Board of Management Newsletter Winter Term December 2017
Welcome The Board of Management would like to extend a very warm welcome to our new pupils and their families and to our new teachers and SNAs who joined us this year. We hope that everyone is settling in well and enjoying being part of our school community.
This school year is a very exciting one for Abacas, as the school has expanded from three to five classes and now has a total of 30 pupils enrolled, currently ranging in age from 4 to 16 years. This increased enrolment is a very positive and welcome development for the school, providing greater socialization and learning opportunities for our pupils and strengthening the status of Abacas as a special school. Our school has never felt busier!
Thanks to new class start-up grants and an increased capitation grant received from the Department of Education and Skills, we have been able to purchase new furniture and equipment for all classrooms. All five classrooms are now also equipped with brand new, interactive whiteboards which are proving very popular with all the children.
We look forward to consolidating the growth and development of the school in the year ahead and to making the most of the new opportunities that this will bring.
Introducing our staff The NCSE recently completed their review of staffing levels at Abacas, and we are pleased to inform parents that we have been granted two new teachers and four new SNAs. This means that we now have a total of five teachers and twenty SNAs. With so many new faces among our staff, here’s a brief overview of who is working in each classroom this year:
Red Room Teacher: Donna Lee SNAs: Gill C/Andrea (job-share), Kathleen, Jessie, TBC
Blue Room Teacher: Conan Byrne SNAs: Linda D, Joe, Kasia, TBC Purple Room: Teacher: Janine McCormack SNAs: Lynn R, Vicky, Kim, Linda M
Yellow Room Teacher: Sarah Carroll SNAs: Leigh, Seona, Colette, Luke
Green Room Teacher: Karen O’Dowd SNAs: Ben, Laura, Eimear, Shauna
Introducing our Board of Management For those parents who are new to the school, our Board of Management was appointed in December 2015 for a four-year term and meets in the school usually every six weeks during term time. The Board manages the school on behalf of the school’s patron, Autism Ireland, and is made up of the following members:
Teacher Reps Lynne Tierney Karen O’ Dowd Parent Reps Desmond Kenny Finola O’ Rourke (Chairperson) Patron Reps Ciara O’ Neill Suzanne O’Hurley Community Reps Pauline Dempsey (Treasurer) Annette O’ Dwyer Policy updates Since the start of the school year, the Board of Management has reviewed and ratified the following policies: Child Protection Policy Job-sharing Policy Protected Disclosure Policy The updated versions of these policies and all other policies can be found on the school website at www.abacasspecialschool.ie.
Aladdin online payment system Our new online payment system Aladdin has been rolled out and was used for the first time in September for the payment of annual sundry costs to the school. It has proved very successful, making the payment process so much easier for everyone. We would like to thank parents for their support of the new system and for making their payments so promptly. We plan to use Aladdin for all payments in future.
Labelling Personal Items We would kindly request that all pupils’ personal items (coats, lunch boxes, drink bottles, school bags etc.) are clearly labelled with your child’s name so as to ensure pupils leave the school each day with the correct belongings.
Parents’ Association We currently do not have an official Parents’ Association at Abacas. However, thanks to the expansion in our school community this year, we are hopeful that we now have a sufficient number of parents to form an active association. The National Parents’ Council will visit the school in the coming weeks to provide training to any parents who may be interested in being involved in a Parents’ Association Committee. Date TBC. If anyone wishes to indicate their interest in attending this meeting, please contact Lynne Tierney by phone or by email.
Parents’ Whatsapp group One of our parents set up a a Whatsapp group last year to give parents the opportunity to chat and exchange advice and information. There is also a Facebook parents’ group called Abacas Parents Kilnamanagh. As many of our children travel to and from school on buses, we do not have as many opportunities for parents to meet up as in other schools. We therefore encourage parents to join these groups, as they help foster a stronger school community. If you have not already signed up and wish to do so, please contact Mary Dowling, Tel. 087 7466737.
Use of assistive technology in school We have a number of children in our school who bring their own assistive technology in the form of phones and/or tablets to school on a daily basis. We recommend that any such devices be properly insured against loss and damage and fitted with an appropriate protective cover. The Board cannot accept liability for the loss of or damage to assistive technology devices belonging to pupils.
Staff Christmas presents The staff at Abacas would like to acknowledge the kindness and generosity shown to them by parents at Christmas in previous years. However, they are very mindful of the unnecessary expense this involves for parents, especially with the high staff ratio in each classroom. Therefore, our staff have kindly requested parents not to send in any presents this year and suggested that, if parents wished, they could make a private donation to charity instead.
School Christmas concert Our usual school Christmas concert will take place on Friday, 22 December at 11.30am. All parents and other family members are invited to come along. There will be some light refreshments available afterwards. This is always a lovely opportunity to meet and chat to other parents. Given the large number of new families who have joined our school this year, we would strongly encourage as many as possible to attend.
Christmas holidays The school will close at 12.30pm on Friday, 22 December and will reopen on Monday, 8 January at 9.20am.
Other upcoming school closures The school is closed on Friday, 8 December 2017 for a school holiday.
Volunteers always welcome If you have a particular skill that you feel may be of benefit to the school (e.g. DIY, gardening, IT, web design) and wish to volunteer to help out in whatever way you can, please do not hesitate to contact the school. The Board very much encourages parental involvement in the school and would greatly appreciate any offer of help.
Congratulations The Board would like to congratulate Lynne Tierney on her recent engagement to Daithí O’Ruaidh. We would also like to congratulate our SNA, Alexandra Maher on the birth of her baby boy.
A thank you to all our staff and parents We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff, pupils and their families for their continued support and to wish everyone a very happy and peaceful Christmas. We hope you have found this newsletter useful and welcome any feedback you may have.
With kind regards,
The Board of Management Abacas Special School, Kilnamanagh