Following on from the successful and settled development of Naíscoil Éanna from 2004 onward it was appropriate to investigate the viability of establishing a full Irish medium primary school at the site. This was carefully negotiated with all statutory agencies, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta and Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta, and after much ground work and door to door canvassing to establish the requisite community desire and need for such a facility the Development Proposal was submitted in Autumn 2006 Unfortunately, our application was caught in the cross hairs of a political storm and was refused by UK direct rule NIO Minister for Education, Maria Eagle in January 2007. The reasoning was spurious and jeopardised the viability of the entire project, confronting the Board of Governors and parents with real difficulties such as start up costs and the attraction of teaching staff. A High Court case was taken by one of our parents, who complained that her constitutional rights as enshrined by the Good Friday Agreement, were affronted yet before the court had the opportunity to adjudicate (we were very confident) the 2007 Assembly Elections ensured the re-devolution of powers to locally elected politicians, sense prevailed, and Gaelscoil Éanna was opened with a Rang a hAon initial class of 12, in September 2007. The new Minister for Education Caitriona Ruane attended personally to open the school at the end of that first school year in June 2008.
Is an scéal stair Scoil Éanna, sceal gairid, ar an chead súil, agus tá se sin fior, ach is rud nios sinne é an smaoiniu den scoil, agus an ghaeilge é fein a chur cinn. Although the history of Gaelscoil Éanna is relatively short and recent, the idea of the promotion of Irish medium education and the language itself has been a long valued tradition here at St Enda’s and in the wider Glengormley area. The current dynamic which has manifested itself as the first Irish medium educational facility in the Newtownabbey borough, first gathered as a meeting in the club house in 2003, although this was a movement which was inspired by the proud traditions such as that of Sean Fox, a previous President of Naomh Éanna CLG, who taught Irish in the 1970′s and 1980′s in the boiler room of the old club house with a blackboard and chalk! It is fitting that his son Diarmuid and his wife Norah, have provided the Board of Governors with expert advice, with Diarmuid’s experience as NICEA examinations invigilator, and Norah in her stewardship of Glór na nGael.
As is the case in other Irish-medium schools throughout the country, Gaelscoil Éanna has a Gaelic-centred ethos. Our primary objective ensures the holistic development of children through an education which nurtures their self-confidence and identity and which is based on the Irish language and culture, music, sport and drama. Irish is the working language of the school and the language of instruction. Whilst we are the first Irish medium school in Newtownabbey, and are history makers in that context, in the wider view, it must be said that we are benefitting from the experiences and advantages that have been gained by the Irish medium sector as a whole. In Belfast alone, there are now almost a dozen Bunscoileanna. The friendship, encouragement and fraternal assistance freely given from all our colleagues across the city has provided much needed succour and advice in harder times, such as rainy January door knocking or leaflet drops in snowy November, throughout that time we have always been able to count on help from Gaelscoil na Móna, Bunscoil an tSleibhe Dhuibh, Bunscoil Mhic Reachtain, Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagain, Scoil an Droichid and many others.
With such co ordination and enthusiasm it is easy to identify how the Irish medium sector has flourished and blossomed. Indeed the Independent Strategic Review of Education chaired by Sir George Bain, remarked that the Irish medium sector, was a sector, that was growing against the trend, and one can inferentially observe that the proscriptive formula for school enrolment ratios was not one which should be reasonably applied to the Irish medium sector.
Gaelscoil Éanna is committed to developing a high standard of education through the medium of Irish. We value each pupil as an individual and as a member of the school community. We work in partnership with parents in a spirit of mutual respect. In school we expect children, staff and all who come into the school daily to give and receive their very best academically, socially and personally. This is achieved in a calm and secure environment where every individual’s uniqueness is respected and nurtured, where successes are celebrated, positive behaviour rewarded, all centrally founded upon great relations among staff and children.
Gaelscoil Éanna’s motto is:
Neart | Fírinne | Glaine – Strength | Truth | Purity
We assert that these tenets hold the ethos of the school. We actively promote moral truths, spiritual purity and personal strength, our work is reviewed, monitored and evaluated consistently to ensure that there is always ongoing improvement. As a community school, Gaelscoil Éanna aims to play a central role in the local community, great strides have been made in this area in recent times through the development of links with Edmund Rice College, Mayfield Village Hall, Tesco Newtownabbey, Glengormley Library, Ulster Bank, Carnmoney Health Centre, Tumelty Dental Practice, Glengormley Fire Station and the Ambulance Centre to name but a few, above all, at Gaelscoil Éanna we pride ourselves in putting ‘children first’ and in addressing their individual needs above all else.
The curriculum is designed so that the desire to learn will be encouraged in children and thinking and reasoning will be stimulated. The curriculum in Gaelscoil Éanna is broad and balanced and is line with requirements – it is delivered through a variety of teaching strategies aimed at enabling all children to have access to the curriculum at a level appropriate to their individual needs, ability and aptitude. Classes are planned to facilitate mixed ability teaching. Schemes and programmes of work are currently being developed with a view to constant self review and whole school improvement. Detailed planning is carried out through Whole School Planning and all teachers work closely together in programme content and classroom delivery.
Extra curricular activities are considered to be a very important aspect of our children’s experiences and all teachers involve themselves in the after-school programme, thus providing pupils with a range of after-school activities. Clubs offered include: Art & Crafts, Cookery, Dance, Gaelic Games, Music, Speech & Drama, Jujutsu, Zumba, Hip Hop and Yoga. The children have had many achievements in the short life span of the school to date:
- Royal Mail Letter Writing Competition 2010,
- Best performance in their given category at Comórtas Scoil Dramaíochta 2011,
- Awards for participation in Scríobh Leabhar Competition 2010/2011,
- Best pieces for selected individuals in Lindsay Cars Art Competition 2011
From the original naíscoil intake of 7 in 2004, there will be 110 children on site across the Naíscoil and Gaelscoil in September 2011, catering for children from 3 years old right through to Rang 5. We have 5 full time qualified teachers, and this year have recruited a special advisor to our teacher in charge, Mr Micheal Lombard, a highly respected and true friend within Earnáil na Gaelscolaíochta. A former school leader at Holy Trinity Primary School in Turf Lodge, Micheal brings with him to Gaelscoil Éanna a wealth of educational knowledge. We have been approved for a £500k investment by the Department of Education, which is to be delivered through Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta, for the purpose of a new state of the art modular school build. We anticipate that the first phase of this work will be completed by Christmas 2011, at the brand new site below the senior pitch, on the land previously occupied by the clubs training pitch.