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Health Promoting Schools

Development of Goggins Hill N.S.  as an official “Health Promoting School

Introduction by Fiona Meehan, Principal Goggins Hill NS.

In 2003 Goggins Hill N.S. became aware of the Health Promoting Schools Programme and decided to find out more about the concept. I volunteered to act as Health Promoting Schools officer.

Staff interest led to the organisation of a summer course titled, “Our School Development Planning in Social Personal and Health Education.”  It was for teachers and took place in the school for one week in July 2003. The course involved training on Drug Awareness, Bullying, Nutrition, how to draft  a Nutrition Policy, Adolescent Health, Basic First Aid, PE Programmes  and a workshop on Health and Safety Policy. This course focused our minds as a staff ensuring that our school was a HPS.

Children, staff and parents have worked since 2003 at making our school a “Health Promoting School.” I feel that Goggins Hill NS has become a happier and healthier place in which to learn and work because of these efforts and would like to take this opportunity to thank our Boards of Management, Parents, Staff and Children for the wonderful contributions they have made.

Profile of our school

Goggins Hill NS is located in Ballinhassig, Co Cork. As the name suggests, our school is on top of a hill. We are lucky to be surrounded by fields and try to grow vegetables, sweet smelling plants, flowers and native Irish trees in our immediate environment. The school has two gardens and a playground at the front, a large playing field at the back and trees have been planted all around the edges. Gardening is a huge focus for us and one of our health promotion projects. Our second is Nutrition. Our third is creating awareness about drug and alcohol abuse

Road Safety - We have focused on other issues too. Firstly, safety on the road. Cars travel much too quickly on the narrow road outside our school. We are trying to make the area around our school safer.

Renovation - When we first got involved in the “Health Promoting School’s Project” our school’s appearance was very different to what you see now. We undertook a renovation project which has taken 6 years and are very proud of the results.

Holistic Approach - We offer a wide range of activities and hope that the children get every opportunity to explore their talents in primary school, improving the quality of their adult lives.

Junior Infants with their plants grown in the classroom

Health Promotion Project 1- Nutrition

Our 2003 Summer Course for teachers in Goggins Hill NS was very successful. It was decided to concentrate on the area of Nutrition as our first health promotion project. Early in 2004 we began work on our Healthy Eating Policy by conducting a lunchbox survey in all the classes and appealing to parents for volunteers to form a Nutritional Policy Committee.  We also sent out a questionnaire to each family encouraging parents to contribute with any suggestions for our Healthy Eating Policy. The Goggins Hill NS Nutrition policy was drawn up in consultation with pupils, parents and teachers in March 2004 and reviewed in March 2005. Nutritional Policy Committee

The first Nutritional Policy Committee meeting took place in Goggins Hill N.S. on 23 February 2004. The committee consisted of two members of staff, Mrs. Fiona Meehan and Mrs. Máire Molloy, two parents, Mrs. Fiona O’ Donovan and Mrs. Mary Finn and two pupils, Maria Kiely and Luke Murphy.

The findings of the Lunchbox survey were reviewed and the parents’ suggestions were followed up at a subsequent meeting. Following on from all the feedback an initial Nutritional Policy for Goggins Hill N.S. was compiled and later approved by the staff and board of management.

The team attended a Nutritional Policy Workshop on March 2, 2004.

Healthy Lunches Project

It was decided that the best approach was to educate children on the food pyramid. This took place in each class and as motivation, an in school competition was run to highlight healthy eating. The title of this competition was “Healthy Lunches” and the standard of entries from each class was really high. Swatch watches were donated by a very generous Cork Jeweller. All entries were displayed in the hall and judged by the Nutritional Policy Team. Here are some winners. Powerpoints are also included which children presented to their classes on healthy eating.

Healthy Eating Information Leaflet

Sixth class, were asked to design a Healthy Eating Information Leaflet including the Nutritional Policy for Goggins Hill N.S. the winning group had their booklet copied and sent home to each family.

Parents Evening

In March 2005 the Nutritional Policy Team met again to review the policy and make any amendments necessary. The Parent’s Information Evening was held on 25 April 2005 and Niamh O’ Connor, Consultant Dietitian and Clinical Nutritionist gave very valuable advice. Sixth class were asked to prepare a presentation to remind classes of the contents of the school’s Healthy Eating Policy.

