The Maths Department
The three ‘R’s are the three points on the famous educational triangle. And mathematics is the one full of mystery and magic and methods. We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve asked: how am I supposed to get the answer to that question?
Maths is about so much more than simply getting the answers. It involves investigating problems, exploring ideas, developing methods and arriving at solutions. Students learn to reason, to use formulae, to think in practical steps. This practical approach to mathematics is the basis of the Junior Certificate course. For Junior and Leaving Certificate students with a special aptitude for maths, Errigal College provides extra classes at Higher Level. Our students learn the role of mathematics in the world. Having grasped the practical applications of maths, they can then move on to more abstract work. The introduction of reality to the Leaving Certificate Maths course means that all students can now obtain a maths qualification. Like the Junior Certificate, there are Maths exams at Foundation, Ordinary and Higher level. Here in Errigal College, our Foundation and Ordinary Level Leaving Cert Maths students undertake six classes each week while our Honors Level students take seven classes. Of course, people use mathematics every day of their lives: interest rates, take-home pay… the number of tiles needed in the kitchen, the cost of two litres of milk in one shop compared to another… How long will it take to get from here to there in the morning compared to the afternoon?
In Errigal College, our Maths department endeavours to take maths out of the classroom and into our students’ lives in a more meaningful way. We’ve done this in the last few years by taking our students to a number of presentations. Maths week took place in Ireland from 10th to the 17th October. During this week the school participated in PRISIM (Problem Solving for Irish Second Level Mathematicians). Also on the 13th October, the 5th and 6thYears headed for W5 in Belfast where they got to see over 200 amazing interactive exhibits and watched an amazing show on gravity. Leaving W5, our students went to Stranmillis College to view an exhibition on “Maths and Magic”, which showed how maths is needed for magic. Three of Errigal College’s students are currently undertaking the training programme for the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). This programme is being held in National University in Maynooth. From this small group of trainees a team will be picked to don the green jersey of Ireland in the international Mathematical Olympiad.
The English Department
English, as a core subject, is vital to all subjects in Errigal College. When students come here in first year, they are placed into mixed ability groupings. Studies have shown that this is the best way for students to maximise their potential. All the usual bases are covered – creative and functional writing, poetry, drama and fiction. We believe that learning English shouldn’t be all about reading and writing, however, which is why we use various activities and games to encourage our students toenjoy English e.g. creative writing, roleplay and wordgames. Every possible aid to student learning is provided, whether that is a film version of a text, poems set to music or extra help outside of class. We place a huge emphasis on developing student literacy, which is supported by extra English classes, the Drop Everything And Read week and books being available for students to borrow. The Readalong programme involves students completing a course and pairing with national school students for a 6 week block. The Junior Cert and Leaving Cert courses are, of course, the core of what we do and our results are impressive each year. This is no small part due to the relatively small size of our classes, where students get a lot of individual attention from their experienced teachers. Outside of the classroom, outings to see drama productions are common, both to An Grianán and further afield. In recent years, we have had drama workshops provided by Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. There have also been many school drama productions over the years. Students are also regularly encouraged to enter creative competitions and recently we had an overall winner in a Donegal-based poetry competition. Essay and poetry competitions, An Post’s annual competition, as well as inschool competitions are promoted on our walls. A World Book Day celebration is planned for this year. As with all subjects, I.T. is a big feature of the English department and data projectors have been installed in the English classrooms.
All students follow the standard Junior Certificate curriculum, with the ultimate aim of sitting the Leaving Certificate or LCA. However, students who require help will have it provided for them. Extra classes in English are available to students experiencing difficulties and in 1st and 2nd year, students can receive help from the Resource Department. Errigal College has a dedicated resource room, fully equipped with the most up-to-date resources, such as well as CDROMS, laptops and appropriate programmes. The work of the Resource Department, allied with our small class sizes, helps us to ensure that no child falls ‘between the cracks’ and every child is supported to achieve his/her potential.
