Greetings to all of our Parents, Guardians and members of the extended Esker School Community. We can’t believe the school year is drawing to a close and the holidays are approaching! We are happy to report that it has been a wonderfully positive year, and huge learning has been achieved. Many thanks to all of you for the myriad ways you have helped us to support your children.
The last term of the year is often the favourite for the children -it’s a high energy term of School Tours, Sports Days, Outdoor Education and so much more besides.
Read on for a taste of what has been happening in school over the last couple of months!
We kicked off the term with Wellbeing Week, which we celebrated from the 24th-28th of April. This initiative was ably led by Louise from First Class Green. It resulted in us receiving our Amber flag, which is awarded in recognition of the efforts that schools go to in order to create healthy and inclusive environments for children. During the week the children engaged in a range of different activities designed to promote a feeling of well- being- mindfulness, mindful colouring, yoga, walks and outdoor reading to name but a few. Peace, tranquillity and goodwill emanated from teachers and pupils alike as a result!
Active week took place from 14th -18th June and the children were kept on their toes by multiple activities arranged by Liz from 4th class and Heidi from 6th class. Throughout each day there were lessons and presentations on sporting themes and opportunities for movement and activity, starting with exercises in the yard before the children had even entered the school building!. A big hit was the “Active Schools Walkway” – a route around the school designed for the children to explore. They searched for clues and posts along the route and then completed a different active task whenever they found one. The route meandered around the school grounds, taking in the “Esker Forest” and “Fairy Garden”.
Children from 3rd to 6th also competed in a lunchtime football tournament, with the winners facing the teachers in the Grand Final! I’m delighted to report that the teachers won!
Linda managed to draft in parents too, and many came in to have a go on the South County Dublin “Smoothie Bike” – a crazy contraption which used pedal power to produce delicious fruit smoothies!
Public Speaking Training
One of the skills we aim to nurture in the children is the ability to speak confidently and competently in a public situation. First Class Red were very lucky to get to trial a new public speaking programme for the school. They learnt about the importance of eye contact, gestures, voice and movement within the speaking space. These are skills which all the children will be working on in the coming years, skills which will undoubtedly stand to them in their future studies and work lives.
Esker and the Environment.
Looking after the environment is something we take seriously in Esker, and it’s an issue we try to promote in various ways.
In May, 3rd class had a visit from Mairéad from Biodiversity Ireland. She spoke about pollinators and insects in the local area. They had a presentation and discussion in class before going out to the outdoor space. They searched around the plants by the carpark and over in the forest area to look for bees, caterpillars, butterflies, spiders, woodlice and spiders. They used magnifying glasses and small containers to observe the creatures before letting them free in their natural habitat.
Using the environment as a learning space was a feature this term. Teachers received training in how to use outdoor spaces as a resource to teach aspects of all curricular subjects. Thereafter the children experienced the benefits of this training, and our mini “Forest” area was scheduled for use by all classes at various times to teach a range of subjects.
The War on Litter and Waste!
First Class Green had a special visit from Lucan Tidy Towns. The children were keen to inform the members from Tidy Towns about our school's efforts to keep the immediate environment clean and green. First Class assisted Tidy Towns on a litter pick around the grounds.
2nd Class participated in 'Picker Pals', an environmental programme for children and their families. Pupils took turns to bring home the “Picker Pack” which they used to litter pick in their local area. Through engagement with the programme, pupils are developing a greater awareness about the need to find practical solutions to the global crisis of waste in the environment.
3rd class Green reduced their food waste from the hot lunches this term by cancelling and changing their orders. In fact, they were the class to reduce the most food waste in the school! Because of their sustainable efforts, they won a litter pick in the local area. A surprising popular and practical prize!
Ruaille Buaille Children’s Arts Festival
The Junior and Senior infant classes made beautiful Musical Magical wands with Ruaille Buille on Friday 9th of June. The children used sticks and craft materials to make their wands. Children were invited to bring their Musical Wands to the children’s Music festival which took place in Griffeen Park the following day, and to participate in the performances.
The Boys in Blue!
A message from Paula.
We've been learning all about The Garden Centre in Blue this month. We read book Ten Seeds, learned a song about the different parts of plant, played with compost, planted cress seeds and watered wild flowers in the garden. We loved using spades and trowels and trying on gardening gloves. Here we are in the shed in the fairy garden. We are pretending it's a garden centre where we can buy plants, flowers and seeds! We read the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears this week and made porridge in the staff room. We made sure that it wasn't too hot or too cold. It was just right! We also baked little bear cakes and decorated them with icing. We love cooking and baking in the staff room!
Linda was delighted to be awarded a grant of €1500 from Children’s Books Ireland and KPMG which she spent on compiling a beautiful library of children’s books on the theme of inclusion and diversity. These books are made available to the children throughout the year, and they get pleasure and satisfaction from seeing children from all backgrounds, cultures and walks of life represented in the stories and illustrations.
Ernie the Assistance Dog
In May, Ernie the assistance dog came to visit our school and the children learned about his training and his responsibilities. Ernie and the other dogs like him help children with emotional and social needs. He also helps people with Autism and sensory needs. It was super to see how he and other assistance dogs can support people to live their lives safely and happily.
