Archive for March, 2010

After-School Clubs: Why?

Each school year we offer the children two ten week cycles of After-School Clubs ( an Autumn Cycle from the end of September to early December and a Spring Cycle from March to the end of May). If you click on the School Clubs button on the website you will find the programme that is currently on offer. A huge amount of effort and time is given to this programme and it is important that the reasons why such priority is given to this programme is made clear to all.
The first and foremost aim of the programme is to enhance the education of the children in the school. To that end the design of the programme and the kinds of clubs that are promoted are in keeping with the aims of the National Curriculum and of the curriculum areas contained within it. Therefore a broad set of clubs ranging across Sport, the Arts, Information Technology and , including, core curricular areas of English, Irish, Maths and SESE are provided. It is envisaged that participation in these clubs by the majority of the children in the school will raise standards of attainment in the school.
The second aim of the After-School Programme relates to our identification of areas in which we wish to become identified as having standards of excellence. As a school we have set out flaghsip areas for which we come to be identified as a centre of excellence. Sport, the Arts, Creativity, Citizenship and Environmental Awareness are these flagship priorities. The teachers in the school have , often, been recruited in accordance with their ability to bring the school in this direction. Again the range of clubs offered provides the opportunity for the children to experience and progress on these fields while, simultaneously, giving the talented teachers in these fields a different outlet in which to express their talents and to gain in professional development and to share their expertise through exemplary practice. The third reason for our prioritising the After-School Club Programme relates to addressing issues of educational and socio-economic disadvantage which applies to many of the children who attend our school. There can be little doubt that the easy access and availalbility of these clubs, in the school premises with trusted teachers, to these children facilitated by the Clubs Programme can but address issues of exclusion and marginalsation that might otherwise be the case. Please feel free to leave a comment.

School Development Plan: A Vision for the next Five Years

All of the communities that make up the school; the children, the teachers, the parents, the care-workers, the Board of Management, DES Inspectorate and the Patron Body ( Educate Together) are invited to become involved in a collaborative process aimed at devising a School Development Plan that will guide the school in its parctice over the coming five years. Already the school is given excellent guidance by a National Curriculum ( 1998 Revised Curriculum) and by the seminal documents “What is an Educate Together?” (booklet, including the Educate Togerther Charter) and by the “Learn Together: The ethical curriculum of Eductae Together Schools”. However, the school must make these curricula and principles come to life and be visible in the daily practice of the school. The school’s first five-year plan ( 2005-2010) imagined the setting up of a number of protocols, flagship activities, policy directions, policy priorities all of which are visible in the life of the school on a day-to-day basis and across the calendar of the school year. Initiatives such as our Arts Week, our Human Rights Month, Our Get Active Week, After-School Programmes and our policies on discipline, enrolment, anti-bullying, multiculturalism, home-school liaison etc are examples of these. But as with any institution there is value in self-reflection and evaluation by others. Perhaps there are new directions that the school should embark upon? Perhaps there are initiatives that are being currently undertaken that could be replaced by new projects and ventures? That is what this process is all about and we look forward to your input and engagement.

What is the difference between a ‘Community National School’ and an ‘Educate Together National School’?

The next new primary school to be estblished in the Balbriggan area will be a Community National School run by the County Dublin VEC, This Patron body already run two very respected schools in the town: Balbriggan Community College and Ardgillan Community College, both second-level schools. This will be only the thrid Community National School in the country.
What is the difference between a ‘Community National School’ and an ‘Educate Together Natonal School’? Both kinds of school share many common principles. Neither school are discrimintaory in the enrolment policies for pupils and , thus, can be said to be welcoming to children from multidenominational and multicultural backgrounds. The essential difference, however, between both schools is the manner in which they go about meeting the obligation on all primary schools to ‘religious’ education, both in terms of the half-hour per day that all schools are obliged to teach and the ethos of the school that will be experienced by the children and their families. In ‘Educate Together’ school the religious-education programme is an ethical curriclum called ‘Learn Together’. Ths programme covers four strands; Moral Development, Equality and Justice. Ethics and the Environment and World Belief Systems. This ethical education programme is internationally renowned and has brought great acclaim to the Educate Together movement. In Educate Together schools Faith Formation ( that part of a religous education programme that teaches children from one specific religion the faith of their own religion and prepares them for the sacraments or milestones of their own religion) takes place after school hours and is organised by the parents from that religion in a voluntary capacity. In contrast, the proposed model for religous education for Community National Schools intends to offer the children from each religion attending the school religous education in their own religion within school hours. Many logisitical issues present themselves with this model, and it would appear that some have yet to be worked out. At the moment, it would appear that there has to be a threshold of at least seven children from one religion before the school will intend to religously educate them in their own religion. It remains unclear what religious education a child from a religion that does not have this threshold will receive, or what will be done with them while the remainder of the children get their religious instruction. Questions arise, too, as to who will teach this proposed simultaneous set of religous-education programmes, and especially whether teachers who are not of that specific faith may be required to teach that faith’s religous-education programme. In summary, ‘Educate Together’ schools teach a common ethical education to all and facilitate Faith Formation Outside of School Hours ( FFOSH ), but Community National Schools teach religous eudcation and Faith Formation Inside of School Hours ( FFISH ). So it’s FFOSH versus FFISH and the differences are substantial reflecting different understandings of multidenominational education and with different implications for children, their families and their teachers, and their teaching and learning.

Sine Flu Vaccination Update

The HSE have just got back to us to inform us that the children from our school, if accompanied by aparent, may receive the H1N1 (Swine Flu) Vaccinations free of charge in the Failte Balbriggan Centre ( formerly the St George’s NS Building) on Hampton Street, Balbriggan from 2.30pm to 3.30pm on Friday March 12th. Parents must ensure to bring along a completed Vaccintation Form which will be distributed to all children in the school this week.

4th Annual Arts Week

On the Home Page of the website today prominence is given to the announcement of the programme for our 4th Annual Arts Week and the comprehensive set of events that will be taking place in the school over the coming days. I would like to take a moment to present the reasons why we as a school undertake this important project as a priority aspect of our school calendar. Like all schools we teach Visual Arts, Music, Drama and Literature each week every week in accordance with the demands of the National Curriculum, and our daily/weekly lessons are second to none in this regard. But Arts Week is an opportunity to do something extra…. and something different. In our Arts Week, and this is our 4th, our goal is that of ‘stimulation’. This is the opportunity for the disposed child to become immersed in the world of the Arts, and perhaps to come to identify himself/herself as an artist. It is an opprtunity, on one hand, to get off the school campus and to see professional Arts, performed by professionals in purpose built venues. Simultaneously, it is an opportuinty for the Arts-oriented teachers, and we are lucky to have so many, to work with commissioned professional ‘outsiders’ on programmes of work in the classrooms with the children. There is no doubt that the educational and emotional responses of the children to Arts Week is engendering in the children faculties of artistic skill and criticism. Any child who attends our school will experience eight Arts Weeks over the duration of their career with us. We’d welcome your comments.


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