Forest Learning is an educational initiative designed to offer pupils an opportunity to achieve through hands on learning experiences in a local woodland environment. Regular sessions take place in a woodland environment, where the landscape itself adds to the experience of learning. Fifth and Sixth class have been participating in the Forest Learning experience for the last few weeks in St. Enda’s Park. Here are some pictures of the pupils at work.
In this year which marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, there is no doubt that the ‘digital landscape’ has changed enormously in recent years, in particular for the younger members of our community for whom a world without smartphones is unimaginable. This fact was brought home to me recently in a conversation with some 9 and 10 year olds who incredulously wondered how on earth we managed to survive without mobile phones! And while the world has undoubtedly benefited from the advances in mobile technology, and children have unprecedented opportunities to learn, to create and to interact in new ways, the advent of smartphones, social media and increased access to technology of all kinds does bring increased risks for young people.
CyberSafeIreland published its second annual report yesterday, September 13th.
During the last year CyberSafeIreland has spoken directly to 4,893 children aged between 8 and 13 and 885 parents across Leinster and has made some disturbing discoveries in regard to children’s behaviour online. According to the report:
- Despite age restrictions of 13 and older on many social media services, the vast majority of children under 13 that we have met already had a significant online presence
- 16% of the children surveyed spent in excess of 4 hours online a day.
- 22% of the children surveyed were in online contact with strangers. Most of these (14%) reported that they were in contact at least once a week and 6% of this number every day.
- Nearly a third (32%) of children have either never spoken to their parents/guardians about online safety or have not done so in the last year.
- In almost two-thirds (64%) of our workshops with 8-10 year olds, at least one child was playing adult rated games.
- 12% of all children reached had shown themselves in YouTube videos.
The report outlines what it considers to be the risks to young people online, and why they are particularly vulnerable, and is well worth reading by parents in order to keep abreast of developments and safety issues. In fact, the report stresses that, “children and young people need the guidance of teachers and parents to learn to manage and cope with this added dimension to modern life” and that, “parental engagement in, and supervision of, their children’s online lives is an extremely important strategy in mitigating these risks”. At one point the CyberSafeIreland report quotes the ISPCC’s assertion that online safety is the “child protection issue of our time” given that there has been an increase in younger children contacting their Childline service with online safety concerns.
Another significant finding of the report is that, “Almost 70% of teachers surveyed reported that they do not feel sufficiently resourced to effectively deliver educational messages on Internet safety; this is up from 64% in 2015/16”, and the report recognises that “both parents and teachers need far more support in order to protect children from online risk, and that children, as avid users of technology, need to be empowered from a young age to use the Internet both safely and responsibly”.
Read the full report here:
There is also a good article on explaining their digital footprint to your child at the following link:
Welcome back to all children and families for the 2017/2018 school year, and in particular we welcome our new class of Junior Infants. Hopefully they will all settle into the routines of RETNS very quickly. A very special welcome also to our new staff and we wish all in our school community a very successful and enjoyable year ahead.
We start off the term as always with our Wellbeing Week in which the children look at what will help make this year a happy year for them and how they can help others. Pupils’ wellbeing is very important to us in RETNS and we are always looking at ways in which we can improve wellbeing, whether through encouraging increased activity, healthy eating choices, positive attitudes and culture or working with the children in new ways to help promote a happy school for all. Through our assemblies, our in-class work in SPHE and our ethical programme, Learn Together, and through our many student committees, we listen to the pupils’ voices, we actively foster empathy among our pupils, develop leadership and teamwork skills and encourage creativity. We aim to actively foster and create a safe, supportive environment in which all of our students feel cherished, stimulated and proud to be the best version of themselves. All of our work is towards equipping our pupils with the skills and resilience they need to make the most of learning and school, to be good citizens and to become changemakers for good. We encourage children to be kind, to look out for each other, to be role models for others and to ensure that bullying never rears its head in our school. If potential bullying situations arise pupils are encouraged to speak up and use the power of the school anti-bullying ambassadors team to nip any potential bullying in the bud. Each child is encouraged to be part of the solution of creating a school where all will feel safe, happy and cherished for the unique individual that they are.
Last year 4th class read an inspirational quote to the school each week. This one emerged as a favourite: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito” Dalai Lama.
An apt quotation for a new term.
Last term a number of children worked with their parents and grandparetns to produce some beautiful stroy sacks for use in the school. The results were amazing, extremely creative and each one very individual. These will be stored in the specially made ‘sacks’ to use during special story times in the junior classes. A huge amount of planning and work went into the making and filling of the sacks and we are very grateful for all the time and effort spent by those who took part in the project. While acknowledging that the project was time-consuming, everyone was delighted with the outcome and those involved thoroughly enjoyed the process.
After our very successful Blue Star programme last year we were delighted to hear that the Blue Star team would like to use our drone footage as part of their promotional material for this year’s programme. Check it out here!