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St. Columba’s College, Whitechurch, Dublin 16. Tel: 01 490 6791 • Fax: 01 493 6655 • E-mail: admin@stcolumbas.ie • Web: www.stcolumbas.ie

design: www.paragondesign.ie • tel: (01) 4966 004

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design: www.paragondesign.ie • tel: (01) 4966 004

Boarding & Day School for Boys and Girls


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Introduction A very warm welcome to readers of this prospectus, which provides a brief guide to the special place which I, and all who work at St. Columba's, believe it to be. St. Columba's is a boarding and day school of approximately 300 boys and girls aged 11 to 18. The College offers a wide range of opportunities for its pupils, not only academic but also sporting, artistic and cultural. Our aim is to provide a varied and balanced education which is stimulating and fulfilling, and we aim to do this in a setting which is attractive and inspiring. Our teacher-pupil ratio of 1:7 and our average class-size of 12 are instrumental in enabling us to achieve these aims. Reading our prospectus, however, is only the first step in becoming acquainted with us. We welcome visitors and are eager to let you see at first hand the vibrant and flourishing community that lives and works together here. Do make an appointment to visit us on a normal working day, when you can meet the pupils and staff who, together, combine to make us distinctive and special.

Dr. Lindsay Haslett Warden


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A Christian Education In many ways, the most important building in the College is our Chapel. On the edge of the Deerpark, designed by the great Victorian architect William Butterfield, it was dedicated on September 1st 1880. In this beautiful building we meet as a College every day, with a short service before morning classes, and a longer service every Sunday. The lay-out of the pews emphasises the collegiate nature of these services, and we have a tradition of tremendous communal singing and participation.

The College is a Church of Ireland foundation with a full-time Chaplain, but we welcome members of all Christian denominations and all faiths. The ethos of the College is informed by the Christian values of tolerance, kindness and selflessness that are so important within a close-knit community.


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Columban Life Life at St. Columba's is busy and rewarding. From classes to sports, play rehearsals to choir practices, debates to personal study time, every week is full of activity. We believe in stretching our pupils as much as possible, and in encouraging participation in every area of College life. Central to this demanding existence is the close-knit nature of our small community in a seven-day boarding environment. In helping every individual boy and girl to flourish, the vocational commitment of our largely-resident teaching staff is immense.


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Academic Excellence The pursuit of academic excellence is the everyday priority of our highly-qualified, specialist teaching staff. Our overall teacher-pupil ratio of 1:7 means small classes and a great deal of individual attention. 'Prep' in the evening is the time for structured and supervised study, while all pupils are able to avail of the superb facilities in the Library throughout the day.

We are particularly proud of our recent record in a series of outstanding annual results in the Department of Education Leaving Certificate examinations. While the full Columban education extends well beyond the classroom, we are determined to maintain our tradition of academic achievement.


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Academic Structures Pupils are divided into seven Forms. The youngest enter Primary (aged 11), and benefit from its small size. They are thus able to settle into College life in a relatively protected way. The next three years build up to the Junior Certificate examinations at the end of Third Form; most pupils enter at Primary, First or Second Form level.

We are particularly proud of our Transition Year in Fourth Form; this is an academically rigorous time, in which pupils are stretched in a variety of interesting and different ways. Although formal academic examinations take place at Christmas and Easter, there is no public examination at the end of this year, and pupils can and do develop a great deal academically without the pressures that this entails. There is a considerable emphasis on extracurricular activities and personal development. We see this year as crucial preparation for the final years at the College.

Fifth and Sixth form pupils take the two-year Leaving Certificate course. Throughout this process they benefit from small classes and close attention. We feel strongly that they also gain crucially from extracurricular opportunities: pupils who succeed academically are often those who also participate most outside the classroom.

At every level, we encourage the ability to work independently, to learn research skills in the Library and on the internet, to co-ordinate project work, and to present work orally.


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Individual Attention Visitors to St. Columba's are quickly struck by the easy atmosphere between pupils and staff, and among pupils themselves. Our small size means that all members of the College are known to each other through a variety of roles and activities.

Our attention to the academic development of pupils extends beyond the classroom. While Housemasters and Housemistresses are the key figures in this support, pupils are also monitored and advised by academic tutors, guidance counsellors and our learning support department. Each pupil is regularly given an effort mark in each subject: this system means that we can quickly address any problem areas. Every term detailed assessments are made through formal examinations, and full written reports on these are provided for parents.


