AVS Newsletter – Mon 21st Sep

Welcome Back!

The Staff and management of The Abbey Vocational School would like to welcome all of our students back to school. A range of essential control measures have been implemented to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID -19 virus and to protect the safety, health and welfare of staff, students, parents and visitors as far as possible within the school. The control measures shall continue to be reviewed and updated as required on an ongoing basis. With this in mind, it is business as usual!

We hope that all of our students have settled into school and has enjoyed being back in the throes of school life. It was lovely to see the many faces come through the doors each day as each year group arrived back. We were so happy to welcome them back.

The students had to adapt to a new regime with one-hour classes with many new restrictions in place for our health and safety. We congratulate them all on their responsibility and cooperation in this regard. They have returned to face to face learning which after the gap in time may also be challenging for them. They are doing very well.  Please see some useful information below:

Deputy Principal Team:

Mr R Doherty, Mr M Leyden and Ms C Mohan.

Assistant Principals/ Year Heads:

1st year:  Ms C Kane. 2nd Year:  Mr R Doherty.  3rd Year: Ms C Mohan.  TY Coordinator: Mr C Hegarty. TY Year Head: Mr O Plunkett. 5th Year: Ms L Dillon and 6th Year: Mr M Leyden

 SEN: Ms C Kane. Assessment: Ms C Feeney.  Teaching and learning: MrS O Neill.

Student Support Team:  J Mc Morrow, M Faherty, P Rooney, L McLoone

Student Voice

We congratulate our team of Prefects for 2020 2021 and our Head Boy Frank Duffy, Deputy Head Boy Thomas White, Head Girl Rosin Feeney and Deputy Head Girl Niamh Moohan. Prefects: Katelyn Duffy, India Kennedy, Shane Meehan, Tom Daly, Chris Darby, Emily Gallagher, Caitlin Ward, Aoife Green, Ella Ford, Mikaela Mc Connon, Cathleen Gallagher, Marie Mc Girr, Annie Mc Groary, Joe Campbell, Gavin Browne, Aodhan Mc Crudden, Gwenaelle Ni Dhonnabhain, Shona O’Brien and Hannah Crawford.

 Our Student Council and Class Captains will be in place in the coming days.

If Unwell, Stay at Home

The AVS are operating an ‘If Unwell Stay at Home’ policy. Should a member of our community experience any of the symptoms of Covid-19 –  High temperature, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, that member of our community must stay at home and seek appropriate medical intervention. 


Students will have monthly tests and all students will have Christmas Exams as well as Summer Exams. Third and Leaving Cert students will also have Mock Exams as usual. Should we ever be in the unfortunate situation of facing school closure again, students have their google classroom codes set up, and are up and running.  

Evening Study

Evening study has started for the first term of school at a reduced capacity, and in line with regulations. Study started on Monday the 14th of September for 6th years only for the time being.

New Homework App!

The Abbey Vocational School is delighted to announce the introduction of the New Homework App. for the safe handling of written work, all students will be trained how to download the app and then use it to upload their scanned homework to their Google Classroom assignments. This will mean staff receive a pdf of written work/evidence that they can annotate/give feedback on thereafter. A short tutorial to support this has been recorded from the students’ perspective for both android and iOS phones. 


This year the Abbey Vocational School is delighted to announce the introduction of the new pre-order system with the school canteen in collaboration with ‘Get Fresh’. ‘Get Fresh’ is a new card less system which will see a cashless system in place.

Leaving Cert Results

Congratulations to each and every one of our Leaving Cert students who received their calculated grade this week. We are so proud of them all. These students have had such a challenging year. Their resilience has been outstanding and their attitude amazing. Their future awaits them and we wish them all the very best of luck. Once again they head to many diverse new courses and careers.

First Year Induction

We are delighted to welcome our new first years to the Abbey Vocational School. They took part in an initial two-day induction programme, which involved a wide variety of activities to help them familiarise themselves with the school building, rules and expectations and of course our staff. We also had an outside visitor who delivered a programme of fun bonding tasks to help our first years get to know their classmates and relax in the school environment. Three weeks in and they are very well settled into a good routine and making great contributions to our school community.

