GALLEN COMMUNITY SCHOOL REPORT 2015/ 2016
Gallen Community School is a caring and Christian Community, committed to quality and excellence in education and central to this is our motto “Creideamh and Cultur”. In this environment of faith and nurturing we aim to share with parents the spiritual, moral and intellectual formation of their children. We pursue an educational programme which is broad, balanced and challenging. We pursue a pastoral care system, which encourages self-esteem and promotes a sense of personal and social responsibility. Our goal is the informed student who prizes truth, appreciates the value of learning and is mature and honourable.
August 2015 Appointment of a new Board of Management
A new Board of Management was elected for a three year term. Our school patrons : the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny, the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise and Laois/Offaly ETB nominated St Helena Egan, Mr Kevin Gavin, Mr Frank Kearns, Mr Liam Quinn, Mr Eamon Dooley, Ms Mary McLoughlin respectively. Mr Eunan Healy and Mrs Geraldine Keena were nominated by the Parents Association. Mrs G Keena is also a member of ACCS National Executive. The staff nominees are Ms Deborah Reynolds and Mrs Noreen Sheehan. The Principal Mrs U. Finnegan is Secretary of the Board. Following procedure, Mr Kevin Gavin was elected chairperson of the BOM. Mrs Finnegan is continuing as Acting Principal and Mrs F. Scully as Acting Deputy Principal as Mr John Irwins request for continued secondment was accepted by the previous Board.
At the first meeting in August 2015, time was given over to explaining the role of the Board of Management in a community school. In November 2015 Mr John Irwin (Assistant General Secretary of ACCS) visited the school and conducted an in-service with Board members regarding their role and responsibilities. All agreed it was very worthwhile.
A meeting was held in June 2016 between the principal and the Trustees of Gallen CS. Bishop Francis Duffy, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Mr Joe Cunningham, CEO of Laois /Offaly ETB and Sr. Rowena Galvin, Provincial of the Cluny Sisters travelled to Gallen CS to meet with the principal. It was an informal meeting where the role of the Trustees in the school was discussed. The principal gave an overview of the school year 2015/16 to the trustees. She thanked them for their interest in our school and for their BOM nominees who are very committed Board members and have given a great deal of time to our school this year.
School Development Planning
New Policies ratified by the BOM 2015/2016
- Work Experience Policy
- Out of School Activities Policy
- Policy on Overseas Students completing an Academic Year in Gallen CS
- Job Sharing/ Career Break & Secondment Policy
Policies reviewed and ratified by the BOM 2015/2016
1 Attendance Policy
2 Special Educational Needs Policy
3 Code of Behaviour
Subject Planning meetings and whole school planning meetings were held throughout the year. Some of the Croke Park hours were used to facilitate the formal meetings. During the year many informal meetings also took place.
School Self Evaluation and actions taken in 2015-2016
Literacy and Numeracy Strategy
The Numeracy targets were set out and the whole school focus was to get students to “estimate calculate and check” in all their class and homework assignments A combined Literacy/Numeracy strategy “Word of the Week” was successful in highlighting both areas and every week a new word from Bloom’s Taxonomy was posted on VSware for staff to highlight in their classes.
Following a staff planning meeting in November , we starting to also looking at a strategy for Strand Three . Between Nov. and May, data was collected from staff feedback and students and parents questionnaires. It was decided to focus on “Student Engagement in Learning” for our Strand Three strategy. Plans were discussed on implementing a multifaceted approach on this startegy for September 216. Work begin on preparing to include a new section in the student journal for September 2016.
Three decisions were made this year which impact the curriculum for Sep 2016:
- Science will be one of the core subjects for first years.
- The Transition Years will have work experience every Friday.
- All classes will be of 40 minute duration as per DES circular.
Following the Instructional Leadership course in March 2016 (which three staff members attended sponsored by the Board of Management), all staff were invited to join an SSE group to share ideas and experiences of teaching methodologies that engage students more in the learning process.
In May 2016 there was a French Inspection in the school. The report has not been issued to the school yet.
The Board of Management agreed to fund three staff members to complete the Barrie Bennett Instructional Leadership Course over a two year period, one being the principal or deputy principal . It was open to all staff to express interest . Two staff members along with the deputy principal attended. The first workshop was in March 2016.
In-service was provided for all staff on:
- Leo Hogan of St Marys Academy made a presentation to staff on one hour classes & the importance of engaging students in learning
- Strand 3 – principal and deputy
Staff members attended in-service on a variety of topics including:
CPD for newly qualified teachers.