Transition Year is an ideal time to develop students’ abilities and engage their imaginations in English. A dedicated TY curriculum is followed, which allows students to explore aspects of the Leaving Certificate English course in a different way and gives students an invaluable head-start for Senior Cycle, as well as building their skills and confidence. TY students at Errigal College are just beginning an exciting project in conjunction with LYIT, which will involve them making their own animated film about fire safety, which will be aimed at children – watch this space!
English as an Additional Language (EAL)
Students, whose first language isn’t English, are catered for by our dedicated EAL department. Students, regardless of country of origin, are assessed and placed in EAL classes, according to their language level. They have on average 4 classes per week. At the same time, students attend mainstream classes, which is vital for success in language and in school.
The Irish Department
Creidtear i gColáiste an Earagail gur teanga bheo chumarsáide í an ghaeilge agus go bhfuil stádas tabhachtach aicí i gcóras oideachais na tíre seo. Is mór phairt dár noidhreacht í agus nasc fíorthabhachrtach í dár naitheantas mar chultar gaelach. Mar a dúradh “Tír gan teanga Tír gan anam” agus is aontaíonn Coláiste an Earagail leis an ráiteas sin. Tá sé mar aidhm i gColáiste an Earagail an ghaelige a chur chun tosaigh agus forbairt a dhéanamh ar an ngaeilge atá ag ár ndaltaí agus iad a ullmhú fá choinne na stáid scrúduithe ag deireadh a dtréimhse anseo. Cuirtear béim ar áchan ghnéith den teanga sa choláiste idir léitheoireachta, éisteachta, labhartha agus scríofa agus de ghnáth ar an ord sin. Déanann an choláiste freastal a dhéanamh ar áchan scolaire agus tugann sí an deis dóibh ,mas gá, gaeilge a staidéar. Bíonn deiseanna ag na daltaí tionscnimh a dhéanamh le linn na scoil bhliana, pairt a ghlacadh i Seachtain na Gaeilge agus ar ócáidí áirithe, turais a habhairt ar ghaeltachtaí na tíre chun doimhneacht a dtuighbhéal a mhéadú agus ar ndóigh a meas ar an teanga agus ar an mbealach a úsáidtear í ar fud na tíre a aireachtáil go pearsanta. Tugann Coláiste an Earagail áchan deis do dhaltaí staidéar a dhéanamh ar an ngaeilge ar an leibhéal is oiriúnach dóibh ionas go mbeidh áchan seans acu fáil ar aghaidh go maith sna scrúduithe stáit. Tá rogha iomlán ann do dhaltaí sa choláiste maidir le ranganna agus na léibhéil is féidir scrúduithe a ghlacadh ann, msh. Gnáthleibhéal agus Ardleibhéal agus anois is arís Bonnleibhéal ach le cuidiú Déagus ár gcuidiú fhéin is beag scolaire a dhéanann an bonnleibhéal.
Errigal College believes that Irish is a living language of communication and that it has an important status in the education system of this country. The language is a vital part of our heritage and crucial in our recognition as a Gaelic Culture. As is said "A Country without a language is a Country without a soul" and Errigal College recognises that. it is the aim of Errigal College to promote and to develop the language that our students have and to prepare them for the state examinations at the end of their studies here. emphasis is placed on every aspect of the language, from reading to listening to spoken and to written. Errigal College offers the opportunity for all students to avail of the subject. Students partake in various projects through the school year, students also partake in activities during Seachtain na Gaeilge and various outings are organised to Gaeltacht areas to assist in the deepening of the students knowledge and to help instill in them an appreciation of the living language in its original state. Errigal College offers all its students the opportunity to study Irish at the level that they are best suited to achieving success in the state examinations. there is a full spectrum of levels offered to all students from Higher to Ordinary and Foundation level.
The Science Department
Here in Errigal College, all students study Science for their Junior Certificate. Science is an interesting world of how things work, what things are made up of and why things happen. Students study Biology, Physics and Chemistry as part of the Junior Certificate course. In Biology we find out how our body works, how plants grow and animals survive. In Physics, we learn why things happen which help us in everyday life, and in Chemistry we find out what things are made up off and how they react with each other. There are 3 state of the art Science laboratories here at Errigal College, where exciting and interesting experiments and events happen. These are all equipped with the latest computer software and technology. The Science subjects offered at Leaving Certificate level in Errigal College are: Agricultural Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. This gives our students a broad list of options, enabling them to pursue careers in Science, which we all know will be vital to the recovery of our economy.
