Seasons Greetings to all our families and friends! We hope you are all well and keeping warm in this wintry weather.
As always it’s been a busy couple of months in Esker ETNS. Below is a round up of what’s been happening in school since our last newsletter.
In Esker ETNS we place great importance on promoting a love of sports and staying healthy. There’s been lots happening in this area this term. Many thanks to Heidi and Liz for all their hard work in this regard.
Our Sports News
Naomi and Anne from Cricket Ireland ran a table cricket competition in November. Table cricket is a crossover sport between Cricket and Table Tennis. The children have hand signs to show the outcome of the ball being bowled. This really brings the game to life. It is a very inclusive game.
This was an internal competition. Lots of the children from 2nd to 6th participated in this event. Everyone got a T-shirt and certificate. It was super fun and enjoyed by all.
Erin from Basketball Ireland has been visiting our school on Wednesdays to coach and develop skills in basketball. The children from 3rd to 6th have been involved in this activity and have loved every minute of it. There are some skilled basketball players emerging from these sessions.
A number of children from 3rd and 4th class participated in an athletics training course after school on Tuesdays run by Gerry from Lucan Harriers. They really enjoyed the sessions and showed considerable improvement in their fitness level over a short period. The plan is that Athletics will return in the early Spring, and we hope that this will lead to our participation in Cross Country competitions with other schools. Well done to all the athletes who took part.
We are delighted to have been able to return to swimming lessons this year as we believe it is an essential life skill, and also a fun way to keep fit. Fifth class attended lessons this term at Clondalkin Leisure Centre, and Third Class will be going after the holidays. The cost of transport to and from the pool makes these lessons very expensive, which is why we can only attend for short courses. We are very much looking forward to a time when our local swimming pool around the corner opens, which should make lessons much more accessible for all.
The students in 6th class are currently participating in a Cycle Safe class run by South Dublin Council. There will be seven sessions in total. The first session was conducted in the classroom and was all about safety. This included carrying out a bike and equipment check.
The subsequent lessons are taking place in the school yard. There are two trainers onsite and the lessons incorporate road safety theory and cycling technique.
Some of the skills learned so far include taking a left-hand turn, taking a right-hand turn, cycling two abreast, changing speed and coming to an emergency stop. Essential skills for these children who may find themselves cycling to secondary school next year.
And a reminder re GAA
The school is in a time of development in the area of Gaelic Games. If any children are interested in taking up any of these sports in their free time, they can contact Alan O’Neill (GPO) - Lucan Sarsfields GAA or Declan Jennings (GPO) Westmanstown GAA.
Student Voice -or giving the students an opportunity to have their say- is, as you know, very important to us in Esker ETNS.
Here’s an update from our student committees.
A message from Amaliya (S.C joint chairperson) and Noha (S.C secretary)
This year the new student council reps wanted to arrange a fundraiser to support Educate Together’s One Day for All appeal. Maryam from 5th Red suggested that we have a cultural day.
The Student Council worked very hard to arrange this fundraiser. We did this by meeting regularly to plan, by designing posters, sending emails, making announcements and giving daily reminders of the fundraiser. The Student Council Leadership Team (Alexandru, Amaliya, Noha and Zaryab) also contacted parents to see if any of them would like to participate in this joyful day.
On the day itself, the Leadership Team went around to each class and gathered names of people who wanted to represent their culture at the assembly “Catwalk”. We had arranged for some parents to come in to tell stories, sing traditional songs and dance to traditional music. Shanslay from 3rd Green also did a traditional Indian dance.
We were delighted to raise a bunch of money from each class. Once we counted up the money and realized we had collected €525 we were happy to announce that Culture Day was a success. Educate Together was delighted to receive our donation.
The Student Council had a wonderful time preparing this lovely fundraiser. We were really happy about the results and we hope to continue to do more good work over the rest of the year.
Climate change is a pressing issue for us all, and our Green Schools Committee is very active promoting the messages of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. The committee is always busy, and this term has continued to promote sustainable travel with the Golden Boot Award for the class that participates most actively in Walk on Wednesday!
