St Mary's College

History of the School - (2013 - Present)

A Review of the recent History of the School 2012 -2020

Ms. Rita McCabe, Principal, joined St. Mary’s College in September 2012 and retired as principal on February 24th 2020, to work as a co-ordinator for the CEIST Faith Leadership and Governance Team. Since September 2012 many changes have taken place within the school in an effort to keep up to date with the ever - evolving nature of education. This sector has undergone rapid transformation in Ireland in recent years and no doubt will continue to evolve in order to meet the diverse educational and personal needs of our student body and in turn, modern society. The following provides a synopsis of developments in St Mary’s College Naas during Ms Mc Cabe’s tenure as principal and reflects the direction the school has gone in over those eight years.

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Implementations and Initiatives 2012/2013:

  • During this academic year teachers embraced the new E-portal system in the school. This meant that each student was presented with individual timetables.
  • The Principal and Mr. Barry Nolan met with a Microsoft Consultant with the possibility of introducing Office 365 into our school.
  • A new ladder of discipline was introduced in our Code of Behaviour to promote the positive, proactive and pastoral structures used to work with students.
  • The Board of Studies agreed to look at a three-year Work Plan to include the following: -1.Class organisation and introduce mixed ability teaching as the norm in establishing classes.
  1. The Introduction of the New Junior Cycle – Denise Kelly from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment was invited to speak to the parents.
  2. A Timetabling Committee agreed that we would end thirty-five minute classes and ten classes on any day to only forty-minute classes and a maximum of nine classes a day.
  • During this academic year Maths, Geography and History Inspections took place.
  • There was an increase in the number of Transition Year classes from four to five to allow more students who wanted to do Transition Year be allowed the opportunity to do so.
  • It was agreed to put Ethos on every Board of Management (hereafter referred to simply as the Board) staff and information meeting’s agenda to inform the school community of the many activities that promote Ethos in the school.
  • The Parents’ Council met with the Board and it was agreed to source a provider of healthy food for the school canteen. Students, parents, teachers and a member of the Board interviewed prospective candidates. This has been extremely successful; staff and students are very happy and The School Food Company continues to provide a free breakfast to students before school each day.
  • The Parents’ Council continued to discuss the unresolved difficulties posed to students around the weight of school bags.
  • During this academic year the corridors were painted, carpets replaced with marmoleum flooring and the telephone system was upgraded to allow calls to be transferred directly to Year Heads, Reception, Accounts etc.
  • It was also agreed to install new fans in the Home Economics rooms.
  • An Equestrian Team was set up by the principal.

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Implementations and Initiatives during the Academic Year 2013/14:

  • The Board agreed to review the school policy on job sharing and to set up a sub-committee to review this in September 2013. This was with a view to eliminating split classes in order to enhance the timetables for students and staff.
  • The Principal negotiated with Microsoft to sponsor Office 365 training for all staff.
  • Microsoft also set up email addresses for all staff and students so that Cloud Computing could be utilised.
  • A new website was established by Ms. Kathleen Elliott in order to enable parents to pay any school expenses for trips etc. online.
  • Parents were now able to log into E-portal in order to view individual student’s attendance and reports online.

The school had a WSE- MML School inspection in April 2014. The school was complimented on having two, Level Two, New Junior Cycle Programmes on the curriculum i.e. Caring for Chickens and Forensic Science. A chicken coop was built and chickens roamed freely around the grounds.

  • Painting and decorating in the school continued. Improvements to lighting for the PE Hall at a cost of €6,000 were carried out.
  • The Board agreed to refurbish the front Reception Office.
  • Transition Year students went on a school Trip to Montpellier in France.
  • A team of teachers visited an Assessment For Learning (AfL) School- Colaiste Pobail Setanta - in December.
  • Teachers delivered a Reach for Resilience Programme to all year groups to promote mental health and wellbeing.
  • Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry, our Padre Pio motto, was promoted as part of this Wellbeing module to link Wellbeing with our school ethos.
  • The Parents’ Council met with the Board with a view to reviewing the PE uniform and a sub-committee was set up as how best to reduce the weight of school bags.
  • The Board approved the use of the school for the Cycle Against Suicide event which took place Monday 28th April, 2014. The event was a phenomenal success in every way. It perfectly portrayed what the ethos of St. Mary’s College is all about i.e. compassion, mercy, inclusiveness, support, resilience, hope, positivity and of course trust in God. Everyone involved could not help but be touched by the depth of goodwill and outpouring of emotion evident on the day. A list of Sponsors for this great event was read out to the Board.
  • The motto Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry was hung proudly from the top of the school building and perfectly complemented the Reach for Resilience

