Gaelscoil an Chaistil has recently received a grant from NI Environment Link Challenge Fund to complete an outside classroom, flower beds for insects, tree planting, bird and insect boxes.
The purpose of the project forms part of the school’s commitment to develop deeper connections through the curriculum with indigenous and environmental learning.
School Principal, Brídín Ní Dhonnghaile said “The support from the Challenge Fund has been fantastic and has helped us to take a major step towards a curriculum that is more deeply connected with the environment, indigenous values and stories relating to this area.
“We are being supported in this by a member of our Board of Governors, educationalist and ecologist Dr Réamaí Mathers, who has a lot of information to share with regard to indigenous learning.
“Réamaí has already carried out some training with our staff on the concepts behind using local stories, traditions and knowledge in all areas of the curriculum in order to imbue a sense of wonder and connection in the learning and now we plan to develop specific areas and themes across the curriculum.
“Having outside learning spaces will allow us to do more outside with the children and also challenge all of our staff to think about new ways of teaching. One example of a project that encapsulates what we are trying to achieve is the use of the ancient Gaelic tree alphabet for literacy.
“The Gaelic alphabet has 18 letters which in turn were linked by our ancestors to the names of trees.
“By creating a tree alphabet with real trees around the school site, we hope to link literacy with learning the names of 18 native trees as well as knowledge of the ancient tree laws, which were some of the oldest conservation laws in the world.
“By creating these connections between our curriculum and our own locality and culture, we are seeking to foster a sense of wonder and connection to our locality.”
locality. It is certainly a tall order but something that we are committed to developing in the coming years.
“Finally I would like to add that Gaelscoil an Chaistil is very much indebted to the Challenge Fund which has allowed us to develop these new facilities and create new habitats for wildlife and for learning. Their investment in our community has certainly inspired us to want to do more environment work and create strong connections across all areas of learning. Go raibh maith agaibh daoibh uilig! (A big thanks to you all!)”