Gaelscoil na Speiríní, nestled in the heart of the Sperrin mountains, in the Parish of Ballinascreen, has received a very positive inspection report from the Education and Training Inspectorate. The ETI on their inspection of the school in November observed “important strengths in educational and pastoral provision”. All of the children in the Gaelscoil achieved above the NI average in Irish, English and Mathematics in the Key Stage 2 Assessments and the inspectors commented on the excellent behaviour of the pupils and their high level of motivation.
The Gaelscoil, situated in Moneyneana, opened in 2004 with only 8 children and now has 33 pupils on the roll and boasts a young and vibrant staff. Michael Ryan, the Chairperson of the Board of Governors said, “I would like to congratulate the Principal and staff of the Gaelscoil as their commitment to the children in their care and their hard work has been rewarded in this recent inspection report. I would also like to thank the school community including parents, governors and children, who make a positive contribution to the ethos and atmosphere of our school.”
The Principal of the Gaelscoil, Seana Uí Cheallaigh said, “We are delighted with the findings of the ETI Inspection Report. The Gaelscoil is approaching a decade since it was founded and the Gaelscoil is going from strength to strength and the attainments of the children in Irish, English and Mathematics are a testament to this. We feel that the Gaelscoil provides something more by providing local children with an education through Irish. The children are attaining above average in an additional subject, their own native language. Last year our two primary 7 pupils obtained grades A* and A in their GCSE Irish so they already had a top GSCE grade when they left here!”
Outside of the classroom, children from Gaelscoil na Speiríní take part in the Fleadh competitions and last summer pupils swept the boards at both the County and Ulster Fleadh in the Irish conversation with Kyla English winning at the All-Ireland Fleadh in Cavan. The Principal said that the school also places a great emphasis on music and dance. Inspectors commented that, “the children take pride in their school and contribute to local competitions and initiatives” and their report also made reference to, “the strong community and team spirit associated with the school”.
Conor Stiobhard, a development officer for Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta (Council for Irish-medium education), visited the school in December to congratulate the staff on the ETI report and said that, “The recent report bodes really well for the future of Gaelscoil na Speiríní. The atmosphere in the school and the well-behaved happy children indicates that the Gaelscoil is a warm and caring community that provides a really positive learning environment. The pupils speak Irish very naturally and are also very confident about speaking Spanish! The Gaelscoil here provides much more than a high standard of education through Irish, it opens the childrens’ minds to other languages and cultures too”
The children performed songs and traditional music for Conor and also gave a modern dance exhibition instructed by their teacher, Colleen Reilly. Sport in the school is provided by teacher, Lara Brunton, an Armagh senior camogie member who also puts her musical talents to good use for the benefit of the pupils.
Gaelscoil na Speiríní is a pioneer in more ways than one, having established links with other communities who are focused on reviving their indigenous language and culture. Pádraigín, the leader of Naíscoil na Speiríní developed a link with a Gaelic community in North Lanarkshire in Scotland and a group from this part of Gaelic Scotland visited Ballinascreen last year with a return visit expected this year.
More recently this rural Gaelscoil has forged a cultural connection with a Native American-Indian community in the USA. The Ballinascreen Gaelscoil currently awaits, with great anticipation, the arrival of a package from the Cherokee school community in the USA containing letters, cultural items and artefacts for the children to observe and learn about.
Gaelscoil and Naíscoil na Speiríní are currently accepting applications for enrolment in September 2013 and more information can be obtained by contacting the school on (028) 7962 8445.
For more information about an Irish medium nursery or primary school in your area contact Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta @ 90321475 or www.comhairle.org