Educate Together has over 40 years experience of providing a unique, inclusive and equality-based school ethos at primary level. In 2011, after many years of advocacy from parents and communities, Educate Together was recognised by the Government as a second-level patron. There are now 21 Educate Together second-level schools across the country – with more to open in the coming years. The core principles of Educate Together’s second-level schools are:
All students have equal access to the school and no one religion or worldview is given priority over another within the school.
All students are encouraged to explore their full range of abilities and are provided with equal opportunities regardless of their gender or identity.
Our student-centred approach means that we put children at the heart of all policies and practices and involve them in decision-making where appropriate.
Educate Together schools operate on a democratic basis, encouraging active participation by parents and students in the daily life of the school whilst positively affirming the professional role of the teachers.
In our school, the Educate Together ethos is key to all that we do. The more obvious facets of the ethos are that we wear no uniform and use first names with students/teachers/parents. We are co-ed with equality of opportunity regardless of social, cultural or religious background. A central and defining facet of Educate Together and Sandymount Park ETSS is that our school is learner centred. The wellbeing and development of the student is at the heart of all decision making, policies and practices. We believe that students learn best when they experience a sense of belonging and that belonging comes from feeling connected and involved, acknowledged as individuals. Students will flourish when they are progressing in their learning, involved and connected through the building of positive relationships and actively engaged in school life.
We seek to achieve this with a focus on three key areas:
We use evidence informed methodologies to ensure our teaching and learning practices maximise student outcomes. Nurturing a culture of ongoing reflection, innovation, collaboration and tracking of student progress, we strive to enhance learning for all students. Using technology to enhance our learning and teaching practices, we focus on providing students with opportunities to develop their own identity, both as individuals and as learners and to build strong bonds with others and the wider world.
Being human is all about relationships, the relationship with self and others, with the world around you and with your own cognitive abilities. We seek to build positive relationships across the school community to provide a safe and happy learning environment where all students can thrive. Rich co and extra-curricular engagements provide opportunities to deepen the relationship between student and teacher to benefit the learning in the classroom. Positive behaviour management and a restorative approach encourages high expectations; promoting wellbeing and building community.
Our student-centred approach means that we put our students at the heart of all policies and practices and involve them in decision-making where appropriate. Actively seeking out students’ opinions and feedback is part of day to day life in and outside the classroom in Sandymount Park. Exit tickets, surveys, focus groups, the Student Council, Green Schools, GSA Alliance and Associate membership of the BOM are just some of the ways we gather the student voice. Our student led newspaper the Sandymount Park Press, gives students an opportunity to express themselves and showcase their interests. Crucially, we don’t only listen to students – we take action based on what we’ve heard. Students are heavily involved in every aspect of school life; planning and leading themed awareness weeks for Bullying, Internet Safety, Autism, Diversity and Dyslexia. Subject specific events and charity fund raising initiatives.
In Educate Together second-level schools, Ethical Education is taught as a separate subject. Ethical Education involves exploring different worldviews and beliefs, considering ethical dilemmas and the process of ethical decision making. Ethical Education invites students and teachers to engage with issues and problems facing society and aims to develop the skills of critical thinking, discussion and debate.