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Implementations and Initiatives for the Academic Year 2014/15:

  • A new Admissions Policy for incoming First Years in 2015/16 was drawn up. The Board agreed to cease the contact/waiting List and all incoming students now apply when they are in 6th class in Primary School.
  • Our first Open Evening took place on Thursday 23rd October, 2014. A huge number of parents, past pupils and incoming pupils visited the school.
  • The Parents’ Council met with the Board. They continued to discuss the issue around the weight of school bags.
  • All First year and Second year students were given a Keyword Journal and a Literacy and Numeracy Strategy Group was set up to develop these key skills.
  • The Board agreed to take in six classes of Transition Year students in 2015/16 as this particular group had exemplary behaviour records.
  • The Students’ Council met with the Board and informed the Board that they were part of the interview team to select the new healthy food provider. They also reviewed the Code of Behaviour but encouraged Senior Management of the school to review the rules around mobile phones.
  • A sub-committee of the Board met with the school Architect in preparation for engagement with the Department of Education and Skills. This was in relation to our application for a new major building project.
  • An application for two Portacabins, R60 and R61, was made in March 2015 and was successful.
  • The School Food Company was approved as the new Company to take over catering in the Canteen.
  • The Wear your Faith and Random Acts of Kindness initiatives began and are by now well established, as well as the Blessing of Rosary Beads
  • A new Prayer Group was established by Mr. Raymond Dillon and students and teachers meet in the Prayer Room every Friday.
  • Celine Byrne and Mr. Patrick Hyland along with the Baldonnell Singers, raised funds for the school by holding a concert in the local Church.

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Implementations and Initiatives for the Academic Year 2015/16:

  • The Board recruited for and appointed Ms. Barton, Guidance Counsellor, as the second Deputy Principal in May 2016. Ceist, consulted with all the stake holders who wanted clearly identifiable roles for both Deputy Principals.
  • The Board agreed to take in seven First Year classes in September 2017 to accommodate a reasonable number of students from Category Four of the school’s Admission Policy, whose parents wanted their daughters to attend a faith school.
  • The Principal met with the Minister of Education, Ms. Jan O’Sullivan in Limerick on October 10th 2015 to discuss and outline the need for a major building project for St. Mary’s College. The Department of Education and Skills informed the Board in November 2015 that St. Mary’s College’s application to be on the five-year major building project was successful.
  • The Board of Management set up a Curriculum Review Team following the outcomes of surveys on curricular review from parents, students and teachers. There was a great demand for subjects such as Technology, Technical Graphics, Design and Communication Graphics and Agricultural Science.
  • The Principal applied in December 2015 for two additional classrooms - a classroom for Design and Communication Graphics, and an additional Science Lab for Agricultural Science. This was to accommodate the increased demand for Science and Technology subjects both at Junior and Senior Level in the school
  • The Principal applied for a grant to introduce Design and Communication Graphics and Technical Graphics into St. Mary’s College. The DES approved a grant totalling €34,770 for computers for the new Design and Communication Graphics /Technical Graphics Room.
  • Rental accommodation for a new Agricultural Science Laboratory and a new Technical Graphics/ Design and Communication Graphics room was also approved in May 2016 (R70 & R71).
  • During the summer 2016, it was agreed to: upgrade the flooring of the Link Rooms and McAuley Building; upgrade offices; paint classrooms and purchase additional storage units to accommodate PE equipment and school furniture.
  • Two new Portacabins were opened in November 2016 (R60 & R61)
  • The Parents’ Council met the Board in November and reported again on the weight of school bags and gave money towards IT development within the school. The Parents’ Council reported that they were very happy with the introduction of the waterproof breathable outer school jacket.
  • The Board subsidised the installation of WiFi throughout the school and the technical, operations, economic and educational benefits were outlined.
  • The IT Co-ordinator, Mr. Barry Nolan agreed to train staff on the use of i-Pads and tablets during the academic year 2016/17.
  • Following a Needs Analysis with First to Third Year students, a new Wellbeing Programme was established for the 2015/16 academic year to include activities at lunchtime, a walk on Wednesdays and various sporting activities during lunchtime.
  • A Wellbeing Programme was extended to the Senior Cycle students where Boxercise and Zumba classes were provided. My Friends: Youth Skills for Life Programme was rolled out to First Year students.
  • Philip McCabe, R.I.P. The World President of the Beekeepers Association and brother-in -law to the principal, gave a talk to staff and students on the importance of bees for pollination and food production. He discussed the serious drop in the overall bee population which could have a detrimental effect on human existence.
  • The Board agreed to review the Posts of Responsibilities during the next academic year.
  • There was a follow up WSE/MLL Inspection Report and very good progress was reported by the Senior Inspector.

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Implementations and Initiatives during the Academic Year 2016/17:

  • Orla Forde, Deputy Principal, resigned to take up her new post as Principal in Lusk Community College in November 2016. Ms. Marion Moloney was appointed as the second Deputy Principal, following her resignation.
  • The Board also agreed to advertise the position of the third Deputy Principal in May 2017, as the school had exceeded 1000 students. Mr. Paul Campbell was appointed to that position.
  • The Board set up a Sub-Committee on Curricular Review which consisted of members of the Board of Management, Board of Studies, Students Council, Parents’ Council and two Community members. This committee was chaired by Dr. Moling Ryan. Provision would be made for the recommendations from the Sub-Committee to be considered by staff, parents and students. Its role was to undertake and analyse research relating to subject choices, review and critique the subjects currently being offered, consider how four hundred hours of Wellbeing should be provided for as required by Circular 24/2016, consideration of the length of class time (40 mins.) and examination of the scope for extending same.
  • The Board also set up a Major Building Development team to look at the long-term development for the school’s physical infrastructure including the possible new main building, canteen, additional pastoral offices and classrooms to facilitate the increased number of students attending St. Mary’s College.
  • The principal applied to the DES and received a grant to fund the Agricultural Science and Design and Communication Graphics classrooms.
  • The school was awarded €55,000 in emergency funding from the DES to upgrade the heating system i.e. switching from oil to gas.
  • The Board also approved a German Exchange Trip in co-operation with the CBS school in Naas.
  • An Irish Inspection took place in January 2017.
  • The Students Council met the Board to discuss policies, the school canteen and to seek additional microwaves. They discussed their desire to have extra English and Maths classes for senior cycle students.
  • During this academic year all Sixth Year students had mentoring meetings with the Principal and Deputy Principals which afforded the Senior Management team the opportunity to hear the Student Voice face-to-face about the students’ experience over the course of their five or six years in the school. Their experience was exceptionally positive but they made recommendations such as the provision of additional Maths classes, more Wellbeing initiatives and recommended mentoring to be expanding across all year groups.
  • The school was awarded a Green School Flag for promoting a greener environment and also an Amber Flag for promoting Wellbeing in the school.
  • The staff agreed that student attendance would be a priority for 2016/17.
  • Denise Kelly from the NCCA and Ms. Orla Reidy presented on the New Junior Cycle in Kilashee House Hotel on October 10th 2016.
  • The Parents’ Council met with the Board and recommended the introduction of an identity card for all students.
  • John Clancy was appointed as the new Chairperson to the Board of Management.
  • Moling Ryan, the outgoing Chairperson of the Board of Management of the school was thanked for his tireless dedication, work and expertise. He contributed hugely to the governance of the school for the previous twelve years.

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Implementations and Initiatives for the Academic Year 2017/18:

New Child Protection Guidelines for Primary and Post Primary schools came into effect on 11th December 2017. A Child Safeguarding Statement and Child Protection documents were written and produced for the school. A Child Protection Oversight Report and a full Ethos Report continues to be given at each Board meeting. New guidelines were also issued on Data Protection that the school continues to address.

The Senior Management Team informed staff that Looking at our Schools (LAOS) 2017 was going to be a guiding document for all school practice over the next few years. There were two major aspects to this document:

  1. Teaching and Learning
  2. Leadership and Management

The foci for the school year 2017/2018 were to be:

  1. Teaching and Learning (page 21) “Teachers collectively develop and implement consistent and dependable formative and summative assessment practices”
  2. Leadership and Management (page 28) “Empower staff to take on and carry our leadership roles”
  3. An E-plan was approved, One Note training was provided by the Wriggle Company to twelve Digital Leaders i.e. members of staff in various subject departments and these teachers were given a Surface Pro tablet for the implementation of this plan to develop Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs). Planning for subject departments is to be collaborative, consultative and stored in the Cloud.
  4. The Senior Management Team prioritised developing Leadership amongst staff and there are over thirty Leadership Teams now in existence.

