Having just moved into their €13m extension, the students and staff at Kinsale Community School have ambitious plans to make the school the healthiest and fittest in Ireland. Principal Fergal McCarthy spoke to Kieran O’Mahony about those plans
WHEN RTÉ’s Ryan Tubridy recently paid a visit to Kinsale Community School, he said it smelled ‘divine.’
Principal Fergal McCarthy said: ‘He spoke of that scent describing the teaching and learning, the relationships, the culture and the atmosphere and he said this schoolsmells divine.’
And it certainly does, judging by my visit there to see the €13m state-of-the-art extension to the school, which opened this September. With 970 students and 100 staff the extension was very much welcomed to cater for its growing needs.
Fergal added: ‘This is extending the facilities we already had so we’ve new science labs, new home economics rooms, new general class rooms and what we really rejoice in is the fact that there are no prefabs in the school as we had 25 of them before.’
Formed through an amalgamation of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Secondary School and the old Vocational School back in 1996, Kinsale Community School needed the extension works which began in 2015.
‘The school is a very important dimension to the town as it’s the only provider of secondary education in the town so there’s huge pride within the town.’
To support the school’s ethos of learning Fergal added that every citizen in the school enjoys three rights.
‘These rights are the right to learn, the right to be happy and the right to be different and every student is aware of these.
‘The results of this school exceed the national average on every level and we carry out a very scientific close analysis of all our subject results setting and testing them against the national averages. No matter what facilities you have nothing can beat human resources, there is nothing that can beat the quality of your teachers.’ While it has become a larger school Fergal feels it has still retained the feel of a small school.
‘The large school benefits are that the students get access to the entire curriculum.
‘Other benefits include the fact that you can provide smaller classes. The school also houses an ASD unit, co-ordinated by Joanne O’Connor and the success of this rests on the inclusive nature of it and the school’s determination to ensure that every child within it is capable of accessing the curriculum vis a vis their own strength.’
Another aim that Fergal hopes to achieve is to make it Ireland’s fittest and healthiest school.
‘In that regard we went outside of the contract to obtain a FIFA accredited 4G all weather pitch, which was done through fundraising and the acquisition of grants.’
Consistent with this aim, the school has also hired a catering provider to provide healthy and wholesome foods to their students and they plan to be operating in the school soon. As well as boasting an all weather pitch, they are also building a five lane running track costing in the region of €500,000 which is due to be completed by October. Plans are also in place for the construction of a hockey pitch, two tennis courts, a long jump. Their new gymnasium has a sprung solid maple floor Olympic size basketball court and a fitness and conditioning suite.
Just last week, the school received a donation of €50,000 from outgoing General Electric vice-president Shane Fitzsimons towards the cost of the running track and the all weather pitch was named ‘Fitzsimons Park’ in honour of his family. Taking centre piece in the foyer of the new extension is a piano that Fergal bought with the GoogleScience Fair money that three of his past pupils won in September 2014, Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy -Thow and Emer Hickey.