We are very lucky in Esker to have hot lunches delivered daily, but a concern for us is that this generates a lot of waste. This goes against our principles as a Green School and has been the focus of our Green School’s Committee who came up with an innovative way to cut down on this waste. They ran a competition to see which class would generate the least lunch waste. Children were encouraged to ask their parents to cancel lunch orders if they were not being eaten, and to only order food that the children would be willing to eat. Third Class Green won this competition and were rewarded with the surprisingly popular prize of going on a litter and leaf pick!
Last week the committee were delighted to welcome Michelle from Composting Ireland to the school to help them set up our wormery. Composting using a wormery is an ideal way to turn some of our food waste into compost which we will be able to use when we are planting in the Fairy Garden and elsewhere around the school grounds.
We have a new Active Committee made up of members of staff and children from 3rd to 6th . We have been having meetings about getting our whole school really active. We are also in the process of renewing our Active Flag this year.
As a result of this, we have brought back the ever-popular...
The children voted on a song to learn and we play music on the yard on Fridays. We have dance leaders to guide the children through the fun dance moves. Everyone loves this and they do their best moves!
We also have been getting a rota of children together for mentoring younger classes with their football skills on the yard. The mentors act as referees and coaches for break time.
The active committee arranged for there to be an audit of the PE equipment. The children counted the footballs and tennis balls in the classes. The teachers tidied out the PE Press and will order any missing equipment. This means we have everything we need to be really sporty and enjoy our PE.
We have trained some children how to pump up the class sets of footballs with the electric pump. This is extremely helpful as they can go around the classes when needed, keeping the equipment in great condition for PE. We also would like to get a new sports kit for the school and we are going to start planning our path forward on making this happen.
Look out for active homework that will be coming soon. There are loads of sports and activities going on in the school every week and we have lots of ideas and plans for the future. More fun active times ahead!
Other interesting activities.
Science Week took place in November, and every class took the opportunity to develop their interest in the sciences with experiments, investigations and research projects. Third Class Green won a raffle to take part in a Science show being held in Lucan Library. This event was supported by Discover Primary Science and Lucan Library (SDCC).
The children visited the library and participated in a number of experiments involving colour changing liquids. They used pipettes and measured out the liquids very precisely. The children agreed it was both interesting and fun -the best way to learn!
Teacher Artist Partnership Residency Programme
Second class are enjoying the opportunity of working with artist Gabi McGrath https://gabimcgrath.com/ as part of the Teacher Artist Partnership Residency Programme. They are learning felt-making and are currently working on a project inspired by the book The Rainbow Fish. For this collaborative art project the children are creating their own individual pieces and then these will be joined together to create an ocean of fish. We are excited to see the finished piece!
4th and Fifth class delighted us all with a percussion performance to demonstrate the rhythm skills they developed working with Phil and James from Music Generation. Phil and James are professional musicians and the Music Generation programme funds a ten- week programme of percussion lessons for 12 classes over the course of the school year. Next term it will be the turn of 2nd and 3rd class.
And continuing on a musical theme, we are delighted to announce the return of the Esker School Choir. Paula is our choir mistress, and she rehearses with her band of singers every Friday afternoon. The choir will perform for us at the Winter Showcase next week, and in the New Year, all going to plan, will perform at The Big Sing. This is a collaborative concert featuring a number of schools from across the country. More details to follow.
After School Clubs (ECAs)
Art Club, and Art through Spanish!
Twelve students from First class Red and Green joined Louise for 6 weeks of Art Club. During this time they made lots of different crafts such as spooky houses for Halloween, rockets for science week and winter skies and snowmen. Art Club gave the children the opportunity to practise a different skill each week, such as painting, drawing, cutting and sticking. Everyone had great fun and really enjoyed the classes, most especially the popcorn and dancing on the final day! Children from 2nd Class had the added benefit of learning their artistic skills through Spanish with Carmen and Leah. They learned some Spanish chat and songs, whilst at the same time producing some very impressive artistic creations. Fantastico!
Baking and Cooking Club
Baking and Cooking Club took place every Monday after school in the staffroom for 4th class students, with Ivana and Milena. This very popular club started on 7th of November and finished on 12th of December. Master chefs Ivana and Milena focused on improving the children’s baking and cooking skills. Every Monday students prepared a different dish from scratch. On the menu were cupcakes, chicken nuggets, pancakes and waffles, tomato +mozzarella pasta, Nutella cake and Pizza. Every Monday evening tantalizing aromas wafted through the school corridors and it was a pleasure to finish the school day with a taste of these delicious dishes!