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The Library Purpose-built in 1994, following the 150th anniversary of the founding of the College, this superb building is one of our most important academic resources.

Situated at the heart of the College, on two sides of the Warden's Garden, our Library is spacious and elegant. Two large reading rooms flank the main collection of 10,000 books. The computer facilities are connected to the College network, and pupils studying here with laptops also have wireless access to the internet.

The Library is airy, bright and warm, an oasis of calm and quietness in the hustle and bustle of boarding school life. It is constantly in demand as a place for serious study and as a peaceful haven for readers. It is open for over twelve hours a day, seven days a week, and is run by a professional Librarian. The well-funded collection is first-class, and has created a genuine reading culture in the College. Its success underscores our belief in the continuing importance of books and reading in the 21st century.


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Boarding Life Within the overall 'village' atmosphere of the school, the House system fosters a special sense of community. Four boys' and three girls' Houses are spread around the College in separate buildings. Each House has its own living and sleeping quarters and routine; each House also has its own distinct identity. A Housemaster or Housemistress, assisted by at least one House Tutor, is in charge and acts in loco parentis in every aspect of the pupils' welfare during their years at the College, and is the main point of contact between parents and the College.

The youngest boys and girls enter Tibradden and Beresford Houses respectively before they progress to the senior Houses. They are looked after not only by House staff but by selected senior pupils. We strongly encourage the development of responsibility within the House system through Heads of House and House Captains in particular. Within the school at large, every year a team of College Prefects, led by the Senior and Second Prefects, is enormously important in the leadership of the community.

Day pupils in some boarding schools are isolated in a separate House.

At the

College day boys and day girls are fully integrated into each House and are looked after by the same pastoral care staff as boarders. Many stay working in the College well into the evening. They lead a much busier life than in most day schools, and frequently convert to boarding during their time here. We also have a speciallydesignated teacher who looks after any specific concerns of day pupils and their parents.


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Boarding Facilities As we enter the 21st century, we have re-affirmed our belief in the value of the boarding experience by completing two major developments. These show our determination to continue to improve all our facilities, following in the last decade other major projects such as the construction of the Library, the Sports Hall and the Art Centre.

In September 2004 the impressive new Grange Building opened. Two Houses - Glen for senior boys and Hollypark for senior girls - are accommodated separately here, with space for over 100 boarders, sleeping two, four and six per room. Each dormitory has its own en-suite washrooms and toilets. In addition there are extra facilities for day boys and girls, eight common rooms and kitchens for leisure time, computer areas, changing rooms, and adjoining accommodation for supervising House staff. There are also four classrooms on the ground floor.

Moving from the new to the old, in January 2006 we completed the total refurbishment of the nineteenth-century Argyle complex at the heart of the College. This now provides beautifully-restored facilities for Stackallan, a senior boys' boarding House, as well as improved study and dining areas below.


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Information Technology Information technology is an integral part of the educational experience here: our staff have taken on its teaching and learning opportunities enthusiastically. The dedicated Computer Room is used for specialist IT classes, for mainstream subjects, and during evening Prep for individual work. A wireless network covers the campus, including classrooms and the boarding houses, and internet access is delivered via a high-speed broadband system. Increasingly pupils also bring their own laptops to school and connect to the network in this way. An IT co-ordinator oversees our facilities, backed up by a fulltime technician. We take a pro-active approach to educating our pupils about the effective and acceptable use of such technology, and constantly monitor its use.


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Careers & Guidance Planning for the years after school is a vital but sometimes difficult undertaking for teenagers. Our pupils are supported by two qualified Guidance Counsellors in examining their career options; indeed, we are happy to continue to provide this service after pupils have left the College. There is a six-year programme of assessment and counselling, which culminates in the last two years, as third-level choices are made. Housemasters and Housemistresses are also valuable sources of advice, and, in the final Leaving Certificate year, each pupil has a special academic tutor, to help with college applications and work priorities.

The careers service is based in the fine Masterman Careers Library and Research Centre, a facility dedicated to careers information. Most research is now conducted online: the Masterman is connected to the College computer network.


