Louisburgh Co. Mayo



Annual Report 2014


Mission Statement

  • Sancta Maria College is a voluntary Catholic secondary school under the trusteeship of CEIST whose core values are inclusive of the Mercy philosophy of education.
  • We welcome, care for and support all within the school community through the promotion of
  • Respect
  • Being just & responsible
  • Quality teaching and learning
  • An inclusive community
  • Life-long learning

Ireland’s first catholic co-educational secondary school


  1. School Development Planning

Priority areas and action taken in 2013/14
Our Broadband speed was upgraded to 100 mb and we invested in industrial Wifi.
We continue to provide high quality teaching and learning through improved ICT provision- increase in ipads and use in classrooms, data projectors and interactive boards purchased for all rooms. We continue to deliver distance learning with Our Lady’s Secondary School in Belmullet and have now formed a similar partnership with St Josephs Secondary School, Foxford. We offer Home Economics, Applied Maths, Business Studies and Accountancy.  
Literacy and Numeracy development- The Self-evaluation group has completed an improvement plan based on the findings in Literacy and Numeracy. Literacy policy/plan in action since 2011 has been further advanced. The SSE Report on Literacy has been completed. Numeracy plan has been agreed and will start in September 2014. The SIP plan has been prepared and approved by the Board of Management.  Training in the Cyber bullying guidelines and policy has been delivered to all staff and approved by the Board of Management. The New Junior Cycle has been discussed at length and 2 key skills are now in all subject plans. It has also been agreed to target gifted students in some subject areas in second year. A group of teachers meet regularly to review this and 2 have trained with IECP in this area.
Key facilitation groups have been set up to spearhead these new initiatives. We have also a trained facilitator for the “Seven habits of effective teenagers” and have offered workshops in this area to students, parents and staff.  A staff member has been trained as a Lead Facilitator for the Mental Health Awareness Initiative (MHAI). She has delivered the programme to teachers in Mayo and in our school. We continue to promote all areas of school life including healthy lifestyle and have an annual duathlon. The school is also the proud holder of 3 green flags and is actively involved in promoting walking and cycling to school as part of the initiative to obtain our 4th flag and a bike shelter.

We provide FETAC Level  4, 5 and 6 in Childcare and Business. We also offer BTEI for adults as part of our range of night classes. We are now offering Fetac level 3 for some of these adults and some of our day students.
A new prefabricated wing has been added to the building with a new Art room, computer room, Special Needs rooms and classrooms. The school pitch is being developed and a new multi-sport arena added. The sensory garden has been commenced and will be developed over the next few years. Policies continue to be updated and reviewed. The following have been revised and approved by Board- Extra-curricular, Arts, Substance use, Gifted and Talented, Anti-bullying and Child protection.

Special Needs Education

Provision is made as a priority to students with special needs. Incoming first years are met and at the end of September sit assessment tests in Moths and English. With these results, NEPS psychologist’s reports, hours allocated through SENO, consultation with primary schools, parents and teachers extra help is provided in English and Maths. In some cases help is provided in organising homework and school work and a reduced timetable is allocated.  Team teaching is also embedded to allow students with learning needs remain integrated in the mainstream classroom. This extra help continues through to third year. In senior years students are again given extra help on an individual and group level and a reduced timetable is also an option. The Guidance Counsellor provides help to all students in regard to subject choices but extra consideration is given to special needs students.  The HSCL works in close co-operation with the students and the home to ensure maximum opportunity is given to students to enable them to reach their full potential. The Special Needs Coordinator organises the tests and the NEPS psychologist is invited to the school to assess students whose reports are out of date and new comers to the system. The psychologist is also available to speak to staff on dealing with students with difficulties. A third stream Maths and English class is also available for first, second and third year students. As part of understanding the learning needs of all students we also carry out an analysis of the learning styles of students. This has proved very useful especially with students experiencing difficulties in specific subject areas.

  • Traveller Education

We do not have traveller students in the school at present.

  • Newcomer Students

We continue to welcome newcomer students to our school. The number of such students has remained stable in the school. Extra classes are provided to meet their needs. We have an EAL policy and the enrolment forms and information on the school is available in various languages.

  • Disadvantaged students

The majority of our students come from a disadvantaged background. The community is rural and there is a huge dependency on social welfare and agriculture to maintain the home. This is always difficult to cope with.  We have a highly developed pastoral care system in the school where students who are considered in most need are cared for. The HSCL and Special Needs Coordinator, Tutor and Year Head meet regularly to highlight areas of concern to the Principal. To date we have always provided help through a Book Grant and Book loan scheme, and in some cases uniforms are also provided, and trips are also sponsored.

  • Faith Development to include
  • RE Provision/hours taught in each year. We have 2 trained catechists on staff and one Sister of Mercy. We also have other members of staff who are engaged in Religious Education.
  • We hold regular retreats, liturgical ceremonies and Masses to mark the beginning of the school year and graduations.
  • Special prayer services and visits by clergy.
  • Annual visit by Archbishop’s representative and CEIST.
  • All staff and B.O.M meetings commence with a prayer.
  • Retreats for staff and students.

Observance of Liturgical Year
At junior level 1hr 20 minutes is allocated to Religious education and at senior level 2 hours is allocated. We also have regular Retreats, liturgical ceremonies and Masses to mark the beginning of the school year as well as Graduation Masses. We at times of need have special prayer services and visits by clergy to our school. A representative from the Archbishop visits annually to provide advice and assistance. CEIST also provides guidance through regular prayers service booklets and information. 

