Sacred Heart National School,
|Sacred Heart S.N.S., located about a mile from the Square shopping centre, and nestling at the foot of the Dublin Mountains, has a current enrolment of almost 400 boys and girls, aged roughly between the ages of eight and twelve.|
There is no private housing in this flourishing parish, and a high level of unemployment, so the school benefits from the Department of Education "disadvantaged status" assistance scheme.
The use of computers in the school has developed gradually over the last ten years from the humble beginnings of a single monochrome BBC Master Compact to the point where every pupil now enjoys regular, structured access to the school's modern computer room which contains ten multimedia Pentium PCs, a range of colour inkjet printers and Internet access facilities. These facilities are enhanced by the use of five extra computers in the classrooms on a rota basis and a comprehensive selection of the very best educational software available.
It is an inherent part of school policy that pupils follow a structured programme of activities, from month to month and from year to year. This includes as wide as possible a range of applications, suitable to the ages and abilities of the children. Needless to say, pupils at all levels benefit from using the computers to practise core curriculum content such as tables and spellings, but also become increasingly adept at producing smart looking documents using word processors or DTP packages such as Creative Writer. In recent years the use of multimedia encyclopaedias has become a regular feature of school activity to enhance project work and guided discovery. Great emphasis is put on the fact that the pupils don't "do computers". Rather the computer is used as a curriculum resource, to enhance the teaching and learning process in a wide variety of subjects.
1996 was the year in which telecommunications came to Killinarden. Our new modem and phone line will enable all senior pupils to have access to the Internet, both as a means of finding information and of using electronic mail. A number of pupils are already happily engaged in keypal communication with children of their own age in faraway places. It has been a great source of motivation for pupils, also, to have their own work published to a worldwide audience.
Two main principles underlie all the various ways in which IT is used throughout the school. Firstly, the use of the computer as an educational resource is a highly effective form of motivation for the pupils. Knowledge and concepts are presented in new and exciting ways. Problem solving, reading ability and creativity are encouraged, children learn to work independently and individual differences are catered for: above all, the innate curiosity of the child is fostered and developed and the joy of discovery is enhanced.
Secondly, exposure to a variety of applications enables pupils to acquire, almost effortlessly, a sound foundation for the skills they will need in later life. From clicking and dragging with the mouse, researching project work and browsing the Internet, we hope that all pupils will leave the school with a set of skills which will help launch them on a path of lifelong learning and which will be of benefit to them for many years to come.
Centre of Excellence
Not all primary schools are as fortunate as we are in Killinarden. Indeed a great number of children never have access to computers during primary school. In December 1996, we were one of two Irish primary schools recognised as "Centres of Excellence" by Siemens Nixdorf Ireland, and received a donation of twelve P133 multimedia computers. In addition, Microsoft Ireland have donated an enormous range of the high quality educational software with which to develop our programme of computer-aided learning. We will therefore be enabled to offer the pupils of the school the latest that technology has to offer in terms of both hardware and software development. Teachers from other schools who are beginning or developing their own programmes will be facilitated in Killinarden to explore potential uses of IT and view models of good practice. We also hope to use the facilities to introduce adults from the local community to computer applications as a way of enhancing their own educational and vocational prospects.