Food Dudes

In 2007, the school took part in the “Food Dudes Programme” which encouraged children to try out new foods and eat healthy foods both at home and in school.

Ongoing Nutritional Programme

We continue to promote good nutrition in Goggins Hill NS. We have a treat day on Friday and try not to eat sweets during the rest of the week. Our commitment to healthy eating is also shown by the display of posters in the school reminding children of which foods are healthy. Children and staff encouraged to have personal water bottle on desk and to drink often to keep energy levels high and prevent dehydration. For teachers, it is very important to drink water constantly, as this protects their voices. We grow fresh herbs and vegetables for tasting, reinforcing the need to eat fresh vegetables in order to maintain health.

Poster on healthy foods in the Junior Infant Room

5th/6th Classes-French Programme includes cooking and tasting of French foods (2008)

Health Promoting School Project 2-Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco Awareness

Our School Development Planning in SPHE in school Summer Course ( July 2003) involved training on Drug Awareness for teachers.

We were also given guidance as a staff on the formulation of a Tobacco, Alcohol and Substance Misuse Policy, which we workshopped and put together in 2005. A copy of this policy is sent to all parents.

A very informative Presentation was also given to parents on Wednesday November 23rd by the Juvenile Liaison officer and member of West Cork Drugs Unit, regarding Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco. This presentation was given at an open meeting in the school. Parents were not only informed about the topic at hand but were also given every opportunity to ask questions. The school policy document was also launched.

Our most recent open meeting was in April of 2010. Representatives of the Drug Squad from Bandon Garda Station gave a presentation regarding drug awareness to parents and teachers at an open night in the school. A question and answer session followed. Emphasis was put on how to recognize the signs in children of drug abuse.

Ongoing education takes place in class during the implementation of the Stay Safe and Walk Tall Programmes. Roll Play and Drama activities have been found to be of great  value in educating children on this important topic

Health Promoting School Project 3-Gardening

Appreciating the world around us begins in our school environment. It was decided that we, as a school should add to the beautiful environment around us. We decided to create a Multi-Sensory Garden, a Vegetable Garden and to plant Native Irish trees that would remain for many years.

In 2007 our Multi Sensory Garden was planned and planted. We submitted a proposal to Novartis, a local company for their community development project. We were one of the few organizations chosen. Our Multi Sensory Garden was planned by parents and staff members, approved by the Board of Management and Novartis paid for and constructed the garden. It is used by children for activities and staff for relaxing lunch times on sunny days. The children maintain this garden, grow plants from seed and add to the range of plants. These plants have been chosen using the criteria, not just of appearance but also of sense and texture to be taken in by all senses. All classes have been involved in weeding, growing seedlings and replanting. We plan to have a committee of children who will organize garden maintenance under teacher supervision.

We try to look after our environment and to bring wildlife into our garden. Here is our bird table. From time to time we see rabbits, pheasants and hares.

In 2009 we planted our Vegetable Garden. Before we had a garden, we grew plants in the classrooms and sometimes we still do. But we usually take these plants home

The Vegetable Garden at an early stage (2009)

Our Vegetable Garden now (April 2010)

In July 2009, Schering Plough, a local company, asked for submissions from local schools for an environmental project. They chose our school and donated 1000 euro for the building up of raised beds . We then planted our vegetable garden in Sept 2009.

Native trees – In 2005, Kate Crowley, a pupil of Goggins Hill NS, won a competition organized by Chiquita Banana company. Money was donated to enable us to plant native Irish trees on the school grounds. We had been planting trees around our school, since 2002. We planted the trees ourselves, class by class and our caretaker Matt helps us to take care of them. However, Kate’s win enabled us to plant a grove of trees at the front of the school and add to those around it.

Goggins Hill School Renewal Programme 2006-10

By 2004, our school was almost 20 years old. We had a leaking roof, rotting windows and carpets that badly needed to be replaced.  Our school was also a bit old fashioned. People who used wheelchairs did not have ramps to get in. We needed to renovate to ensure that our school would be a healthy place.

a)      In 2006, new non-slip, washable flooring was fitted throughout school. This is easier to clean than carpet and therefore much more hygienic

b)      In 2007, new windows were installed throughout school.  As well as benefitting our health, this has also saved our school money and been environmentally friendly, as we do not have to pay as much as before on heating bills

c)       In 2007, a new Roof built. No more leaks!

