Principal’s Address Summer Term 2019

Rockboro School

Dear Parents,

As we are fast approaching the end of our school year, I would like to remind you of some of the events that have taken place this year for our children and teachers and provide you with some up-dates for the academic year 2019/20.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful, and hopefully sunny, summer holidays. I look forward to seeing you in September and to welcoming all our new pupils to our ever growing family.

Parent/Teacher Communication

Group Parent/Teacher meetings were re-introduced for all classes from Pre-School to J6, these were held over the first few weeks of term after drop off in the mornings. These meetings gave parents an opportunity to meet the class teacher and get an over view of expectations for the year ahead. As they were so well received by parents they will continue next September.

Written reports were provided twice this year, in late January and in late May.

Parents were also formally invited to meet individually with their child’s class teacher during the month of February.

On a more informal basis, parents had the opportunity to make an appointment at any time of the year to meeting with the class teacher or principal to discuss children’s progress or any other matters of interest. Of course you can always have a quick chat at 8:30am drop off or 2:55pm pick up, provided the teacher is available!

Homework Club

Homework Club began on Monday 10th September. Mr. Tony Horan is now running the Homework Club. This runs from 2:55pm until 5pm / 5:30pm Monday to Thursday. This was used by parents on a regular basis or occasionally as suited individual families.

After School Activities

After School Activities this year began the week beginning Monday 17th September. This allows us to organise tutors and coaches and gives the children time to settle in and get used to the school routine.

Monday:  Junior Art (Ms. Lewis) Senior Glee (Ms. Standley)

Tuesday: Senior Soccer (Mr. Long) Senior Art (Ms. Lewis)

Wednesday: Ballet (Ms. Audley)

Thursday: Hockey (Ms. Warde) Junior Soccer (Mr. Long) Junior Glee (Ms. Standley)

Friday Yoga

Maria Hernandez, mum of Danny in J2, who is a qualified yoga instructor, began giving a 30 minute yoga class to children from pre-school to J6 on Friday mornings from 8:45 to 9:15am on Friday 9th November. This continued for the full year. We are very grateful to Maria for her time and patience with all of us.

Cake Sales

All proceeds from the cake sales go directly to the hosting class for equipment or improvements chosen by the class teacher.

Our first Cake Sale was held on Wednesday 25th September by J5 &J6, they raised €240.00.

J4 Cake Sale was held on Wednesday 21st November. They raised €240.

J3 Cake Sale was held on Wednesday 23rd January. They raised €307. This includes the proceeds from a Mary Poppins cake raffle the previous week. A special thank you to Angela for providing this amazing cake!

J1 & J2 held their cake sale on Monday 4th March.  €243.00 was raised. This was the first time that we changed from Wednesday to Monday.

Junior &Senior Infants held their Cake Sale on Monday 1st April. They raised €275.00

Our Pre-School Cake Sale was held on Monday 13th May. €242.80 was raised.

We really appreciate the fabulous efforts that all our parents go to each year baking cakes both big and small and then supporting the other sale by buying cakes and raffle tickets. Thank you to everyone!

Staff CPD (Continuous Professional Development) Training

During the summer holidays every year, many of our teachers attend CESC (Cork Education Support Centre) organised week long curriculum development courses covering all aspects of primary teaching.

The pre-school teachers, Tina Lee, Mags Story and Alison Hill attended The Cork Early Years Network Conference on Saturday 29th September

A Maths Planning day was held on Monday 6th November. This involved all our primary school class teachers. Principal Susan Dwane, facilitated the day. The Maths curriculum was revised and extended; we hope this will put us ahead of the standard in the national school system.

On 6th & 7th October, Tina Lee our pre-school manager, attended a course which was run by PECS and provided training in picture Exchange Lamh system.

A Science Planning day was held on Monday 7th January. The Science curriculum was revised and extended; we this will put us ahead of the standard in the national school system. Our day was facilitated by Naoimh Riordan, who did a wonderful job, going through the most up to date curriculum and experiments with the teachers.

School finished for all classes at 12:30pm on Thursday 14th February to facilitate a staff meeting. Among the items discussed was a revised Healthy Eating Policy, which we will be implementing next September.

Susan Dwane, principal, attended A Child First Child protection Training Day facilitated by Bernardos in The Vienna Woods Hotel on Thursday 28th February.