The Business Department
Business subjects have a high profile on the curriculum in Errigal College. Students in 1st year will have the opportunity to sample Business Studies for a period of seven weeks and then students will opt to take the subject to Junior Certificate. Business is available at senior cycle at higher/ordinary levels. The school also provides the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) and many students of this programme take one business subject as part of their vocational subject grouping (VSG). In addition, students of the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) study Office Administration and Customer Care (OACC). The school operates a policy of mixed ability for all Junior Certificate students. The business department use various activity-based methodologies and promotes self-directed learning with the LCA and Junior Cycle mixed ability classes.
BUILD A BANK
This is our third year involved in the competition. This year was an extremely proud moment for the school as TY students were the regional winners of the Build A Bank Competition. Competing against 185 schools we were selected to go through to the National Final in Dublin in May. This competition gives TY and 5th year students an opportunity to run their own school bank with the support of AIB. A team of six students are involved in the setting up, running and day-to-day management of a bank in their school. The school bank team has an opportunity to be involved in all aspects of banking from sourcing new customers to opening AIB accounts and encouraging regular savings and new ways to bank such as AIB phone and internet banking.
SCHOOLS BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP (S@W PROGRAMME)
This programme gives senior students an insight into life after school using employee’s presentations. This is an opportunity to give our students a firsthand insight into the diversity of employment roles within a company. We at Errigal College are extremely fortunate to be working in partnership with the AIB branch in Letterkenny, a very well established organization n our local community. Mr John Bowe, Manager at AIB, and his staff give tremendous time and effort to this programme. The programme provides site visits, ‘A day in the life talks’, CV workshops, mock interviews, company overviews and interview skill techniques. Elaine Mc Fadden is the Regional Co-ordinator for the Schools’ Business Partnership and works extremely hard and is very dedicated to the programme at Errigal College.
The aim of this programme is to enhance the teaching of business and entrepreneurship in Errigal College by combining classroom learning with real life business experience. The enterprise module works to develop skills and attitudes, which will enhance students to become active participants in enterprise education. The mini-company acts as a bridge to help students make a transition from a highly structured environment to one where they will take greater responsibility for their own learning and decision making. There are many benefits for the students involved in this programme: cross curricular links; promotion and development of innovation within the school and wider community; ownership and responsibility in students is encouraged; encouragement of leadership, teamwork, communication, decision making skills and individual accountability are all developed.
We are very fortunate at Errigal College to be working in partnership with County Donegal Enterprise Board, which work closely with us at the school. The DCEB co-ordinated by Rachel Wasson provides us with invaluable information and exciting events/programmes such as Enterprise Focus Day, Student Enterprise Awards Competition, The Business Base Camp, Business Stimulation Competition, Business Base Camp (organised by CDEB). This initiative is aimed at the leaders/Managers of the school businesses participating in the Student Enterprise Awards. The Business Base Camp will seek to address the issues at the start of the school year when the businesses are first set up to lead more sustainable, successful and innovative businesses. The camp brings in experts and real business people to help students understand what being in business is like through practical workshops. Students attend a weekend residential in Gartan Outdoor centre.
Material Technology (WOOD) & Construction Studies
Materials Technology Wood (MTW) is one of the technology subjects offered at junior cycle. MTW encourages the students, through the design process, to employ practical problem solving skills. It promotes the application of scientific and technological knowledge through the use of various materials. This subject is taken as an option for the junior cycle in first year. It is examined at the end of three years by means of a project, portfolio and theory examination. Practical work is an emphasis and carried out routinely in the well equipped workshop.