Science Teachers re: Junior Cycle Framework,
Subject Association Meetings
Assessment of LCVP Portfolio Work,
Guidance Counsellors Supervision
SPHE inservice training
NAPD Annual Conference
ACCS Education Conference,
ACCS , Annual Conference,
ACCS Allocations workshop
Curriculum & Special Needs Education
The school offers a great choice of subjects at Junior and Senior Cycle. While Transition Year is optional the vast majority of students in third year pick it. Students in first year sampled all subjects on a rotational basis throughout the year and only picked their subjects for second year in April. Students in second year continued to follow the new English syllabus.
Support is provided for students with Special Educational Needs. This was done through providing extra class divides in some subjects, withdrawing students from class either individually or in small groups and co-teaching . This year some staff members engaged in team teaching and it is the hope that this will continue next year. Application was made to the Special Education Needs Organisor for resource hours and/or assistive technology as the need arose. Applications were submitted to the State Examinations Commission for Reasonable Accommodations for students sitting State Examinations. Applications were submitted to the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) for Educational Psychological Assessments for students identified as requiring assessment and a number of students were assessed or had assessments reviewed during the year.
The students in our Cluny Centre follow programmes designed to meet their needs in accordance with their IEP’s. Three students completed their Junior Cert and one student completed his Leaving Certificate . Close co-operation is fostered between the co-ordinator and principal with short meetings held after school and a weekly meeting with the principal, co-ordinator and the SNAs which proves to be successful in keeping all staff informed and working as a team.
On November 21st four students from the Cluny Centre took part in the Leinster swimming trials as part of “Team Ballinamere” and between them they won 9 gold medals and two bronze medals !
In March a student in the Cluny Centre won the Group 4 national title in the “Doodle for Google” competition .
Progression from second level
The vast majority of our students progressed on to third level this year with the remainder going to PLC colleges. In Nov. 2015 the Irish Times had Gallen CS listed as second top feeder school in Offaly. The principal reminded Board members that the numbers of students who progress to Higher education each year fluctuates. A lot of factors have to be taken into consideration for each year group and it is important that we highlight the successes of all students who complete a Leaving Certificate and achieve their individual goals. Careers week was marked in the school this year and in Nov 2016 a Careers night is due to take place again following the break last year.
Our Mission Statement highlights Gallen CS as a caring Christian community and all members of staff take an active role in the Pastoral Care of the students as an integral part of their work in the school. A class tutor is appointed to each class group and each year group has a year head. A weekly year head meeting takes place .The Guidance Counsellor and chaplain are available to meet students as the need arises and staff can bring any concerns they have to the attention of the Guidance Counsellor, Chaplain, Deputy Principal and/or Principal. A weekly Pastoral care meeting also takes place which is attended by Principal,Deputy, Resource teacher, Chaplain and Guidance counsellor. A Traffic Light system is used to inform staff of students who need some consideration that week.
A book rental scheme operates in the school. The Parents Association funded two sets of additional books for first years to help alleviate the weight of school bags. School management do not ask parents for a voluntary contribution. During the year we were aware more families are feeling the effects of the economic situation as collection of monies for book rental and mock exams is becoming more difficult but for the scheme to be successful all parents who sign up for the scheme must contribute. Various payment plans were put into place to assist parents with the payments.This issue has been discussed by the Parents Association and at Board of Management meetings throughout the year.
School celebrations take place at the beginning of the year with an Opening year mass and at Christmas we have a Christmas Carol service.In 2015/16 the chaplain promoted the Diocesan John Paul 11 Awards in conjunction with some parents and the Parish Liturgy group. A group of students received bronze medals from Bishop Francis and one student achieved a Gold medal in a ceremony in the Cathedral in Longford in Nov 2015. Some students attended the Youth Congress in January 2016 as part of the mental health initiative “Cycle against Suicide”.
Five targets had to be achieved to achieve School Ambassador status which the school achieved and will be recognised at a ceremony in late September 2016. This initiative will continue next year in an effort to support students in their understanding of mental health and the sources of help that is available in their school and their communities.
The DES did not give a curricular concession this year for a Guidance counsellor but the principal was able to retain the post within the staff allocation . The Guidance counsellor had timetabled classes and one to one counselling accross all years during the year by appointment or referral. She is also a member of the Pastoral care team that had scheduled weekly meetings.
