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.
Changes to Gallen C.S. Board of Management
Following the voluntary redeployment of one of the staff nominees on the Board of Management Mr Michéal McCartáin was the new staff nominee elected in August 2017.
Current Priorities for the Board of Management:
- Continue to support the principal and staff in maintaining academic excellence and providing opportunities for students to engage in and be supported in their social and personal development and wellbeing.
- To ensure the recommendations of the MLL Report are being addressed by school management and staff.
- To support the school management and staff in ensuring maximum enrolment from students in the catchment area to Gallen C.S
- Completion of Risk Assessments in the school.
- To discuss actions needed following completed reports by the DES/ NDFA and Pario regarding safety issues along the river Vis a Vis future flooding and fire escape routes.
June 2018: Progress made on these priorities:
- The BOM discussed aspects of school self-evaluation at all meetings. Progress on the targets in the School Improvement Plan are discussed. The SSE team of teachers in the school focus their work on School Improvement. This team facilitated and led whole staff discussion on agreed targets re: questioning, implementation of more active methodologies and peer collaboration. Gallen CS also joined the Droichead scheme in 2017/18 which facilitated peer collaboration and observation.
- Permission was sought by the principal to work with Athena Analytics to look at examinations results. The BOM sanctioned this and again for 2018/19. The senior management and staff are using this analysis to assist with target setting and a report on student attainment vis a vis exam results was presented to the BOM.
- A report on the work of the Transition Year Team and the SEN team was presented at the BOM meeting in June 2018.
- Good work progressed this year on our links with the primary schools in the catchment area: Taster days in November and December, the principal visited all primary schools in January, a very successful Open Night was held, the publication of News and Views and distribution to all families, individual meetings with parents were facilitated on requested. Enrolment for September 2018 is at the highest number for over 10 years.
- The BOM gave permission for the principal to hire Chris Mee Group, Ballymount Dublin 24 to carry out a Risk Assessment review in the school and present a report. Staff in the school facilitated the visits of their representatives and discussed areas of concern. The BOM was very pleased the report recognised that high standards of health and safety are prioritised in the school. A small few issues were highlighted that have been resolved with one or two still outstanding to be prioritised for September 2018.
- The BOM has been kept informed by the principal of the issues relating to fire evacuation and river exits following her meetings with Schools Bundle 1. It was confirmed this year that following completing of reports, PPP Co are looking at reconfiguring fire exits. An update was given to the Principal in May by NDFA regarding a meeting in February where solutions had been discussed with the fire consultant.
It was noted that for exit one the staircase may be enclosed. All avenues as to ensure this are being explored by PPP Co. Regarding exit four, it must be confirmed that the exit is within the boundary of the school. The NDFA and DES are to liaise as to further discuss this proposal. PPP Co. had engaged with the fire officer, who is happy with the proposals. These included the encasing of the staircase at Exit 1, and subsequently revising the existing Fire Cert before been it can be submitted to the Local Authority. Also noted was the possibility that the proposed staircase at Exit 4 may require planning permission. PPP Co has forwarded these proposals to NDFA who will review with the DES. Principal met with a representative of Pario on May 25th ‘18 to discuss the maps of the proposed alteration to the school. Principal said that the BOM, she had some concerns with regards to some of the proposals presented by PPP Co. These concerns were acknowledged and Pario planned to further develop their proposal in the coming months and will re-engage with both School and NDFA
A meeting of Trustees is to be held on August 13th, 2018 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.
Part of this meeting will focus on the role of the Trustee as set out in the ACCS handbook and trying to ensure we comply with the roles/responsibilities in an efficient and effective manner.
Following the agreement of the current BOM the principal will ask Laois Offaly ETB chairperson if they will become the Link (Liaison) Trustee for Gallen for the new BOM term. It will fall to the Link Trustee to formally appoint the members of the BOM at Gallen and inform them of the date of the first meeting of the new Board. The Trustees will be given a copy of this Report.
