Tag Archives: school

Why I wish my kids school had policies like Colaiste Eoin

Colaiste Eoin hit national press when they postponed at very short notice a workshop which Shoutout.ie were due to give to it’s Transition Year students.



The term postponed is important, the school does intend to run the workshop but has had to delay it due to letters which were sent to the school by parents of children due to take the workshop.

These letters would have automatically triggered a procedure were the letters and their contents would have to be discussed and be responded to by the Board of Management. Once the school opened the letters there was no other option but to postpone the workshop. We have no idea when the school got or opened the letter but them arriving that morning would explain why Shoutout’s team weren’t contacted sooner.

Why do I want my children’s school to have the same policies re external groups?

Because I have had the experience of only finding out that Accord the catholic marriage counselling agency were invited in to give a workshop on relationships (which only dealt with hetrosexual relationships) with one of my children when a text message was sent saying they class would be home early for lunch due to the workshop when the workshop had already started. http://www.accord.ie/services/schools-programmes

I rang the school very not impressed and had to arrange to have my child come home so we could talk about that situation and see if they wanted to opt out or return to take part in the work shop. They were not pleased at the situation and said the person giving the workshop never disclosed they were from a catholic organisation.

My children’s school does not have a policy of letting parents know an external group is coming in, The Gideons have been invited in and  handed out their teen abridged bibles to my children in their class, with out prior notice or option to opt out my children who are not Christian.

Yes the timing of the postponement of Shoutout’s workshop was really horrid, but I still wish that I would be informed of external groups and be given the chance to object and/or opt out my children. I have been working to get my children’s school to adopt the same polices Colaiste Eoin operates under.

Yes in this instance those policies have been used by what seems to be conservative parents in relation to an LGBT workshop, but that does not mean that the polices and procedures are wrong.

I hope that Colaiste Eoin can have a Board of Management meeting soon to address the concerns of the parents and arrangements can be made to opt out those children if necessary, as it the right of parents to ask for as under out constitution parents are the primary educators of their children.

As for the comments about “both sides”, given that the Shoutout’s workshops ran for the last two years in Colaiste Eoin, the school may have been taken aback by the letters and whom ever made that comment was right in the context that the letters and both sides have to be heard by the board of management. It could be that the parent’s don’t want to opt their children out but just had misgivings and needed more information before agreeing to their children taking part, we don’t know as the content of the letters is unknown.

My compassion is with the administration of the school as they have been unexpectedly thrust into the national spotlight and have enough to be doing with running the school,  dealing with the day today and the situation with out having to deal with press inquiries.

I know it may seems strange that a parent like myself who is an LGBT and Reproductive Rights Activist is standing up for those parents to excise their right to input in this situation but as I have said I think it’s a right all parents should have and all schools should be informing parents about which external groups are getting access to their children.




Voting and why I do it.

I have mentioned before that I read this book around the same time I became a teenager.

It is the story of the fight for women’s suffrage in the USA. It made me aware of the countless hours women of many generations worked so hard for to get the right to vote some suffered horribly in vile prisons and some even died.

Women in Ireland did not have the Vote until 1928.
Yep 1928 which means we have not had the right to Vote yet for a 100 years.

Suffragettes including our most famous ones Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington seemed to think once women had the Vote the world would be radically changed as we would be then equal with men and able to change laws and make the world and the country a fairer place.

While I think if those brave ladies were to travel forward in time there are many things they would be pleased with but I do not think that the level social change and ‘equality’ would be something they would be happy with.

Women having the Vote did give us a certain amount of power but as we all know well now it was not the Pancea for all ills the suffragette had hoped it would be. But that does not mean it won’t be as we move forward and with the internet making it easier for us to communicate and collate information, making an informed choice and being informed on whom to vote for has gotten easier.

Every time I get a polling card with my name on it I think of the women who dedicated themselves in the fight to get women the right to Vote and didn’t live to get to Vote themselves. 86 years of having the Vote, I don’t think women have done enough with it. The old boy’s club is still very much the way things are in our houses of parliament. We deserve better.

