The Warden writes:

How to be the best small mixed boarding school in Ireland the World.

Year one has flown by. I would be lying if I said I am not looking forward to a holiday but I am also already looking forward to next year. I have absolutely no regrets about moving to Dublin and taking over this wonderful, quirky little school. I am fortunate to have inherited a great school…but how to make it even better? It is easy to be the best mixed boarding school in Ireland…there is no competition. What would it take to be the best in the world? Surely that is the aim and it cannot be just about resources or money, because, although we are healthy we are not a wealthy foundation and we do not want to raise our fees and price people out of the market. How can we be the best without huge investment and be innovative while remaining true to our values? Here are some thoughts, something to contemplate over the holidays: Fellows, parents, Old Columbans, staff, both academic and support, and pupils:

  • Staff in Ireland tend to stay put. When the opportunity comes to hire new staff it is essential to get the best, but since most staff will be here for a majority, if not all of their career, it is important to make this a great school to work at and create in the staff a sense of pride in their place of work. They need to love working here and feel that they are valued and stretched. This cannot always be done through promotions, but it is still possible to give staff a chance to do what they feel passionate about and what gets them leaping out of bed in the morning. I want every teacher here to be given the chance to do what excites them and to feel appreciated. As it happens they deserve it because they are truly outstanding.
  • Related to this we must constantly be looking at what others are doing in academic matters to try and learn from the very best. Is our curriculum adequate for the 21st Century or do we just teach the same syllabus and subjects year by year without questioning? Academically we are doing very well as a school, but we can do better and we need to be having an ongoing conversation about how to make those famous ‘marginal gains’ that keep us moving upwards. Teachers who are learning new things, even after 30 years in the classroom, stay fresh and keep growing.
  • It is equally essential to value the many other non-teaching staff who keep this place going and work behind the scenes as cleaners, caterers, maintenance, grounds, finance, office etc. I cannot speak highly enough of this group of people, who help to create the home environment for our children and have such very high professional standards. They must feel very proud to work here or we are doing something wrong.
  • Our pastoral care must be exceptional. UK boarding schools are in the middle of an arms war when it comes to boarding facilities, with every new house edging closer to the standard of a five star hotel. But great facilities are only a part of boarding and it is possible to feel uncared for in the most perfect physical environment. What is crucial is making sure that every boarder feels special and able to thrive in their home away from home. The fact that we are a small school means we can keep an eye on everyone in an exceptional way. No one should get lost or slip through the cracks. All must have the confidence which will enable them to flourish here and nothing should disrupt a sense of acceptance and the celebration of difference.
  • We need to strike a balance with our pupils of having the highest expectations of what they can achieve and yet allowing them time to be young and enjoy their friends. I am hoping to establish a social hub in the middle of the school that will be a great place for all to meet and relax. In a world in which young people are more and more prone to mental health problems and societal pressures we must remember that they are children and that childhood is sacred. Let’s prepare them for the fullest life possible, but let’s make it fun.

Innovation alongside tradition, fun alongside the serious business of hard work, the unexpected and adventurous next to the predictable, the creation of a strong community while making sure that each individual is given the chance to thrive. Ultimately it is deep care for the children and the staff which makes a school great, not catch-phrases or policies or ten year plans or vision statements or expensive rebranding.

That is all…then we will be the best in the world.

Mark Boobbyer, June 23rd 2017.

After the end of term our national-winning CanSat team head to Bremen in Germany for the European Final organised by the European Space Agency, which takes place from June 28th to July 2nd.

Check out a ten-minute video of the team talking about the project here.

Go to their website to check on their work here. And do comment on 1 or 2 posts. They have also created a YouTube channel with a number of videos giving an overview of the project. The more likes on the videos the better!

Lastly we encourage you to share their Facebook Cansat Page  and encourage people to follow the team.

All the best to Ms Hennessey team on their exciting opportunity. Updates will also come via by @sccdubin on Twitter and of course also @SCC_Cansat.

There are two summer reading lists just out which visitors to the site may be interested in –

The Librarian, Ms Kent-Sutton, has compiled a list for pupils which can be downloaded here, or read online here.

The English Department is back with another parents’ reading suggestions list here (26 books over 6 pages), or if that isn’t enough there’s an extended version with all past issues here.  And again both are online as flippable Issuu versions here.

