Culmore Primary School

Life at Culmore Primary School

We continue with the CSSC series of news stories on schools while they operate in varied and exceptional circumstances. This week we hear from Clare McMenamin, Principal, Culmore Primary School.

Their account .....

Culmore Primary School has changed dramatically since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a small three teacher primary school, positioned on an elevated site with views of the picturesque River Foyle and surrounding mountains in the heart of the community of Culmore, Derry.

The classrooms are empty, corridors are quiet, playgrounds and outdoor learning areas are bereft of children playing, laughing and running. The staffroom and lunch hall areas are deserted of happy, chatty staff and pupils catching up on their personal anecdotes or tales of woe.  The school buzz has gone and everything feels different because everything is different.

However, it is amazing how quickly teachers and children adapt to change.  At a flick of a switch classrooms were completely sanitised and rearranged in preparation for the possible arrival of key workers’ children and supervisory rotas quickly drawn up and put in place.

Home learning has become just another part of life now at Culmore Primary School and each household is coping well in their personal routines. The occasional technical hitch pops up but nothing that can’t be easily resolved. The teaching staff and classroom assistants are amazing, adapting quickly to a new way of teaching. Weekly planning has had to become more informative so that it can be easily followed by parents and guardians who now suddenly find themselves having to take on the role of teacher.

The school is keeping in touch with parents with phone calls and emails to check in and to reassure them that they are doing a fantastic job in supporting their children.

Class Dojo is a favourite and is the new classroom, the bonus is that teachers are able to see the children’s fantastic work and make positive comments on this. Teachers are able to guide and help the children if they are struggling with their work.

The most rewarding of all are the times teachers are able to hear and see the children proudly sharing their work. This is heart-warming to say the least!  That’s when the realisation resurfaces once again that this is why we do this job.

The job satisfaction the school gets from seeing what the children produce and create academically, creatively and digitally is outstanding. Even with the fear and uncertainty of COVID-19 the children continue to flourish as ever, despite the fact that they are missing their friends and the Culmore Primary School family.

Our pupils never cease to amaze and have shared photographs of their home learning.  One example is a beautiful poem written by Year 7 pupil, Kara Young as a reflection of her current situation as a pupil living through this pandemic. Enjoy!