School Development Planning
Policies reviewed / ratified by the BOM 2017/2018
- The Guidance Plan
- The Anti Bullying Policy
- The Critical Incident Policy
- Transition Year Enrolment Policy
- Child Protection Statement
- Data Protection Policy
Reponse to address the recommendations in the MLL Report:
“The recommendations of the Inspectorate will be addressed as part of the school’s improvement plan in the immediate future. As stated in the report, the Board and senior management demonstrate a good capacity to lead school improvement. Senior management will meet with subject departments to ensure uniformity in their planning based on the analysis of learner outcomes. Senior management will also continue to support teacher collaboration and observation to share already very good practices in the classroom.
Since the inspection took place, work has already commenced on steps to implement the recommendations contained in the report. These include:
- The TY team is in place and held regular meetings during the year.
- The SEN team has been set up and regular meeting have been held and all resources are appropriately deployed.
- Timetable for Sep 2017 allowed sixth years have a double PE class and this will continue.
- A French Assistant worked with us in Gallen CS 2017/2018.
- During 2017/18 we extended ways for students to become more involved in leadership training and extended student involvement across the school by setting up a senior prefect system in the school and establishing a TY leadership programme i.e., the Fuinneamh Mentoring Team to assist with first years in their transition to second level. In March 2018 the student council members also met with the Board of Management.
- As highlighted in a paragraph above, school improvement is the focus on the SEE team and senior management and staff are working on their targets. The BOM were consulted on School Self Evaluation and were given a copy of the Report .
- The SIP (School Improvement Plan) was published on the school website during the year. Analysis of State examination results was completed and presented to the BOM.
- We will continue to ensure that all recommendations in the report are progressed, and we will continue to work in partnership with staff, parents, students and the wider community to achieve the excellence to which we aspire.
The Principal and Deputy Principal have met with PDST representtive to organise Day 3 Well Being in-service on September 20th 2018 . We were asked if we would like to meet with a DES inspector re: SSE and this meeting took place in May 2018.
The Board of Management utilised the free service provided by ACCS to conduct an ICT audit within the school and D. Redmond provided a report for the Board in Spring of 2017.
A digital strategy plan for the school was discussed by a sub- committee and using the DES ICT grant the BOM sanctioned the upgrading of the Wi-Fi system in the school. Two computer rooms were upgraded to windows 10 during the summer 2017 and all staff computers. During the school year 2017/2018 the third room was upgraded and all computers in the classrooms were also upgraded. The BOM approved of the senior management employing the company Wriggle to implement a coherent move to Microsoft 365 for all staff and students and use this platform to start to embed some of the other Office365 services into teaching and learning.
It is envisaged during 2018/19 Wriggle will work with 6/7 Digital Leaders in Gallen CS who will advance the use of more student -teacher platforms i.e., One Note and other applications across Gallen C.S.
Curriculum & Special Needs Education
The school offers a great choice of subjects at Junior and Senior Cycle. While Transition Year is optional most students in third year pick it. During this year the TY team and the BOM discussed the rationale for a TY enrolment Policy and time was given to drafting a policy. Parents were informed by letter and at a meeting. No student had to be refused entry to TY in Sep 2018.
The LCA programme was also discussed by the staff and BOM his year. Following consultation with the PDST and other schools and students, the principal made a presentation to the staff at a meeting. We decided not to progress with LCA for the year 2018 /19 but this can be reviewed again later.
Science continued to be timetabled in the core and students followed the syllabus. First year hours in wellbeing were made up of classes in SPHE, PE and CSPE. Students in first year sampled other subjects on a rotational basis until January. We had informed parents that following feedback from parents and students the previous year we would have the parent teacher meeting in January and allow first years to choose their module subjects. If it worked out we would form their classes in their optional subjects which it did in January 2018.
We will try the same system in 2018/19 which is in keeping with the aims of Junior cycle and allows for all students to try out all subjects and then form class groups if possibly in January.
