Monday 23 September 2019

'We talk about college, apprenticeships and jobs, never about doing nothing'

From left: Anna Mary Zibangwana, Nicole Forrester, Jasmin Dempsey, Alison Tongui, Stephanie Boylan and Tayler Rooney from Stanhope Street Secondary School show what they want to study in college during College Awareness Week PHOTO COLIN O’RIORDAN
From left: Anna Mary Zibangwana, Nicole Forrester, Jasmin Dempsey, Alison Tongui, Stephanie Boylan and Tayler Rooney from Stanhope Street Secondary School show what they want to study in college during College Awareness Week PHOTO COLIN O’RIORDAN

With a former Tánaiste, Joan Bruton, and former TV Dragon, Norah Casey, among its past pupils, Stanhope Street Girls Secondary School in Dublin's north inner city has some high-flying role models.

The school's message to its students is to "aim high". Principal John O'Brien describes his pupils as "our greatest asset and we take care to nurture them, allowing them to achieve their personal and academic potential".

He says, in 2016, 74pc of their students went on to university, with the majority of the others pursuing further education or going into direct employment. It's not without its challenges in a community of socio-economic disadvantage.

With 46 nationalities represented among its 200 students, many pupils also have the added task of strengthening proficiency in the English language - the school provides classes - to allow them get the best out of the curriculum.

Other supports include homework and study clubs, as well as free one-to-one tuition twice a week. The school also has strong links with third-level institutions, such as DIT and Trinity, and private industry to familiarise students with life in college and the workplace. Guidance counsellor Celine Connell says she "teaches" careers from first year up with timetabled classes and one to one meetings: "We talk about college, apprenticeships and jobs; we never discuss the fourth choice - doing nothing."

Past pupils come back regularly to talk about college and careers, and an alumni society, headed by Jade Curran, now a third year student in Trinity, is being launched.

The school has a full schedule for College Awareness Week and is spreading the word through its new Twitter page @StanhopeCareers.

Irish Independent

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