EUROPEAN STUDIES in St.Colman’s College
St. Colman’s College was among the very first tranche of schools who joined the European Studies Programme when it was first set up in 1992. Originally the subject was seen as a natural extension of Geography and CSPE and the late Michael McDonnell was instrumental in initiating the European Studies Programme within the school curriculum. Currently Mr.Hession and Ms. McLoughney run the programme in the college.
European Studies now has a natural home within the Transition Year programme. Indeed the subject has expanded to become integral to the Transition Year option. We are now involved in two separate cluster groups with a separate cohort of students involved in each.
We started with:
Ballyclare Secondary School, Ballyclare, Co. Aintrim, Northern Ireland
Coláiste Mhuire, Johnstown, Co. Kilkenny
Gimnazija Euro Sola, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Lycèe Camille Claudel, Blain, France
St. Catherines College, Armagh, Northern Ireland
Since then we have been joined by:
Istituto Provincale di Cultura e Lingue N Cassara, Palermo, Italy
St. Josephs College, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Cardinal Wiseman School, Potters Green Road, Coventry, CV2 2AJ, England
In the past we have also worked with:
Athènèe Royal Crommelynck, 73 Avenue Orban, B-1150 Bruxelles, Belgium
Ashfield Girls High School, Holywood Road, Belfast, BT4 2LY, N. Ireland
Lugnetgymnasiet, Lugnetvägen 3, S-79131 FALUN, Sweden
Vejen Handelsskole, Jyllandsgade 11, 6600 Vejen, Denmark
[Kooperative Gesamtschule, Hahnhofstrasse 2a, 26524 Hage, Germany]
[1 Spoleczne Liceum, Ogólnoksztalcace, ul. Rejtana 7, 42-200 Czestochowa, Poland]
[Liceo Linguistico Provinciale di Via Fattori, Via Fattori no 86, 90146 Palermo, Sicily]
Over the years our students have had successful trips to schools in our cluster groups:
Auray (Brittany, France)
We have also hosted groups in Claremorris where the students stayed with local families and action-packed itineraries were put in place for the visitors.
Through our involvement with the European Parliament Offices in Dublin and because of our participation in European Studies we have taken part in Euroscola trips to the European Parliament in 2002, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2011. On our first trip over 20 students visited the parliament buildings and enjoyed a warm reception there. On subsequent occasions students have been encouraged to travel on partially funded visits to the Louise Weiss parliamentary buildings to play the part of MEPs for a day. Many have won the trips from Rotary Club and Graduate as prizes for participation in various competitions.
Students participating on these trips to Strasbourg are divided into working groups mirroring the committees of parliament where they design and formulate legislation. The final session is normally a plenary one where the groups endeavour to have their proposals adopted by the general assembly. At these sessions students have access to direct translation facilities and act as spokespersons, executives and MPs. During that first visit in 2002 our students received great help and encouragement from Pat Cox, the then President of the European Parliament. Various members of the Parliament have lent their encouragement and expertise to our students over the years.
European Youth Parliament (EYP)
The College is also involved with the European Youth Parliament (EYP) for many years now and has reached the national finals very consistently in that time. The EYP models itself on the workings of the European Parliament too. Students research topics for their committees and work within groups over a given weekend. During these weekends the students are put through leadership development and team skills development exercises conducted by alumni of EYP.
There is normally stiff competition to make it on to the EYP team from the College so there is a selection procedure with students applying formally to become involved. Teachers and EYP alumni choose the most suitable candidates to become involved.
In 2006 one of our students Ciarán Gallagher represented Ireland in Bari, Southern Italy where the representatives of more than 30 European countries gathered to debate the future of Europe. Mikey Finn repeated this success in 2011 in Zagreb, Croatia. More recently in 2012 Luke Gibbons proudly represented St. Colman’s and Ireland in Istanbul, Turkey. This EYP Organisation goes beyond the EU to include countries like Turkey, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Belarus and others.
In 2007 our European Studies students took part in an initiative called Citizen E with great success undertaking a common project with the Galileo Galilei School in Florence, Italy. Both schools co-operated on-line and created a European Time Line which listed significant events for both cultures.
We took part in a Euro-Med-Scola Group trip to Strasbourg in November 2008 which involved 12 students liaising with students from all EU states together with students from the countries which surround the Mediterranean. Five St. Colman’s students attended the second Euro-Med-Scola, which was held in 2011, to celebrate the liberation of North African countries (in what became known as the Arab Spring). They were Adam Gallagher, John Huane, Gearóid Lyons, Stevie Donnellan and Luke Merrick.
We began a Comenius bilateral exchange programme with Eurosola, Ljubljana in September 2009. After a year of working together on various projects we took a ten day trip to Slovenia in April 2010. 37 students with 5 teachers travelled. We were treated like royalty. In April 2011 we welcomed Eurosola to St Colman’s. We did our best to reciprocate their kindness and showed our visitors a good time with a packed itinerary. Overall the exchange was an outstanding success.
Mock EU Council
Three of our European Studies students of 2007 (Andrew Finn, Wojtek Streciwilk and Alan Benson) represented Belgium at the inaugural Mock European Council which was held in the historic Round Room at the Mansion House, Dublin where the First Dáil (The Irish Parliament) met.
In 2009 three students John Nolan, David Parsons and John Waters won the Mock EU Council competition which took place in Dublin Castle. The fruit of their labours was a trip to Strasbourg not just for them, but for their classmates too!
In October 2010 three students Colm Gallagher, Adrian Larkin and Kevin Murphy attended the Mock EU Council in Stormont. This was the Northern Ireland version of the Council held previously in Dublin Castle. Each student got a chance to contribute and they were addressed by the Minister for Education, Caitriona Ruane MP in a plenary session to round off the event.
In 2011 we repeated the trip to Stormont Castle in Northern Ireland where Adam Gallagher, Stevie Donnellan and Gearóid Lyons represented Spain.
Thanks to the Dublin based agency for life-long learning, Léargas, we have had a successful East / West link with Reading College which involved reciprocal visits over a four year period.
On various occasions our local MEPs have visited the College and have been most welcoming to us on our trips to Strasbourg and Brussels. Jim Higgins MEP was our most recent visitor to the College and he gave a very informative and interesting talk to the TY students in November 2012.
In the classroom itself the European Studies students put together a Personal Profile which is sent to the students in the other participating schools throughout the continent. This is normally the first activity the students do in September and then they begin work on a collaborative project which is done over the first term. The project itself is set by the teachers from across the continent when they meet at conference in March each year. There is normally another project in the second term in which students are encouraged to work in groups of three or four. Throughout the year the schools in various groupings are invited to connect with each other via e-mail and Skype etc., in order to gain a better insight as to how schools and education systems work across Europe. Throughout the year too there are classroom discussions and debates about the positive and negative aspects of Ireland’s involvement with the EU since those early days of accession in 1973.