Members of the new Board of Management advised that the school continue to publicise the good work that goes on in the school throughout the year. A member of staff liaises regularly with the local press and sends in articles for publication. Another staff member works with Transition years students to publish an in-house newsletter during the year. The school website is updated every week. This year a new school Newsletter called “Gallen CS News and Views” was compiled and published by a local printing company. Two editions were printed, at Christmas and at the end of year. A copy of both Newsletters was sent to all parents/guardians. Twenty noticeboards were bought in Spring 2016 and Sodexo were happy to put these up for the principal at various places around the school . We want to ensure student work can be displayed and subject departments can avail of them also for different themes and displays during the year.
Positive behaviour and student achievements were recognized and acknowledged at year group assemblies throughout the year and highlighted on the student notice board in the GPA area, on the TY Newsletters, Gallen CS News and Views and on our school website. The Junior Merit awards continued. This year we moved our annual Academic Awards night to one hour on the Friday afternoon before the Halloween break so all the school community could see and be inspired by students who excelled in their house exams and others who excelled in the Junior and Leaving Certificates. These award winners were determined by the results achieved in the State Examinations. A Board of Management Scholarship was given to the student who achieved the highest grades in the Leaving Certificate. Gallen CS scholaships were awarded to all who got more than 500 points in their Leaving Certificate. Subject Departments presented awards for outstanding achievements in particular subjects. Five awards were given for Junior Certifate achievements. We were delighted Ferbane Credit Union sponsored a new Junior Cycle Excellence Award in the form of a Perpetual Cup presented to the student in the school who achieved the best Junior Cert Results.
In May we had End of Year Awards in school for the three junior year groups and prizes, certificates were given for academic success, homework recording /Journal, effort in school, random acts of kindness and attendance awards.
We had a presentation night in school in May for our Junior Rugby team and had a memorable celebration on May 13th in Birr for our All Ireland Ladies and Men’s teams.
Health and Safety
Sodexo continues to offer a comprehensive facility management service to our school. In January a new facility manager was appointed to our school. Weekly meetings between the principal and the Facility Manager ensure health and safety matters are prioritised. Two fire drills were held during 2015/16. A staff member is a safety representative and carried out an annual audit with all the staff in practical subjects. Items of concern were highlighted at the weekly meetings with Sodexo who took the necessary actions. The principal was granted permission by the BOM to seek advice from a Safety Consultant re: reviewing the schools Health and Safety Policy in June 2016 and a review of this policy is ongoing and should be concluded by the end of the first term of 2016/2017.
River flooding January 2016
On January 1st the river Brosna overflowed and water flooded the river bank at the back of our school and blocked the Fire Emergency exits of the school. Sodexo gave great assistance to the principal to ensure the damage was minimal and limited to the lower ground floor. The school principal was in close communication at this time with the Department of Education, Offaly County Council and the Chief Fire Officer. Exam students returned as normal but all other students were not allowed come back for 3 days until the Chief Fire officer confirmed the doors could be opened safely and the bank of the river was secure. The Board of Management discussed this issue at length as did the Parents Association. The principal was asked to write to the Department of Education by both the parents Association and the BOM expressing their concern that this flooding had highlighted two things: there was no security rail along the bank of the river if a fire broke out and students had to rush out through the doors it may be unsafe and also the Fire Emergency Doors must always be able to be opened. The BOM are waiting for a written report from the Department of Education but are anxious to pursue this matter to their satisfaction.
Students participated in a wide range of extra-curricular and co-curricular activities during the past year including:
Juvenile, Junior and Senior football,
First year hurling during PE programme and luchtime.
Junior Maths Competition,
Study Skills Seminars,
Offaly Enterprise Awards,
Young Scientist and SciFest
Maths Week, quiz and competitions,
School Musical “Guys and Dolls”
TY outings & tour to Paris.
Seachtain na Gaeilge,
1st year tour,
Visits to Cinema, Ice skating, Theatre and National Gallery.
We had historic dual wins this year: All Ireland Senior Ladies Football “C” division and All Ireland Senior Gaelic Football “B” division. These matches and the matches leading up to them were moments of great occasions for the entire school community , our town and the hinterland and the school was the focus point for both homecomings with students staff, parents and Friends. Success also followed the boys Junior Rugby Squad winning the Connaught Development Cup this year.
Report of Parents Association 2015/2016
2015/2016 was a very active year for the Parents Association in Gallen CS. We had a new committee elected for a 2 year term and our meetings were held in Classroom 1 in the school. There were five Parent Associations meeting held during the 2015/2016 academic year and there was excellent discussion and contributions from all members. Rosemarie McLynn was appointed secretary and Geraldine Keena was elected chairperson.