A STEM training day was held in the school on Monday 28th April for all teachers. The focus was on Life Sciences. The day was facilitated by Alice D’Arcy Ph.D and we covered the following topics: The Nature of Science in relation to life Sciences. Introduction to cells and the nature of life starting with cells. Cell cultures. Introduction to genomics and DNA (DNA extractions using human and plant cells). Making DNA molecules. These are topics that are not covered in the National School system. This training means that we can provide more advanced science that currently covered in the National Schools.

Staff meeting will be held on Thursday 11th April at 12:30pm. Among items discussed were academic books for the coming year, school tours and the science curriculum.

A Child Protection Training Day was held in the school on Monday 20th May from 9am until 3pm approx. It is extremely important that all our staff are trained in child protection procedures and policies, can recognise the signs of abuse and know how to proceed. Keeping our children safe is a priority. We are currently the only primary school in which all staff have been certified in child protection

For the month of May Christine Hyde and Tracy Slattery are attending an Aistear course after school on Wednesdays run by the CESC.

Visits to the School/School Events

The Lord Mayor paid his annual visit to the school on Monday 8th October at 10am. The children were given their homework off that day by the Lord Mayor, Cllr. Mick Finn. We were also invited to pay a visit to the Lord Mayor in his office, which took place on Tuesday 13th November at 11am.

On Wednesday 10th October at 9:30am all pupils from J1 to J6 participated in a Skype Conference Call with Adain Crowley from the European Space Agency. The call lasted an hour and a half during which time Adain answered questions from the children. I would like to thank Ms. Riordan for organising this event.

All classes were involved in carving Halloween Pumpkins which were then displayed at the Halloween party on Thursday 25th October. Thank you to all the parents who volunteered their time to come and help with this activity.

Also in November, we ran a competition in Rockboro School to name the two decorative giraffes at the entrance to Fota. This was organized by the Gossett family (J4). All our students picked two names each and the winners were chosen by the staff in Fota Wildlife Park. The winners were: Jack Lynch Junior Infants (Giraffe name: Lionel) Siena Gossett J4 (Giraffe name: Garrett). It would be great, if at some point, a plaque with the Giraffes’ names and our winners and school on it could be organized this might include a trip to Fota for the whole school!

Our Christmas concert took place on Thursday 20th December 2018 at 12pm. It involved all classes. The pre-school opened the proceedings with a selection of Christmas songs. This was followed by a combined effort of all classes performing ‘The Muppets Christmas Carol’. A huge thank you to all the children who worked so hard and the teachers who all helped in making sure everything ran smoothly on the day.

For the second and third terms this year J6 had a weekly lesson in Public Speaking with Mrs. Nuala Healy. We are very grateful for her continued presence in the school, the children are extremely lucky to have exposure to Public Speaking from such an experienced teacher.

Thank you to Naoimh Riordan for applying to CESC grant for an Artist in Residence (worth €1,000). The Artist we were assigned was Kathy D’Arcy, a poet. She had 10 contact hours with our students which resulted in the publication of a book of poetry with a poem from every child in the primary school. This was tied in with our 50th anniversary celebrations (1969 – 2019), the teachers and children were delighted with the results!

During the month of February, Tony Horan, a J3 parent, taught Critical Thinking to J3 for an hour on Monday afternoons. I would like to thank Tony for giving up his time to work with J3. The children loved it and benefited greatly from the experience.

The author of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, Cressida Cowell, held a Skype conference call with pupils from J1 to J6 on Wednesday 6th March at 2pm for 45 minutes. The children had prepared in advance by reading excerpts from the books and completing worksheets. Thank you to Naoimh Riordan for organising this event.

We held our World Book Day on Wednesday 13th March; all pupils were invited to dress up as their favourite character and to bring in the book. Thank you to all the parents who went to such effort, the costumes were incredible.

A Biodiversity Workshop, sponsored by Bord Gais, was held in the school on Wednesday 20th March for children from J3 to J6. We had a wonderful afternoon, beginning with a power point presentation by Barry from Wildlife Management Ltd. We then moved outdoors for the rest of the afternoon. Three new bird boxes were put up in our trees and a state of the art 5 star bug hotel was built and filled with bugs of all sorts that the children collected from around the school grounds! It is located on the side wall of the Library.  Our thanks to Julie O’ Donoghue for this fantastic collaboration with Bord Gais!

Birds of Prey’ paid a visit to the school on Thursday 21st March along with ‘Owlette’! This was sponsored by Trabolgan. All classes were invited to meet the Norwegian Dark Breasted Owl called Olaf and listened to a very interesting talk about Birds of Prey. The children also had their photo taken with Owlette.