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 . The SEN team met and items for the agenda were circulated a week before each meeting.
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.
An application was made to the SENO in the Autumn 2017 for some SNA hours to be granted to a student in mainstream which was granted. A SNA was employed for 16 hours and this allocation has been continued for 2018/2019.
An application was made to Middletown for assistance in working with a student in the Autism Centre. The application was successful and a lady was appointed who will work with the Centre, staff and parents for 10 months. We are also hopeful that lots of ideas will be shared and disucssed between all staff to improve SEN delivery in the school. In her role she is scheduled to deliver a presentation to all staff at a meeting after school on September 11th 2018.
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 . 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. SNA and some teachers availaed of inservice training ie, MAPA training that the pricnapl organised over the Easter holidays.
We empluyed the serives of a Speech and Language Therapist this year to assist some students in the Clunt Centre and their few was paid out of fudraising dome bty community groups.
Following the compulsory retuirement of an SNA the principal has successfully recruited another SNA in terms with circular 0034/2018.
Progression from second level
Most of our students progressed on to third level this year (88% recorded in Sun Independent 28/01/2018) with the remainder going to PLC colleges. The principal reminded Board members that the numbers of students who progress to Higher education each year fluctuates. A lot of factors must be taken into consideration for each year group and it is important that we commend the successes of all students who complete a Leaving Certificate and achieve their individual goals. A very successful Careers night was held in our school in November 2017. In their winter meeting the BOM extended thanks to the Guidance Counsellor for her work in organising this event.
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. The Chaplian and Guidance Counsellor submit a yearly report to the BOM.
A book rental scheme operates in the school. The 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. For this reason it was agreed again this year by the BOM that book rental needs to be paid before students receives their books in Spetember. Various payment plans are in place to assist parents with the payments. Individual cases may get alternative payment plans.
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 2017/18 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. Some students attended the Youth Congress in January 2018 as part of the mental health initiative “Cycle against Suicide”.
The school achieved School Ambassador status in September 2017 and has also been awarded the same for 2018 which will be recognised at a ceremony in autumn 2018. This initiative will continue next year to support students in their understanding of mental health and the sources of help that is available in their school and their communities. One of our students in Fifth year has been chosen as a national leader for this programme and he is willing to share his experiences with the student leadership teams next year.
TY students also extended their social outreach this year with opportunities to get involved with Youth Vincent de Paul and the local Nursing Home and senior Citizens group in the town. The Chaplain coordinated a lot of these new initiatives and in their end of year evaluation the TYs stated that they enjoyed these opportunities to reach out to people in their community. It is hoped these initiatives are continued next year.
The Deputy Principal oversaw the introduction of Senior Prefects in the school this year following consultation with the student council, parent’s association and staff. Transition year students applied to become mentors to incoming first years and the chosen group took the name Fuinneamh Mentors. Both groups received training from the pastoral teams in Castletown Co. Laois. The student council has met regularly and given some very good feedback on school policies and school matters. Before Christmas they organised an Irish Ceile night with a dance teacher and invited our overseas students’ parents and friends, it was a great success. At Easter they held an Easter egg hunt. IN March they met the BOM and they finished the year with an outing with the principal to Bowling in Athlone.
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. She liaised with the Academic Monitor on a regular basis. A lot of time and work was put into updating the Guidance Plan which is very comprehensive. A Guidance Report was also submitted to the BOM in May 2018.
Religious Education in schools:
The Department of Education issued a circular 0013/2018 in February which covers community schools. It outlines arrangements to be made to ensure the rights of children to attend school without attending religious worship.
Our management body the ACCS has issued guidance to us and our Boards of Management. The issues at stake were discussed at length at the BOM and the Parents Association meetings. The Principal highlighted that in three specific Department of Education documents: The Education Act of 1998, the Statements of Learning for Junior Cycle and in the DES Wellbeing Guidelines, the onus is on the school to provide for the religious and moral well-being of students. Following discussions with Department of Education and Skills officials ACCS advises that there is a distinction between Religious Instruction and Worship and the NCCA Religious Education programme. For schools with Religious Patrons like Gallen Community school, it is accepted that the NCCA Religious Education programme may form part of the core curriculum and where there are no elements of Religious Instruction or Worship the exemption outlined in CL13/2018 does not apply.