Games club with Eimear D. took place this term for 3rd class. Nothing beats a good board game for hours of entertainment. The children were introduced to some new games, and also got to play some of their old favourites. Good old-fashioned after school fun!
The students in 6th class have been participating in chess club for the past 6 weeks. The club is run by 6th Green teacher, Declan. Here’s a message from him.
Chess Club lessons began with a detailed look at the pawn and progressed through all the chess pieces. It is more than just learning the rules of play. There is an emphasis on respect, forward planning, decision making, accepting defeat, chess etiquette, teamwork, resilience and patience.
This first lesson introduces the basics of chess such as making eye-contact to show respect at the beginning and end of the chess game as well as turn-taking throughout the game. The lesson explains how to set up the chess board correctly, demonstrates the Pawn piece and introduces a fun mini-game to develop students’ understanding of the Pawn. The students progress through the weeks on to the last lesson which is full chess.
If students know how all the pieces move and understand checkmate (how to win and lose a game of real chess), then they know how to play chess. Of course the world of chess goes much, much deeper, understanding checkmate is the access point. The level each person achieves in chess is then down to practice, practice and more proper practice.
One of the highlights of chess club is when we use construct-a-checkmate puzzles to conclude the teaching of checkmate before devoting the rest of the lesson to allowing students play (for many students) their first real game of chess for an extended period of time.
Chess club use a lot of the resources that ficheall have online. There are videos which introduce the concepts of chess in a step-by-step, easy to understand fashion. It is a great resource for budding chess players.
The students have made great progress at this immensely satisfying game, and hopefully have begun what will develop into a life-long hobby.
In Other News …
Last year we received a grant from The Department of Education to purchase digital devices to support our learning. We bought iPads which arrived this term, and to which every class has access. These will be used to support numeracy, including problem solving and computational thinking, to enable the use of technology such as robotics and coding, to facilitate activities to support literacy and other subjects using digital storytelling and to allow our SET department to use specialised programmes with the students who need them. Teachers have had the benefit of extra training in computational thinking from our old friend Niamh Gallagher, who is currently on secondment with the PDST. We intend making the most of these new devices and new skills next term!
Our Winter Card- Making session was a great success. The multipurpose room was full of chatter and crafting. Claudia and Tara continued on with the crafts in December.
We were also delighted to be able to run an 8- week craft class with Audrey- Some of our parents painted a beautiful mural on the multipurpose room wall.
(If anyone has a skill, crafting or other that they'd like to share, please get in touch to arrange a class!!)
We had an excellent turn out for our MABS (Money Advice and Budgeting Service) talk last week. We got some great advice about budgeting for the coming year.
Don’t forget to support the PTA charity fundraiser money collection- 'Silly hat day' in aid of the Peter McVerry Trust (A charity which supports homeless people). This is happening on Friday Dec 16th.
There will be lots happening next term.
In January we will be running a numeracy initiative for first class called Maths for Fun. This will run for four weeks, and will involve parents coming in to play maths games with the children.
A literacy initiative - CLOVER -will be happening in January for Junior Infants. Parents will be invited to come in and read a story to their child's class. This can be in English or your home language.
If you are interested in getting involved with either of the above initiatives, make sure to let me know!
The Esker ETNS Winter Showcase
The excitement was brewing in school this week, as all classes prepared for our Winter Showcase on Tuesday 20th of December. There were two performances, one for the parents of Junior Infants to 3rd Class, and the second for the parents of the older classes. It was wonderful to be able to invite parents back into the school to attend this kind of event, and we loved seeing so many of you on the day! For those who didn't make it on the 20th, there are videos of the performances on the Learn Together Assemblies page of the website.
May I also take this opportunity to wish you well at the end of this busy and enjoyable year. For those of you who celebrate Christmas, we send you Seasons Greetings, and for those who don’t, we wish you health and happiness for the holidays and the New Year.
With very best wishes,
Gemma and the staff of Esker ETNS
Updates from Gemma about our school.