Our Taispeantas (Display of Work) was held in the school on Thursday 11th April. Children’s work was displayed around the school. This covered all subject, including very impressive J6 electronics projects. Thank you Ms. Aoife Healy for all the hard work that went into this. Our Taispeantas included an Irish show in which all classes preformed in Irish, the children really enjoyed preparing for this and we hope to make it an annual event.

A dental hygienist paid a visit to Pre-School on Tuesday 3oth April. She spoke to the children about their teeth and how the brush them.

On Wednesday 1st May Oisin from Heritage Ireland spent the full day with the children from Junior Infants up to J2. They focused on birds, but also covered a lot of other areas. About one third of the day was spent outdoors. The children were all very enthusiastic and enjoyed the day.

Charity Fundraising

On Wednesday 10th October we held a non-uniform day at the request of the Lord Mayor and the money raised, €218, has been donated to Marymount Hospice. Thank you to everyone for their generosity.

Funky Socks Day was held on Thursday 21st March in conjunction with World Down Syndrome Day. The children were asked to donate €2 each through the school in aid of Down Syndrome Cork. All classes also watched a video explaining a little about Downs Syndrome to them and had a discussion in class. We raised €215.18. Thank you to Dee O’ Driscoll for suggesting that we get involved and to everyone for taking part and contributing.

All classes took part in our fundraising event for the Irish Cancer Society on Tuesday 30th April. We all danced for about half an hour to the song chosen by the public ‘Shut up and Dance’ to open and close the dancing, with some other tunes in the middle. €179.30 was raised for this worthy cause.

School Trips

Junior Infants to J2 paid a visit to a pumpkin Farm near Midleton on Wednesday 24th October. They had a great day and tasted lots of produce from the farm. A bus was organised to transport the children there and back.

On Tuesday 13th November, all classes from Pre-School to J6 paid a visit to the Lord Mayor at his office in the City Hall. Cllr. Finn was delighted with the cake that the school presented to him today, a huge thank you to Angela Dwane who made the very impressive cake, which was decorated with the school crest, the crest of Cork City and the Lord Mayor’s chain of Office. He was also presented with a framed poster drawn by Etain Finn-Henry (J3) which combined the ‘We are Cork’ campaign and the ‘I can…’ initiative. The poster was signed by all the children from Junior Infants to J6. The children made paper chains of the Lord Mayor’s chain and some art work by J5 &J6 was also presented to Cllr. Finn. A group photo of the school with the Lord Mayor on the steps of City Hall was in Friday’s Evening Echo.

On Wednesday 14th November J3 to J6 attended a Science Engineering Workshop in Republic of Works on the South Mall, titled “Ingenious Engineers of Ireland”. It was sponsored by Science Foundation Ireland for Science Week. This was a highly creative and exciting science and engineering show which explored some of the amazing scientific discoveries and engineering feats by Irish Scientists covering the last 350 years. It provided an opportunity to study many science concepts such as flight, the fire triangle, electricity, acid/base (alkali) reactions, neutralization, the properties of solids, liquids and gases, periodic tables, forces, pressure and energy changes. It also provided fun ways for everyone to engage in the process. These included observation, experimentation, investigation, discovery and generation of questions. All of the students present thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and I would like to thank Ms. Riordan (J4) for organizing our participation in this event.

Children from J3, J4, J5 & J6 took part in the annual Credit Union Quiz in Blackrock Hurling & Football Club on Sunday 3rd February. They had great fun both preparing for it and competing on the day. Well done to all and thank you to Naoimh Riordan and Aoife Healy for preparing the children for this event.

Junior Infants to J2 attended a wonderful performance of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes at 11am on Wednesday 27th February in the Everyman. The children had a great morning.

Pupils from J4, J5 & J6 attended a workshop on engineering in Blackrock Castle Observatory on Wednesday 6th March from 10am to 1pm. Children were introduced to engineering using specially designed electronic kits. The format was a mixture of learning about the basics of electricity and building their own electric circuits. The visit included a planetarium show. Thank you to Aoife Healy for organizing this.

All classes went on school tours in the month of May. Junior Infants to J4 trips were held on Wednesday 8th May. Pre-School went on Thursday 9th May and on Wednesday 15th May J5 & J6 went on school tours. Junior & Senior Infants went to Blarney Castle gardens and a fairy forest. J1 & J2 went to Rosscarbery for a water activity day J3 & J4 went to Cragnaneoin (crannog and Norman castle) for the day. On Thursday 9th May Pre-School went to ‘Chukies’ for the morning.  J5 & J6 went on Wednesday 15th May to Ballyhasse, for a water based activity day.