Community Schools like Gallen C.S from September 2018 will follow the NCCA syllabus for Religious Education. This syllabus is suitable for students of all faiths and none.
From September 2018 if a parent (or a student over 18), informs us that they do not wish their son/daughter to attend religious worship events like the Opening Year Mass we will make alternative arrangements for them. Advent & Lenten Liturgies, mass for Third Years and the Sixth Year Graduation Mass in May are always optional for students to attend or not. As these are occasional events as opposed to regularly timetabled events we are not obliged to schedule alternative subject(s).
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. Our school newsletter “Gallen CS News and Views” is printed at Christmas and at the end of year. A copy of both Newsletters was sent to all parents/guardians. The website publishes this school report along with a report from the Parents Association and Student Council. The TY team discussed PRO in the light of the school musical and student numbers. Some initiatives were discussed and implemented which saw sell out nights for the school musical and excellent enrolment for Sep 2018
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. An Awards afternoon took place 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 subjects. Awards were also given for Junior Certifate achievements.
In May 2018 End of Year Awards were given to all Junior classes for categories specified last year which included for academic excellence, attendance, excellent Journal, no comments, random acts of kindness. A TY Presentation Night was held at the end of may and students also were awarded across many areas of the curriculum.
Health and Safety
Sodexo continues to offer a comprehensive facility management service 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 2017/18. 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.
To date, a Health and Safety consultant was appointed, and a Health and Safety Policy has been reviewed and ratified.
Chris Mee Group were appointed to carry out a Risk Assessments Audit in the school. Senior management and the staff representative met the consultants. A report was issued which was very positive. The staff representative followed up some areas with the staff and gave the principal a report in May 2018.
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 lunchtime.
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.
The Board were happy to facilitate different community groups in the school over the year, these included Sandra Julian Dance classes, Naomh Ciaran Club, Ferbane Belmont minor club, Foroige, community games. They were pleased the Lynx cycling club did a fundraiser for our Cluny Centre in September 2017. We hosted the Community Games Leinster meeting one Saturday and the local Community Games event one evening. The Lough Boora Running Club did a huge fundraiser for three organisations this year and our Autism Centre was one of the recipients. Thanks, are expressed to our facility management company Sodexo for their support in these events.
The BOM received letters of resignation from four teachers in May and one SNA. the DES has confirmed to the principal that she can recruit for replacement teachers and this work is currently in progress. We wish to thank the retirees for their years of service to the student in our school over their long years of service.
End of the BOM term of office:
The current BOM finished its term on 31st July 2018. The patrons have been informed and have asked to nominate new representatives to the BOM. The current BOM have recommended that the principal asks LOETB to be the Link Patron for 2018/19 so it will formally appoint members to the new Board. Parents and staff have also been informed.
The current BOM would like to thank the principal, deputy principal, all the staff in the school and Sodexo staff for their work in ensuring Gallen CS strives for excellence in all they do.
Report of Parents Association 2017/2018
Member of the Parents Association were happy to stay on as members with new parent representatives been bought in for Ballycumber and Cloghan and parents of new first years were also invited to join the PA.
Meetings were held in Classroom 1 in the school. There were four Parent Associations meeting held during the 2017/2018 academic year and there was excellent discussion and contributions from all members. Arlene Guinan continued as secretary Geraldine Keena was elected chairperson.
In late September, Geraldine Kenna addressed parents of first years at a meeting and spoke about the role of the Parents Association and how they as parents/guardians can assist their son/daughter in school.
