St John’s National School
Address: Railway Road
Region: IE025 – South-West (IE)
Post Code: ROI
Telephone 1: +353646642598
Background and Experience
St. John’s N.S. Kenmare is located in the far South West of Ireland some 300km from Dublin and more than 80km. from Ireland’s second city Cork. Geographically it is situated in a very disadvantaged area with roads and communication modes being limited.
The school is located in a rural town whose pupil households are dependent on tourism and farming.
St. John’s N.S. is a newly built and amalgamated co-educational Primary School situated in the heritage town of Kenmare, Co. Kerry. Prior to May 2014 when this school was constructed two separate schools existed one for boys, St. Francis N.S. and one for girls St. Clare’s.
The school now has 420 pupils, 23 teachers and 5 special needs assistants. Our school is very strong on integrating pupils with special needs. We have a specialised Autism Unit which caters for pupils on the autistic spectrum. Some of these pupils travel long distances from other parts of Co. Kerry to attend this unit.
We also cater for more than 30 other children who are integrated into our school system and have special needs including hearing impairment, physical disability, emotional disturbance, dyspraxia and specific learning disabilities. Six full-time teachers are employed to cater for children with special needs.We have 33 nationalities in our school with the majority being from Eastern Europe. 25% of our school population are from families who were not born in Ireland and who emigrated from countries such as Poland, Latvia, Croatia, Chez Republic, Romania to name but a few. Parents of these pupils are predominantly dependant on Social Welfare and some seasonal tourist employment during the summer months.
Another small portion some 10% of our immigrant population work from home on small internet based employment with their home country which is used to supplement their Social Welfare income.
More than 30% of our school population live in social housing. We are concerned that immigrant families whose pupils attend our school are not well integrated into our local community due to a number of factors like language, culture, education and skills.
In our school we are further concerned that a number of immigrants from the Middle East are due to be located to our area and whose pupils will be attending our school in the coming months. We welcome these immigrants but are concerned for their social, emotional and economic welfare.
In this light we endeavour to incorporate intercultural projects into our curriculum such as taking part recently in a Comenius project with other partner schools throughout Europe, where we learned about celebrating each other’s cultures using school based projects and through staff and pupils.
To further our mission we also take part in a wide variety of projects including Green School project with various environmental projects both school and community based. We are currently working on the theme of biodiversity and have recently been adjudicated for a Green Flag.
We also take part in the Junior Entrepreneur project which aims to build on pupil’s entrepreneurial skills and working as a team producing simple business projects as part of a county and national competition. To date the classes have produced a local Cookery Book and a Tourist Guide.
Putting strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy we believe that all children have talents and learn in many different ways. Projects such as the one proposed gives all our pupils the opportunity to discover their multiple intelligences and thus unfold new talents and life-skills which they can use in everyday living. We also have a strong belief that the modern day pupil needed to be equipped with the most up to date knowledge on I.T. and web based tools to enhance learning. Children adapt to these new I.T skills easily and will be able to use them to complete the project tasks e.g. questionnaires, databases, web research, internet communication and PPT’s.
As teachers, our continued professional development needs are becoming more varied with upskilling in the area of special needs, literacy and numeracy strategies, teaching of English to non-national pupils being the main priorities.
Our teachers also deal with a large number of pupils who come from disadvantaged homes and, therefore, require upskilling on teaching of pupils from such backgrounds and give them equal opportunities to access the curriculum and compensate for their social disadvantage. As St. John’s N.S. is situated more than 90km from the nearest University, access to regular teacher inservice and CPD is limited.
As a school with a wide range of social economic backgrounds with a large percentage being disadvantage, our greatest demand is on funding for project such as basic literacy and numeracy programmes, teaching of English for non national pupils, provision of books and IT facilities so that pupils can access the curriculum and training for parents on helping their children with homework, special needs and transition to secondary education.
What are the activities and experience of your organisation in the areas relevant for this project? What are the skills and/or expertise
of key persons involved in this project?
As mentioned in the previous section our school has been involved in a Comenius Project previously so we are very familiar with the skills needed to be actively involved in a partnership type project.
We understand the importance of co-operation, teamwork, flexibility, sharing of tasks and cultural awareness which ensures the success of a project. The skills acquired in previous project can be used to enhance our proposed project and limitations experienced can be used as a learning opportunity.
As mentioned previously our school has been involved in an entrepreneur project which aimed to build our pupils entrepreneur skills by working as a team to produce simple business products which were sold locally. The finished products were production and sale of a local restaurant Cookery Book and a Tourist Guide to Kenmare.
Both pupils and teachers undertook a ten week Junior Entrepreneur course which gave them the skills to become young entrepreneurs. The staff trained continue to work in our school and are very excited with the possibility of using their new skills to facilitate the project planned.
Members of local community organisations with various skills relevant to our project have also volunteered to offer their services during the life of the project.
Mr Denis Courtney is Head teacher in The Irish school. He has been head of the evaluation team for the lifetime of two Comenius projects one in his present school and one in a previous school. He has Co -ordinated the production of project booklets for both of these projects.