d)      In 2008, safety lighting was improved in the yard and on the steps leading out of the school to prevent those using the school at night from falling

e)      A new fire and security alarm was fitted in 2008

f)       Security Cameras and security lights were installed in 2009

g)      A new Front Door was fitted in April 2010 as a security measure

h)      In 2007 and 2009, ramps were installed to make school partially wheelchair accessible

i)        In 2009, our Yard was resurfaced and painted with games which children can play e.g. hopscotch. This was part paid for with fundraising by the Parent’s Association and a member of the Parent’s Association painted the yard markings.

j)        Our yard is divided into 4 areas so that people can take part in a variety of activities safely. We have a skipping area, an area for the younger children, an area for the older children and an area where 5th and 6th class take turns to play ball games.

k)      Signage has been replaced gradually, showing our reception area, fire assembly points, bus clearway etc.

l)        New flashing safety signs warning traffic of presence of schoolchildren and advising them to slow down have recently been installed on Goggins Hill. The Board of Management worked hard to get these signs.

An Active School

Sport and fitness are very important to us. We do lots of sports in Goggins Hill so that everyone can find an activity that they enjoy. Some sports go on all year round and some happen for just one term per year

1)      We have had a skipping programme in place since 2006 and have had 3 skipping workshops at school. For safety reasons our skipping area is separated from the rest of the yard.

2)      In March 2005 fourth, fifth and sixth classes participated in the 6 week “Fitness for Fun” programme encouraging children’s participation in non-competitive physical activities.the children were also given an exercise card and encouraged to practise at home. The children really enjoyed this programme and were motivated by the two fitness tests carried out at the beginning and end of the six week block with the aim of beating their own score.

3)      Colm has taught Gymnastics in our school for 4 years

4)      Irish Dancing has been taught for many years at Goggins Hill

5)      Hurling, Camogie and Gaelic Football have always been played in our school. We take part in:

a)      Mini Sevens Hurling and Camogie League

b)      Sciath na Scol Hurling and Camogie Competition

c)       4th Class Hurling Blitz for Sciath na Scol co-ordinated by Goggins Hill in local GAA grounds

6)      Our Soccer Team is quite a recent addition

7)      We play Tag Rugby in the Summer Term

8)      Swimming for 6th Class takes place in the Summer Term

9)      Our annual school sports day organized by parents and 6th Class and consists of novelty sports. It is a fun day.

10)   Every year we participate in Cork City Sports. Only some people can represent the school but we all need to keep fit. That is why we try all sports and we only enter a few competitions.

School Activities

In a Health Promoting School, we must give all people a chance to develop their talents. We take part in a wide variety of activities to achieve this aim. Our school is also used, not just by the pupils but also by the wider school community so that we can all work together to make Goggins Hill a happier and healthier place. We also feel that we should not just look after our own health but that many others need our help to become healthy. Therefore we often listen to charity workers who come to our school to tell us about their work and we pick 3 charities per year to help

1)      Speech and Drama has been taught by Mrs McSweeney in Goggins Hill for many years

2)      All children have the opportunity to learn Tin Whistle

3)      Senior Classes learn to knit and sew

4)      Our school Building is used for private speech and drama classes, gymnastics classes and music classes

5)      The Building is also used as a resource for Parents Association Meetings and parental information nights

6)      We support at least 3 Charities every year. Representatives from charities such as Enable Ireland, Bothar, The Greater Chernobyl Cause, Downs Syndrome Ireland and the Irish Cancer Society have come to talk to us over the last 4 years.  We have also supported GOAL and The Christmas Box Appeal

Bothar Lenten Fund Raiser-4 weeks doing sponsored jobs at home (2009)

Daffodil Day for Cancer Research 2010-No Uniform Day wearing yellow

7)      School or class concerts take place annually. They can involve speech and drama, gymnastic displays, musicals, carol services and many other forms of entertainment

8)      4th/5th Class won the Port of Cork competition in 2008. They had a celebratory night in the school. There was a display, power point presentation, music and party on the night. First prize was a Tour of Grand Princess 2nd largest cruise ship in the world. What a day!

9)      In 2009, 4th/5th Class were invited to Dublin for a huge event in the Helix in Dublin. They had all written letters for the “Dear Grace” competition and Daire won a prize. His letter was published. In the “Dear Grace Book.” In 2003 we had 2 other pupils who won prizes in this national competition

10) We have great fun on our school tours. Many are educational or involve lots of physical activity.