Some of the things you will learn include: how to design a project given a brief description of what you are to make; how to use freehand sketching to communicate your ideas; how to prepare a design drawing/plan of a project you design; how to read design drawings and make small projects from these drawings; how to safely use a range of hand and power tools in producing your design; learn about Health and Safety in a workshop environment Some of the things you may do with your teacher and your classmates are: examine trees, their leaves and seeds and be able to recognise their varying characteristics; investigate how trees affect the environment around us; learn to sketch freehand; learn how to problem solve and use a design process to design projects; develop your craft skills to allow you to make projects; prepare a design folder to accompany your project. Students generally proceed to choosing Construction Studies when they progress to senior cycle. Leaving Certificate Construction Studies introduces students to the knowledge and skills associated with construction technology and construction materials and practices. This is achieved through theoretical study and integrated practical projects which provide a basis for the thorough exploration of materials and processes.
These subjects produce great results each year from our exam classes, recently one of our students received one of the highest marks in the Ireland for his Junior Certificate Woodwork, under the instruction of Ms. McGettigan. The subjects are based in two highly equipped and specialist workshops in the school with cross curricular link to many other subjects in the school. In the last 5 years investment up to €80 000 has been used to turn a good department into a top of the range department with investment being used fully for the development of workshop resources, machines and materials.
The Engineering Department
The subjects Metalwork and Engineering have long been associated with Errigal College. Metalwork is offered at pass and honors level to Junior Certificate. At Leaving Certificate level, students study Engineering and it is also offered at both levels. Students who study these subjects to examination level are required to design and make a project and produce project briefs for the respective examinations. At higher and ordinary level in both subjects students will be required to participate in a practical day examination. The subject of Metalwork is one that allows the students to develop skills to work with metals, plastics and basic electronics. Students also experience the use of computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacture (CAM) while designing and making various class projects. The course itself provides instruction to material and process engineering. The subject is founded in practical and physical activities. In addition, the subject allows for the development of work related disciplines and provides an insight into engineering technology at a variety of levels. In Engineering, the course offers students experience in the study of a wide range of mechanical engineering processes and technological applications, integrated with the acquisition of the manipulative skills and techniques for practical creativity and design realisation. Students are exposed to and use modern technologies and their many applications in modern day society. ICT and electronics are essential ingredients of the engineering course.
In Errigal College two modern fully equipped rooms are available for the teaching of Metalwork and Engineering. A grant of €150,000 has been used in updating and refitting of two metalwork/engineering rooms with new modern machinery as part of a modernization programme announced by the Department of Education and Skills in 2007. Both subjects are taught on the basis that they challenge the student to design and manufacture various projects while developing their basic skills. The design process allows the student to explore various opportunities, be creative and understand the concept of design and make by preparing working designs and drawings for their proposals. This process is closely linked as student’s progress to the Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations. Both examinations are very much focused on allowing students to design and make. In preparation for the 2010 Junior Certificate metalwork at higher level, students are required to design and make a Go-Kart. Ordinary level students are requested to make a Dump Truck. For the 2010 engineering higher level examination students have to design and make a Gantry Crane. All project work commences in November and must be completed by March 2010. The skills developed and confidence gained by in studying metalwork and engineering prepares students for various career options e.g. apprenticeships, various engineering disciplines and education.
Technical Graphics and Design and Communication Graphics
This area of the curriculum has gone under huge change in recent years with the Leaving Certificate subject being changed radically on a national basis. Here in Errigal College, We are at the forefront of this change, with superb technical improvements and an outstanding team of teachers including Ms. McGettigan, Mr Gorman, Mr. Mulligan and Mr. Doherty. In conjunction with the Department of Education vast sums of money has been invested to develop and encourage students in their targeted results. Teachers have been given extra training and in-service to promote the changing demands on this area of education. The junior cycle subject, Technical Graphics, covers a large array of areas, from architectural drawing to product design. The use of logical thinking, creative thinking and good draughtsmanship is used to produce geometric solutions and results. Students will build up their hand and eye co-ordination skills and their mathematical knowledge as well as develop confidence and self esteem with in themselves. In Technical Graphics you will learn: how to produce drawings; using drawing equipment,freehand sketches and computers; how to read and interpret drawings and diagrams; how graphics relate to the design and manufacture of products.
