(A) DEPARTMENT OF CIVIC, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL EDUCATION
Aims of the Department:
- To be clear on the key elements of subject knowledge
- To employ the use of active learning methodologies in order to enable the development of skills, attitudes and dispositions of students
- To promote the importance of students taking action and acting responsibly.
- Civic, Social & Political Education - Curriculum Online
Activities to support CSPE:
- Family trips e.g. to a particular local museum, upcoming exhibition
- Host an election for class representatives
- Conduct an assembly presentation to raise topic awareness.
(B) DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
"The study of geography is about more than just memorizing places on a map. It's about understanding the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity of cultures that exists across continents. And in the end, it's about using all that knowledge to help bridge divides and bring people together." - Barack Obama
Aims of the Department:
Through engaging, differentiated and focused classwork and homework our aim is to develop your daughter's Geographical skills. These skills include map reading, analysing information, essay writing and critical thinking. We aim to enhance your daughters understanding of the environmental, regional and human world around her. In this way she will become a more informed global citizen with a richer understanding of the challenges and complexities of the modern world.
Facilities offered by the school for the Department:
- The school has two computer rooms for Geographical research.
- Each Geography teacher has their own room full of resources with everything from rocks and maps to weather instruments.
- Each classroom has a data projector, laptop and whiteboard.
Information on Junior Cycle/Junior Cert Course/ Syllabus:
- This is a three year course. It is taught over three class periods per week.
- 90% of the exam is based on the Written Paper.
- The final 10% is based on Classroom Based Assessment in third year.
The subject is split into different sections:
- Exploring people, places and change
- Exploring the physical world
- Exploring how we interact with the physical world
We examine the elements of each of the above, focusing on Processes, patterns, system and scale, Sustainability and Geographical skills.
Information on Leaving Certificate Course/Syllabus:
- This is a two year course. It is taught over five class periods per week.
- 80% of the exam is based on the Written Paper.
- 20% of the exam is based on the Field Trip Investigation booklet.
- In 6th year the student will carry out a practical Field Trip investigation. After the investigation the students write up a detailed report in a booklet, which is worth 20% of their examination.
- The subject is split into different sections - Physical Geography, Regional Geography, Human Geography and Geoecology.
"Without Geography, you’re nowhere"
(C) DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY
"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots". - Marcus Garvey
History is very important at Ursuline College Blackrock. As the oldest girls' secondary school in Ireland, we are very proud of our History and as a department we want our students to share in this sense of pride and to impart a passion for History which as a subject plays an important role in the makings of Modern Society.
The study of History allows students to engage with a variety of concepts ; change, continuity, empathy and skills; research, analysis, evaluating, decision making, communicating ideas and essay writing. These concepts and skills are adaptable to other areas of the curriculum across the Junior and Senior Cycle and are seen as very valuable by Third Level Educators and future employers.
Aims of the Department:
The History Department aims to develop in each student:
- Interest in and enjoyment of historical study for future work and lifelong learning.
- Knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies at a local, national and international level.
- Capacity to undertake historical inquiry including the use of the following skills; locating sources, identifying propaganda and bias, analysing data and communicating their arguments.
Facilities offered by the school for the Department:
- Each teacher has their own classroom with a variety of visual aids to help students.
- JCSP Initiatives which contribute towards History trips for the Junior Years.
- History Week which is held once a year.
- Two fully equipped Computer Rooms for research and presentation work.
Information on Junior Cycle:
- History is taught to all Junior Cycle Students and remains a core subject in our school.
- The current second and third year students are engaging with the old Junior Certificate course.
- This is studied over three years and the exam at the end of the third year accounts for 100% of the marks.
- Students can sit the exam at Ordinary or Higher Level.
- The students cover topics from Ancient Rome to World War II. They also study Irish History, examining the emergence of Irish Independence and relations in the North.
See Junior Certificate Syllabus:
Junior Cycle History
Our current first students are engaging with the new Junior Cycle course. This is studied over three years.
They study a variety of topics across three strands: The Nature of History, The History of Ireland and the History of Europe and the Wider World.
Within the subject, they encounter 11 of the 24 Statements of Learning in the New Junior Cycle Framework, while also working on all eight of the Key Skills outlined in the Framework.
In Second Year students partake in the first Classroom Based Assessment (CBA) entitled : The Past in my Place. This provides students with an opportunity to explore an aspect of their local history or family history. Their results can be presented in a variety of formats, allowing students to show their creativity. The mark for the task is awarded by the History Department.
In the third year students undertake CBA 2: A Life in Time, an evidence-based inquiry into the historical life and experiences of a person of interest. This can be a historical figure they have learnt about and enjoyed during the course of the three years. The mark for the task is awarded by the History Department.