Chaplaincy services
A member of our teaching staff is a qualified chaplain and is allocated time weekly

  • Ongoing professional development

Teachers attend Department mandated in-services.
Management facilitates other in-services for teachers which are of interest/relevance to the school community. Teachers provide feedback to the whole staff on these in-services.
Whole school in-services are provided following a needs analysis carried out by the Self-evaluation Co-coordinator.
Regular participation by Management on relevant in-services.
First Aid, I.C.T, PDST, J.M.B,  NA.P.D, CEIST.
Workshops by staff on use of ICT facilities –ipads, and the use of Google apps.

Training by staff to all staff members on cyber-bullying and Giftedness.

Pastoral Care

We endeavor to make the transition from Primary school to secondary school as smooth as possible. Our Home School Community Liaison person and the Special Needs Co-coordinator maintains regular contact with the Primary Schools in assessing the needs of students arriving into Sancta Maria. We have a highly developed care system where each first year has a senior student who acts as mentor to help with issues that arise; each class has a class tutor who meets with his/her class each day. Students have access to our Chaplain, our Counsellor and our Home-School Liaison person. Our Pastoral Team work to resolve the difficulties that arise in young lives as they reach adulthood. Our philosophy is that if students are happy and comfortable in school they will achieve success both academically and socially. We also run a Cool Schools Programme to combat bullying.

10  Positive behaviour
This is an area we emphasise greatly. The Achievements Day at the end of the year was always seen as very beneficial to reward students for their successes during the year, academically, through sport and extra -curricular etc.  We have a “Spirit of Sancta Maria” award where students who promote the spirit of cordiality and contentment are rewarded by the Year Heads. We have a Student of the Month award system where a student is rewarded for making a difference in any area of school life. It is received very well with students, staff and homes. The use of the Tutor and Year Head system to highlight the positives in the school is also very rewarding for all. We also acknowledge the out of school activities the students are involved in and their successes in these areas. We bring this to media attention in order to further advance the interest of our students in being well behaved and motivated.  The Duathlon and other fundraising activities also promote positive behaviour. GAISCE awards and John Paul II awards will be further encouraged in the coming year.
We also have numerous guest speakers. We welcomed Gerry Duffy and Keith Higgins who addressed our students.

11   Parental Involvement (Report from Chair of Parents’ Council)
The aims of the Parents’ Association are:
To promote communication between parents, college management, teaching staff and students.
To facilitate the involvement of parents in the development of college policies, plans and activities.
To encourage parent participation in extra-curricular activities.
To help, where possible in the improvement of the overall college environment.
To support management and teachers when requested.
They regularly meet throughout the year. A representative and the Principal sit on the Parents’ Association
An agreed report is published on the staffroom notice board
Group meet regularly – review policies, make suggestions/recommendations. The Parents’ Association held an AGM in October.  The members also assisted with the annual Musical supervision. Fundraising events were carried out during the year to support the school.

  • BOM ( Report from Chair of BOM)

8 members represent the Board comprising of representatives from CEIST, Parents, Staff and the Community. The Principal acts as secretary to the Board.
The Board meets regularly throughout the year.
An agreed report is published on the staffroom notice board
The Board was appointed in September 2013. Mr. Tom Loughnane met with the Board and discussed areas of importance.
Members of the Board have attended in-service training and a finance sub-committee meets regularly.
At the end of the year the chairpersons of the Parents’ Association and the Student Council meet with the Board and present a report on their activities over the year.

  • Student Council Report

A new student council consisting of 12 new members, 2 from every year was elected.
The reps are chosen by their classmates in a private vote. From there, all reps are elected and then a student council committee is formed to act as a binding connection between the student body and the teachers/ Principal/ Board of Management.
The Council meets regularly to discuss matters that may have arisen. The student council acts as a voice for the students in the school, by bringing their issues and proposals to the attention of the staff. It strives to make school life easier for the students by taking their opinions into consideration when discussing school matters. The committee raises awareness on topics that affect the students and propose suitable solutions to staff to make student life easier for all. All representatives can be identified easily throughout the school as each member wears a student council badge respectively.

  • Extra Curricular activities

A wide variety of extra-curricular activities are available in the school:


Table Tennis
Trips and Excursions
Green Schools
Talent contests
Public Speaking
Charity events
Positive Mental Health Week

Throughout the year we had students who represented the school in the Business Studies Quiz National Final and Build a Bank National Final.
Our senior Volleyball girls won their third National Volleyball title. One of our Leaving Cert students was a member of the All Ireland winning Mayo Minor Football team. The Junior Boys Gaelic team won the Colleran Cup.  A student won a trip to Strasbourg as part of their computer studies class. Our First Year boys won the Mayo Futsal tournament.
Students were presented with an award from NUIG for their outstanding Junior Cert Business Studies results.

  • List of Co – Curricular Activities

Field work
Science and Art trips
Irish club
Career Trips
On-line subject competitions
Maths competitions
Other trips and excursions (subject related)

Subject competitions
Arts events
Career week
French theatre

  • Enrolment challenges

Maintain our Catholic Christian ethos.
Disadvantaged stand-alone
Maintain/develop existing curriculum
Pupil/teacher ratio
S.E.N provision
School Building
Guidance and counselling provision

  • Brief financial overview of financial position of school, highlighting any area of concern

Due to financial cutbacks, the school depends on the financial support from homes to subsidise some of the expenses it incurs. The school is also very aware of the financial difficulties of homes has increased greatly over the past few years.

  • Other relevant areas

We continue in our quest for an extension to our school first applied for in 2000.  We have made significant progress in this regard. Following a meeting with the Building Unit in the Department an agreement was reached to advance the building application from a Stage 2A to Stage 2B.  Planning permission has been sought and granted. The building has now universal access facilities and a new wing including a Computer room, Art room SEN rooms and 2 classrooms. We now have 360 students in the school so our need for accommodation is very important.




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Sancta Maria College, Louisburgh
Tel: 098 66342 Fax: 098 66570 Email: