A - Z Guide for Parents
A guide for parents, by parents
This guide has been compiled by the Parents Association to help you navigate the many aspects of educational and extracurricular life in St. Columba’s N.S.
Whether you attended the school yourself but have forgotten some procedures along the way, or are completely new to the area, we hope this guide will be a useful point of reference, to supplement information provided directly by the Principal and teachers via Aladdin, Seesaw and Newsletters.
The information contained within is, as always, subject to change and will be updated as necessary.
Any further queries should always be directed to the school office.
Absences: All schools in Ireland must keep a register of the students attending the school. They must also maintain attendance records for all students and inform the Child and Family Agency Educational Welfare Services if a child is absent for more than 20 days in a school year.
Any absences should be explained on Aladdin.
Academic Calendar: The academic calendar for each school year is published before the summer break, and is also available on the school website. As always, this calendar is subject to change, but parents will always be notified of additional closures via Aladdin.
Active Flag: is awarded to schools who strive to achieve a physically educated and physically active school community. One of its aims is to raise awareness, in the whole school community, of the need for physical activity in a healthy lifestyle. St. Columba’s has been introducing different activities that help implement the Active School Flag Programme.
Our Active Flag motto is Keep active, keep cool - even in St. Columba’s school!
After-school clubs: St. Columba’s offers a wide range of after-school activities, including Gymnastics, Irish dancing, Keyboard, Lego, Musical Theatre, Science and Games. Some clubs are run by teachers and others are run by outside organisations. Information and application forms are distributed at the start of each school year/term. Each club charges a fee. These clubs are completely optional. Some clubs are not available to Junior Infants.
AGM (Parents Association AGM): The Parents Association will warmly invite you to their Annual General Meeting in the first school term each year. This is a chance for you to get an update of the activities planned by the PA for the children, and fundraising ideas for the school. It’s also a lovely opportunity to meet other parents.
Aladdin: The school uses the Aladdin Schools software service www.aladdin.ie for administrative purposes and to strengthen the home-school partnership. The Aladdin Connect portal is part of this and gives you secure access to messages from the school and to details of your child’s attendance, test results, report cards etc. via secure login from your internet browser.
Please note: If you have difficulty in accessing messages, ensure notifications are turned on in settings.
Assemblies: School assemblies take place on a regular basis
Athletics: The school has a very strong athletics team, chosen from students from 3rd class and up. Athletes represent the school at events throughout the year.
Battery Recycling: Old batteries can be sent to school with your child for recycling, as part of the Green Schools initiative.
Basketball: A module of basketball is offered to all classes. An additional fee is requested for this.
Bikes/Scooters: Students are always encouraged to cycle or scoot to school, rather than travel by car. Bikes and scooters can be stored in the bike rack or shed. Please have all bikes and scooters labelled with your child’s name.
Books / Book Lists / Book rental scheme: Teachers will send information before the summer about what is required for each new school year.
The book rental scheme will be changing from September 2023.
See gov.ie/en/publication/933a9-free-primary-schoolbooks-scheme/ for further information.
There is still a charge to cover photocopying, art supplies and Irish dancing lessons. Parents are notified in June of the charge for the following school year, which is paid via Aladdin.
Book bags: supplied by the class teacher and must be brought to school each day. The senior classes do not use book bags. Book bags do not need to be returned to teachers at the end of the year - some parents find them handy for storage at home!
Board of Management: The board's main function is to manage the school on behalf of the patron and for the benefit of the students and to provide an appropriate education for each student at the school. The board is accountable to the patron and the Minister for Education. The current Chairperson of the Board is Mr. Frank O’Connell and there are also 2 Parent Representatives on the Board. The parent representatives are elected every 3 years and the positions are open to any parents in the school.
“Buddy Reading”: This is a very enjoyable and beneficial programme within the school. You may hear your child refer to their “Buddy Reader”! Students from 3rd to 6th class pair-up with children from Junior Infants to 2nd class to spend time reading books together.
Calendar: Each year the Parents Association publishes a school calendar of class photos. A calendar is sent home to each family, with a request for a small donation. All proceeds go to the school and all donations are greatly received. A lot of pupils like to keep their class page as a momento!
