Traditionally the school Career Guidance Counsellor's role was to help the students to identify their strengths, weaknesses and match the student's interests to a certain job requirement. While in the past this often involved traditional considerations of gender and social sterotyping, more modern methods generally involve the use of different aptitude testsand vocational guidance interviews to indentify individual pupil's particular talents. The guidance programme in Errigal College ensures that students have the following serivices open to them:
Conselling: Helping pupils on an individual basis to think about the choices open to them.
Information: Providing pupils with objective and factual data.
Assesment: Using psychological and other tests to help pupils make their own decisions.
Advice: Making suggestions based on the advisor's own knowledge and experience.
However, the counsellor at Errigal College does much more than this. Help is provided in dealing with personal issues such as: anger/conflict management, death, personal growth, relationships and academic studies. Here at Errigal College we have a dedicated confidential office for guidance counselling and students can make appointments to see Mr. Murrin, the Guidance Counsellor.
Home School Liaison
The main aim of this scheme is to promote the partnership between parents and school staff. The purpose of this partnership is to enhance pupils learning opportunities and to promote thier retention in education. The focus of the Home School Liason scheme is on the adults whose attiudes and behaviour affect the lives of our children, namley parents and school staff.
The Co-ordinator; Mrs Eileen Maguire, visits homes, promotes communication between hme and school, removes barriers and fears, offers informationand directs parents towards relevant supports and services. Parents are also directed towards relevant training and upskilling in courses and classes. In Errigal College, partents have recently completed a cookery course on "Healthy Eating on Budget". Parents have also taken part in parenting courses e.g. "Living with Teens", as well as budgeting courses, talks on drugs education, strategies on homework and self-esteem builing courses. Coffee mornings are regularly held in Parent Stop, Letterkenny, while parenting skills are disscussed. Parents are regularly invited to take part in activities which provide both a social and educational dimension. http://www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/des_hscl_vbp_fore.htm
The School Completion Programme
The School Completion Programme works to help students complete their education. It does this by running activities and events that will support students at risk of early school leaving. These can happen in school, after school and at holiday time. If a student’s behaviour shows that s/he may be thinking of leaving school, the programme will try to help him/her to stay. This will be done by talking with the student, with his/her teacher and school management and parents. A committee of local groups and school management operate the programme and agree the programme for each school year. Some of the things the programme has done to date in Errigal College include: working with the Career Guidance Department to provide Motivation workshops for all Leaving Certificate students An after-school Subject Support Club for First Years Organised, with the language support teacher, an intercultural project that involves non-Irish national students from Errigal College trained to deliver short presentations to first year students in Mulroy College about their own countries Subsidised students to attend locally based Soccer Summer Camps Paid for students to attend the An Grianán Performing Arts Summer School Provide funding for the Art Department to enter the ‘Celtic Dragon’ float into the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Letterkenny Providing counselling for some students as needed Support of the Senior Girls Soccer team with coaching with Year Head and Form teachers, organising and running a ‘Friendship Day’ for all First Year students to help them settle into school life.
With specific teachers and some senior students, creating a school garden Providing additional teaching to students identified by management and teachers Supporting students who attend the Daybreak Programme at Donegal Youth Service in Letterkenny Working to provide a football/personal development project for some students With the Pastoral Care Co-ordinator, providing training to and supporting the Peer Mentors in the school. The Co-ordinator of the Programme is Paddy Hannigan who has an office in the school. He also works in Mulroy College in Milford and in the Letterkenny Educate Together National School.
The role of the learning support teacher is to provide additional teaching support to students with low achievement in literacy or mathematics and to those with mild or transient difficulties in such areas as language, motor co-ordination, behaviour, socialisation or attention. Our Learning Support teacher is Mrs Gorman and these classes are an intergral part of our programme for any first and second year students.
All students are tested upon entry to obtain a reading age and subsequently those requiring extra support recieve one to two classes per week. Diagnostic testing ensures that each student recieves an individual programme specifically tailored to suit their needs and an individual programme is drawn up to compliment this. students are carefully mnitored and once they have reached the correct reading age, they have completed their learning support programme. Activities in English include work on phonics, comprehension skills, infernetial thinking, read-a-long, paired reading and writing techniques. Maths is also included where required and Social Skills Training Programmes are also held. We work carefully with parents and any involved outside professionals to ensure the needs of each student are being catered for.
On a broader scale, many incentives have been held in the past such as Paired Reading Programmes with local national Schools which we thoroughly enjoyed! Our students were trained as tutors by Mrs Gorman and the programme took place over six weeks. We have also enjoyed a Drop everything and read week where all students, visitors and staff dropeed everything they were doing and read for enjoyment for 20 minutes each day for a week. We look forward to such initiatives taking place again.
The staff at Errigal College seeks to value and develop the young person at every level. This involves caring for the quality of relationships between all partners in the school community. It incolves the engagememnt of all the school policies processes and programmes in the development of the appropriate structures, roles an resources to support the development of our students.
At the centre of out Pastoral framework are the roles of the Form Teachers, Year Heads, Chaplain, Guidance Counsellor, Home-School Liason Officer, School Completion Officer, Principal and Deputy-Principal. However, the Pastoral Care Policy has whole-school involvement and is embraced by all departments. Each member of the school community has access to the relevant pastoral structures and procedures and each is invited to play their part in contributing to the Pastoral ethos in the school.
A core pastoral care committee comprising of the Head of Pastoral Care, Positive Behaviour Liason teacher, Home-School Liason Officer and School Completion Officer meet weekly to discuss student needs to initiate programmes to assist students in many areas of school life.
