We are currently working towards attaining an ‘Active School Flag’ here in St. Mary’s National School in recognition of all the physical activity that take place in our school.
The Active School Flag is a Department of Education and Skills initiative which recognises schools that strive to achieve a physically educated and physically active school community, by awarding them with an Active School Flag.
In order for St. Mary’s National School to achieve the Active School Flag we must begin by self-evaluating our current provision across PE, Physical Activity and Partnerships. We must then plan and implement improvements that will have a real and tangible impact on our school community.
We already have a very strong history of physical activity and team sports here in St. Mary’s National School, with many after-school and during-school activities in place. There have been some very exciting additions to the timetable this year. Since September, we have introduced the 10@10 programme, relays on the yard, Olympic Handball, School Hall Athletics and operation Transformation run in the park.
As part of the Active School programme, we will be organising an Active Schools Week in May. This will be a whole school initiative, with exciting activities and lots of fun and games to look forward to. One of the aims of Active Schools Week is to show that not only is physical activity good for you but it can also be lots of fun and a great way to spend time with friends.
We look forward to making St. Mary’s National School an even more active place this year and as our Active School’s motto says, ‘Run, Hop, Skip, try… The only Limit is the Sky!!
To find out more about the Active School initiative click on www.activeschoolflag.ie.
Aistear is the curriculum framework for children from birth to 6 years and is implemented in St. Mary’s N.S with Junior and Senior Infant classes. Aistear describes the types of learning that are important for children in their early years and offers ideas and suggestions as to how this learning might be nurtured at home and in school. The framework also provides guidelines on supporting children’s learning through partnerships with parents, interactions, play, and assessment (NCCA,2009).
Partnerships with parents are encouraged through informing parents of the theme being explored by the class, for example ‘The Café’. Parents are encouraged to send in resources for each theme and also ask their child about what learning station he/she participated in each day. Your child may have been at the art station engaging in creative play, the construction station engaging in physical play, the small world station engaging in pretend play, or the socio-dramatic station engaging in pretend play. The type and number of stations may vary. Also, photographs of the children at their play stations may be uploaded to the school website from time to time. Parents can help make the learning experience relevant for their child by bringing him/her to a real café for example when this theme is being explored or to the pet shop or market during these themes so that the child can use new language acquired.
Interactions: The importance of promoting positive inter-child interactions and also interactions between the children and teacher before, during, and after play is highlighted in the Aistear framework. Children are encouraged to help each other, share skills and knowledge with each other, and solve problems. The teacher may also adopt a role with the play and interacts regularly with the children in the context of the play and models language and communication skills.
Play: There are many different types of play and children may engage in more than one type of play at a given time. Creative play may involve creating at the art station. Pretend play occurs at the socio-dramatic station (for example examining a patient at the Doctor’s Surgery) and the Small World Station (engaging in make believe play with the doll’s house, making a small farm etc). Physical play may involve building with blocks or manipulating playdough. While children may show preferences for one type of play it is important that they experience a variety of types to support their learning and development across the four themes of Well-being, Identity and Belonging, Communicating, and Exploring and Thinking.
Assessment is the ongoing process of collecting, documenting, reflecting on, and using information to develop rich portraits of children as learners in order to support and enhance their future learning, as assessment for learning requires (NCCA, 2009). The children’s learning is documented in many ways such as through observing the children, completing checklists, collecting work samples, conferencing, and children’s self-assessment of their work.
Literacy Lift Off programme is due to start in September 2019. This is an early intervention programme for helping literacy and writing levels. It is a daily literacy hour where resource teachers in collaboration with class teachers, will work in the classroom from Monday to Thursday afternoon inclusive for five weeks in five 10 minute rotating sessions on a range of literacy activities. These activities include;
School Hall Athletics
Our Sports Hall Athletics Programme is offered in six different venues across Limerick City and County. The programme lasts for 6 weeks in the Community centre with coaching from Limerick City Sports Partnership. Last years programme culminated with a blitz with 800 children participating, with 60 of those going on to represent Limerick in the National Finals in the National Indoor Athletics track in Athlone.
Children from third to sixth classes in St. Mary’s National School participate in a swimming module at the Woodland House Hotel Complex. Swimming has huge benefits for the children and the module is always the highlight of the year.
VEX Robotics is an exciting and fun program where school children from 8-18 years learn about Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) while having fun! They design, build, program and compete with their robot in a spectacular competition organised by Dell.
In addition to STEM the students acquire other skills such as project management, presentation skills, teamwork, leadership, PR and much more.
Another Victorious Campaign
This year the Boys Football team once again claimed the South Limerick football Championship. They defeated Hospital in the final and there were great celebrations across the school with a special assembly and Captains speech. Huge thanks goes to Mark Reidy and Richard Murphy for their dedication and skills as coaches. This win for the school makes it a total of 7 South Championships in the last 10 years!