As we mentioned last term, this year we are taking part in the Blue Star Programme, a programme designed to help students learn about the EU through fun, curriculum-friendly projects and earn a Blue Star Flag for our school at the same time! The Blue Star Programme aims to foster better knowledge and understanding of the EU, and how it affects our lives, amongst Irish primary school pupils through classroom projects and activities. The programme began with just 32 schools involved and this year has involvement from 755 schools nationwide.
Pupils of all ages, from primary schools all over Ireland, are challenged to get creative and think about Europe by carrying out simple, straightforward projects in relation to four key elements of the EU:
- Culture and Creativity
- Institutions of the EU
The programme is designed to be curriculum friendly so it can fit in with lesson plans already in place and it encourages students and teachers to be as creative as possible in their project work, particularly in the use of online technologies and tools. It also aims to draw in the wider school and local community and to encourage parents to engage and get involved.
Each participating school is required to carry out projects and tasks that include information about:
- the foundation and development of the European Union;
- the cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe;
- the role of the EU: what it does and how its work affects the lives of European citizens;
- participating schools are also required to hold a Europe Day event (on or around 9 May) where the school community showcases and celebrates its achievements throughout the year.
In RETNS we have already submitted our action plan and lessons have begun to address the different areas of the project. In history pupils will study topics such as Inspirational Europeans, Historical Hungarians and Famous European Explorers, along with Renaissance in Europe and World War 2 in senior classes. Geographical study will include a fact file on chosen EU member states and country facts on countries that have links to our own families. Some classes will study the natural features of some European countries while others will focus on the social aspect of these countries. The aim is to develop a sense of belonging to Europe and International communities and to encourage children to value and respect the diversity of peoples and become familiar with various ethnic, religious and linguistic groups in Europe.
For the cultural and creative aspect of the project classes will look at story/folk tales, songs/music, traditional dress, food, customs, art, language and games from a selection of European countries. In the Institutional Section, older children in particular will learn about the history of the establishment of the E.U. – it’s raison d’être, post war concerns about the need for greater co-operation between nations, the interdependence of peoples, etc. They will learn about the main EU institutions: Council, Commission and Parliament, and find out about a day in the life of an MEP.
As part of the project we have invited a T.D., an MEP and an EU. Ambassador, who have agreed to come to the school to talk to the children and answer their questions on aspects of the EU. The project will culminate in a Europe Day celebration, when we will be inviting parents, grandparents and members of the local community to get involved and to see our work, and we will take part in the National Handshake for Europe.
Students will record their learning in the Blue Star Programme in a variety of different ways. There will be PowerPoint presentations, drama re-enactments, art, map making, project work, mini concerts, displays, dress-ups, Skype links with a class in Europe, video and film making. There will be many opportunities to link this work with our Green Schools work on Global Citizenship and already we have created a display of stars in the hall, one star by every children setting out his/her wish for humanity, interspersed with twenty eight blue stars to highlight the role of the EU in seeking a just and peaceful world through co-operation between nations. Learning about the
We look forward to watching the project take shape and progress over the remainder of the school year and look forward to proudly displaying our Blue Star flag at the end!