Career Guidance

  1. Leaving Certs: 1-1 appointments are available; speak to your Guidance Counsellor for booking instruction
  2. Be sure to keep an eye on our regularly updated Guidance website. Go to http://www.AVSDonegal.com – click on the Guidance button on the far right of the screen.


This year students from the Abbey Vocational School will participate in the ‘Great Reads Award (GRA)’. The ‘Great Reads Award’ is an Award judged by students for debut writing for Young Adults. Presented by the School Library in Association in the Republic of Ireland and short listed by librarians and teacher-librarians. The short list titles offer a range of reading levels and interests, by authors from a variety of backgrounds, including an Irish language title for which a glossary is available.

Allingham Festival Ballyshannon Poetry Competition

Congratulations to AVS Student Tristan who took part in the Allingham Festival Ballyshannon Poetry Competition 2020!

Teaching & Learning.

During 2020-2021, we will continue to focus on developing our school improvement targets in developing Learning Intentions, success criteria and providing time for students to reflect on learning. However, as a consequence of  current social distancing restrictions, many of our traditional instructional leadership / classroom strategies may not be possible. With this in mind, we will endeavour to develop new ways of integrating classroom strategies such as group work, peer assessment, mind-mapping etc. in the virtual space in order to support student learning.

Transition Year

The TY Leadership Team for the year is TY Coordinator – Mr C Hegarty, TY Year Head -Mr Plunkett. TY Core Team – Ms P Rooney, Ms L Kelly, Ms L O’Donnell & Ms E O’Mahony. The Mission of TY is to promote the personal, social educational and vocational development of pupils and to prepare them for their role as autonomous, participative, and responsible members of society.  During the year the students will take responsibility for their learning and will develop strategies in active and experiential learning which will help them to become better students. There are many aspects to the AVS Transition Year Programme:

Teaching and Learning;  It  is  our  intention  to  make  every  effort  to  bridge  the  gap  in  learning  for  students  in  TY  this  year  due  to  the  COVID period and a strong emphasis  on academic work will  also be very much part  of  the programme  this  year.

Work  Experience: During  Transition  Year,  the  students  will  gain  some  valuable  insights  into  the  world  of  work  through  our  work placement  programme.  The work placements take place over two separate one week slots. Each student  is  expected  to  find  his  or  her  own  placements  with  an  employer  in  a  suitable  area  of  work.  This should  be  done  in  consultation  with  their  parents  and  the  Career  Guidance  team.  Every  effort  should  be  made  to find  work  placements  which  are  relevant  to  any  plans  for  a  future  career.  Students are encouraged to start planning for their work  placements  and  have  an  idea  of  where  they  might  like  to  apply  to  when  they  return  in  September.

Workshops: There are many workshops in the TY Calendar such as Zeeko, CSI, Architecture, Law and Online Safety. The many workshops,  events,  projects  and  other associated  aspects  will  go  ahead  as  usual  under  the  present  guidelines. In  order  to  allow  many  of  these  events  and  activities to go ahead  under  the  present  regulations  the  Bosco  Centre  and  the  Parish  Hall  are  booked  for  use  when  the  need  arises

Trips: Students  will  take  part  in  a  number  of  trips  throughout  the  year  where  it  is  possible  under  the  current  guidelines. The  first trip  to Gartan Outdoor Education Centre took place on 10th of September  for  TY D and the 11th September  for  TY C. This week our students head away on the 16th  September (TY B)  and  the  24th  September  for  TY A.

Parallel  Project  Groups: As  part  of  our  TY  Programme  we  will  continue  to  ensure  that  all  of  our  students  take  part  in  the  many  projects and  competitions  that  are  on  offer  such  as  The  Young  Scientist  and  the  Social  Innovators  as  well  as  the  many   local  research  projects.  All  students  will  be  assigned  to  a  specific  project  group  under  the  supervision  of  an allocated  teacher.  The  students  will  be  part  of  the  research  class  on  a  rotational  basis  to  ensure  that  they  all  take part  in  various  aspects  of  the  programme  in  this  format.  