Cake Sales: Take place during the year as special fundraisers. Although these are usually organised by senior classes, parents from all classes are invited to bake or buy buns, cakes and treats to send into the Cake Sales. Please note: no nuts.
Your container should be labelled for easy return.
Children should be given a purse with some coins to purchase goodies.
Camps ( Easter and summer): These camps are run in the school, by the teachers. Application forms are sent home a few weeks in advance.
Choir: 4th, 5th and 6th class pupils are welcome to join the school choir, conducted by Ms. Nolan (3rd class pupils can join from the last term of 3rd class, when the 6th class pupils move on). Rehearsals take place on Wednesday mornings at 8.15am and on Friday afternoons (during class time). The choir takes part in various competitions throughout the year.
Christmas: There are many activities to mark Christmas in the school. Junior Infants to second class perform a school play or show, for the other classes, and then for parents.5th class perform the Christmas Nativity and carols in St. Columba’s Church. Santa visits St. Columba’s every year and older students take part in Carol Singing.
Communion: See First Holy Communion
Composite Class: A composite class is a class made up of pupils from 2 different year groups (for example 1st and 2nd class). This is common practice in many schools, where there might be big differences in the number of pupils in each year, but where an additional teacher cannot be employed. It has always been a positive learning and friendship experience for pupils in Iona, but if you’re in any way anxious, chat to another parent who has been through it.
Confirmation: The sacrament of Confirmation takes place in 6th Class, usually midweek, in the final term. The date is decided by the Parish. There is always a series of preparation masses for families in the months leading up to the Confirmation. The school and Parish also ask for a small number of parent volunteers to help with these preparations.
Cumann na mBunscol: Is a Gaelic Games competition to encourage Gaelic sports in primary schools. Pupils in 5th and 6th Class participate, playing matches throughout the year, with the finals taking place in Croke Park.
Cycling: 6th Class students have an opportunity to attend cycling courses from January to Easter.
Dentist Visit: The HSE will arrange a dental visit for younger pupils. Forms will be sent home.
Dress-Up days: There are several “dress-up days'' throughout the year, and usually pupils are asked to make a small donation to a chosen charity. These days include Halloween, World Book Day (also bring the book in question!), St. Patrick's Day and usually a final special theme in June.
Drop-off and collection: The school will notify parents as to the designated drop-off and pick-up area for each class.
Some parents find it helpful to have another parent on stand-by at the gate, who may be able to pick up their child at the last minute if running late.
(See Information for Parents on main page of school website)
Drumcondra Tests: These are standardised tests in Reading and Maths for children from 1st to 6th which are aimed at measuring a child’s achievement against other children at the same class or age level. The point of them is to give the school information that will allow them to make better decisions about how and what is taught to the children. No preparation is needed and tests are conducted during class time.
Easter competition: An art competition is organised each year and the Parents Association organise a raffle.
First Holy Communion: This Sacrament is received in 2nd Class, usually on a Saturday in May or June. The date is set by the Parish. There is always a series of preparation masses for families in the months leading up to the First Holy Communion. These masses take place monthly on Saturday evenings at 6pm, and all families are encouraged to attend. The school and Parish also ask for a small number of parent volunteers to help with the smooth running of these preparations.
On the Monday following Communion, the children wear their Communion outfits into school so the rest of classes can admire them! A photographer will be in the school that day to take individual and class photos (no obligation to purchase)
First Holy Communion Tea: Following mass, tea and refreshments are provided in the school. This is organised by the Parents Association and parents of that year’s 1st and 3rd Class pupils - as a means of “paying it forward” in advance of your own child’s turn, or returning the favour the following year! An invitation to help out is issued around First Communion time, and all donations of cakes, treats and offers to tidy up are greatly appreciated.
“Food Dudes”: A curriculum-linked healthy eating programme, encouraging children to eat more fruit and veg. Children taste a variety of fruit and veg, complete activities and challenges and receive awards.
Fun Fitness: This is an outsourced P.E. provider, used by many schools, where professional coaches train the children in various activities including boxercise, gymnastics and yoga. The term requires an additional fee.