There was a workshop held for all parents/guardians from ZEEKO, based in UCD on how to become more knowledgeable about new internet technologies and ensure their children as safe using the internet. It was a very informative and thought-provoking meeting and well attended. It was agreed later in the year that perhaps Pat McKenna from Childwatch should be contacted for 2018 /19 to address all students again.
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 & Principal Reports
- Update on the reports from NDFA and DES on the safety of the riverbank.
- Ant Bullying Policy
- Critical Incident Policy
- Child Protection Policy
- TY Enrolment Policy
- SSE Engagement in Learning
- Junior Cycle, CBA’s and JCSP
- School attendance /uniform
- Academic Awards
- School Musical
- Workshops for students 2017/18 and suggested ones for 2018/19
- Circular on Religious Education in Schools
- Data Protection and GDPR
- Agreement on procedures for election of new Parents Association and parent’s nominees for the new Board of Management.
The following were the activities that the parent’s association got involved in during the year:
- Supporting our charity cycle with the Lynx cycling club I September 2017 and Lough Boora Easter Sunday 2018.
- Supporting the workshop on Internet technology.
- Attending Irish Dancing Ceili in Nov 2017
- Active involvement in the review of school Policies
- Academic Awards afternoon
- Refreshments during the week of the School Musical
Report from Chairperson of Student council 2017/ 2018
The student council of 2017/18 had a good year. Elections were held in the autumn and representatives from all years were elected.
Sixth year Reps: John Dunican, Mark Dolan, Bronagh Coughlan
Fifth year Reps: Katie Rigney, Luz Corrigan, Thomas Kerr, Amy Lynch
TY Reps: Ross Mcloughlin
Third year Reps: Sam Flynn, Aleksejs Nikolajeva, Cian Egan,
Second year Reps: Mollie Flynn
First year Reps: James McEvoy,
Cluny Centre Rep: Fiachrae Sheerin.
Chairperson: John Dunican
Vice Chairperson: Aleksejs Nikolajeva
Secretary: Luz Corrigan
PRO: James McEvoy
Mrs O Toole and Mrs Finnegan were the Liaison teachers for the student council and meetings were held during lunchtime in Ms Shines toom.
The following were some of the items that the student council discussed or assisted with during the year:
- Appointment of chairperson, secretary, PRO.
- Role of the student council in the school
- Role of Prefects in the school
- Wellbeing and Inclusion: Ceili in Nov 2017
- Meeting with the Board of Management
- Responding to correspondence from the Union of Students in Ireland
- Toilets and upkeep in the school
- Orange Day for Mental Health
- Easter Egg Hunt
- Bowling Outing in May
Two of the student council: John Dunican and Bronagh Coughlan will address the year at their Graduation in August 2018
Ideas for 2018/19:
- Current Student Council to stay until the end of September to oversee start of the new year
- Training for the Student council.
- Student application to student council instead of class nominations
BOM (Report from Chairperson of BOM)
The Board of Management was in the 3rd year of its new term.
The Board held seven scheduled meetings during the year. 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 fourth 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 were also discussed by the Board of Management including: safety along the river back, school self-evaluation, enrolment to the Cluny Centre and to TY, publicity, six school policies were revised /written, staff allocations and requests, new staff appointments, requests for use of school premises, religious education in schools, data protection and ACCS and DES circulars.
During the year the BOM worked alongside the senior management of the school and worked hard to implement the recommendations of the MLL in full. We believe great progress has been started to date in this regard, but work will be on going to ensure students get every opportunity to achieve to their very best.
Pastoral care of the students in this school is paramount and I commend the many initiatives that have taken place even last year to allow for more leadership opportunities for students: Fuinneamh Mentors, the prefect system. We had a very enjoyable meeting with the student council last March and were impressed by their articulate views and commend their loyalty and praise for the staff in Gallen CS.
The Board acknowledges the support received from parents, teachers and students during the year as well as the support of ACCS and the Trustees. The Board also wishes to acknowledge the very valuable professional support Mrs Ursula Finnegan provided in her role as secretary to the Board throughout the three year term.