Calendar: TY Work Experience: Dec 7th  to 11th December inclusive and Feb 3rd to Feb 12th  inclusive. These dates are provisional pending  Covid  matters.  The Bonding Trip: 10th, 11th, 16th  and  24th  September.  (Class  Groups)  and our TY Performance  Event:  January  2021

ePortfolio: An  eportfolio  is  an  electronic  portfolio,  which  the  students  will  use  to  keep  a  record  of  all  their  work  from  the year.  They will  design  their  own  web page  containing  all  their  work  and  then  summit  it  to  their  tutor  at  the  end  of the  year.

Assessment: Students  will  be  assessed  on  an  ongoing  basis  throughout  the  year  by  their  class  teachers.  Assessments  in  line with  best  practice  will  be  blended  and  may  consist  of  project  work,  practical  assessments  or  class  tests.  Students will  receive  a  report  from  their  subject  teachers  as  part  of  their  Christmas  assessment.  The  final  TY  assessment will  include  an  interview  and  a  presentation  of  each  student’s  ePortfolio.  Students  will  receive  details  of expectations  and  success  criteria  for  this  assessment  in  due course.

TY Bonding Trip to Gartan

This week AVS Transition Year Students enjoyed a bonding experience at Gartan. Gartan Outdoor Education and Training Centre has been providing courses and training in adventure activities since 1988.

Set in the heart of the ‘coolest place on the planet’ on the shores of Lough Gartan in County Donegal and a stone’s throw from Glenveagh National Park. Transition Year Students enjoyed the tranquil surroundings and relaxing ambience!

AVS Students took part in team bonding activities!
Team bonding games helped AVS Students see the benefits of working together!

Boasting an idyllic location for providing adventure sports activities the Transition Year Class of 2020 gained an insight into each other and their surroundings.

The Abbey’s Mary Crawford enjoying the kayaking experience at Gartan Outdoor Adventure Centre!


TYA made the most of the good weather last Tuesday as they took to the water in Rossnowlagh beach with their surfboards. Thank you to FinMcCool Surf School for guiding and looking after our students so well.


This week Transition Year Students participated in the Zeeko workshops in the Parish Hall. Zeeko has created a world where young people can safely benefit from technology and the internet, visiting around 400 schools across Ireland per year delivering Internet Safety Seminars to pupils, teachers and parents. Zeeko has the knowledge & experience in children’s internet safety to help make a difference. Zeeko have surveyed over 35,000 children in Ireland and the UK on their digital habits.

Zeeko aims to reduce the negative consequences of cyberbullying and exposure to user-generated content promoting toxic issues. Zeeko has a significant positive impact on the health and wellbeing of young people and families across Ireland.

Peer Mentoring

On Thursday the 17th of September Transition Year students engaged in a workshop presented by Jim Sheedy on Student Mentorship.

Peer mentoring is a form of mentorship that takes place in the Abbey Vocational School using the experience of Transition Year Students and placing them with new first year students coming into the AVS Community. The aim of the programme is to provide an additional source of support for students.

Lunchtime Activities September 2020

Students  in  the  Junior  years  who  remain  on  the  premises  at  lunchtime  in  addition  to  their  walks will have  the  activities at lunchtime.

Thank you to all the teachers who have volunteered to help run such a large programme.

Activities will start this Monday, 21st September on a phased basis for first years. All going well, we will then introduce a number of activities for second and third-years in the coming weeks. All activities will be non-contact and following current guidelines. Our main priority is the health and safety of everyone involved.

Activities will last 20 minutes in total.

Monday to Thursday: 1.02pm – 1.22pm

Friday: 12:24pm – 12.44pm

This allows for students to have 10 minutes to eat at the beginning of lunchtime in their base room and 10 minutes at the end of lunch to return to their base room and get organised for the next lesson.