GAA Training: The school is fortunate to have the Na Fianna Club GPO (Games Promotion Officer) train the pupils on a regular basis. Your child does not have to be a member of Na Fianna or have any experience playing GAA. School tracksuit is worn on GAA training days.
3rd and 4th Class pupils take part in a Football Blitz in Na Fianna, where they have the opportunity to play matches against other schools.
Garden: The school has a beautiful garden and the children are actively involved in the gardening and maintenance!
Gifts for teachers: There is absolutely no obligation on parents to give a gift to teachers at Christmas or summer, and teachers often appreciate a simple card, home-made by the pupil. Some parents may organise a gift between them, but again, no pressure should be felt to participate.
Graduation: 6th class Graduation is held at the end of June.
Green Schools: An environmental management and education programme which St.Columbas is proud to be part of. As part of this, pupils are encouraged to reduce their waste and bring any rubbish home with them. See the main website for further information.
Healthy Eating Policy: The school encourages healthy eating. Advice and tips on healthy lunch box ideas can be found on https://www.bordbia.ie/nutrition/primary-school-children/
Ask your child for ideas, based on what their classmates get for their lunch, and also include plenty of water.
Half-days: The final day of each school term (Christmas, Easter and Summer) ends in a half-day. Parents will be notified of any additional half-days that may arise. Younger classes usually finish at 11.50 and older classes at 12.00
Halloween Fancy Dress: Pupils are invited to dress up on the last day before mid-term break.
Homework: Daily or weekly homework is set by the class teacher, often on Seesaw.
Parents should support their child in their homework efforts, but also allow some independence.
If you or your child is having difficulty completing homework assignments, it is important that you speak to the teacher, who will offer support and guidance.
Irish Dancing: Lessons for all Senior Infant to 6th Class pupils take place weekly in the school, during class time. This is included in the annual school fee. Pupils are asked to wear light plimsolls which can be bought in Penneys, Tesco, Dunnes etc for under €10.
After school lessons are open to pupils from Junior Infants to 6th Class.
Instagram: School instagram account is iona_road_school
International Day: Celebrating the rich diversity of cultures within the school, this is a day of great festivity. Pupils are encouraged to dress up in the traditional clothing/colours of their country of heritage or a country that may have special significance for them. Parents are also invited to supply traditional foods for all to experience.
Invitations (to birthday parties): It is always best that distribution of party invitations is done in a discreet way so as not to interrupt lessons, or offend those who aren’t invited. There is no obligation to invite everyone in the class!
i-Pads: The school owns a number of I-pads. The school follows a program of digital learning in the areas of coding, digital literacy skills and IT.
Junior Infants: On the first day of school, Junior Infants stay for only one hour. (See Tea&Tissues below.) For the first 2 weeks, the students stay for a short day, easing them into school life.
Kindness is key for all to see!
Lollipop Ladies: We are fortunate to have two very friendly lollipop ladies (Orla and Shirley) to guide our children safely across the roads.
Library: The school has a very well stocked library and each class has regular visits.
“Localise”: A locally-run scheme encouraging young people to become actively involved in volunteering in the community. 5th Class pupils take part in this, by visiting patients in hospitals, or residents in nursing homes etc.
Lost Property: All items will be handed into the school office. It is important to label all items of clothing, books etc.
“Marathon Kids”: A fun and active challenge for 6th Class pupils and their teachers, partaking in an 8 week running programme, clocking up the full 26.2 miles over the sessions.
Maths Week: A week of fun activities all based around Maths, including competitions and a Maths Fair.
“Miss Aisling”: This is how the children refer to the School Secretary!
Mobile Phones: If it is essential for your child in the senior classes to bring their mobile phone into school, you must fill in a form agreeing to follow certain rules and return it to the class teacher. The teacher will keep the phone in a locked cabinet during school hours, to be returned at the end of each day. Phones are not to be used on the school grounds.
