St Molaga’s Active Schools Programme

St Molaga’s is committed to becoming an Active School. We are currently working hard to be awarded our first Active Flag. Here is some information about what we have been doing over the last two years.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION PROGRAMME
In terms of our Physical Education Programme, all classes provide timetabled PE for a minimum of one hour per week and engage with every strand of the PE curriculum as laid down by the Department of Education. The different strands are: Games, Athletics, Dance, Gymnastics, Outdoor and Adventure and Aquatics. Unfortunately, we no longer have access to the swimming pool in Gormanston where we used to bring 3rd and 4th classes for swimming every year, but every class in the school covers Water Safety lessons which also make up an important part of this strand. Teachers in St. Molaga’s had the opportunity this year to avail of continuing professional development in the area of Gymnastics. This was very beneficial and will be helpful to teachers in delivering the Gymnastics strand of the curriculum. Many classes got several opportunities to dance this year, during Seachtain na Gaeilge and Arts week, not to mention work done under the Dance strand in their class PE lessons. Many teachers have uploaded photos of their Dance lessons to the Blog and they can be viewed by clicking on the “Active Flag” tag. The summer term is an ideal time to work on Athletics and Outdoor pursuits and many classes are busy working on these strands this term. The Games strand is always very popular amongst the pupils and a wide variety of different sports are played by the different classes throughout the school. Teachers are also supported by local clubs (Balbriggan rugby club, O’ Dwyers GAA etc). in their delivery of the Games strand.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY INITIATIVES
We have introduced a number of new initiatives between this year and last year to help make our school community more active. The majority of classes are now “doing laps” every day, some classes several times a day as a transition between lessons. Both children and teachers are very positive about the benefits of the running. The children enjoy getting out to stretch their legs and the teachers report that the running keeps the children alert and energised. This is a wonderful, simple, cost-free initiative that has great benefits for the children, both academically and in terms of building up their fitness and stamina.
Another initiative we have introduced is “busy breaks”. Many classes have built these movement breaks into their daily routines, again often as a transition between lessons, where the children get up and dance or jump around in their places to stretch their muscles and work off some energy. We have also agreed as a staff to always give children movement breaks in the classroom on days when it rains and it is not possible to go out.
Children in St Molaga’s are encouraged to walk and cycle to school and the Golden Boot and Golden Bike awards are given out regularly to the classes which have walked or cycled the most to school. Children are encouraged to be active at break times in the yard and we have rotas to encourage use by all of the basketball nets and the football areas. We have yard markings to encourage yard games such as hopscotch, and equipment such as skipping ropes to appeal to children who may not like to play ball games. 6th class pupils look after the equipment and show newer children into the school how to use it.
Another initiative this year is the introduction of active homework. Many classes do this on a weekly basis, other at certain times of the year. We are very keen for our pupils to understand that PE is a subject as important as everything else they study in St. Molaga’s.
As a staff we made the decision to do away with the “treat on Friday” that had become traditional in the school. We now encourage the children to bring a healthy, balanced, nutritious lunch every day, including Friday and to keep sweets as an occasional treat, at home rather than at school, with the exception of special days such as the school tour, or an end-of-year party, but again, even on these occasions, children are encouraged to eat sweet foods in moderation.
We have been focussing on building in an active element to as many of our school activities as possible this year. All special events, arts week, Christmas, Seachtain na Gaeilge etc. should have activities planned that get the children up and moving. Many teachers have been reflecting on how to bring more activity into other curricular areas, whether that means a history, science or maths trail, a nature walk, or dance movements to go with times tables!
Children with special needs are very well catered for in St Molaga’s school. They are included in all PE lessons and active pursuits. Many children with additional needs are afforded extra busy breaks and valuable opportunities to build up their fine and gross motor skills during the school day.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION PARTNERSHIPS
In St Molaga’s we are lucky to have excellent and beneficial partnerships with many community groups. Since last year, groups that have come into the school to share their expertise and work with our children include: O’ Dwyers GAA, Balbriggan Rugby club, the FAI and Balbriggan boxing club. Children have also had cycle training, yoga, scooter training and Sports Conditioning. We also had a parent who generously shared her expertise in Basketball coaching. Many children in our school participated in Gaelic football, hurling, soccer and rugby blitzes and competitions outside the school organised by our local clubs. We are hoping to continue to develop these partnerships in the years ahead and try to bring some new sports into the school as well.

ACTIVE SCHOOLS WEEK
We ran a wonderful Active Schools Week in St Molaga’s in 2017 and we are planning to run another in June 2018. There are many photos on the school blog of Active week 2017. This was a new initiative and has grown out of the Sports Days that classes participated in in the past.
Last year we had a very successful and popular Gymnastics, Dance and Skills display in the school hall. For many children, this was the first time they got the opportunity to showcase their talents in gymnastics, kick-boxing, karate, Taekwondo, ballet, Irish dancing etc. in school. We also had some terrific sports skills displays that included “keepie-uppies”, hurling skills (solo-ing, pucking, catching with one hand) and rugby skills. It was something we had never done before and both the participants and the audience were delighted with the outcome. This is certainly something that could become a fixture in the school calendar!
Other events that were part and parcel of Active week last year included a Gaelic Blitz for girls, two soccer leagues, two Pupils versus Teachers soccer matches, an obstacle course, basketball coaching, taster sessions in boxing, marathons, races, inter-class matches, Drop Everything and Dance and Drop Everything and Run.
We are greatly looking forward to another successful Active Week this year and hopefully we can continue to build on these successes going forward to make St Molaga’s the most active school in Balbriggan.

Remember, our new Active School Motto is:
HOP, SKIP, JUMP, PLAY,
LET’S BE ACTIVE EVERY DAY