Gael Cholaiste Chill Dara School Prospectus - English

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Gael-Choláiste Chill Dara



Principal’s Welcome Gael-Choláiste Chill Dara is an all-Irish, non-fee paying catholic secondary school, which is an integral part of the Irish language community in Kildare. Through the provision of a comprehensive curriculum, we provide an excellent education where students are encouraged to identify and develop their individual strengths and to achieve their full potential. We provide a welcoming and caring culture in Gael-Choláiste Chill Dara. We know that the students themselves are our greatest asset and every child is a valued member of our school community. Our deeply committed teachers strive to develop our students’ natural abilities and self-belief so that they have the resilience to handle a variety of situations and to face the future with confidence. Our school has gained an excellent reputation in academic achievement and also in our extracurricular activities. We believe that much of our success comes from the great spirit of collaboration that exists between teachers and staff, our parents and guardians and the students themselves. We aim to foster and promote awareness and respect among our students for the environment and to instil an appreciation for their own culture and heritage. We wish for students to have an appreciation for other cultures and for diversity among people across the world. I am delighted to welcome you to view this prospectus and the accompanying video so that you can see for yourselves all that Gael-Choláiste Chill Dara has to offer.

Conor Ó Mathúna Acting Principal

Gaeloideachas Gael-Choláiste Chill Dara is an Irish-Medium school. All schoolwork and exams are undertaken through the medium of Irish, with the exception of English. This can sometimes seem difficult to both parents and students. However, our students have proven that this is very achievable, regardless of their ability. They benefit from bonus marks in the state exams by answering in Irish, which can often mean a grade difference. Irish becomes second nature to our students and they benefit highly from it. According to research on bilingual education, studies have shown that students who go through this system perform better academically, find it easier to learn a third and fourth language and attain higher scores in English and in Maths. Along with benefitting academically from undertaking their second level education through Irish, our students also have a great sense of pride in their ability to speak, read and write the language fluently. They also get great enjoyment from organising and taking part in events, which promote the Irish language such as Gaeilge 24, Gaelfactor and Seachtain na Gaeilge.

Junior Cycle Each student will study Irish, English, Maths, History, Geography, Science, CSPE, SPHE, Religious Education, PE and Wellbeing. Students must then choose one European Language to study, either French or Spanish. They will also choose two more optional subjects. Students are surveyed on their subject choice and every effort is made to ensure that their preferences are met.

Compulsory Subjects Irish English Maths History Geography Science French or Spanish CSPE (no exam) SPHE (no exam) Religious Education (no exam) PE (no exam) Wellbeing (no exam)

Option Subjects Business Studies Music Visual Art Home Economics Wood Technology

The Junior Cycle is underpinned by a foundation of eight key skills.

‘Tús maith leath na hoibre’

Senior Cycle Senior cycle students will follow a two-year programme culminating in the Leaving Certificate Examination. All students will study Irish, English, Maths and either French or Spanish. They will then choose a further three optional subjects.

Compulsory Subjects Irish English Maths French or Spanish Career Guidance (no exam) SPHE (no exam) Religious Education (no exam) PE (no exam)

Option Subjects Business Music Visual Art Home Economics Wood Technology Accountancy Biology Physics Chemistry History Geography

‘Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí’

Transition Year Transition year is one of the most enjoyable years in a student’s educational life. At Gael-Choláiste Chill Dara we embark on the year with plenty of energy and enthusiasm. From keeping chickens to driving practice, and from first aid at school to learning history in Belfast, transition year students truly get a taste of everything. They learn not only from their teachers but also from guests, from trips, from each other and from themselves as they try new things. In addition to the core subjects, students get a chance to sample all of the subjects that they will be able to choose from for the Leaving Certificate. They then have a choice between the following modules: Woodwork, GAA Leaders, Drama, Junk Kouture, Young Social Innovators and Minicompany. We also undertake Chinese in Transition Year at GCCD, as well as cookery, computing and career guidance. One of the most valuable aspects of Transition Year is the opportunity the students have to undertake work experience. This takes place in three different settings throughout the year and it gives them a good understanding of employer expectations and of the working world. Above all, Transition Year students have the opportunity to develop in a non-academic way, empowered by the school to run key initiatives in the school calendar, such as Gaelfactor, Gaeilge 24, sports teams and Gaelbhratach. They are active in the school and in the community, and the Transition Year students help GCCD to foster a strong link with senior classes in the local Gaelscoileanna in order to facilitate the transition from primary to secondary school. On leaving school, many of the most emotional and funniest memories for the student come from Transition Year and we will continue to develop it as a community and as a school year on year.

Core Subjects Irish Maths French or Spanish Computers Guidance PE SPHE

Modules Chemistry Biology Physics Heritage Studies Cookery Music Geography Technology Accountancy Business Art Chinese

Options Woodwork Drama Young Social Innovators GAA Future Leaders Junk Kouture Mini Company

Beyond the Curriculum Extra-curricular activities are an integral part of the school’s philosophy. Pupils are encouraged to take part in clubs, school choir, drama, sports and extra-curricular activities.

School Choir

The school choir meets regularly and has performed at school shows, Christmas markets and at fundraising events.


We have a strong drama tradition here at Gael-Choláiste Chill Dara. Pupils have the opportunity to take part in various competitions such as Scléip, and they have a lot of fun preparing for them. In recent years we have been fortunate to win a number of awards for our plays.


There are many clubs available in the school and this allows students to make friends with others and develop additional skills. Clubs include a chess club, homework club, ciorcal comhrá, reading club and a traditional music club.


