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Minister of Education visit
Education Minister Mr O’Dowd visits St Mary’s Primary School
The pupils, staff, parents and Governors of St Mary’s Primary School extended a very warm welcome to Education Minister Mr John O Dowd when he visited the school to officially launch a DVD produced by the school. Other guests at the event included Mr Plunkett Campbell, Chairman of the Southern Education and Library Board, Mrs Deirdre Hasson, Extended Schools Officer SELB and Mrs Kathryn O’ Neill, Manager at BEAM Creative Network Donaghmore.
The film, produced by the school and developed in partnership with BEAM, highlights potential dangers online and provides pupils and parents with advice and strategies to stay safe in online environments.
Speaking at the event, the school Principal, Mr Sean Devlin outlined the background to the event.
“As part of the school’s on-going evaluation of policy and practice, we were reviewing our internet safety policy as eSafety is something we take very seriously and prioritise within our school. As part of the review process, and conscious of the increasing use of digital technology both in school and at home, we wanted an innovative way of providing the key information. We decided that an information film for pupils and parents would be an interesting way of doing this and so contact was made with BEAM Creative Network. Plans for the film were drawn up and through a series of drama and writing workshops a script was prepared and filming took place.
Mr Devlin was keen to point out the many additional educational benefits of the programme. These included opportunities for talking and listening, collaborating and working in groups, literacy skills including writing, editing and redrafting and the promotion of key aspects of Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities, inherent parts of the Northern Ireland Curriculum. He paid tribute to the P7 pupils involved in the project for their enthusiasm and diligence and thanked the school staff and tutors from BEAM who facilitated the project
Speaking at the event, Mr O’Dowd congratulated the school on their wonderful achievement. “I welcome the opportunity to visit St Mary’s Primary School for the launch of their internet safety film. With the increasing use of digital technology, it is vital that children are aware of potential dangers online and understand how to stay safe online.’’
The film was made possible and funded though the school’s participation in Extended Schools programme. Mr O’Dowd also noted the wide range of other Extended Schools activities available in the school “My Department’s Extended Schools programme has provided St Mary’s with the resources which has made the development of this film possible. This funding has also enabled the school to provide a variety of other activities outside of the normal school day including programmes targeted at improving levels of Literacy and Numeracy, a choir, a healthy break scheme and sports coaching. Such activities allow children the opportunity to develop a range of educational, social and personal skills and provide the necessary support and motivation to help them reach their full potential.
“As Minister for Education, I am committed to addressing educational underachievement and delivering improvements for all young people, especially those who may face additional barriers to learning as a result of social or economic disadvantage. I see the Extended Schools programme as a critical part of my overall strategy for school improvement by responding to the needs of pupils, their parents and families and the local community.”
In conclusion the Minister said: “I have enjoyed my visit to St Mary’s Primary School and would like to thank everyone for their welcome. I would also like to commend the Board of Governors, Principal, teachers, staff and all the pupils for their continuing hard work and wish them every success in the future.”