Following the completion of CBA 2, students will undertake an Assessment Task which will be corrected by the State Examinations Commission and will be worth 10 % of their overall mark.
The final exam at the end of the Third year will be at a common level, two hours long and worth 90%.
Fact Sheet on Junior Certificate History:
Leaving Certificate History:
At the end of Third Year students decide which subjects they would like to study for their Leaving Certificate and begin these in Fourth Year. Among the subject options is History.
The Leaving Certificate Course is arranged into two fields of study:
- Early Modern 1492-1815
- Later Modern 1815-1993.
Students study topics from one of these fields. At our school students study topics from the Later Modern field.
Within each field they study two topics from Irish history and two from the history of Europe and the wider world.
They will also engage in a document based study which is on a topic prescribed by the Department of Education.
Over the course of their study, students will complete a Research Project.
- This is worth 20% of the overall grade.
- This is completed months before the actual exam.
- Students can write on any historical topic of their own choice.
- This allows students to take part in self directed learning and research, which are vital skills for third level.
The final Assessment is worth 80 %.
- This can be taken at Higher and Ordinary Levels.
- 20% of the exam will be on the prescribed documents they studied.
- 60% of the exam will be on essays. The essay questions are open-ended and allow students to use their knowledge to construct an argument.
See History Syllabus:
Materials and Equipment Needed for the subject:
- A4 Hardback copy for Notes
- Softback copy for homework
- Folder for worksheets and exams
List of activities that could support a student in History:
- Visits to museums, historic buildings, local monuments and other historic sites, for example The Cork Butter Museum, Cork City Goal, Cork Public Museum, Blarney Castle and The Cobh Heritage Centre. Here in Cork, we are spoilt for choice!
- Membership with a local library. The Cork City Library has an excellent collection of online exhibitions on local history and Cork’s impact on the international stage. These can also be viewed in the Library.
- Reading - Historical Fiction is a great way of bringing the past to life.
- Watch documentaries and other historical programmes on TV, Youtube or Netflix.
- Speak to older people about their lives in the past.
(D) DEPARTMENT OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
Religious Education in The Ursuline College Blackrock Rationale:
The Religious Education Policy is informed by the primary objective of the Ursuline School:
"As a Catholic school its primary objective is to participate in the evangelising mission of the Church by fostering a school community where gospel values are lived and taught." - Vision
The policy is inspired by the vision of St. Angela Merici and lived out in the context of community:
Ursuline Education strives to nurture a community where Christian values are respected, lived and taught. It is based on the teachings of St. Angela which emphasise:
- Personal relationship with God
- The holistic development of each individual
- The dignity and uniqueness of each person
- The importance of courtesy and kindness
- The fostering of courage and confidence to live in justice and truth
- The encouragement of a caring and respectful attitude towards self, others and the environment
Centrality of Religious Education to the Mission of the Ursuline Congregation
Since its foundation, Religious Education had been central to the mission of the Ursuline Congregation.
"Accordingly, religious instruction, liturgical services and prayer are part of the daily life of the school and a high level of participation from students is encouraged."
The school strives to enable students to:
- Be aware of the gift of God’s unconditional love for them
- Know and love their Catholic faith through learning, liturgy, prayer and practice
- Be active members of their community and church
- Be aware of others less fortunate than themselves and respond appropriately
- Be independent of mind to stand up for truth.
Junior class groups have three periods of Religious Education a week. Senior classes have two class periods a week.
The Chaplain in our School
The school does not have access to a chaplain. The Religious Education Coordinator is the person who coordinates classroom work and liturgical events throughout the school year. For many years the curate of the local parish was available to celebrate school liturgies however in recent years this has not been the case. We are lucky to have established a relationship with the Dominican community in Ennismore ( Cork). Fr. Stephen Cummins and Fr. Benedict Hegarty have been an important presence in our school since 2010/2012.
Aims of Religious Education:
- To foster an awareness that the human search for meaning is common to all people, of all ages and at all times.
- To explore how this search for meaning has found and continues to find expression in religion.
- To identify how understandings of God, religious traditions, and in particular the Christian tradition, have contributed to the culture in which we live, and continue to have an impact on personal lifestyle, and interpersonal relationships between individuals and their communities and contexts.
- To appreciate the richness of religious traditions and to acknowledge the non-religious interpretation of life.
- To contribute to the spiritual and moral development of the student with due recognition of their right to have a voice.
Examination Classes: Junior Certificate Years 1,2 & 3:
- To provide students with a framework ( skills and understanding) for encountering and engaging with the variety of religious traditions in Ireland and elsewhere.
- Invite the student to reflect on their own experience.
- To promote an understanding and appreciation of why people believe as well as tolerance and respect for the values and beliefs of all.