  • The Board was informed that both formative and summative assessment practices were going to be the particular area of focus for teachers for the academic year 2017/18 and 2018/19.
  • The Board appointed a Post of Responsibility Review team and an external facilitator, Sheila Mc Manamly, along with all Leadership Teams, were invited to contribute to the School Development Plan’s targets and objectives for the year.
  • The Post of Responsibility Review Committee made many recommendations and all Posts of Responsibilities have now been updated.
  • Following interviews for Posts of Responsibility an Adult Education Director and an ICT Teaching and Learning Co-ordinator were appointed for the first time in St. Mary’s College.
  • The Teaching and Learning Leadership team continued to work on the principles of group work, collaboration and IT development in subject planning.
  • ICT was introduced at Junior Cycle and Science became a core subject for all students.
  • The Principal was successful in applying for the school to be part of the New Leaving Certificate PE Pilot Programme. There was great interest in this new Leaving Certificate subject. We had two classes studying PE for the Leaving Certificate Programme in 2018/19 and two classes in 2019/20
  • Extra Leaving Certificate Honours and Ordinary Level Maths classes continued to be provided to Sixth Year students during the academic year after school at no cost to parents or students.
  • Third and Sixth Year students received reports from mid-term tests in October and the comments on the reports from teachers will include feedback as to how each student could improve individual attainment in each particular subject area which is in line with good practice guidelines.
  • Teachers volunteered to expand our mentoring programme to include both Third and Sixth Year Students.
  • A Student Voice team was set up to highlight the importance of students having a say in school life.

A Wellbeing/Lighthouse Leadership Programme 2017/18 was designed to promote the wellbeing of students and staff. The Lighthouse Leaders produced a Gratitude Wall and a Schools go Orange Day. The Atlantic Rim Collaboratory (ARC) delegates along with Ms. Maria Lorigan, Senior Inspector, visited the school and were highly complimentary of the Wellbeing and Mentoring Programme, data management of students’ performance and leadership development both among students and staff.

Ms. Audrey Doyle gave an in-service presentation to staff on the New Junior Cycle and on one-hour classes in October 2017.

A copy of the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) was designed and Other Areas of Learning (OAL) were now going to be reported on for students who completed their Junior Cycle.

  • Mary’s College set up its first Adult Education Programme under the direction of Ms. Ciara Howard and this is now running in the school for the past three years with great success. The Board were delighted to see the school being used to further adult education and also bring in additional funding to the school.
  • The Principal applied for two additional classrooms (R80 & R81) in March 2018. The classrooms were opened in November 2018
  • During the summer, the staff room was upgraded with a new canteen area and floor covering, bollards were placed on the driveway in the interest of health and safety of students, painting continued, a data projector was installed in the PE hall, lines were re-painted on the PE Hall floors and the Demonstration room was upgraded.
  • The Board agreed to appoint a Safety Consultant to review our Health and Safety Statement.
  • Consultation regarding a school uniform jacket began and following consultation with all the

Stake holders three new jackets were introduced for students: 1. A waterproof breathable jacket with hood. 2. A Fleece. 3. A rain jacket with hood.

  • It was agreed to review and monitor student attendance. Parents will be informed of absences through a texting service.

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Implementations and Initiatives for the Academic Year 2018/19:

The emphasis on Teaching and Learning for 2018/19 were to be:

  1. Comment-only marking from September to December for all Junior classes
  2. The principles of group work to be embedded with all classes
  3. Teacher collaborative practice to feed into the School Improvement Plan using the LAOS framework

  • Following lengthy consultations with parents, students, teachers, the Curriculum Review Team and the Board of Management one-hour classes were introduced for the first time in September, 2018.
  • Students reported very positively on this initiative and the ongoing issue of the weight of the school bags had finally been addressed as students now have six subjects instead of nine subjects per day because of lengthening the class period from forth minutes to one hour.

This resulted in an automatic 33% reduction in the weight of student’s school bags and following surveys carried out, this proved to be a very positive initiative for both staff and students alike.

