New St Pat’s principal will take holistic approach to education

The recently appointed principal of the oldest boys’ primary school in the city says her vision for the facility is to discover and nurture the talents and abilities of its young students.

Marian Barrett, who took over at the helm of St Patrick’s School in Lombard Street at the end of last month, says she is committed to continuing the sterling work and fine tradition of its former principals.

The first woman principal of the 63 year old school - which started out originally as the “Old Mon” in Market Street in 1827 but moved to Lombard Street in 1954 - says she believes in taking an holistic approach to education.

“I love education, I am very passionate about it,” says Ms Barrett, who is from Dublin but has taught at St Pat’s for the past 11 years. “I believe it is very important that children are happy at school. They come to us, usually at age seven, and leave when they are 12. They have five years with us and, as a school, we are very keen to ensure it is a happy environment for them. Every child is unique and our role is to nurture their talents and skills and help them develop as people.

“We also want to involve parents as much as possible, to get their views and to include them in their children’s education. After all, they are the primary educators. We have a great parents’ association which is doing a lot of work in the school already. They are very involved in fundraising and we have a well stocked library with over 6,000 books thanks to their efforts. It is run by the parents.”

Ms Barrett, who is in her mid thirties and worked in special needs education at the Galway school for the past number of years, previously taught in Swords, Co Dublin and in Co Meath. She says St Pat’s has a long and rich tradition of educating boys and the school plans to develop new services to meet the growing needs of today’s primary school students.

“One of our distinctions is that we are a feeder school for the “Bish” second-level school, she says. “We also have a great reputation for excellence, we offer an all round education. We are very successful in sports, our school won an All Ireland soccer title a few years ago and our olympic handball team are also very successful. We offer hurling training in South Park and our recently set up chess club did very well in a recent competition.”

She says the school plans to introduce a number of new initiatives, including afterschool activities, such as judo, table tennis, music lessons and dance as well as summer camps which would run in July and August and would feature sports, baking, arts and crafts. A pre-school will open in September and the school intends to extend the opening hours of its homework club to 6pm.”

The 17 teacher school operates a school book rental scheme and a breakfast club. The club, which costs €2 a day, opens at 8am and provides nutritious food, such as porridge and other cereals as well as fruit and toast. “It was set up to provide a service to parents who are often rushing out to work in the mornings. This takes the pressure off them. It is also an ideal way for the children to socialise. They love the novelty of it and they tend to eat more because they are among their friends. We might even introduce a pancake day once a week.”

The new principal says she is looking forward to seeing the school continue to flourish. “We have brilliant staff here and that’s what makes it possible.”

• St Patrick’s School will hold a family fun day on Sunday May 28 from 10am to 2pm. Current and incoming or prospective students are invited to attend with their families, including aunts, uncles, etc. There will be a number of fun activities on offer for the children, including face painting, slides, and bouncy castles and parents will have an opportunity to learn more about the school.

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