AONTAS Strategic Plan 2023 - 2026

Leading Collective Action for Social Change

Our Strategic Plan for 2023 and beyond sets out the changes AONTAS wants to see in the coming years, and how we will work toward making these changes happen. 

As part of the Strategic Plan, we updated our Vision and

Mission. These set out what kind of world we want to see (our Vision), and the part we can play in achieving this (our Mission).

Our Vision

A world where the pursuit of learning for all adults is valued, equal, and strengthens communities.

Our Mission

To advocate for empowering adult learning that drives social equality, justice, and collective action across the island of Ireland.

Our Membership

AONTAS’ work is informed by the experience and needs of our members. These are learners, individuals and organisations who are committed to the principles of adult learning and its transformative power.

Our Principles

Social Justice

Support Social Inclusion


Valuing Diversity

Advancing Equality


A group of learners from Special Olympics Ireland celebrate winning a STAR Award for Health & Wellbeing

How we developed the Strategic Plan

We worked with external consultants Mantra Strategy to recognise and clarify how AONTAS can best support adult learners and educators. Earlier this year, we gathered ideas and feedback from all of our stakeholders. Almost 200 people took part in one-to-one interviews, workshops, or public consultation meetings. This included our team and Board, adult learners, adult learning providers, the organisations and government departments we work most closely with including SOLAS, ETBI and DFHERIS, and AONTAS members. Mantra Strategy used this data along with comparator, SWOT and PESTE analyses to identify themes and insights. These informed the objectives and goals that form

the basis of our Strategic Plan.

A Catalyst for Change: The Objectives of the Strategic Plan

In their review, Mantra Strategy identified a high degree of

recognition and respect for AONTAS within the Adult and Community Education sector. We wish to build on this strong reputation and use it to expand our reach and contribute to positive social change. To reflect this, the Strategic Plan uses the word ‘change’ in each of our objectives. These are:

1.  Connect and engage the sector to enable change

AONTAS have strong experience in bringing people and organisations together from across the Adult Learning and Community Education sector – we will use this experience to enable change to happen

2. Advocate for change

As an established advocacy-based organisation, we will challenge and address social inequality in the context of adult learning

3.  Empower the change

We recognise that to achieve our mission, AONTAS must be a supportive environment that supports professional development

and encourages innovation and new ideas

Adult learners discussing sustainability at an AONTAS event

Working to Achieve Change: The Goals of the Strategic Plan

Each objective has associated goals. All of our work in the coming years will contribute towards achieving these goals.  

Three adult learners work together at an AONTAS Learner Forum

Connect and Engage

the Sector to Enable Change

Goal 1.  Provide a structured platform for voices and input to be heard from across the Sector

Goal 2. Inform national research on the importance of social equality

Goal 3.  Build capacity within the sector by enabling professional development, sharing knowledge and strengthening networks

Advocate for Change

Goal 1.  Strengthen and develop the AONTAS organisational voice

Goal 2. Evidence and highlight how adult learning is impacted by social inequality

Goal 3.  Inform and influence stakeholders and the wider public

AONTAS Head of Advocacy facilitating a workshop with learners
AONTAS STAR Awards winners pose with their awards for Social Inclusion

Empower the Change

Goal 1.  Develop a socially inclusive framework for AONTAS as an employer

Goal 2. Integrate a problem-solving culture

Goal 3.  Enhance organisational infrastructure and explore diversification of funding

What Does the New

Strategic Plan Mean for AONTAS?

All of our work will be aligned clearly with the identified goals. We will issue an Impact Report every year to track and evaluate our

progress, and better understand which areas may need more support and development. 

 If you have any questions or comments, please contact AONTAS CEO Dearbháil Lawless at

a diverse group of adult learners pose with their STAR Award

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