I am refusing personally to vote for any candidate who is not pro choice to some extent. I will never give a preference to any candidate who considered women like me to have committed murder. I will never give a preference to a any candidate who does not see the need for a separation of church and state esp in our schools and health care system. I will never give a preference to any candidate who does not see the need for a comprehensive universal sex and sexuality education program in our schools.

I have had people ask me why bother, well that just means things stay the way they are. Often less then 55% of the people who are on the electoral roll turn out to vote and we have people who are eligible to vote who are not even registered to do so. If there is a low turn out in an area, which politicians can tell, due to the numbers being low then they don’t feel the need to work so hard on the issues being raised in those areas. You want to make a difference, get active, get informed and vote.
It is a lot easier to do so now, then it was when women first got the vote in 1928, it’s easier now then it was 50 years go even 20 years ago.

I Vote because I believe I have an honour and a duty to do so. I have never failed to do so in the last 21 years and I hope I never do.

Third of pupils got no sex education | Irish Examiner

Third of pupils got no sex education | Irish Examiner.

This needs to change.
One of the infuriating things about it is that there is a comprehensive sex & sexuality education program which was developed to tackle this, but due to it clashing with the christian ethos of the overwhelming majority of school in the country it has not been rolled out by them or distributed to parents via the schools.

Those resources can be found here.

School code of conduct amended to include ‘cyberbulling’.

We got a note home to day stating that the school’s code of conduct has been amended.
It’s a brave move, not sure how it will be implemented but it’s certainly drawing a line.

Online privacy and code of behavior.

Circulating, publishing or distributing (including on the internet) material associated with school activities including but not limited to material in relation to staff and students were such circulation undermines, humiliates or causes damage to another person is considered a serious breach of school discipline and may result in disciplinary action. As part of such disciplinary action the Board of Management reserves the right to suspend or expel a student or students where it considers the actions to warrant such sanctions.

That is the amendments and then letter goes on further to state.

At this point the Board of Management have ratified it and now staff parents and pupils have been informed that rull will come into effect immediately and will included in our official school Journal when the next set are ordered.

I think it does read to be heavy handed but having heard of some of the incidents which have inspired this, including the Photoshopping of pupils and students I can understand it.

While part of me is thinking of the rights of teenagers, rights come with responsibilities and in my experience the majority of parents don’t know how to teach their child to be responsible online and what is and is not acceptable. The best way to teach kids how to behave is to model that behavior and if parents aren’t doing that online, other people are, and often those other people are their peers and that can be problematic.

Having read the letter, again I am glad neither of my kids have a Facebook account, and long may that last.

Inspiring quotes needed.

Start of the new year and with it comes the two homework journals.These days they are very swish compared to what I had secondary school. The school my brats attend have opted for the 4Schools.ie’s student journal.
Which their site http://www.4schools.ie/student-journal states

The 4Schools.ie’s student journal is a learning focused journal which can be tailored to reflect the unique culture and ethos of your school.

Our standard A5 student journal includes:

A choice of hardback or spiral binding
A choice of five attractive full colour cover designs with your school name and crest overprinted in black
Either 8 or 16 pages of your customised content printed in one colour
A choice of two learning modules
A full colour weekly diary featuring facts, quotes and think-links
16 pages of notes for communication between parent/guardian and school.

It really is a kick ass resource, with inserts on the school rules, parental contact sheet, log tables, maps, info about college courses, all the school polices laid out in it so that they are easily accessible by parent and students. The homework journal which a parent has to sign off once a week is a good way of keeping track for parents, teachers and students. Just above the space for a note from a teacher or parent and the sign off it as an inspirational quotation.


I was flicking through them with my daughter, her first thought was cool and then we noticed a pattern.
Can you spot it?

Thomas Edison, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Fredrick Nietzsche, Henry Ford,
Mathatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Ralp Waldo Emerson, Aristotle, Plato,
Solon, Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, William Shakespear, Edwin H Cahplin,
Oliver Goldsmith, Jonathon Swift, Henry B Adams, Jermy Collier, Napoleon Bonapart,
Arthur C Clarke, Alber Einstein, Aristotle Onassis, Brian Tracy, Brack Obama,
Franklin D Roosevelt, Napoleon Hill, Alber Camus, Lawrence Peter, Francis Bacon,
French Proverb.

