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St. Patrick's Primary School Mullanaskea, Garvary, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh

Letter to Parents October 2021

4th Oct 2021

Dear Parent,

It is lovely to speak to you.  It is great to meet all the children and get back into school life.  School life has been very interrupted due to the COVID 19 pandemic.  I do not believe that any of us would have anticipated the longevity of this situation.  However, we are doing ok.  It is with thanks to you, the parents, and as a community that you have protected the school.  You are very vigilant when your child is sick, ensuring that he/she gets tested to check for COVID 19 and report back to us.  Unfortunately, the numbers with the virus have significantly increased in Fermanagh and indeed we have seen this increment at school.  Last year, we experienced a couple of cases for the entire year.  So far, in this school year, there are several cases weekly.  It is vital that we protect our vulnerable, our elderly and everyone in general.  It is too late to have the conversation when someone is badly infected and affected.  So I ask you to keep up the good work and be vigilant and patient.  It will pass in time; we just have to dig deeper than we ever imagined.

School life goes on.  This week, we are re-introducing Spanish with our resident tutor David.  You will get correspondence from the office about this.  P.1.-P.4. will be paid by school funds.  As was always the case, P.5-P.7. will be funded by parents.  I urge you to enable your child to participate.  I am an advocate of learning a language.  Not only does it give the child the experience of learning how a language works it gives the child a confidence when they encounter languages at secondary school.  It also taps into their global awareness which is a very strong feature at Mullanaskea: Erasmus, Connecting Classrooms, etc.

The Confucius Programme should also re-commence soon.  It is designed for P.5.-P.7. children.  Again, due the pandemic issues from last year, it did not run but the hope is that the South West College in connection with the University of Ulster will have it available for schools soon.  The children learn Mandarin Chinese which culminates in an exam in P.7. This is a wonderful addition to a C.V. for a young person.  More importantly, it is great to learn the structures of this very ancient language. 

We also have a Sports Coach for Years 5-7 weekly.  Brass, with Mr. O’Hare, has also resumed.  This is wonderful, and we hope that the school band will be operational and performing soon.  It has a long tradition at Mullanaskea and one which we value.  Again, many children pursue this at secondary level.  There is also a Hallowe’en Dress Up Day planned for Tuesday 26th October and the P.3.-P.7. children will also attend the annual Pantomime at the Grand Opera House (5th January 2022). 

We aim to keep the initiatives/experiences as strong and robust as possible in order to balance school life for the children.  Extra-curricular experiences are very important, they provide breadth of experience and breadth of imagination.  They allow children to be less confined in their thinking and awaken and develop their inner talents.

As always, academic life is strong at Mullanaskea.  I want to point you all in the direction of the school website (Homework Tab- password is: mullanaskea1) where you will find each class’ Information PowerPointsIn normal times, these would have been hosted by the teacher where you would have been invited into the school.  Of course, we cannot do this with the limitations of COVID 19, but you can get the information on the website.  Please take time to read it.  It will guide you to the type of work your child will be doing and also to the pitch of the work.  It should enable you to support your child at home and provide the vital links that are needed between home and school. 

The P.1. Induction Programme is also available in this site.  The first workshop is posted at present: Literacy. For P.1. parents, it is vital to avail of.  Please also understand if you need any extra support contact Mrs. Cox or myself and we would be more than happy to support you.

There is a Spellathon planned for Friday Oct 22nd.  This is where we would like you to sponsor your child to learn all the spellings he/she has met over the half term.  The class teacher will provide lists to support you.  It is a great way to revise the spellings ensuring that they transfer to the children’s everyday lives and not to be confined to a Friday spelling test or dictation.  Not all children will get all spellings correct, but they really need to give it a good effort and ensure that they do their very very best.  It also will support with vital school funds. 

During my rounds into classrooms, and in discussions with teachers, I am increasingly noticing a lapse with home works.  Homework needs to be completed when it is set. It consolidates the work done in class. No one likes homework.  I do not think it is meant to be liked!!  However, please ensure that it is completed nightly and make it a priority. School life is short. There are so many holidays throughout the year and with the Covid 19 lockdowns, it is easy to let things slip.  So ensure that your little ones get their homework done and that they learn their spellings/words/ tables every single evening or on the journey to school in the morning.  Ensure that they practise their reading every evening also.  Do not waste a single minute.  This is their time.

The entire staff has recently participated in an Erasmus series of workshops.  This was where the school secured funding for this project via the British Council two years ago.  However, with the whole pandemic disruption we could not avail at an earlier point.  Recently, we engaged in a series of outdoor workshops on how to support children through emotional and wellbeing issues as well as acquiring skills on the creative and expressive subjects such as developing creative writing.   I would like to thank the staff for their endeavours.  They used their own time to engage with this important project.

There will also be a School Mass via the webcam from the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Tempo.  The date will follow soon.

There is a lot happening at Mullanaskea.  I am very excited about all the prospects.  Life has to be kept as normal as possible for the children.  As I said, this is their time.

My Very Best Wishes to You All,

L O’Neill.