The evening of Sunday 28th May saw the annual Voices of Poetry magic in the Big Schoolroom. Expertly marshalled by Mr Swift, a mixture of pupils and staff read out short poems in English and many other languages.

Primary pupil Carl Krenski kicked off with a Robert Service poem, and, from the other end of the school Senior Prefect Blanaid Sheeran gave us ‘The Voice You Hear When You Read Silently‘ by the fine American Poet Thomas Lux.

The first Nigerian language, Urhobo, was represented by a poem read by Ella Ejase-Tobrise, and the second, Yoruba, by Seyilogo Braithwaite. Mimi Garcia (Catalan) and Casper von der Schuelenburg (Spanish) followed, and this foreign language section was completed by Elena Sirazetdinova reading her own poem in Russia with compelling intensity.

The winner of the Junior Poetry Prize, Tania Stokes, read this poem, ‘Resonance’, for which she was awarded the prize.

Kim Voggel (German), Aleksandra Murphy (Polish),  Lucas Cho (Korean), Vietnamese (William Zitzmann) and Irish (Katherine Kelly, with Megan Bulbulia providing the English translation) were next up.

Three long-term teachers, who are shortly retiring, gave their poetic ‘valetes’ – Dr Garry Bannister, Mrs Frances Heffernan and Mr Fraser Morris. There was a mixture of the light-hearted, the deeply personal and the grippingly emotional in the five poems they recited.

French (Nyla Jamison), Yoruba again (Harry Oke-Osanyintolu) and Latin (Julius Reblin with some Horace, and JiWoo Park with the translation) completed the foreign language poems, before the Warden gave a memorable rendition of Hilaire Belloc’s ‘Matilda’, which he knew off by heart.

Finally, another Primary pupil brought us full-circle, with Nikolai Foster reading Yeats’s beautiful ‘Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven‘, an appropriately magical end to the evening.

 

[first posted on SCC English]

On Tuesday last we held the 24th annual TY English Evening in the Big Schoolroom. The guest speaker this time was Professor Colin Graham, Head of the English Department at Maynooth University.

Eight pieces from the recent Work Portfolio were read out by their writers: Ross Magill (his first Primary school); David White (the nature of ‘failure’); Lucy Maher (‘A Picky Eater’); Toby Green (Blanche Dubois’s diary); Anna Bofferding (Donald Trump and World War III); Andre Stokes (a poem called ‘Young Musician’); Casper v d Schuelenberg (‘The Oldest Person I Know’ – the Holocaust survivor Marko Feingold); William Zitzmann (‘Thought Bubbles’, assisted by Grace Goulding).

Professor Graham commented with great attentiveness and sympathy on these pieces, saying how much he was impressed by the writing on display. Each piece had made him think of another writer. He stressed the vital importance of a multiplicity of voices in today’s world, and how important it was that young people lead this way (in many ways his own generation has failed them).  He quoted from Sam Riviere’s controversial book of poems Kim Kardashian’s Wedding.

Finally, the Premier Awards were announced after this year’s course: Ross Magill, Helen Crampton, Harry Oke-Osanyintolu, Catherine Butt, Caspar von der Schülenburg, Julius Reblin, JiWoo Park, William Zitzmann, Toby Green, Isabelle Townshend, Sophia von Wedel, Nicole Birlain Zeigler.

 

Congratulations to the following, who have been appointed College Prefects for 2017-18:

Kate Bewley, Sasha Cole, Sean Cooper, Marc-Philipp Eichhorn, Kosi Emmanuel-Anyim, Joseph Gernon, Nyla Jamieson, Alex Lawrence, Ivan Moffitt, Kitty Morris, Julius Schäfer, Nathalie Verwijs, Hector Wright.

The final presentation evening of the TY year was held last night in the BSR. Mr McCarthy gave a review of the year and commended all on their positive attitude and considerable achievements. All told it was an extremely productive and enjoyable year.

TY Subject Prize Winners

Geography and Business

Julius Reblin

Chemistry and Religion

Harry Oke

Spanish

Claire Schuijt

Physics

William Zitzmann

GCSE P.E.

Teresa Clemente

Music

Sophie von Wedel

Biology and Economics

Caspar von der Schulenburg

French, Maths and Latin

James Park

Building

Hanna Guelich

Art

Jeanne Levesque

History, English, Irish and Classical Studies

Catherine Butt

 

Columban Award Scheme

Winner: Catherine Butt

Spirit of Transition Year

Winners: Grace Goulding and Isabelle Townshend