And great excitement was created by the visit of Jungle Dave and his family of weird and wonderful animals. This visit was generously funded by the PTA. We were introduced to a Burmese python, alligator snapping turtle, tarantulas, bull frogs, scorpions, chameleons and a rhino iguana called Phyliss!
History Around Us.
On Thursday 22nd June, our fifth classes went on a local walk with the Society for Old Lucan. They used carbon paper to make rubbings and discover the dates on the graves- some were over 150 years old. They looked at artefacts of tiles, ceramics and even an old pipe! They really enjoyed learning more about the history of the local area.
Be the Teacher!
Third Class had huge fun and some serious learning when teachers Laura and Giorgia gave their classes the opportunity to 'Be the teacher'. In June, the students in both Green and Red 3rd classes got the opportunity to 'be the teacher'. The children brainstormed, planned, prepared, gathred resources and taught lessons to one another based on their area of interest. The children listened to and learned from one another each day. They also got to see what it was like to manage a class for a short time. We had drawing lessons, cricket stations, football skills, dance classes, SPHE lessons, obstacle courses, Arabic lessons, painting classes, gloop making classes, basketball skills, GAA lessons, handwriting classes and more! We definitely have some future teachers and coaches in 3rd class... watch this space!
The Green School Committee's goal this year was to reduce food waste at Esker and they did a fantastic job. In one month alone, the number of uneaten hot lunches in the school was reduced by 160. The Green School Committee also helped to reduce food waste in the staff room. They emptied the compost bin every week and fed this food waste to the wormery and later used the 'worm tea' to fertilise the raised beds in the fairy garden. Mairéad from Biodiversity in Schools did a pollinator workshop with the committee and taught the group all about the importance of bees and pollination. We've noticed lots of bees pollinating the lavender flowers at the front of the school this month! Finally, we took part in the National Spring Clean. We had a fantastic group of parents helping us on the day and we collected bags upon bags of rubbish! A huge thank you to everyone who volunteered! We appreciate you!
Here you can see our committee at work using leaves from the leaf mould cage and compost from the wormery to prepare raised beds before planting beans, squash, beetroot, pumpkins and sunflowers under Barry’s watchful eye.
Sports News from Heidi.
This year we had many sports teams and individuals participating in local and national competitions.
Through sport, the children get a great sense of wellbeing and happiness. It develops confidence and teamworking skills. We are an inclusive school where the emphasis in sport is in breaking down barriers so that all children have a chance to participate.
We started the year with Gaelic football. 5th and 6th class learnt new, and practised old skills in our after school GAA club, and then played in the Cumann na Mbunscol Gaelic Football and in school matches that were held locally. We represented the school very well and our skills were well honed by the time we got a few matches under our belt. We learned how to win and lose with grace. We made happy memories.
Later on in the year 5th and 6th played in the FAI football tournament. Once again they acquitted themselves well, improving and refining. They played their soccer skills along the way. Our ball handling skills, sports thinking and teamwork were very much in evidence here.
We had training from a visiting basketball coach once a week for 3rd - 6th class. The ball work and hand eye coordination they learned was excellent and transferable to other sports too.
We played a table cricket tournament with coaches from Cricket Ireland. Our 6th class Cricket team played in a cricket blitz in Terenure and had great success at that. Again the fundamental skills of hand- eye coordination, bat and ball handling, running and communication were key. The team, again, did an excellent job of representing their school and most importantly had fun doing so.
5th and 6th class Athletes went to UCD to participate in Cumann na mBunscol Athletics. The children all recorded their personal best on the day, which is quite an achievement. They also sang their way back home on the bus, with a collective haul of 11 medals.
It was a great year for sport. Roll on next year for even more! Remember your local clubs and get involved with GAA, Football, Basketball and Athletics. If you need help in finding a contact for a local club let us know and we can link you with a coach.
Flag Raising Festivities.
June 20th saw another day of celebration in Esker, with a visit from Mayor of Lucan, Emma Murphy and MEP Barry Andrews and Cllr Shane Moynihan. These esteemed guests were here to help us raise our Active, our Amber and our Pride flag. The rain held off, the sun shone and we all enjoyed the celebrations. The highlight of which as the visit from the ice-cream van! 500 ice cream cones served in little more than an hour!
A Fond Farewell!
The Sixth Class graduation took place on Friday 23rd of June, and it was with great fondness that we bade farewell to the Class of 2023. Parents attended a beautiful, moving ceremony at which our wonderful 6th class shared memories of their time in Esker and demonstrated their considerable talents through their artwork and songs. Congratulations to you all, we’re proud of you and wish you all the luck in the world as you embark on this next exciting chapter of your lives!
And so the school year draws to a close. To the many Muslim families who are celebrating Eid, we wish you every happiness of the season. We wish all our families a happy, healthy and sun-filled summer, and we look forward to seeing you back here on 31st August at 9.10am.
Best Wishes and Happy Holidays,
Gemma, Catherine and the staff of Esker ETNS
Updates from Gemma about our school.