Staff Changes

We said a fond farewell to one of our long standing pre-school assistants, Ms. Joan Lynch and welcomed on board Ms. Alison Hill as a new member of staff.

Administrator Debbie Booker finished officially on Wednesday24th October and our new administrator, Sarah Coveney began on Monday 6th November. We were sad to say goodbye to Debbie following her 8 months in the school and we wish her all the best in her new career. Sarah has been a great asset to the school, especially with her expertise in finance. Sarah decided that she would like to advance her career and focus on the area of finance, and so we welcomed Amada Higgins to the role of Administrator in February, we are fortunate that Sarah continues to work part time for the school in the background, working on finance.

Our TEFL Teacher Saskia O’Neill, decided not to return this year, Ms. Tracy covered English language lessons for the first half term. Sara Blustien-O’Donoghue took up the position of TEFL Teacher, on Monday 22nd October and is a great asset to the school.

Fire Drills

Our first Fire Drill of the new school year was held on Thursday 27th September at 10am. All participants were advised of the drill in advance

Our second fire drill of the term took place on Tuesday 20th November at 1:30pm. Only Teachers had advanced notice of this fire drill.

Our third fire drill took place on Tuesday 14th May at 10am. No one had advanced notice.

Standardised Testing

Mircra T tests (English) were carried out in J1 to J6 on Wednesday 5th December. Sigma T (Maths) tests were carried out on Wednesday 12th December in J1 to J6. Results were included in the reports and were discussed with parents at the P/T Meetings which took place in January. Drumcondra Spelling tests were carried out on Tuesday 14th May. Results will be included in the end of year reports.

Whole School Inspection by Tusla

Dr. Pat Naughton (DES) on behalf of Tusla paid a visit to the school on Thursday 17th January. He was here from 10am to 4pm. ‘  He went through a rigorous administrative review with the Principal for about 2 ½ hours. In the afternoon he looked at the buildings and visited the children and teachers in the classrooms. A very positive report was written by Dr. Naughton and has now been finalized. This will be posted on our website in the near future.

50th Anniversary Poetry Book

Kathy D’Arcy began her series of poetry workshops with the children on Monday 4th February.Our Artist in residence at Rockboro Primary School was selected for a Film Documentary on the Arts in Education Portal. J3 & J4 had their second poetry workshop with Kathy D’Arcy on Monday 11th March. J5 & J6 had their first poetry workshop on Thursday 14th March These workshops were filmed, the Cork Education Support Centre choose our idea of having our poems published and put Rockboro forward to be showcased by the Arts in Education website. Our book has been published and distributed to everyone, we are delighted with the results, thank you to all out teachers who worked so hard in conjunction with Kathy D’Arcy to achieve this.

Religious Ceremonies

Three children from J2 made their First Confession with Our Lady of Lourdes National School on Wednesday 13th February at 7pm in Our Lady of Lourdes Church. I would like to thank Susan McCarthy for preparing them so well for their big event. Thank you also to Our Lady of Lourdes School and to Cannon Jim for facilitating us.

On Saturday 25th May is the date for the First Holy Communion, which as usual, is made in Our Lady of Lourdes Church with Our Lady of Lourdes National School.

This year there were no children for Confirmation in J6, which is normally held in March or April.

Music

Rockin’ Reindeers were busy representing the school with their fabulous singing throughout the month of December. This dedicated bunch give up their lunch breaks to practice twice a week. Well done to all our wonderful singers and to Serena Standley for preparing them so thoroughly.

After the first term, Rockboro Singers continue to practice at lunch time.

A number of groups and individuals took part in the Feis Mathiu competitions during the months of February and March. Thank you to Serena Standley for preparing the children for this wonderful Cork tradition.

A special mention to Molly Sorensen (J3) for coming 2nd overall in the under 8’s category out of over 30 other competitors. A great achievement, Congratulations Molly!

Irish Month

We have designated March as Irish Month in the school. All classes covered extra Irish and try to use the language whenever they get a chance. This year there were lots of displays ‘as Gaeilge’ around the school. We also put on a Show ‘as Gaeilge’ at the beginning of our Taispeantas on Thursday 11th March. This was very well received by our parents and we hope to make it an annual event.

