Our 50 yr old skool in Mayfield is ‘distinctive’


ST KILLIAN’S in Mayfield, a particular training college, is celebrating 50 years, having been based in 1969 by John Bermingham of the COPE Basis.

It was established as a result of, on the time, a small however vital variety of kids presenting for evaluation by the COPE Basis had been discovered to not be intellectually disabled however to have a studying problem. They had been attending mainstream faculties however had been falling behind.

Now, the varsity has 76 pupils (girls and boys) and is rising, with 90 pupils anticipated in 2021. There are 12 academics educated in numerous supply methods in addition to the principal, Sue Lenihan and 15 particular wants assistants.

“We’re the one college within the nation doing what we do,” says Sue.

“Technically, we’re a studying college which implies you simply absorb kids with dyslexia. However there was a rise in kids with advanced wants who’re cognitively ready and borderline common or above.

“What we offer is sort of distinctive. There is usually a baby with a mixture of dyslexia and on the ASD (Autism Spectrum Dysfunction). They wouldn’t have an mental incapacity. For some kids, the context of the varsity they’re in doesn’t all the time go well with them. That’s why they arrive to us. Afterwards, the bulk go on to mainstream secondary faculties.”

St Killian’s focus is on “intense provision for 2 or three years to convey the pupils up in studying, maths, vanity and wellbeing”, Sue defined.

“A number of the youngsters coming to us would have nervousness. Thirty-six of our pupils have a prognosis of ASD and Asperger’s Syndrome, alongside speech and language difficulties. So there are numerous wants.”

This 50th yr of the varsity is, says Sue, a really particular one. The anniversary “is a tremendous testomony to the truth that particular training is essential.”

She continued: “The college has grown and adjusted to go well with the youngsters we serve. Initially, it was fairly small.

“I believe it began off as a Saturday college only for remedial functions and studying difficulties. It has grown significantly.”

In addition to the varsity’s landmark birthday, this yr sees it in a everlasting house within the former St John the Apostle nationwide college in Mayfield. For years, the varsity moved round to completely different areas.

“It’s so essential to us to have our personal college premises now. We are able to put roots down in the neighborhood. The parish has been very welcoming. I don’t know why it took so lengthy to get our personal place.

“I’ve been principal for 5 years. A brand new college premises was promised earlier than that. I used to be very involved after I began. The lodging we had was good sufficient. Nevertheless it wasn’t particular to the wants of the youngsters. Youngsters with particular wants require lecture rooms which have a sure lay-out with extra space, (catering to) sensory wants. They want entry to out of doors house.”

The college constructing, owned by the diocese, was vacant when St Killian’s utilized for a brand new college.

“It’s the excellent web site for us. We utilized to the Division of Schooling for an improve. Now we have finished part one of many improve. We’re making an attempt to get the remainder of it completed with division funding.

“We’re additionally making an attempt elevate funds ourselves for one more sensory room. One sensory room just isn’t enough for our 36 kids with an ASD prognosis. Different kids, who don’t have ASD, additionally like to make use of the sensory room. It’s a pleasant place to chill out in.

“We’re engaged on making a sensory backyard and we want funds for that too.

“We have to pad out one other room for sand and water play. It’s laborious to get outdoors. Now we have no safe yard for ASD kids. Now we have an enormous classroom which we’re going to place apart for them in order that they’ll perhaps journey bikes there. When the climate is garbage, they’ll have someplace to go.”

As a part of their fundraising efforts, a sponsored stroll was hosted on the college earlier this month and pupils have created great items of artwork for an exhibition.

“We’re hoping dad and mom will donate €5 and take the artwork house. We’ve acquired some pretty work. It ties into Artistic Colleges, a programme run by the Division of Schooling with the Arts Council.

“We needed to do a survey of the youngsters to see what they need. All of them wished clay. We created a partnership with Newbury Home (a group arts centre) which is across the nook from the varsity. Among the kids are going to work with clay there.”

The kids additionally requested extra drama.

“They do drama to cope with transitioning onto secondary college. For our youngsters, that may be traumatic and fairly troublesome. Each baby going to secondary college is nervous. Ours are much more so. Graffiti Theatre Firm is doing the drama.

“We even have music with Mash Up coming in to compose a track. They’re an area music group. We’re additionally making a small volunteer choir. I’d say one quarter of the pupils put their arms as much as be within the choir, which is sort of vital.

“A few of these are kids who would have had fairly a number of difficulties. It actually brings them out. They sing fantastically. It’s pretty to see them trying so assured.”

Sue, who’s English, with mainstream instructing expertise in inside metropolis London and Essex, says that particular wants kids had been taught in mainstream courses within the UK.

“The one factor I observed coming over to Eire is the concentrate on particular training provision. It’s actually constructive that there are sources and studying help academics.

“Once I was instructing within the UK, we had one help trainer for the entire college. It was fairly laborious. In Eire, extra help academics are all the time wanted however it’s extra constructive right here.

“In Cork, there are some particular faculties particularly for youngsters with ASD however they should have an mental incapacity.

“Then you’ve mainstream faculties which have particular courses. There’s something lacking within the center for youngsters who’re technically mainstream however don’t handle in a mainstream class. A number of the youngsters we take want extra assist than what they’d get in mainstream faculties.”

Is there over-diagnosis of ASD and different situations?

“Some individuals would say there’s. However I believe there’s much more recognition of wants that had been all the time there. They’re now identified and labelled. We’re a bit extra conscious now of various wants. They don’t seem to be all the time seen. Lots of people have hidden wants.”


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