She spotted it before I did. There are 41 term weeks so that is 41 quotes and 1 of them is attributed to a french proverb but the remaining 40 are all men. They range from Plato to Obama, over 2,300 years and not one woman included.

So yes I will be sending a note to the school and to the provider of the journals but we decided we would write in quotations by women along side the quotations by men, I might also send them to the school and provider.

So we are asking for help in compiling a list of suitable quotations, we have a few already, but we need more.


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

“Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.”
Rosa Parks

“A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back – but they are gone.
We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you.”
Marian Wright Edelman

“Between saying and doing, many a pair of shoes is worn out.”
Iris Murdoch

So please share with us your favorite inspiring quotes by women.

There is no yes or no.

When helping my parents clear out their attic, we found many things, one of the was a series of interviews they did with the 5 of us over the years. It was was a list of questions which were part of a parenting course when they had taken part of and had gone on to train and give in various primary schools in the area.

Reading them was like a time capsule and looking back on what our likes were at ages 7 10 and 13 and how we’d changed. My daughter wanted to read over mine and had more then enough fun teasing me about some of the answers. One of which to the question what do you want to be when you grow up my 10 year old self had answered with Polyglot, yes I was all manner of precocious having had a reading age a good few year beyond my actual age.

So I had to explain to my now 11 year old what a polyglot was. Two languages is bilingual, three is trilingual and hyperpolyglot is six or more so polyglot is four/five languages. She asked me why I stopped, that I already had three, English, Irish and Germany that I only needed one more, but it would have to be a real one and not Klingon, and yes smartarsery does run in the family.

That converstaion stuck with me and the notions wouldn’t go away, but there was no way I could take on a brand new language with out brushing up on Irish and German.
She didn’t forget either, so when a notice came home from the school about Irish classes for parents on Wednesday morning she pressed me about it, so I signed up.

This morning I found myself in portacabin classroom which is the parent’s room, with 8 other mothers. Five of use who had been through the Irish school system all having done at between 11 and 13 years of being taught Irish as a subject and four who had not. The other ladies first languages were Filipino, Latvian, Polish and Croatian. Some of them also had a smattering of Russian, our tutor giving the class also spoke Russian so it was interesting class with many cross references.

It started with the very basics of greeting someone. You’d think that would be pretty standard and not controversial right? Not a hope. When Irish was standardised into the modern form taught in school it was done so with a certain bias.
So hello became “Dia duit”, which translate directly to “God be with you”, tricky, is your god is not my god or if you have no god. Then there is the response and children are all taught to reply saying “Dia is Muire duit” “God and Mary with you”, yup Mary mother of Jesus, and if your into out doing the person you can end up with “Dia is Muire is Padrig duit” God, Mary and St Patrick be with you.

The Irish parents didn’t blink an eye at this, but the others questioned it, which reminded me of one of my grandmother’s neighbours, she used to greet him “Dia duit” but he’d always replied “Maidin maith” as he was not a catholic. So thankfully the tutor was happy to deviate from her lesson plan to include “Maidin maith” “Good morning”, “Trathnóna maith” Good afternoon and “Oiche mhaith” Good night.

Which lead into a discussion on gender and Irish nouns. As “Maidin maith” is cos the morning is deemed masculine and it’s “Oiche Mhaith” as the night is feminine. I can’t really recall ever in an Irish class with gendered nouns. Sure it was done in German class but not in 13 years of Irish.

This spun the discussion off into the different sounds of words, and the use of the fada and the tutor had some wonderful examples. That Seán is a name and sean means old. The fada putting the emphasis on that part of the word and changing the vowel sound. So that it can change the word entirely, briste means trousers and bristé means broken, so you end up with “Ta mo briste bristé” my trousers are broken.

