Com­mu­nity school’s €11m re­vamp

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - KINSALE - Áilín Quin­lan KIN­SALE COM­MU­NITY SCHOOL

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

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