One of the highlights of the year was being asked to host the PACCS conference on April 16th which the Parents Association were delighted to do so. Members of PACCS addressed one of our meetings in October to explain the work of PACCS and to encourage parents to be active in their own Parents Association. Two members of Gallen CS Parents Association attended a planning meeting in Dublin also. The PACCS conference was a very informative day with good workshops on helping students with SEN, positive mental health and parenting. We were presented with a pull up banner from ACCS on the day which we can use for our own school functions.
The following are some of the range of topics discussed at meetings and worked on over the year by the Parents Association.
- Matters arising from BOM Reports
- Matters arising from Principal Reports
- Flooding at Christmas and requests for reply from NDFA and DES.
- Policy on Foreign Tours
- Policy on Taking in overseas students
- Policy on Special Educational Needs
- Literacy and Numeracy project within the school
- Updates on new Junior Cycle
- Purchase of a defibrillator
- School attendance /uniform
- Sports and Academic Awards night
- Sixth year Graduation
- School Musical
- Moving to 40 minute classes and alternative times
- TY work experience
- Sports competitions and victory celebrations
The following were the activities that the parents association got involved in during the year:
- Academic Awards afternoon
- Refreshments during the week of the School Musical
- Purchase of a defibrillator
- PACCS Conference on April 16th
- Sponsoring Pat Mc Kenna from Child Watch to facilitate workshops for all students
- Assistance in organising a Parents night with Pat McKenna
- Assistance in organising a Parents night with Betty McLaughlin , President IGC
- IT support for our All-Ireland Celebration in May
Report from Chairperson of Student council 2015 2016)
The student council of 2015/16 had a good year .Elections were held in the autumn and representatives from all years were elected.
Sixth year Reps: Kyle Higgins, Therese Cosgrove, Roisin Egan and Chanelle Keegan.
Fifth year Reps: Joe Egan, Peter Egan, Avril Spain.
Ty Reps: Niamh Spain, Kieron Leonard.
Third year Reps: Gina Millington, Rian Power.
Second year Reps: Callum Dooner, Shane Coughlan.
First year Reps: Kieran Kenny, Chloe Healy and Ffion Anderson
Meetings were held once a term : the only issues as regards the facilities were to ensure toilet facilities were kept open and door locks to be checked frequently by Sodexo. There was also a request for Gym to be opened at lunchtime and some more student noticeboards to be put up.
The request to allow sixth years make tea/coffee before evening study in the Meeting Room was again facilitated by the principal.
Gallen CS student council affiliated with the Union of Students in Ireland and on Nov. 1st Therese and Avril went for some training with USI in Trinity College Dublin and gave feedback at the next meeting
In Feb/March students were actively involved in the 1916 preparations. Students not in the student council delivered morning assemblies as Gaeilge and did project work. On the day Callum was involved in the flag ceremony and lots of other students did readings, songs and other pieces.
Two of the student council: Therese and Chanelle will address the sixth year graduation class at the Graduation in August.
Ideas for 2016/17: More regular meetings, student application like 2014 15 instead of class nominations, secretary to keep records (not sixth year), principal requested students might review some school policies and is open to their ideas
BOM (Report from Chairperson of BOM)
The Board of Management was in the 1st year of its new term.
The Board held five scheduled meetings during the year and a number of unscheduled ones to deal with one issue that arose. All meetings of the Board were well attended and the chairperson appreciated the constructive discussion and professional manner of all meetings
Following on from last year’s Board to grant secondment to Mr Irwin for a second year, Mrs U Finnegan continued in her role as Acting Principal and Mrs F Scully as Deputy Principal.
The agenda for Board meetings include : Minutes of previous meetings and matters arising, Correspondence, Financial report , ACCS Business, Parents Association Business, Principal’s Report, School Policies and Procedures, School Self Evaluation, Anti –Bullying report, Child Protection report., AOB.
This year many other topics also discussed by the Board of Management including: Publicity, County Sports, the Transition year tour, School Policies, Health & Safety, Staff allocations and requests, loss of DES curricular concession for Guidance, new staff appointments, requests for use of school premises, appointment of a part-time secretary, Flooding on January 1st and the consequences for the school, Junior Cycle reforms and implications on the curriculum, on-going industrial dispute.
The Board acknowledges the support received from parents, teachers and students during the year as well as the support of ACCS and the Trustees.