And then it was back to the greetings and how are you “Conas atá tú?” and the replies and every answer echos back the question asked, for there is no, yes or no in Irish. There is “sea agus ní hea” but that translates as it is and it’s not.
Which mean we have an echo language that we echo back the words spoken to us so that there’d be hopefully less misunderstanding and not doing that, to not give a full reply would have been considerer ill mannered.

There is no yes or no, but there is a maybe, this I do remember and it was often used by my grandparents, b’fheidir, maybe or more correctly translated as possibly.
So “Is feidir linn” does not mean Yes we can, it translates directly as it is possible for us.

Which is what started this for me, it’s still possible for me to be what I wanted at ten, even with it being a little over two and half decades from when that was an aspiration. When we think in absolutes we can close our selves off to possibilities.
Hopefully this basic class will start to brush away the cobwebs and I can try think more as gaeilge, is feidir liom.

bibles, mass and school continued…

I had two scheduled meeting in the school today, one was with my child’s tutor and SNA
the other was with the head mistress re the bible and a few other things which have cropped up re having a non christian child in thier school.

The first one went well and as I was walking away told my son that I would see him at lunch time as the school has a half day on Wednesdays and and his tutor said ‘Well after mass, as the school as a mass on.” “Excuse me” was my reaction “Oh yes, did he not tell you the whole school is going to Mass at 12:40 for the remember in November the parish priest was in to talk about it yesterday and the kids gave up names for the list of those gone.”

I looked at her and looked at my son and asked him if he wanted to go and that he didn’t have to if he didn’t want to but if he did as his classmates were going I was ok with it. He said he didn’t want to and I then asked the Teacher did he need a note and she said no as it’s out side of school hours…..WTF.

Out side of school hours but the students are being told to go, expected to go told the mass is for them and that they are going directly when school ends.

I told her that my son is not part of the parish, is not christian and that he doesn’t have to attend any masses what so ever. I am raging.

As for the other meeting it was cancelled, grrrr they tried to fob me off with the home school illsason teacher who barely had 5 mins, didn’t know what the meeting was about and when I asked for a copy of the schools policy about non christian children wasn’t sure if they had done and then couldn’t think of were to look for it.

I have a new appointment again on friday morning.

The Gideon international, thier books and schools.

We all know that the Gideon are a group who put bibles in every place they can squeeze one in. apprently they have managed 1.5 billion in hotels, hospitals prisons army and now schools here in Ireland.

The young lad who is in 1st year came home with a pocket edition of the new testament and proverbs and psalms, they came into the community school gave them out and he was instructed by the teacher to take one and to put his name on it and to keep it in his bag and the class was told to read a bit from it every day.

This book is not on the book list it is not part of the curriculum, but this evangelical organisation was allowed in the school and it’s literature was pressed on every child. The book has a special index in the front which points to passages to help with life’s problems, christian virtue and character.

I am staggered they were allowed in the school and it was given out and that my son who is not christian (and the teachers are aware of that) was instructed to take one and put his name on it.

Am I the only one who thinks this is well out of order?

School homework has ‘no real benefit’.


School homework has ‘no real benefit’
Friday, 8 October 2010 15:58

There is little evidence to suggest that school homework in its current form has any real benefit, according to a primary school principals’ group.

In a submission paper to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Curriculum Reform, The Irish Primary Principals Network says the role of homework in the education system ‘requires serious research and analysis.’

IPPN says that principals and teachers have serious concerns about the impact of homework.

The Network has highlighted nine areas of concern in its submission paper to the committee.

It says ‘effective teaching in the classroom, which differentiates both children’s learning styles and learning abilities far outweighs any value of homework.’

‘Homework can often be the source of a huge amount of stress between parents and children,’ says IPPN Director Sean Cottrell.

Pointing to the fact that quality time can be scarce among families on weekday evenings, Mr Cottrell said it this time can often be spoiled by homework.

The majority of stress and strife around school in this house over the last 6 years has been homework. Not that it’s too hard but the resistance to doing it has lead to rows and tears. I do think that it can be good in terms of letting parents know what the kids are doing and how they are doing but there has to be a better way, esp when it only becomes an exercise in undermining a child’s confidence.