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Extracurricular Life At the core of the Columban philosophy is that all pupils should participate in as

These include: a well-organised and extensive sporting programme in superb grounds

many activities as possible, to the best of their abilities. Every pupil can shine in

(six days a week), high-quality musical events, debating, public speaking, Saturday

several areas. The range of facilities in the College, and the wide expertise and

evening clubs and societies, drama productions and workshops throughout the year

enthusiasm of the teaching staff, mean that there are many such opportunities.

for all age-groups, charity work and fund-raising, and expeditions to Dublin, the rest of Ireland and abroad. We invite you to look at the current calendar to get a flavour of what our pupils experience.


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Sport As part of the full boarding experience, we expect all pupils to take part in a structured programme of regular sporting activities and exercise. We are particularly strong in our conviction that children gain enormously in a variety of ways from taking part in team games.

We are lucky to have ample space on our 140-acre campus for sport, and some of the best facilities of any school in Ireland. The main outdoor winter sports are rugby, hockey and cross-country; in the summer term these are replaced by athletics and cricket. A superbly-equipped Sports Hall opened in 1998. The large main hall is used for a variety of activities, including basketball, badminton, volleyball, archery, indoor football and hockey, and winter cricket nets. Downstairs there is an aerobics room and changing rooms, and upstairs a fully-equipped fitness suite.

Elsewhere on the grounds are a floodlit astroturf hockey pitch (a second opens in 2007), spacious rugby and cricket pitches, outdoor hard tennis courts, an outdoor swimming pool, fine cross-country mountain runs, and the College's own highly-regarded golf course.

All sports are run by senior members of the teaching staff, assisted by other teachers and also a range of professional coaches drawn from Dublin's considerable sporting resources.


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The Sports Hall


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Music The musical life of the College is particularly vibrant. Over half the pupils take individual tuition on musical instruments including piano, brass, guitar, strings, woodwind and the fine Chapel organ, as well as singing and theory. In addition, individual pupils frequently perform in concerts, there are active Chapel, Chamber and Festival choirs, an annual Gala Concert, foreign tours (recently to Salzburg and Budapest), and to cap it all once a year every pupil in the College performs in the intensely competitive House Singing Competition. We are excited by the re-development of the fine old Cadogan Building in 2007 into a new Music and Performing Arts Centre, connected to the major performance space in the Big Schoolroom.


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Art & Crafts The visual arts are housed in the former gymnasium, converted in 2000 into a splitlevel space for classes and individual work, with adjoining rooms for the ceramics and photography departments. In this attractive environment, pupils learn how to experiment and to communicate visually, and are challenged to think creatively. There are art, pottery and photography clubs, practical trips and expeditions to galleries, and major annual exhibitions. The College has had a fine record of nurturing artistic talent over many years, and our current pupils maintain this tradition, regularly being accepted into art colleges in Ireland and abroad.


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Drama & Performance Our pupils have many opportunities to appear on stage. There are annual junior and senior plays, a biennial Shakespeare Society production, drama workshops and shows devised by a professional company, one-act productions, plays in foreign languages, and form plays. Many pupils become involved in set design, lighting and back-stage work. There is also an active video drama club, and public speaking is encouraged through the house debating and house speech competitions. All this performance activity helps pupils to build self-confidence, character and social skills, and to work as part of teams both on- and off-stage, as well as simply having great fun.


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A History of Excellence St. Columba's has come a long way since its foundation in 1843, but over 160 years later it is still driven by its founders' visions and aspirations of excellence. The last decade has seen considerable development of our physical facilities, but more important than all this is the defining purpose of the College.

This purpose continues to be the development of each individual pupil. Such an education evolves in a structured environment, where each pupil is expected to take responsibility for himself or herself, and also to contribute positively to a small community of pupils, teachers and non-teaching staff. In every area of life here, from the Chemistry laboratory to the French classroom, from the basketball court to the art club, from choir practice to play rehearsal, we have the highest expectations of what pupils can achieve, and the manner in which they achieve this.

The College is just seven miles south of Dublin city centre, in a beautiful setting in the foothills overlooking Dublin Bay. We hope that after reading this prospectus and visiting our website at www.stcolumbas.ie you will come to see St. Columba's for yourself.

Please do contact us to arrange a visit, through the College office at 01 490 6791, or by e-mail at admin@stcolumbas.ie. We look forward to welcoming you.


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St Columba's College Prospectus