There is a strong emphasis on sport in Gael-Choláiste Chill Dara and we are very proud that a wide range of sports has been provided to cater for the various interests of the students. Sport provides students with a richer school experience and fosters a strong ethos in the school environment. Students learn important life skills such as teamwork, respect, responsibility, social skills and it contributes greatly to the well-being of the student. Sport is going from strength to strength every year and we are confident that even more progress will be made as the school grows thanks to players, managers and the school community. The sports that are currently available in the school are: • Gaelic football • Hurling and Camogie • Soccer • Basketball • Athletics

Student Leadership Student Council

The Student Council gives students a voice in matters pertaining to the student body. The Council works in partnership with the Board of Management, staff, and parents for the benefit of the school community. There is a representative from each class on the council and they meet regularly to discuss topics of interest to all year groups. The topics that arise from these meetings are then brought to the attention of school management for further discussion. As well as this, the Council organises two charity events during the school year. Being a member of the council provides students with an excellent opportunity to develop and improve their leadership skills.


The Cinnirí are a group of students from fifth and sixth year and they are role models and leaders for the entire student body. They mentor first year students and help them with the transition from primary to secondary school. They meet with their class group regularly, which creates a friendly and supportive relationship with the first year students. The Cinnirí also attend and speak at important school events such as the first year induction evening and the school open night. They help organise and run school activities such as the schools end of year awards and recognition ceremony.

Awards & Recognition Ceremony

At the end of year ceremony, students’ efforts and achievements are celebrated. Sporting and cultural activities such as music, art and drama both inside and outside of school are recognised. Special recognition is given to students who show leadership skills within the school setting with school awards for Transition Year Student of the Year, Junior Student of the Year, Gradam Gaeilge na Scoile and Corn Uí Cheanainn.

Beyond Our Success the Curriculum & Alumni


400 Over the last 4 years 65% of our students achieved over 400 points

Over the last 4 years 25% of our students achieved over 500 points

I am currently pursuing a degree in Law and Political Science at Trinity College, and I must say that I would not be here if it were not for the time I spent at GCCD. At first, I did not realise how special the school was but it did not take me long to see this. What stands out to me is the atmosphere. It is by no means an ordinary school. There was a great relationship between the teachers and the students, a safe and supportive relationship. We knew we could talk to the teachers about anything that bothered us. This school helped me to reach my full potential because the teachers had established a culture of mutual respect. All the teachers pushed me in the right direction. In addition, the comradery between students was incredible and, in my opinion, could not be replicated elsewhere. I am very grateful for my time at GCCD and the memories will stay with me forever. Conor Laarhoven Class of 2021, Law and Politcal Science Student

I had a very enjoyable experience in Gael-Choláiste Chill Dara. I was given every opportunity to explore my creativity and I believe those opportunities helped me to get to where I am today as a hairdresser and owner of my own hair extension company. We had the opportunity to get a taste of the working world during Transition Year, which was invaluable to me. My teachers were always helpful, the student-teacher relationships were fantastic and I felt that they genuinely cared about each individual student and their needs. Being dyslexic, I always received a lot of support and I am very grateful for the positive experience I had at school. Aislinn Caomhánach Class of 2016 – Hair Stylist and Business Owner

I really enjoyed my time at Gael-Choláiste Chill Dara. I came from an English primary school and I now understand that I was lucky enough to learn Irish in an easy, organic and natural way in GCCD. I really enjoyed the academic workmanship and rationality in the school and I think it was a great preparation for third level. In addition, I had great opportunities to get involved in sports, music, trips and many other activities while I was at school. Eoin Ó Briain Class of 2017, Medical Student

The years I spent at Gael-Choláiste Chill Dara will no doubt be with me forever. I am very proud to have had the rare opportunity to receive an education through the medium of Irish. I was motivated every day at school to speak and promote our native language. It differs from other schools in that the teachers and pupils are on an equal footing, creating a friendly and relaxed atmosphere in the school corridors. Finally, above all, I now have friends for life in the people I met at Gael-Choláiste Chill Dara. I would not want to attend any other school other than GCCD. Gráinne Ní Mhaolfhabháil Class of 2021 – Engineering Student

I really enjoyed my time in Gael-Choláiste Chill Dara. It is so valuable to be able to speak Irish fluently and it is something I am very proud of. We learnt through Irish every day, therefore most people found Irish as a subject quite easy. You also get extra points for doing State Exams through Irish, which can be a big help. The teachers always went above and beyond to help the students and I really felt that they were there to support me. The school is relatively small, so teachers had a good relationship with each student and were able to cater to their individual needs. As well as that, I had the opportunity to go on lots of educational trips during my time in the school. For example, there was a voluntary trip to Bucharest in Transition Year to do charity work, which was very rewarding. Overall, my time in the school was so valuable and I am very grateful that I attended Gael-Choláiste Chill Dara. Kate de Prionnbhóil Rang 2020 – Medical Student When I was a student in GCCD, there was always a very friendly and supportive atmosphere. It was very easy to talk to the teachers and speak to them about any issues. When I said I wanted to be an officer in the Irish Defence Forces, the teachers showed a lot of genuine interest and helped me to begin that process. Seán Ó Ciorra Class of 2018, The Irish Defence Forces My school days in Gaelcholáiste Cill Dara were some of the most worthwhile, fun and enjoyable days in my life so far. The school’s upbeat atmosphere along with extremely hard working teachers added to my school experience in a very positive way. I always felt safe and at home in the school environment. I put this down to the amazing relationship between students, teachers and the school community as a whole. I developed a grá for Irish while attending the school, not only as a school subject but as a lively and useful language outside of the school grounds. As a result of GaelCholáiste Chill Dara’s forward-thinking, Gaelach and welcoming approach to education, I am currently undertaking a masters in education myself. My days in Gael-Choláiste Cill Dara have left a strong imprint on me, something that I am very grateful for. Ella Archbold Class of 2017, Student Teacher 045 898294 @GCCD_Nas

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