Friday 23 June 2017

Broad-based learning and family support bring results

Learning: Fiona Ui Uiginn, principal of Colaiste Iosagain, with pupils Grainne Ni Fhrighil, Clothilde Ni Dhuinnshliebhe, Caoimhe Daunt, Kim Ni Fhearain, Tara Ni Chonchubhair and Niamh Ni Shiochain. Photo: Tony Gavin
Learning: Fiona Ui Uiginn, principal of Colaiste Iosagain, with pupils Grainne Ni Fhrighil, Clothilde Ni Dhuinnshliebhe, Caoimhe Daunt, Kim Ni Fhearain, Tara Ni Chonchubhair and Niamh Ni Shiochain. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Learning in a bilingual environment - with the emphasis on a broad-based education including sport and extracurricular activities - is key to achieving excellence in the classroom.

This is the school mantra at Colaiste Iosagain, located in leafy south Dublin, which continues to enjoy outstanding academic success.

Over the past eight years the all-girls second level gaelscoil has had the highest number of pupils going on to third level from a non fee-paying school.

Figures show 100pc of its students have continued to various forms of third level education every year since 2009.

Established in 1971 by the Sisters of Mercy, it currently has 30 teachers catering for 500 pupils.

Principal Fíona Ui Uiginn said that while teachers deserve great credit for the success of the school, a "love of learning" instilled by parents in their children from an early age also plays a major part.

"There's a huge interest in education in the home. Parents have made a choice to send children to a school like this, which is a reflection of the importance they place on education in the widest sense.

"The support of parents has also enabled us to develop our library and employ a part-time librarian.

"This provides the opportunity for independent study at lunchtime and after school.

"We also do very well in French and German in the Leaving Certificate.

"Colaiste Eoin and ourselves are the partner schools of the Goethe Institute in Dublin for excellence in German language teaching."

However, she also pointed out that being a bilingual school can create "significant cognitive challenges" for some pupils, because they have to be constantly learning new vocabulary.

"They're thinking in two languages, which requires a great deal of concentration.

"But it helps with their overall learning skills and their dedication and application across the overall curriculum."

The school also has an excellent track record in achieving high results in science subjects.

"For many years there were very poor resources available in terms of books but that has improved greatly in the past 10 years."

Co-located with Colaiste Eoin on the same site, the school is under the patronage of the Edmund Rice Schools Trust.

"We share senior classes with Colaste Eoin so we have the best of both worlds.

"Fifth and sixth year pupils share classes which enable us to offer a wider curriculum.

"Being in a mixed environment is good preparation for third level, and helps school leavers on to the next stage of their education."

She is keen to stress the importance placed on providing a comprehensive extracurricular programme.

"We're one of the leading sports schools in the area, particularly strong at basketball, Gaelic football and camogie.

"We have won a lot of All- Ireland cups in basketball and we place a great deal of emphasis on athletics as well. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind."

A "huge number" of students play a musical instrument, while choir and dance classes provide an outlet for those with an aptitude and an interest in these areas.

Strong learning support services are in place for pupils with special educational needs, or those struggling in a particular area of study.

"We have a special needs assistant for those who may be on the autistic spectrum," she added.

Pupils from all backgrounds and ability range are welcome to apply for entry to the school.

Sunday Independent

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