Our school community is at all times child-centred: each child‘s ability, needs, pace of learning and individuality are recognized and respected. Each is encouraged and supported to develop to their maximum potential.
Child-centredness is fundamental to our school and this principle is established as a legal obligation on the Board of Management (BOM), i.e., in all decisions or projects approved by the Board, the developmental needs of the children must be its first priority. It is our aim that all activities and projects that the children engage in within the school, or in relation to the school,are at all times child-centred and age appropriate.
Positive illustrations of child-centred practice
(a) Within our classrooms
- Our teachers guide the children through the curriculum, all the time aiming to promote development of self-esteem, confidence and intellectual ability.
- Our teachers strive to provide a relaxed learning environment of mutual respect between the child and his/her teacher.
- Our teachers emphasise positive reinforcement of good behaviour. For example,to reward children for good behaviour that the teacher and children have agreed upon previously, they can be awarded “Golden Guy” certificates by the teacher.
- There is recognition of children’s effort and of personal achievements, relative to their own past performance, rather than compared to others. For instance, improvement in a spelling test will be rewarded.
- The presentation of the child’s work in school (for instance art work displayed on the walls) does not focus on excellence but is about celebration of effort/creativity.
- Teachers strive to actively listen to the children,their experiences, and their concerns, attention being paid to sort out problems,whenever possible. For instance, there is a yard incident book, which helps teachers to follow up incidents such as bullying. Such follow-up fosters children’s security and confidence in teachers.
- “Golden time”, that is, an extra half-hour playtime on Fridays, allows more time for relaxation, imaginative play and socialising.
- Our school has invested in extra readers,which are assigned and exchanged every week to each child according to her/his reading level.
(b) In our broader school life
Many opportunities are offered for the wider intellectual, artistic and physical development of the children through after-school activities and extra-curricular activities, such as: Art Activities, Athletics, Irish Dancing,Theatre and Drama, Chess Club, Soccer Club
(c) Our after-school activities and clubs
Our school pays special attention to building relationships between the child/teacher/parent and this fosters a sense of security in the children. All staff use first names, assisting in their approachability for both parents and children. In the junior and outreach classes, we offer particular flexibility and sensitivity in the handover of care in the morning from parent to teacher.
The Student Council represents all classes – in this, the children’s experience, opinion and contribution are formally valued.
Our school regularly holds Assemblies and special events where the child’s individual contribution is encouraged, thus offering opportunities for self-expression and building confidence. For example: Fruits of the Earth project, Science week, Friendship week.
Special events, such as global awareness week, celebrate the difference and diversity that exists in our school community, helping all children to feel valued.
The Sports Day is run as both a competitive and non-competitive event, and it focuses on participation and enjoyment rather than results. This teaches the child to emphasise his individuality and to work for a personal best, as well as to co-operate with others.
The children’s playtime experience has been developed through the painting of the yards and use of yard games – this encourages co-operative, imaginative play and reduces the potential for physical roughhousing or bullying.
The availability of the meeting room from 1.30-2.30pm for parents and children waiting for their siblings is a child-friendly arrangement.
The children’s experience of contributing to the resources of the school is encouraged, but it is voluntary, age-appropriate and usually has educational value. For example, read-athon encourages children to read; sponsored walks promote exercise and an active lifestyle.
(d) Our child-centred policies
- Our school has an anti-bullying policy
- We promote a healthy eating policy to help initiate healthy eating habits from an early age.
- Our school has developed a learning support policy.
(e) Child-centred formal practices
Frequent applications are made to the special education section of the Department of Education & Science for children who need more support.
Our school pools resources such as Special Needs Assistants and the Occupational Therapy Room for use by the wider community of children, rather than just those with special needs.
For the safety of children and staff, we have an admittance procedure where all volunteers and visitors in the school are asked to sign in at the office and receive a visitor’s pass.
As in other mainstream schools, children with English as a second language are offered and can receive Learning Support in English.
(f) Maximizing our ability to meet the needs of all children
- We have developed outreach classes for children with autism. The inclusion in mainstream activities where possible is encouraged to the benefit of all.
- Children with special needs are welcome in our mainstream classes, as long as their specific needs can be catered for by the Department of Education and Science.