News from Coláiste Muire, Ennis

First generation of iPad students start at Coláiste Muire, Ennis

Coláiste Muire has gone digital with the introduction of iPads for all new first years. This follows discussions early in the year with parents, board of management and staff. School Principal Jean Pound explained why they decided to take the plunge and move away from traditional school books.

“This was due to a number of factors. First of all, the weight of school bags has been an issue for secondary students for a number of years. It is estimated that many students are carrying a quarter of their weight in school books. More relevantly, these students are digital natives, they can use these devices intuitively so why not tap into this and make learning exciting”.

The cost of the new technology for each student is around €620. For first years to get kitted out with books, it would probably cost around €500 to €600.

With the iPads, the books are updated automatically so the investment really is over three years through their junior cycle. Parents have been most supportive. While the initial outlay did mean an investment, they see it as an investment in their child’s education and future.

While the students are all very excited about the new state of art devices, Ms Pound emphasised, this is not all about the technology, although it places them in the world of the future. It is primarily about enhancing learning and teaching.
The school has provided a special iPad locker for the students to keep their new equipment in. All of the students received their iPads in the summer to get them used to the technology. On returning to school, all the equipment was cleaned up and their school books uploaded. Ms. Pound said all the students have the same apps that are all educational and they are unable to buy any of their own apps.

The apps on the iPads include Shakespeare, Dictionary, Keynote, iTranslate, iThesarus, Pages and so on. Teachers have taken up the challenge and are embracing change. They can connect to their iPad through their digital projector in each classroom and they are busy sharing good apps with each other. All in all it has been a very positive beginning, Coláiste Muire is looking forward to an exciting year of learning and teaching.

Introduction of Chinese

Coláiste Muire is one of a number of schools in Munster offering Chinese as part of its Transition Year Programme for 2012/13. The teaching of Chinese Language and Culture is facilitated by the UCC Confucius Institute. The UCC Confucius Institute was established in The Irish Institute of Chinese Studies (UCC) in November 2007. It is a collaboration between UCC and Shanghai University.


The aim of the Confucius Institute is to strengthen educational co-operation between China and Ireland, support and promote the development of Chinese language education and increase mutual understanding between the peoples of China and Ireland.

Coláiste Muire welcomed William Zhang from Shanxi province near Beijing in early September. 60 Transition Year students will have Chinese classes on Tuesdays throughout the year. Any student excelling at Chinese throughout the year will have the opportunity to sit the Youth Chinese test and if recommended, participate in the Chinese Bridge Competition and perhaps avail of an educational visit to Beijing. 

Press Pass Transition Year Initiative

Transition Year students in Coláiste Muire are getting a better idea of how newspapers work under a new initiative launched on 19 September. On Monday 24 September the Press Pass scheme started to deliver free national and regional newspapers to more than 14,000 students in 250 schools across the country. This is to continue for a two week period and is accompanied by a workbook.

The newspapers are being read and shared around during English class each day. The workbook gives students a better understanding of how papers operate and how they can be used as an educational resource. It also offers practical insights into five key areas of newspaper journalism-news, sport, features, analysis and photo-journalism. In addition, TY students taking part in the scheme can also enter a national writing competition with the best work set to be published across all NNI titles in the new year.

National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) teamed up with the Department of Education to launch the scheme. Welcoming the initiative, Education Minister Ruariri Quinn said the strong, yet practical focus on reading and writing should help to improve literacy standards for those TY students taking part.

Young Social Innovators Ireland/Vodafone Ireland Foundation

A group of 4th year students from Coláiste Muire, Ennis attended the launch of a partnership between Young Social Innovators Ireland and Vodafone Ireland Foundation on September 14. The partnership aims to provide young people with the tools and knowledge to become engaged in social change.

This year Vodafone Ireland Foundation will invest over €400,000 in the programme. The joint venture aims to engage over 100,000 young social innovators and be available to all young people from the ages of 15-24 by 2015.

“It is vital that we educate and empower young people to become leaders on social issues, said Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, co-founder and chairperson of Young Social Innovators”. She was speaking at the launch of the new three year education programme to encourage innovation in young people. 60 Transition Year students are involved with YSI in Coláiste Muire for 2012/2013.