The new Design and Communication Graphics (D.C.G.) Syllabus introduces a new Element to Drawing using a graphics package "Solid Works" students are given the opportunity to develop their design skills and bring them to life. D.C.G. provides students with the opportunity for visualizing and comprehending information presented verbally or graphically. Problem solving and creative thinking skills are developed through the analysis and solution of both 2- and 3-dimensional graphics. Graphics and design are communicated using freehand sketching skills, traditional draughting equipment and CAD. The study of D.C.G. here in Errigal College is one that is held with the up most admiration. In conjunction with the new syllabus we have spent a great deal of time and funding on our new state of the art facilities, which are also used for the junior cycle Technical Graphics course. We are committed to providing you the student with the best facilities and teaching methods available to us. As a student of D.C.G you will be one of the first of your generation to experience the integrated use of ICT in a formal exam system. The new course is as exciting as it is dynamic. The areas of study include the practical applications of graphics in everyday environments and numerous options that cover both building applications of drawing and also engineering applications of drawing. The new course is also akin to the existing technology subjects in that it allows the student to have over 40% of the exam completed before sitting your official exam. Students will split their time in the classroom between the use of solid works and draughting. The split is in conjunction with the allocation of marks for the subject. Here in Errigal College it is our vision to have a fully integrated approach to ICT in the classroom. For those students of a true practical nature, Errigal College is the only School in the Letterkenny area that allows students to do the three main practical subjects at Leaving Certificate level. These subjects are Design and Communication Graphics, Engineering and Construction Studies.
The Home Economics Department
Home Economics is one of the taster subjects in 1st Year in the school, therefore offering all students, male & female the opportunity to sample the subject for a period of 5 weeks prior to making a decision as to whether or not they wish to study it for their Junior Cert. Junior Cert Home Economics comprises of five core areas – Food Studies, Social & Health Studies, Consumer Studies, Resource Management and Textiles. In addition there are three optional areas included, namely a Childcare Option, a Craft Option & a Textile option. Students must present for assessment at Junior Cert a project from one of these three areas. Also included for assessment at Junior Cert is a practical cookery examination based on a brief designed by the Dept of Education. The Leaving Cert Home Economics course comprises of a core and three electives. The core consists of three areas: Food Studies Resource Management & Consumer Studies Social Studie three electives from which the teacher & and the students must choose one to study. The electives are extensions of content contained in the core & provide students with the opportunity to study certain topics in more depth. The electives are: Home Design & Management; Textiles, Fashion & Design; & Social Studies.
The most popular elective selected and studied by the students in Errigal College would be Social Studies. There has been an increased emphasis on practical work, and it is now a mandatory component of the course. Students will be expected to carry out all practical coursework during class time under the supervision of their teacher & then complete on their own a record of each cookery assignment. A total of five practical classes need to be completed by each student. This affords students the opportunity to develop their organisational, manipulative & creative skills in relation to the preparation, cooking & presentation of food. Both the Junior and Leaving Cert Home Economics syllabi have been designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills & attitudes that will enable them to take control of their own lives now & in the future. It is concerned with the way individuals and families manage their resources to meet physical, emotional, intellectual, social & economic needs.
Home Economics is both a practical & academic student suiting a wide variety of students. In Errigal College a large number of students would study Home Economics to Junior Cert and Leaving Cert opting for both the Higher & Ordinary levels. The school has a well equipped Kitchen & Sewing room & recently has received funding for the nstallation of a Data Projector & Laptops.
Languages at Errigal College
At Errigal College, we believe strongly in the need to study a language in terms of preparing our students for a 21st century globalised society. Our departmental approach to languages teaching is based on using the language for real purposes: Pupils are encouraged to communicate in the foreign language in class and there is a strong emphasis on motivating pupils via games, competitions and spontaneous interaction. We aim to do this in a supportive environment, where all students are challenged and enjoy their lessons. Each course is designed to fulfil the Curriculum requirements. The four language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing are continuously assessed to ensure students reach the prescribed levels of attainment. Learning a language improves your understanding of other cultures. A continental language is an essential entry requirement for University and Nursing in Ireland.
