encourage secondary school students to pick up the phone and chat to us or teachers and parents can call us on their behalf. We can help clear up any questions you might have quickly and easily putting students in a better, more relaxed and informed position.

Portobello Institute is here to engage with secondary school studentsteacherscareer guidance counsellors, parents and guardians in any way.

We are open to your ideas whether it’s a TY group who want to complete a module, an open event, a chat with our programme managers or simply engage with our Knowledge Zone and follow us on social media to start getting to know us!

To reach out about engaging further please contact our Director of Enrollment, Brandon McLean, by emailing brandon.mclean@portobelloinstitute.com or call (0)1 892 0035.

Portobello Institute offers a range of further and higher education courses, check them out here

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