We have tried as much as possible to assign students to their chosen activity. However, due to guidelines and limitations for space, students will not get all their choices straight away.

All other students will have the opportunity to go outside and walk during this time with their base room teacher. Each base room has a list of where students are to go each day.

Please note, students can participate in all activities in their school uniform but are advised to wear/bring appropriate footwear.

Please see Mrs. Gallagher if you have any questions!

P.E. Class

Students at the Abbey Vocational School have been able to enjoy the sunshine this week as they engage in physical activity!

Regional Representative of the ISSU

Congratulations to Sixth Year Student India Kennedy, who, in her role as the NW Regional Representative of the ISSU,has developed a mental health and well-being resource for students returning to school during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union is an agent and a catalyst for change in the Irish education system, seeking to advance education by involving young people actively in all aspects of their education, and thus empowering young people to realise their voice.


My name is India Kennedy and I am a Leaving Cert student in the Abbey Vocational School in Donegal Town. I’ve worked hard to promote positive mental health locally and nationally.

In 2019, I was picked to be one of twelve student leaders for the Cycle Against Suicide. I had the opportunity to speak at the student summit in Dublin Castle and opened the Student Congress in January. At school, I created a video to promote positive mental health and worked with the mental health committee to put up posters around the school, highlighting the importance of minding our mental health.

In May, I was elected as the Donegal Regional Officer for the Irish Second Level Students Union. This was a huge honour, and I was looking forward to my year ahead. The first thing I wanted to do was start a project so that when my term finished, I would have something to show for it. Due to the Covid pandemic, there was a serious problem with mental health challenges – especially among students – and what I noticed was that although there were so many resources available, I didn’t know where to go or who to call. I also knew that people in crisis need to be able to access the right supports easily and immediately.

I then came up with the idea of putting together a mental health manual so that students could have this resource (which includes help lines and other useful information) so that when they were feeling under pressure this manual would be there to help them. Based on my own challenges, I knew the importance of this manual. There is also the challenge of supporting someone who’s struggling, so I wanted to help others to help their friends by giving them some ideas on how to talk about mental health.

So, I first drafted a plan which I sent to the ISSU, The Ombudsman for Children, and Geoffrey Browne from the ETB’s NPA. I was so lucky to have such an amazing team around me and within a month, after a lot of hard work, the manual started to take shape. Finally, after hundreds of emails and zoom calls: “How’s Your Head? A Guide to Staying Afloat Post-COVID-19” was finished. On the 3rd of September, we launched the manual and the response we’ve received has been amazing. On the first day, just under 1,000 people viewed the manual and there has been a great buzz on social media as well.

The manual is now available to view on The Ombudsman for Children’s website, The ISSU’s website and the ETB’s website. In the coming weeks, the manual will be sent to every ETB school in the country and we are currently working on translating the manual so it will be available as Gaeilge. We are also working to get the manual launched in Northern Ireland.

Going back to school wasn’t easy for anyone, so I hope that this manual will provide some level of comfort to students.  I’m thankful for all the help and support I received in the creation of this manual and would like people to take away two key ideas…we hold the key to positive change – and, if we all look out for each other, there will be fewer people feeling lost and alone.

LCPE 2020

Well done to our pioneers of LCPE on their results. We are very proud of you and what you have and will achieve. The aim of Leaving Certificate Physical Education is to develop the learner’s capacity to become an informed, skilled, self-directed and reflective performer in physical education and physical activity in senior cycle and in their future life.

The objectives of Leaving Certificate Physical Education are to develop the learner’s performance in physical activity, the ability to reflect on performance in physical activity and understanding of the factors which influence performance and participation in physical activity.  The appreciation of the benefits of physical activity for lifelong health and wellbeing capacity to undertake different roles in physical activities, understanding of the principles underlying ethical participation in physical activity and understanding of the role of physical activity and sport in the social and cultural life of Ireland. Congratulations again to the Class of 2020!

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