The Fred O'Connell NPC Innovation Award ceremony took place at the NPC Education Conference in the National College of Ireland on Saturday the 8th of June 2019.
The winner of the Fred O'Connell NPC Innovation Award 2019 was the Parents' Association of Kilshanroe National School with their project 'To clarify the role and purpose of the Parents’ Association (PA) to school staff, school children and to parents, to form a collective vision for the school, and utilise the PA to achieve that vision.'
Kilshanroe National School is situated in Kilshanroe, Enfield, Co. Kildare. The Parents' Association was represented on the day by Alan Ryan, who accepted the engraved trophy on behalf of the Parents' Association. The Parents' Association also received prize money of €500 and are entitled to free membership of NPC for 2020.
For many years participation rates within the PA were low, interest was waning, and the PA was seen only as a fund raiser. The PA decided to change this. Their project comprised 3 phases, with one further 4th phase ongoing.
Phase 1 Information gathering: The Parents’ Association members attended NPC talks and other information sessions. They learned about initiatives being undertaken by other PAs, especially NPC Innovation Award winners. The biggest impact was on surveying the staff and children in the school, and parents, on want they wanted the PA to be and do. They improved communication, by communicating often on a dedicated PA section on the app, Facebook page and by appointing a member to manage ‘PR’. They issued a document showing all the PA committee members, their interests and contact details of how to get in touch with the PA.
Phase 2 Feedback: The main feedback from students was simply they wanted parents to be more involved in school, especially to play games with them, and support new games. There were also some academic suggestions. Parents overwhelmingly stated the role of the PA was not just fundraising, but also supporting the whole school community’s academic and non-academic objectives. This lead to the idea of an PA calendar to help parents plan more participation in PA and school activities. Also during this phase the PA contributed more to policy formation in the school.
Phase 3 Outcomes: The calendar is now in its 3rd year. A draft is presented at the AGM and finalised after. The PA also produce an annual report of the PAs work throughout the previous year. Last year the PA along with the principal highlighted the purpose of the PA around four main themes: Academic Support, Health and Wellbeing, Parents and Guardians Engagements, and & School Development Plan. This put an overall shape and purpose to the role and purpose of the PA.
Phase 4 will further develop, communicate and enrol the board, staff, children and parents in building a school community. The PA are discussing a plan to roll out the NPC partnership programme in the school, starting with 6th class. They have commenced a process to review their constitution and bring drafts to our next AGM and will avail of NPC PA training during this process. They will align these initiatives with the four main themes of the PA articulated last year.
In second place on the day was the Parents' Association of St. Francis Xavier Junior National School, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15 with their project 'Academic Action Goal: Reading Goggles’. Jennifer Cherry was there on the day from the Parents' Association to receive their trophy and they also received prize money of €250.
In third place was the Parents' Association of Gaelscoil Dhroichead na Banndan, from Bandon, Co. Cork 'Grow your own garden' unfortunately due to other events taking place locally no one could be present on the day to accept their trophy and prize money, but both have been sent to the Parents' Association.
Further information on the Award winners will be available very soon.
The following Parents' Associations were awarded certificates of achievement for their entries to the Award:
- Athenry Boys National School – “Building a poly-tunnel and a school kitchen.
- Baconstown National School – “Participation in ‘Creative Schools’ Programme”
- Burncourt National School – “Active & Inclusive All Weather Play Area”
- Davidstown National School – “Vintage Tractor Run and Threshing Demonstration”
- Dreeny National School - “Collaboration in the Local community”
- Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada – “Active School Week”
- Kilbehenny National School – “Lifesaving CPR and Defibrillator training”
- Scoil Choilm – 'Irish Coffee Morning’
- St. Brigid’s Girls National School – “Fundraising for resurface of Yard”
- St. Kenny National School – “Fundraising for School Shelter”
- St. Louis National School – “Application for a New School Classroom”
- St. Patricks Boys National Hill – “Nurturing our children's mental and physical health”