Monthly Archives: September 2014

Learn Together

Learn Together

You may have heard your children talking about EEP and wondered what it was. Or maybe it was confused in children’s minds with SPHE or SESE. To clarify, EEP is our school’s Ethical Education Programme, a programme which is common to all Educate Together schools.

When Educate Together schools were first founded the Ethical Education Programme was drawn up as a fundamental expression of the overall ethos of Educate Together schools, based on the four guiding principles, multi-denominational, co-educational, child centred and democratically run. The aims of the ethical education programme, originally known as the ‘Ethical Education Core Curriculum’ were to complement the four guiding principles.

In contrast to the rest of the Primary School Curriculum, the areas covered by the Ethical Education Programme were not prescribed by the Department of Education therefore it became the responsibility of the school patron to formulate the Ethical Education Programme policy. In the early days of RETNS, then known as South City School Project, the Executive Committee was the school patron. The lesson plans for the Ethical Education Programme were developed over time and with much consultation, and a comprehensive programme was developed. Our school produced its own booklet, “Understanding the Ethical Education Programme”, which outlined the main aims of the programme and provided an understanding of the programme for parents/guardians, prospective parents/guardians, pupils, members of Educate Together or other interested parties.

As Educate Together became more established and the number of Educate Together schools increased, it was obvious that there was a need for a more structured programme which would be common to all Educate Together schools, while still allowing schools flexibility in the delivery of the programme. An impetus to develop a national ethical core curriculum also emerged as more schools came under the national patronage of Educate Together. A working party was formed, a ‘collaborative and consultative process’ was embarked on, and in 2004 ‘Learn Together – An ethical education curriculum for Educate Together schools’ was produced. One of the members of this working party was Paddie Murphy, then Principal of RETNS.

With the emergence of many new Educate Together schools over the last few years, the Ethical Education Programme has become more commonly known as ‘Learn Together’. It is divided into four strands designed to “nurture and develop in children a caring and responsible approach to society”. The Learn Together Curriculum document is highly regarded in Educate Together schools. A survey of Educate Together schools carried out by DCU in 2012 concluded that ‘Learn Together’ “is perceived to embody the spirit and ethos of Educate Together and to provide a flexible and relevant framework to underpin curriculum development in the area.”

Educate Together continues to evaluate the implementation of the Learn Together programme in schools, particularly in the light of the rapid expansion of the Educate Together sector. In RETNS we are fully committed to delivering this programme and to developing the Educate Together values of honesty, respect, justice, integrity and responsibility in all areas of school life. Through our interactions with each other, student participation in the running of the school through student committees, interest and involvement of parents in the life of the school, school assemblies, giving to others through our fund-raising events, our commitment to being a Green School, and through all the subjects we teach and learn, the Educate Together ethos is central to our school and is what makes RETNS the happy place that it is.

For me, the ethos is summed up in the words of a child who is quoted in the RETNS publication “Understanding the Ethical Education Programme”,

“I like my school because we don’t pick, we just mix!”



Learn Together

Positive Behaviour Week

This week, September 8th-12th, is Positive Behaviour Week in RETNS.

Our school behaviour policy states that in RETNS we believe that in order to create and maintain a happy, safe and effective learning environment for all, there must be high standards of student behaviour which must be mutually agreed, widely promoted and actively supported by teachers, other school staff and parents/guardians.

Our behaviour policy points out that we take a whole school approach to behaviour management, where we involve staff, students and parents in a combined effort to ensure that we have a happy, safe and positive working environment for our children. During Positive Behaviour Week we negotiate positive rules with the children, which are discussed as a class and seen to be fair. The classes will each draw up their own ‘classroom charter’ and sign up to abiding by the rules. They will then discuss these rules at home and explain why the rules were chosen. By using this approach early in the school year children take ownership of the rules, are encouraged, with support from their parents and teachers, to take responsibility for their own behaviour and agree to accept the consequences of breaking a rule.

Our homework journal outlines our vision:

In our school we try to create a happy, comfortable environment where everyone is treated with respect and where individual differences are celebrated. We show care and respect for ourselves, for others, for the school and for the outside world.

Our vision is based on fundamental principles of human respect and dignity, and fair treatment. We believe that a whole school approach is the best way to live out this vision, where everyone involved in the school has a part to play. In particular it is important that the children have a role in helping and supporting each other to take personal responsibility for their behaviour, for the benefit of all.