St Brigid’s PS
St Brigid’s PS is approximately 50 miles from the city of Belfast and 45 miles from the city of Derry. It nestles in the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains and is 25 miles from the North Coast including the Giant’s Causeway. Most pupils travel to school by bus due to the rural location and very widespread catchment area.
In 2001 the school opened an Irish Medium Unit. This offered pupils the opportunity to access the Northern Ireland Curriculum through the medium of Irish. The Unit has grown significantly and continues to flourish. Pupils in Years 1 and 2 i.e. the Foundation Stage follow a total immersion programme. In Year 4 in Key Stage 1 pupils begin to study English as a subject and this continues throughout the remaining primary school years. By year 7 the pupils attending the Irish medium Unit are completely bi-lingual and bi-literate. Many of them continue their post-primary education through Irish. The bi-lingual name of the school is often used to acknowledge the significant contribution made by the pupils, parents and staff of the Irish Medium Unit to the school. The pupils work in two separate buildings for most of the school day but share the multi-purpose hall at lunchtime. Irish is the communicative language used within the IMU.
The Principal, Mrs Patricia Mc Master has worked in the school for almost 30 years and was appointed Principal in 1996. Currently the school has 9 teachers (4 in English Medium and 5 in Irish Medium), 11 Classroom Assistants and 203 pupils. Due to the increasing demand for Irish Medium Education the enrolment is steadily growing, with the school being oversubscribed for the past 5 years. In September 2017 the enrolment will rise to 224.
St Brigid’s PS Tirkane / BunscoilNaomhBríd has three classrooms in the main building and five in the Irish Medium Unit. It has a multi-purpose Hall used as a Canteen and gymnasium. Meals are cooked daily onsite in the school kitchen. Every classroom has an Interactive Whiteboard and we have 12 laptops which are centralised for whole class use. There is also at least one computer in each classroom.
Pupils start school in the September after their 4th birthday and pupil range in age from 4 – 11 years. There are 58 boys and 67 girls in the school. The school day begins at 09.00 and ends for pupils in Year 1 and 2 at 2pm, other classes end at 3pm. The school has a wide variety of after school clubs in music, sport and in particular Gaelic games, drama, ICT, arts etc which run until 4pm.
At the last Department of Education inspection in February 2015 the school’s Achievements and Standards were deemed to be ‘Very Good’. Staff members in St Brigid’s PS Tirkane / BunscoilNaomhBríd are extremely hard-working and dedicated to their profession. They are highly committed to their own professional development and would work co-operatively with their European partners. All staff members have in recent years, completed additional in-service training in meeting the needs of pupils with Literacy Difficulties including Dyslexia and ASD. They are keen to see best practice in the use of ICT to enhance pupils learning and to develop their own knowledge and skills within Using ICT.
There is a strong emphasis within the school on the literacy and numeracy and in planning for the future the school now wishes to develop further the use of ICT to enhance pupils learning. The school participated for almost 20 years in some excellent cross-community projects under the EMU (Education for Mutual Understanding) Programme. At one stage 6 small schools worked together to provide pupils with opportunities to meet and work together on arts based projects and learn about their shared heritage. Tirkane PS was the lead school for much of this work. Sadly it came to an end with the removal of the necessary funding and a number of the smaller schools closing.
One teacher in school has taken part in a project with a school in Spain looking at the nature of bi-lingual education.