MS Readathon: A special event encouraging children to read in class and at home while raising money to help people with Multiple Sclerosis. https://www.msreadathon.ie/ The challenge to read as many books as possible in November, and earn sponsorship is open to pupils from 2nd class up. Information is provided by teachers.
National Parents Council: The Parents Association is a member of the National Parents Council. www.npc.ie
National Parents Council Primary (NPC) is the only representative organisation for parents of children in primary or early education. NPC supports parents to support their children throughout their early and primary school years. NPC strongly believes that children should also have their say in issues that affect their educational lives.
The NPC offers help, information and workshops. Newsletters from NPC will be emailed to parents via school email.
Newsletters: Ms Daly issues a Newsletter each term.
Outdoor Classroom: This is a beautiful outdoor space for the children, and an innovative way to teach, with tables and benches built around a tree.
Parents Association: The Parents Association (PA) is for all parents of children in the school and is a structure through which parents/guardians can work together for the best possible education for their children.
We welcome your support and hearing your views so please feel free to contact any PA members or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to assisting parents with any queries, throughout the year the PA organises activities and fundraising for the school. Funds raised by the PA are used by the school for items that may not be covered by government funding.
The PA collaborates with the school on many events for the benefit of the students. The PA also fosters a social network for parents providing the chance to meet other parents, discuss ideas and get advice. It is a great way to become part of the school community.
Further information on the main website.
Parents Concerns: Any concerns you may have should be addressed to the class teacher or Principal.
Parent-Teacher Meetings: Usually held October/November. These meetings are an opportunity to discuss your child’s progress with the class teacher, and are conducted in the classroom outside of teaching time. If you are unable to attend in person, a phone meeting can be arranged.
Parking: See Information for Parents on main page of school website
Pencil Cases: Not required until 1st Class, as the teacher supplies what is needed. Generally, students bring pencils, (pens from 3rd class), colouring pencils, markers, highlighters.
Scissors, TipEx, and glitter are not advised!
“Playdates”: Playdates with friends after school should be arranged between parents. Although these arrangements are made independent of teachers, it is always polite to inform the class teacher of a change in collection arrangements, especially in Junior Classes.
Queries: All queries relating to school activities, rules, policies and issues should be addressed to the Principal. email@example.com
Raffles: Raffles take place throughout the year, usually at Easter or as a special charity fundraiser. It is usually the 6th Class pupils who run the raffles. We would politely suggest, in the name of fairness, that children only purchase a small number of tickets.
Retreats: 6th Class students attend a Retreat day prior to their Confirmation.
Road Safety: The safety of all pupils, staff and parents is paramount. We please appeal to all motorists to exercise extreme caution when driving, manoeuvering or parking in the vicinity of the school, and to be mindful of those walking, scooting or cycling.
Runners: Children wear either black runners or white runners with their tracksuit.
Sacraments: See Confirmation and First Holy Communion above
School Lotto: Our fundraiser lottery is open to all, not just those with children in the school. It's optional, and you can join or leave at any time. €2 per line. See main website.
School Photos: Junior Infant photos are usually taken mid-September. There is no obligation to purchase.Individual photos are taken of all Junior Infant pupils, along with a class photo. If your Junior Infant child has an older sibling(s), the sibling(s) will be called from class to join a family photo.
Science Week: Science Week is a week-long event in Ireland each November, celebrating science in our everyday lives, and is marked in the school with lots of activities and a Science Fair in the school hall.
Seachtain na Gaeilge: This is the biggest Irish language festival in Ireland and the world, encouraging everyone to use their Irish or to learn some Irish in March. Here at St. Columba’s there is a wide range of events to mark the festival, including song, drama, dance, art and competitions. On one day during the festival, pupils are invited to wear Green clothes for “Lá Glas”
Seesaw: Seesaw is a platform for student engagement, used by teachers here in St. Columba’s. Teachers can empower students to create , reflect , share and collaborate. Students “show what they know” using photos , videos , drawings, text, PDFs and links. It’s a simple way to get student work in one place and share it with families.
The class teacher will send a link and information at the start of the school year to help parents and children get set up. Teachers will send notes, set homework, and respond to posts on Seesaw.
Senior Classes are often set assignments to complete on Seesaw.
