Monday 23 October 2017

'We're the only focal point for rural communities'

Principal Brid Finnegan in Cnoc Doire national school, a two-teacher primary at Cooraclare, Kilrush, Co Clare
Principal Brid Finnegan in Cnoc Doire national school, a two-teacher primary at Cooraclare, Kilrush, Co Clare
Michael Brennan

Michael Brennan

BRID Finnegan is the principal of a two-teacher school with the 'X Factor'.

Even though she has to juggle four classes simultaneously, she said it was possible to manage with planning -- and that includes using the popular TV talent show to teach maths.

She has polled her pupils about their favourite 'X Factor' singers and then got them to use the data in their maths exercises.

"The third class get the very basics, they got their tallies and did bar charts, whereas you can go on then to do percentages with the others. It's a lot of work, but if you're well planned, you can get through it," she said.

The Cnoc Doire national school has 25 pupils and is around four miles outside Kilrush in Co Clare.

Ms Finnegan works with another teacher, Catherine McNamara, and has 15 children in her class.

She believes children get a good education in smaller schools because the "small numbers are key".

"You can teach each child properly and, more importantly, you can monitor each child properly," she told the Irish Independent.

Despite the small numbers in individual classes, Ms Finnegan said the children were able to challenge themselves by competing with all those in the room.

Ms Finnegan, who is originally from Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, said she had to spend much less time maintaining discipline than in her previous posts at larger schools.

The school won an award from Irish Aid last year for their project on fair trade, and also has two green flags.

Ms Finnegan said two-teacher schools were often the only thing that kept communities connected in rural areas -- with coffee mornings, fundraisers and other events.

"Everything is gone out of the west of Ireland. There's no post offices, garda stations, pubs, shops -- they're all gone.

"The school is the only focal point for a community," she said.

Irish Independent

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