We aim to provide our students with the following skills; to develop an understanding of speaking and writing; to communicate effectively in the foreign language; to develop knowledge of the grammar of the foreign language; learn about other countries and cultures. We currently offer all First Year students the choice of studying either French or German. Students then continue to study the language for Junior Cert., whereupon they may choose to study either language as an option at Leaving Cert. There are four language lessons a week for Junior Cert. and five classes if studying for Leaving Cert. Languages are a popular choice at our school. The language classrooms are equipped with up to the minute text books along with the latest technology, i.e., a multimedia projector, laptop and wireless internet access. This enables us to use inspiring and exciting interactive resources that bring our language lessons to life for the whole class. We use the flexible software package Boardworks to supplement the language courses we deliver. It helps to engage and inspire confidence in our students. Fun games are used to introduce new vocabulary, flexible activities promote discussion and develop speaking skills and visually appealing and audio exercises help reinforce students’ learning.
The History Department
“History is… bunk” is the famous saying by Henry Ford. While we may smile at his humour, we in Errigal College couldn’t disagree more. By studying history, our students are learning to put current affairs and news events into perspective. They are gaining a much better understanding of what is happening in world politics, why they are happening and what the results might be… nuclear weapons in Korea; world recession; the price of oil… In their first three years our Junior Cert students learn about historians and archaeologists and how they investigate the past. Our coursework begins in the Middle Stone Age (The Mesolithic Era) which began about 10,000 years ago. Our coursework ends in the early years of this century. The history they learn is social history: Where did people live? What did they do? What did they eat? What did they drink? What did they wear? How have all these things changed?
Our senior students find that Leaving Certificate History is a much more political and factual subject. Since the mid-1800s our world has been changing rapidly. Looking at the causes and consequences of these changes are what makes history such an important subject. As the first decade of the twenty-first century draws to a close, we recall the words of philosopher John W. Gardner: “History never looks like history when you’re living through it.” Leaving Certificate History students are given an insight into the relationship between Ireland and England, the independence struggle, the civil war and its effects on present-day Irish political life. Our students had a much better understanding of the recent Lisbon Treaty referendum than most people who had a vote! And as part of the growing European Union, we must have a firm understanding of the past.
ICT at Errigal College
The integration of ICT in teaching and learning; every subject area has access to data projectors, there are 3 fully networked classrooms, the music department is close to completing a course using Apple Macs in music production, the school is in the process of becoming a Wi-Fi hotspot and we are embarking on a teacher training program on the integration of ICT in the classroom. Communication is a key learning skill and the data projector allows our teachers and students a whole new dimension in how they share ideas, information, charts, images, animations, audio and video. Learning is much more powerful with the data projector as it offers support for a variety of intelligences such as visual-spatial, bodily-kinaesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, and logical-mathematical - a projector can help to achieve this variety in a classroom. Our data projectors show large clear images that are visible from all parts of the classroom. Errigal College has 28 classrooms and 21 of them have data projectors. 20 classrooms have their projectors permanently mounted to the ceiling. The groundwork of ICT teaching and learning is done in the ICT classroom room. There are 3 ICT classrooms filled with computers in Errigal College. Here the students get their introduction to the basics of Microsoft Office. But we don’t stop there. Many mainstream students have completed FETAC Modules in Word-processing, Transition Year students will benefit from training in video editing software as part of their production of an animated movie and our music students are in the heart of a program on sound production. Errigal College is a Wi-Fi hotspot. Teachers and students are reaping the benefits of wireless internet access from any point within the school building and its grounds. This opens up a whole new scope for students, who otherwise would only have internet access when timetabled in a computer classroom. Students are able to work on their subject assignments and projects during their free time in the school canteen or wherever they choose. Errigal College has its finger on the pulse of ICT in classroom. Our staff are training in the integration of the most advanced ICT into every classroom and are participating in a whole school ICT development program. In conjunction with the NCTE, staff are training in advanced applications with the data projector, advanced presentations and digital media. This will make Errigal College one of the most up-to-date and technologically advanced schools in the county. Although Errigal College is a leader in ICT in Education, the hunt for perfection in the classroom will never end. While technology in education is a dynamic entity, Errigal College will always change to be at the forefront of any new developments. To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.