We all endeavour to; monitor the general welfare and well-being of each pupil; monitor their academic progress and behaviour; advise and guide pupils in all aspects of school life and advise parents where necessary & look after the overallwell-being/welfare of students providing moral guidance, support and understanding in times of personal trouble.
The Positive Behaviour Liaison Teacher
In November 2008, Mrs Margaret Russell was appointed as Positive Behaviour Liaison Teacher (P.B.L.T.) in Errigal College. Margaret works with our school’s senior management in preparing, implementing and monitoringour Behaviour Improvement Plan. As P.B.L.T., Margaret’s duties include developing our school’s positive behaviour initiatives. She also plans and evaluates effective responses to all levels of challenging behaviour.
Margaret promotes positive behaviour in our school and acts as our liaison person with the N.B.S.S. She also works with other agencies developing effective educational strategies to meet the needs of pupils with behaviour problems. The N.B.S.S. and the P.B.L.T. in Errigal College strive to ensure that all our students achieve success at school. Their work is improving student behaviour and is ensuring effective teaching and learning in Errigal College.
National Behaviour Suppory Service (NBSS)
Established by the Minister for Education and Science in 2006, the NBSS is committed to engaging with post-primary schools to promote and support positive student behaviour. The NBSS believes that: by learning to behave appropriately, every student can experience success in the school community. Unacceptable student behaviour can improve with appropriate support. School staff should be able to access support and assistance to develop strategies and interventions.
The NBSS works systematically with schools identifying, developing and disseminating good practice and assisting with behavioural issues which impede teaching and learning. The NBSS partners schools developing programmes and approaches for each specific group of students. These approaches include: Identifying student needs around behaviour and learning; Developing appropriate teaching and learning methodologies; Accessing suitable social/behavioural improvement programmes; Setting up network group/clusters for support and continuous professional development. In Errigal College the NBSS provides three levels of support: Level One assists the school in promoting positive behaviour to prevent student misbehaviour. Level Two provides interventions to students identified as being at risk of academic or social challenges due to behavioural issues. Level Three provides interventions to students with intensive, chronic behaviour challenges based on comprehensive evaluation.
Book Rental Scheme
In Errigal College we are delighted that we are able to provide all of our mainstream students with a Book Rental Scheme. This scheme has been in operation since 2004/05. This is an excellent initiative in that we provide our studentswith all of their textbooks at a fraction of their cost. The rental fee is paid at the beginning of the school year and provides a most welcome financial saving for our students and parents. At the end of the school year the students return the textbooks to the school and the books are stored safely for the summer. In September the students are issued with their books again on payment of the rental fee or they are issued with a new set of textbooks if they have moved from junior to senior cycle. The Book Rental scheme has been an excellent success in our school and we hope to be able to provide our students with this scheme for many years to come.
Visitors to Errigal College are welcomed by the sight of many different greetings in foreign languages, alongside a World Map, reflecting the native languages of our students from all over the world. These greetings are also included in the student’s diary. A recent poster campaign also displays the variety of languages spoken from 14 different countries. These include Hungary, India, Latvia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Phillippines, Poland, Slovakia, South Africa, Zambia, Belgium, Brazil, Germany and Ghana, not forgetting England, Scotland and Wales. International Students, who do not use English as their first language, receive extra English classes, as required. To celebrate the International dimension to Errigal College, a World Cup soccer competition is held each year, where an Irish team competes against Poland, Scotland and the rest of the World. Poland’s Independence Day is celebrated each year on November 11th and Polish students provide home made native foods and sing their National songs. Mr Robert Fabisiak, our Polish PE teacher, founded and co-ordinates a Sunday Polish School, where Polish children, between the ages of 6-18, learn the Polish language and culture, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuition is provided by qualified teachers from Poland, who are employed n non-teaching jobs in Ireland. Physical activity and English classes are also provided free to adults. Other nationalities are very welcome to attend.
The transition from primary to post-primary school can be both an exciting and frightening experience for students. At Errigal College, we are aware that the first term in our school presents students with many challenges, more subjects, more teachers and more personalities to deal with. Each year 10-12 senior students take on the role of acting as peer mentors for the First Year group. These senior students are trained by the Donegal Youth Service and by our School Completion Officer, Mr Hannigan. They are then assigned to small groups of students and meet regularly with them. We have found that appropriate peer support within the school can and does increase the opportunity for personal and social development; it can also provide additional support and encouragement with many aspects of school life and help to build confidence and self-esteem, encouraging a more positive participation in school life. Two of our senior mentors, Karen Mc Laughlin and Hannah O Donnell, have described the mentoring as follows: As a way of welcoming first years into Errigal College and ensuring they enjoy time in our school, we have set up a group of peer mentors. This was very exciting for them as it was a new school and new people, but it was also a very scary and daunting time. This is where the role of peer mentors comes in. Students from fifth and sixth year come together once a week to plan activities for the first years. From this, they can communicate better with their class members, mixing different personalities together. We take time during lunch to ask them how they are getting on in the school and if they have any problems. Since starting in September, we feel students now have trust in us and can confront us about any difficulties, regarding things such as bullying. As peer mentors we believe that this is vital. For us, it is a rewarding job and a brilliant asset to our C.V. but for first years, it is of much greater importance. Our main aim is for the class to say they enjoyed their first year in Errigal College and that they are looking forward to finishing their education within the school.
The Student Council 2012
Errigal College holds an election each year for the Student Council. The students for election must complete a nomination form and manifesto of what they will bring to the council. The council meet regularly to discuss issues of concern to the student body, help with open nights and organise other students in fundraising or school activities.