A Year of Massive Growth
This year was most likely the year of biggest growth in the history of our school. Indeed, I doubt there are too many schools in existence that have ever experienced a year like it! Our enrolment grew from 156 last year to 220 this year, with the addition of three mainstream classes and our first ever special class for children with ASD, which has been a massive success! In the previous school year, we had a principal, 8 teachers, one SNA, a secretary and a part-time caretaker. We now have a principal, 15 teachers, 5 SNAs, a secretary and a full-time cleaner-caretaker. We undertook a massive building extension in the first term, with the addition of a PE Hall, meeting room, library and GP space, along with numerous classrooms, offices and storage rooms.
Being a caring school became very important to us this year. We worked on numerous projects throughout the school, such as Friends For Life, Zippy's Friends, Restorative Practices, Playworx and, of course, our Golden Book! As a community, we take care of each other. And that makes it a wonderful community to be a part of.
Celebration weeks: We continued to host many celebrations, such as Maths Week and Mother Language Week, and we added in some new ones too, like Active Schools Week and Autism Awareness Week! Many celebrations grew bigger and better this year - Seachtain na Gaeilge being one that stands out, with the introduction of Raidio Citywest, ceilithe and dramaiocht i ngach rang!
Art: Art played a large part in our year, with 2nd class taking part in CRAFTed and with donations of beautiful art work and art installations from members of our community.
Ethical Education: Our programme of visits as part of the Learn Together curriculum started this year and was a great success - every class either visited a place of worship or had a visitor come to the school to talk with them about their belief system. 2nd and 3rd class children also went to the highly-acclaimed drama Aunty Ben in Rua Red, where we had great fun dressing up and learning about accepting difference. We also extended our relationship with our friends in TLC nursing home and different classes visited at different times of the year.
Following whole-school consultation last year, we introduced a thematic approach to teaching the ethical education curriculum and we are very happy with how that is developing.
Home learning: We have been so proud of the children in 2nd and 3rd class who have been trialling a new approach to Home Learning for our school. The projects they have undertaken have blown us away! They are so inspiring! Well done to all the families involved!
Swimming: This year saw our children going to swimming lessons for the first time ever - well done to 2nd and 3rd classes who piloted the swimming programme for us. We look forward to sending 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th classes to swimming classes next year!
Support teaching: This year, the size of our support teaching team doubled. The team did tremendous work in expanding our station teaching and team teaching approach. Every child benefits from these approaches.
Library: We spent the first half of the year fundraising for a large purchase of books for our new school library and the second half of the year redesigning the library space and buying those books. We are very excited at the work progressing there - in secret! And we can't wait for the Grand Opening of the library in the new school year.
Our Community Groups
Management: Our Board of Management welcomed four new members, as did our In-School Management team, including the appointment of our first ever Assistant Principal!
Student Council: Our Student Council got a new lease of life and have been busy in the school. We are also extremely proud to announce that our pupils are leading a fundraising event! The pupils of 3rd class have decided that they would like to see more Science equipment in the school and are working hard on stalls for our Family Fun Day in an effort to raise money for this. We are most proud of them!
Parents' Association: Our Parents' Association have been busy, as always! Along with many coffee mornings and evening meetings, we had our first ever Quiz Night, which was great fun! Parents introduced after-school crafts sessions, which were great for building community spirit and were great fun for all who attended! We also had three clothes collections and a copper coin collection, as well as a Mad Hatter Day, Jersey Day and a Dress Up Day. We had the Scholastic Book Fair too. Lots of fundraising for specific projects took place throughout the school. We are still spending some of that money but are already enjoying play resources, Learn Together resources, books and a brand new parachute, just arrived!
Very importantly, dedicated parents continued to provide the much-appreciated Drop-Off service every morning. I'm sure you will all join me in thanking them for their work on this. It can't be easy to stand out there, come rain, hail or shine, but they do it with a smile and a helping hand and I am sure that we all appreciate that!
Second-level campaign: The campaign for a 2nd level Educate Together school in the area really took off. We have full faith in our parents that this can be achieved, and achieved in time for our children to benefit from it - if you haven't signed up yet, please do so ASAP!
Extra-Curricular Classes and Activities
After-school programme: Our after-schools activity programme grew even further and we extended the activities into late evening, with a number of classes for adults available in our PE Hall on weekday evenings. We introduced school tours for parents and Irish classes for parents. We also invited parents to use our meeting room in-between collection times (1.10 to 2.10 each day). This led to new friendships between families.
Being Irish: It was a big year for Being Irish! We loved collaborating with our neighbours in Citywest and Saggart Community National School (previously called Scoil Niamh CNS) in receiving our Irish flag and in the flag-raising ceremony. We also had a great day out at the St. Patrick's Day parade and festival and we were particularly proud to be chanting a song composed by one of our very own pupils!
The year finished on a great high, not only with Sports Day, school tours and Family Fun Day, but with the announcement that planning permission will shortly be applied for in relation to our permanent building.
What a fantastic community! Led by a dedicated Board of Management, taught by committed and passionate teachers and staff, supported by hard-working and enthusiastic parents and Parents' Association and, centre of it all, our caring, happy and friendly student population! Thank you all so very much for making our school the amazing place that it is. I hope you have a wonderful summer break and I look forward to seeing everyone again at 8.30am on Wednesday 31st August.
Very best regards,