Community school’s €11m revamp
A spanking new state-of-theart campus awaits the near 1,000 students of Kinsale Community School, when the new term begins next September.
Right now, the much-anticipated €11m extension to the school is nearing completion it offers muchneeded additional classrooms, a range of specialist rooms and a state-of-the-art gymnasium. On top of that, thanks to dedicated fundraising by the school’s highly active Parents’ Association, sports facilities are being upgraded at a cost of more than €400,000, resulting in the provision of an all-weather FIFA-accredited soccer pitch circled by a running track.
“It’s no less than the pupils deserve given the fact that for a number of years many have studied in prefabricated buildings but at long last these prefabs will be removed from the campus over the summer holidays,” said school principal Fergal McCarthy, who paid tribute to the school’s “very vibrant and supportive” Parents Association.
“Students will then have the state-of-the-art school buildings, special facilities and amenities that they deserve,” he added.
A priority for Kinsale Community School, according to Fergal, is ensuring that students to enjoy three fundamental rights the right to be happy, the right to learn and the right to be different:
“We uphold these rights, which underpin the core philosophy established by the first board of management in the school, following the amalgamation, in 1996, of two former secondlevel institutions in the town,” he said, pointing to the school’s Latin motto,
Omnes Communiter Discendo, which means All Together in Learning. The original community school campus was built to accommodate around 450 pupils — a figure which has doubled over the years, necessitating next autumn’s much-anticipated extension.
The school’s innovative approach to teaching is under-pinned by the Féilte Scoile Scheme, a programme introduced two years ago which first facilitates teachers to upskill and then offers them the facility of holding workshops and demonstrations on best practise to fellow staff: “What we are talking about is new and more creative approaches to teaching,” said Fergal.
“Our teachers regularly attend courses, and when they return, the scheme facilitates the creation of opportunities for them to share, for the benefit of other members of staff.
“It’s a way of providing continual professional development by teachers for teachers and it’s ongoing throughout the year.”
This innovative approach to teaching has had results Kinsale Community School has a record, not just for consistently high Leaving Certificate grades in a variety of subjects, but also for the impressive number and range of third-level scholarships won by its students to universities in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
“Our students consistently outstrip national averages, in particular in the acquisition of in excess of 500 CAO points,” said Fergal, who observed that the school regularly boasts the largest number of students in any school in Ireland qualifying for the annual BT Young Scientist & Technology exhibition.
This year alone an impressive 24 projects involving 44 students were accepted by the competition, which Kinsale Community School has won on several occasions over the years.
The school has also won the European Young Scientists competition on three occasions, and on one memorable occasion came first in the international Google Global Science Fair in San Francisco.
“Our involvement in the BT Young Scientists competition has created a culture of excellence in STEM subjects in the school,” says Fergal. “Over the years we have had several talented students who have performed very strongly in a variety of science related competitions, national and international.”
The school also places a strong emphasis on mental health, introducing the Skills Training and Emotional Problem-Solving for Adolescents (STEPS-A) programme from the USA two years ago: “This programme is fundamentally rooted in the building of resilience in young people,” Fergal said. “We find it very effective because it encourages students to understand their feelings. Through that understanding, they develop the capacity to self-regu- late, and are thus more capable of talking about, and explaining their feelings something which is particularly important for boys.”
As part of this philosophy, the school has forged strong links with the successful Kinsale Youth Support Services: “KYSS very much understands and supports the work the school is doing in relation to mental health.”
Kinsale Community School also has a successful Autistic Spectrum Disorder unit with 18 students.
The success of this unit, and the students it facilitates is, says Fergal, underpinned by the integration of the students in the unit in the mainstream school:
This is achieved, he says, through identifying core talents that the children in the unit have on an individual level and tailor-fitting a specific educational plan for each of them.
Kinsale Community School, then, clearly takes its mission statement seriously when it declares that it aims to cater for the curricular, personal and physical needs of each individual student in a safe and caring environment, endeavours to create a positive atmosphere, where the emphasis is on personal achievement, moral development and character formation and where students are helped to find their own strengths to grow into self-confident and responsible adults.
Fergal McCarthy, principal, and Kathleen O’Brien, deputy principal, on the bridge to the new extension at Kinsale Community School.
Fergal McCarthy, principal, who is looking forward to students seeing the extended Kinsale Community School.
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan with students who entered policing-related projects into the BT Young Scientist Exhibition: Conor Green, Lilly Fitzgerald, Lauren White and Alana McSweeney from Kinsale Community School during a schools event for them in Farmleigh House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Fergal McCarthy, principal, and Kathleen O’Brien, deputy principal, at Kinsale Community School, standing on their new 4G pitch which will have a running track built around it. Pictures: Dan Linehan
Lia Farley, Kinsale Community School, competing in long jump in South Munster Schools Girls Track & Field Championships at CIT.
Pic: Denis Minihane