Non- Examination Classes: 4th, 5th & 6th
Religious Education for senior classes aims to build on Junior Certificate aims as outlined above.
In addition, we aim to foster critical thinking and encourage students to reflect on themselves, their world and their place in the world.
To foster an awareness of the sacred and the place of ritual in our lives.
Subject Planning For a Culturally Diverse Society:
All students attending the Ursuline Secondary School are required to attend and participate in Religious Education. In Junior Certificate the subject Religious Education is taught as an academic subject and involves the study of many aspects of faith.
In our school, we welcome students of all faiths and none, however as a Catholic school and specifically as an Ursuline school we seek to mark special occasions and special times through liturgy and prayer. There are three liturgical celebrations in the course of the year: mass for the feast of St Ursula, mass for the feast of St Angela and a Christmas Carol Service. We respond to the needs of the school community at times of loss and bereavement. These are whole school events and while we respect the right of a student of another faith or none to choose not to participate in a school liturgy they are expected to attend.
Subject Coordinator: Paula Goggin
- The coordinator is responsible for the management of Religious Education in the school. This is carried out in conjunction with the Principal and the teachers of Religious Education.
- The coordinator plans whole school events such as school liturgies and prayer services.
- The coordinator is responsible for booking school retreats and ensuring they run smoothly. This may involve booking an appropriate space and organising transport.
- The coordinator will be made aware of any important and relevant information regarding individual students and their participation in Religious Education and related activities.
- The coordinator maintains contact with the priest(s) who facilitate school liturgies.
- In the event of a crisis ( unexpected bereavement etc) the coordinator works with the Principal to respond to the needs of the school community.
- The coordinator works with any student teachers to ensure that they receive support and guidance as well as ensure the required work is being covered in classes.
- The coordinator meets with the Principal on a regular basis to plan school events and report on Religious Education in the school.
The coordinator chairs subject meetings and ensures that the relevant documentation is up to date.
Homework and Assessment
- We have a policy of giving homework at least once a week. This may be written work or learning/reviewing.
- The homework should be assigned before the end of the class, allowing plenty of time for the students to record this in their journals.
- Homework should be viewed/marked by the teacher
- When necessary there should be a meeting with the Learning Support personnel with regard to appropriate homework for an individual student with special needs.
- When introducing a new task or assignment the teacher should consider modelling the task before assigning homework.
- Homework is part of the teaching/learning process. It functions to
- Consolidate work done in class
- Encourage self-directed study
- Assist in teacher's ongoing assessment of pupils' work
- Promote learning of concepts
- We use many different methods to assess for learning (AfL) and assessment of learning (AOL)
Observations; Concept mapping; Questions; Silent conversations; Group work; Think-Pair-Share; Scale of Understanding; Exam questions; Board Work; Homework; Class tests; House exams; Oral work; Quiz; Worksheets;
Teachers are expected to keep detailed and accurate records of assessments. Students receive a school report after Christmas exams and summer exams. They receive feedback via comments/grades on homework and tests. They receive oral feedback when discussing targets in Term 1 and again in Term 2.
Parent-Teacher Meetings offer an opportunity to provide feedback and to receive information on the progress of the students.
The student journal is a means of communicating with parents and students.
There are house exams at the end of Term 1 and at the end of Term 3. When possible the students of a year group receive a common examination paper at the relevant levels.
Senior Religious Education (Non-Exam):
We do not have a policy of assigning homework in senior RE. These students have a heavy load and under the circumstances, we do not ask them to do homework. This is highlighted to the students and they are asked to participate fully during class time. They are assessed on their participation and willingness to contribute to the class.
Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers:
In keeping with the Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers published by the Teaching Council the members of the Religious Education department aim to:
- be caring, fair and committed to the best interests of the students entrusted to their care.
- acknowledge and respect the uniqueness, individuality and specific needs of students and promote their holistic development.
- be committed to equality and inclusion and to respecting and accommodating diversity.
- seek to develop positive relationships with all in the school community.
- work to establish and maintain a culture of mutual trust and respect in our school.
Retreats/Opportunities for Prayer and Reflection:
Currently, we offer a school retreat to First Years in September and Fifth Years later in the year.
If it is deemed that a particular year group would benefit from some ‘time out’ for reflection then a retreat and/or wellbeing day will be planned.
Participation in a retreat is optional. Generally, the vast majority participate. Every effort is made to ensure all students are free to participate, this may involve offering financial support.
We have a prayer/meditation room in the school. The students love to go to the meditation room and display both enthusiasm and a willingness to be quiet and reflective. This is an important space in our school.
We celebrate our school liturgies in St. Michael’s Church which is next door to the school. The Graduation Liturgy is celebrated in the school towards the end of May.