Here we are on a tour of Cork

We are in Fota

11)   In 2006/07/08 we were very honoured to have the Royal Naval Coast Guard Helicopter landing at our school. We all got a tour of the helicopter and brought lots of food for our visitors to eat

12)   The fire brigade or the Gardai bring Santa to visit us every year

13)   2008 was a very special year for Goggins Hill National School. We celebrated our 25thAnniversary.   At school, we had a party and open night. There was also a Dinner Dance for Parents, Staff, Past Pupils and the community in general. We wrote a book to mark the occasion

Former principals Mrs O’ Mahony and Ms O’ Sullivan with current principal Mrs Meehan at our open night to celebrate Goggins Hill NS 25th Anniversary in 2008

Our Holistic Approach to Education

1)      We like to have a friendly, happy atmosphere in our school. The day begins with assembly. We meet in the hall and birthdays are celebrated, achievements applauded, announcements made, prayers said, hymns sung. It is a good start to the day

2)       6th Class love knitting so much that they even have a lunch time knitting club.

3)      We do a lot of Project based work in our school. Everybody’s talents are valued.

4)      Our School Choir has been in existence for 3 years. We practice once a week and perform annually in:

a)      Community events e.g. Lighting of the Christmas Tree, Singing at local homes

b)      Fund Raising Events for school e.g.  Singing in shopping centres

c)       Events for charity e.g. Greater Chernobyl Cause Chernobyl Commemoration

d)      Cor Fheile na Scol

e)      School activities e.g. Church ceremonies

2007 Choir Performs in Windmill Home, Churchtown, Co Cork

5)      We try to work as a team. After the First Communion, the previous communicants and their parents bake for current communicants. There is a great party in the school

6)      Our Parents Association does a lot of very important work. They organize  an annual school book fair and give parents the opportunity to buy school uniforms in hall

7)      The Parents Association also organize fun days at Christmas, Easter and the Summer Holidays. Their fundraising is vital for the running of our school

8)      2007 – Our Multi Sensory Room was planned by staff and completed with money raised by the parents association. We use it to promote relaxation or sensory stimulation depending on the child’s needs.

9)      Staff members have begun a knitting programme for premature babies at CUH. These babies are in incubators and need very soft clothes on their delicate skin. The hospital needs lots of clothes for these babies as the clothes cannot be reused.

School Administration and Health Promotion

1)      2010 New Supervision Policy-Staff supervise yard from 9.05-9.20 before school and from 3.00 until departure of final bus after school

2)      Bus Safety-Senior children chosen to be supervisors on  school  buses in order to promote discipline, manners and safe behavior

3)      Safety regarding visits to Church-Senior children nominated to be safety officers, wearing luminous vests and holding flags in front of and behind other children to warn oncoming traffic

4)      Recycling bins in each classroom and in staff room

5)      Parents Association fund raising activities e.g. bag packing, annual quiz, fashion show

Health Promotion in the Yard

1)      A Yard Buddy system in place to help people to make play happily

2)      During summer term when we are allowed to use the pitch around the back for play at lunch time. We have much more space

3)      Recently safety was improved even more when we got special covers for our goal posts to protect people from injury

Our Pitch out the back


1)      Stay Safe Programme

2)      Walk Tall Programme

3)      RSE Programme

4)      Fire Drills

5)      Demonstration on Fire Management for staff(2004)

6)      Fire Exit Signs

7)      Hand washing signs to prevent contagious illness

8)      Hand sanitizers

Annual Community Garda visit regarding road safety

9)      Children encouraged to only take home books required for homework to safeguard against back injury

10)   2 first aid boxes in office-one is brought on all outings

11)   Safety Officer in school

12)   All staff are given a list of children with health problems e.g. epilepsy so that they can be kept safe in yard and classroom

13)   Medication policy states that all children’s medicines be in a locked cupboard in the office-parents must fill in a special permission form in order for the child to be given medication-a record is kept of each time the drugs are administered

14)   Records kept of every significant accident in the yard and parents are always  notified if any child hits their head

15)   Sign out book must be filled in by parent if they are collecting a child before the end of school time

16)   Policy Document for children with injuries (e.g. broken leg) in school

The beautiful view from Goggins Hill NS

Goggins Hill NS – Having fun while we work!