Sports

J5 & J6 gave a wonderful gym display on Thursday 7th February at 2pm in the school hall. Parents were invited to attend and all classes came out to watch. Well done to the pupils in J5 and J6 for their fabulous efforts and putting on a great show. And a huge thank you to Julie Warde, who continues to produce fantastic work with the gym class every year.

Our senior hockey team took part in the Annual Inter-Schools Hockey Tournament on Saturday 23rd March

The Hockey Blitz, where children from all the schools are mixed into different teams, took place on Saturday 13th April

Our annual sports day was held on Thursday 2nd May from 9am to 12pm at the running track in the CIT. I would like to thank Ms. Warde for the tremendous job she did organising this event, so that it runs seamlessly. Thank you also to all the teachers and parents who helped out. Well done to all the children for their great efforts and good humour.

The Annual Inter-Schools Soccer Tournament was held on Saturday 11/5/19 in Middleton Rugby Club. Well done to the senior team who just missed out on qualifying for the semi-finals of the event.

The Inter-Schools Swimming Gala took place on Friday 17th May from 2pm until 4:45pm in Bishopstown Leisure World. Our team did very well and we were very proud of them.

Congratulations.

Congratulations to Oisin Drew in J6 who recently sat assessments for Christians Brothers College. Oisin was placed 2nd over-all in his results out of 134 participants. We are very proud of him. What a fantastic achievement!!

Well done to all our J6 students are looking forward to starting in their first choice secondary schools in September.

Congratulations to Louis Kang (J3) who took part in the Hageland Cup, a soccer tournament, in Belgium over the weekend of 25 & 26 May. There were 32 hand-picked teams from across Europe in the Under 9s section, some of whom were affiliated to a professional club. Teams from Belgium, Netherlands, France, Germany, England, Wales and Morocco took part. His team “Cademy” finished top of their group on Saturday with 3 wins out of 3! On Sunday they won 2 and lost 1 meaning they went into 3rd / 4th place final and eventually came 4th out of 32! On top of all that, Louis was top scorer in his team with 4 goals and 2 assists.

Cinema Trip/Positive Reinforcement

This year, at the beginning of the second term, we revised the points system that we use to reward classes for good behaviour. This is usually rewarded with class ‘free time’ at the end of each month. We decided that we would reward one class, with a trip to the cinema at the end of the year. The winning class was based on the most points earned. It was impossible to decide between J4 and J2, therefore both classes went to see ’Pets 2’in Douglas Cinema. We also decided that as there had been a marked improvement in all classes that the other classes could watch a DVD in their classrooms on Tuesday 28th May. This has been a great success and we hope to use this system again next year.

Up Coming Events

Skiing Trip

We are looking at the possibility of organising a skiing trip for parents and children at the Easter Break next year. To Benasque in Northern Spain, this would be for children and parents, organised by Maria Samper and Juan Hernandez (parents of Danny in J2), both fully qualified ski instructors. More details to follow shortly!

New After School Activities

We hope to reintroduce chess as an after school activity in September. Once the children have learned the basics, we would like to set up a mini league where they can play for the Senior and Junior Chess Shields.

We are exploring the possibility of adding two new language clubs to our after school activities for next year; Spanish Club with a focus on conversation and culture and an Irish Club, again with a focus on conversation (40% of the marks for the Leaving Cert are for the oral exam!) and culture.

French

We hope that from September we will be able to increase the time allocated to French at the senior end of the school.

Staff CPD Training:

Next year we will be providing two CPD training days for the staff one in the first term in Gaeilge and one in the second term in Paediatric First Aid, see provisional calendar for dates.

Sparks

We are reviewing whether it will be possible to continue with the Sparks Programme next year. We are currently contacting UCC and the CIT to assess whether post graduate students would be available to provide tuition for our programmes as their schedules have changed this year.

Staff

I have to thank the teachers in Rockboro for their dedication and support this year. Each and every one of them has shown a huge commitment to our school and goes above and beyond their job description on a daily basis. It is an amazing feeling to be part of such a wonderful team and to see the bond exists between the staffmembers.

We are looking forward to all of our current teaching staff returning next September, including Ms. Ciara Dynan, who has been out on maternity leave. As usual at this time of the year we are planning for next September. All parents will be notified of class sizes and teacher allocations once this has been finalised in July. At the moment our numbers are looking very positive for September!

Susan Dwane,

Principal,

Rockboro Primary and Pre-School.