  • ICT was introduced to First, Second and Fourth year students in this academic year and students were offered a chance to complete the Microsoft Office specialist programme
  • The Management of the school agreed to update the GPDR Policy in line with current legislation and employed a Health and Safety Consultant to update our Health and Safety Statement.
  • The principal and Deputy Principals introduced a new Fire Drill system where all students return to their base classes in the Astro-Turf and responsibility is shared by teachers, Year Heads, Ancillary staff and Senior Management. In-service on the use of fire extinguishers and First Aid training was provided to staff.
  • Leadership training was provided for the Middle Leadership Team as well as aspiring Leaders by outside Consultants.
  • A new Leadership Team i.e. Mercy Leaders were established with the objective of promoting the school Ethos in the wider school community.
  • Mentoring was expanded to all students. This is a one-to-one meeting between a student and a teacher to discuss aspects of the student’s personal, social and academic experience in the school and to elicit the Student Voice in a one-to-one capacity.
  • DES Officials from the Building Section informed the Board of Management that they had been out to visit the school and discussions had taken place with the Design Team. They hoped to meet with the BOM Major Build Team to discuss the final draft of plans.
  • In November 2018 the Principal informed the Board that four classrooms in the Links area, R24, R25, R26 & R27, had been condemned and the Board instructed the Principal to apply to the DES to replace these classrooms.
  • The DES approved the rental of three new Portacabins and work began in the Spring time of 2019. The three new classrooms were opened in October 2019.
  • Three groups of students presented projects at the BT Young Scientist.
  • Congratulations were extended to all St. Mary’s College students who played for Ireland on the U19 team and the Senior Team against Northern Ireland in Trinity College.
  • The School Volleyball Team, led by Ms. Marion Moloney went to Esmoriz in Portugal to play in the European Tournament, having also played in the All Ireland Cup Final in April 2015.

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Implementations and Initiatives for the Academic Year 2019/20: Student Voice

The Board of Management changed in October 2019 and John Clancy, Chairperson was thanked for his extensive expertise and role in supporting the school in the areas of Finance, Plant and Buildings and was appointed as chairperson of the Major Build Team. Ms. Sharon McGrath was appointed by CEIST as the new chairperson by CEIST.

‘TheStudent Voice’ Initiative was launched with the theme “Nothing about us Without us”.

Ms. Denise Kelly, Education Consultant was invited by the Board of Management to lead this project over the next year or two with students and staff in the school and to report back their findings to the board. Ms Kelly is facilitating the project using The Lundy Model to conduct the work, which in turn is based on Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Mr. David Lanigan along with Ms. Marion Moloney, Deputy Principal helped facilitate discussions, consultations and assisted in collating the outcomes of the feedback from students. The work of this project has been interrupted at the time of writing, by the Covid-19 Pandemic. When school resumes the following are the outstanding tasks St Mary’s College committed to carrying out for our students:

  1. The key messages from the feedback from the student consultation will be presented to staff
  2. Staff will be facilitated to decide on what actions will be taken to respond to the student feedback.
  3. The planned actions will be shared with the student body so that the school's authentic intention to listen to its students will have been demonstrated
  4. Finally, the actions will be executed and feedback from students sought on how successful they've been.

Retirement of the Principal

On Friday January 10th 2020, Rita McCabe principal, informed the Board of Management, staff, students and parents of her intention to resign as principal of St. Mary’s College to take on a school leadership role with CEIST, our Trustees. She thanked the staff, students and parents for their kindness, support and enthusiasm for their work with her in the school. Rita said that she had made wonderful, long-lasting genuine friendships with staff and had tremendous fun during her eight years as principal. She said ‘there are no goodbyes for us, wherever you are, you will always be in my heart”

Recruitment for the New Principal

A Needs Analysis on the position of principal was conducted by Mr. Gerry Watchorn, School Leader in CEIST, who met with parents, students, teachers and members of the board of management. Interviews for the position of principal were held on Friday February 14th 2020 and Mr. Mark Dowling was appointed.

New Principal

Mr. Mark Dowling has taught in four schools as a teacher of German and English; in Athlone Community College where he was Yearhead/Programme Co-ordinator, Christs College, Christchurch, New Zealand, where he was Head of Modern Languages, Coláiste Pobail Setanta (a green field school in Dublin 15) where he was Deputy Principal for 10 years and St. Paul’s Secondary School in Greenhills, Dublin 12 where he was Principal. He is an NIPT Associate, a member of the TANAISTE leadership Team and the KURS Nord Project, a BOM member of Maynooth Education Campus and a Board member of Dublin West Education Centre.

We wish Mr. Mark Dowling the very best in his future role as Principal of St. Mary’s College, Naas.

19 2024
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Summer Exams - 1st, 2nd & 5th Yrs
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St Mary's College,
Sallins Rd,
Naas West,
Co. Kildare,

045 879 634

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