If you have more than one child in the school, a Family account can be set up, so you can access all classes in one place.
Sensory Room: The school is very lucky to have a sensory room and sensory corridor, to the benefit of all students.
Sports Day: Usually takes place in June, teachers will advise of the date. Parents do not attend. Pack lots of water and sun cream that day!
SNA: Special Needs Assistants are assigned to some pupils and classes.
Stay Safe Programme: https://www.staysafe.ie/
This is a primary school based personal safety programme, to enhance children's self-protection skills. Lessons are age-appropriate and vary from year group to year group. Webinars are also available to parents.
St. Patrick’s Day: Always an exciting occasion on the school calendar!
Student Council: The student council is made up of representatives from each class, and led by Ms Gildea. The council is responsible for many activities throughout the school year.
Student Teachers: Occasionally a student teacher may spend some time in your child’s class as part of their training.
“Tea & Tissues”: The first day of school for Junior Infants can be exciting, daunting and emotional - and that goes for the parents too!! The Parents Association are proud to offer support to parents on this special day, with a cup of tea (and tissues if required!) to enjoy while waiting for their return. (Junior Infants attend school for one hour on the first day)
Tours/Trips: Each class goes on a School Tour in May or June. There is an additional fee for the tour. All information is provided by the class teacher.
Tracksuit Days: Each class is assigned two “Tracksuit Days” per week, when the school tracksuit should be worn. The class teacher will notify pupils and parents of these days. There may be occasions outside of these set days when tracksuits are to be worn (GAA training, Fun Fitness etc)
Full school uniforms should be worn on other days.
Traffic Management: Please be very aware of how busy the area around the school is at drop-off and collection time.
Trócaire Boxes: Trócaire Boxes are distributed to the children as a means for fundraising during Lent. The money is used to help those less fortunate.
Each family in the school will receive a Trócaire box, which they are encouraged to fill with whatever small change they may have.
Boxes can be returned to the school around Easter time.
Uniforms: The school uniform policy is available on the main website.
Second-hand uniforms (or individual items) are available to purchase throughout the year, via the school office. A lot of parents find this very useful and a much less expensive way to keep up with the demands of growing children and laundry! All proceeds go to the school and items for donation are always accepted.
Polo shirts, cream shirts/blouses, socks and tights can be bought at reasonable prices in Penneys, Dunnes etc.
Uniform Sale: In late June, there is a special call-out for any unwanted school uniforms. These will then be put on sale to all parents before the summer holidays (date and details will be announced)
Vision and Hearing Tests: For Junior Infant pupils. Conducted by the HSE in the school. Consent forms will be sent home.
Wellness/Wellbeing Week: A very enjoyable week of activities and fun, all focusing on the wellbeing of our children and promotion of self-care, through physical activity, mindfulness and positivity. All students wear tracksuits during this week.
Whatsapp Groups: Class WhatsApp groups are a very useful and efficient way of communicating to the whole class. The aim of using WhatsApp is to send messages to the entire group, which are relevant to school.
The messages in the class WhatsApp groups come from parents in their personal capacity or are sent on behalf of the Parents’ Association. The School neither sends nor monitors messages on WhatsApp.
The Parents’ Association would appreciate it if parents would note the following guidelines when using class WhatsApp groups.
The group should never be used as a platform to air views/grievances regarding a teacher, child or parent in the class or school.
The group is not a political platform for airing opinions on current affairs.
The group should not be used for private conversations with anyone else using the group.
We thank you for your understanding in this matter.
World Book Day: An annual event organised by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright. This is always a day of fun in the school, where children dress as their favourite book character. There is no pressure on parents to buy or make a fantastic costume, or to go to great expense. It's about the promotion of reading, and not a fancy-dress competition, so costumes can be simple.
Children should also bring a copy of the book they've chosen!
X Factor: The classes hold talent shows and other fun events in the run up to holidays.
Yoga: Well being is very important in St. Columba’s. Children have the opportunity to enjoy yoga classes through the fun fitness programme.
Zzzz - make sure your child gets plenty of sleep. Then they’ll have a zest for learning.