Abbey VS Newsletter – Mon 5th Oct

First Year Parents Information Evening

We will hold an online Information Evening for first year parents on Tuesday 20th October from 7pm to 8pm. All parents of our present first year students are welcome to attend, we will send you the link to this event in the coming weeks. This will give parents an update on all of the various matters relating to first year students who are new to our school. It will allow us the opportunity to outline the various supports which have and will be put in place to target the varying needs of our first year students. We also wish to complement the students on their very smooth transition and excellent engagement and behaviour in a very challenging time.

First Year Zeeko Internet Safety Workshop

On Monday 12th October our first year students will participate in an online workshop delivered by Zeeko. The aim of this workshop will be to target our students’ online wellbeing and promote an environment where they can safely benefit from using the Internet and technology. An online Zeeko Internet Safety Workshop will also be offered to parents of our first years from 7pm – 8pm on the same day. Details and an invite to attend will be sent beforehand.

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  –  Cough, high  temperature,  shortness  of  breath, difficulty  breathing,  that  member  of  our  community must stay at home  and  seek  appropriate medical  intervention.  

Parent Teacher Meetings:

At present these are not possible in their usual face to face format. We are currently awaiting direction from the DES on what is required in this regard. We will let you know as soon as we have any clear direction on this area. 


Students  will  have  monthly  tests  and  all students will have Christmas Exams and Summer  Exams. Third year 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.   


If a student is absent from school then a note for the dates of the absence must be submitted to the office upon the students return. Alternatively we will accept an email to This email must clearly state the name of the student, the year group and it has to state clearly the dates that the email is referring to. The attendance record of the student can then be updated with this information. 

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. 

Career Guidance

1.Leaving Certs: 1-1 appointments are available throughout the week; speak to your Guidance Counsellor for booking instruction. 

2.Our Guidance website is updated regularly. Go to – click on the Guidance button on the far right of the screen.

* the Noticeboard has a number of important notices for Leaving Certs.


Trócaire and Poetry Ireland’s poetry competition

Ms O’Donnell will be running the Trócaire and Poetry Ireland’s poetry competition in the coming weeks. Ireland is renowned for its literary and cultural heritage, as well as for its generosity in supporting those in need around the world. Trócaire and Poetry Ireland’s annual poetry competition brings these two elements together in a creative way, using the arts to raise awareness about the leading global justice issues of our time. This competition is unique, because poets are invited to explore a different global development theme each year. The competition is also free to enter.

Great Reads Award 

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.


AVS Maths Teacher Mr Russell is running the CSO maths competition in the coming weeks. The goal of the competition is to improve students’ abilities to describe their environment with the help of statistics and to use statistics as a tool for making sense of daily life.

School Canteen

This year the Abbey Vocational School has introduced the new pre-order system with the school canteen in collaboration with ‘Get Fresh’. ‘Get Fresh’ is introducing a new system which will see a cashless system in place. An email has been sent to all parents with the leaflet attached explaining the setup process. The menu shown online is currently what is available in school for the students. Do not top these cards up at the moment as you are still paying by debit/credit card currently. 

Step by Step Instructions for Pre-Order 

1.  On your PC, laptop. Smartphone or tablet, go to website

2.  Click [sign up] – fill in required details 

3.  Click [create account]

4.  Enter account key – from your card

5.  Click continue – your account is now set up 

6.  Logout of

7,  On your PC, laptop , smartphone or tablet go to website or go to website https:// and click on your school crest and it will take you direct to your school pre-order page 

8.   Select the name of the school your child attends (you do not need to do this if you  used the link from

9.Select the morning break or lunch menu for the day you would like to order for. You can order for both at same time

10.  Select the products you would like to order 

11.  When you have selected all the items you require proceed to checkout 

12.  Confirm all is correct and hit next

13.  Complete all fields on the order details screen including ticking the box to indicate if your order is for morning break, lunch or both and hit next

14.  On order summary check again all is correct, tick the box to confirm acceptance of terms and conditions then hit pre-order 15. On the billing screen insert the card details for the debit/credit card you are paying with, then hit pay & pre-order to complete the payment

16.  You will receive an email confirming your order and order will be ready for collection at the agreed date and time.

Teaching & Learning. 

During 2020-2021 we will continue to focus on developing our school improvement targets in developing Learning Intentions, Success Criteria and provide time for students to reflect on their learning. However, to support students in the progression of their learning in socially distanced classrooms and unusual circumstances, we are adapting some further strategies. Our teachers and SNAs are exploring and using a range of digital technologies to create new opportunities for learning, teaching and assessment.

Our students are already familiar with Google Classroom and they will be further encouraged to use a variety of digital technologies for building their knowledge, to source, critique, and manage information and to reflect on their learning. Examples include using Google Sites to create e-portfolios, digital mind-mapping and working in virtual groups. For further information, please see ‘Learning & Teaching’ on our school website.

 Leaving Cert Prefects

The leaving cert prefects held their second meeting of the year this week and this time they held their meeting virtually over google meets. The theme of the meeting was the promotion of positive wellbeing within our school community. They discussed many incentives that they will introduce within the school community over the coming year. The first incentive they have organised is a run/walk for fun every Thursday after school from 4-5 on the school track. This is aimed at the whole school community to encourage everyone to get out and be active while sticking to the Covid 19 restrictions. If you would like to sign up you must give your name to Ms Rooney before attending this Thursday. 

Keep an eye out for more of these incentives over the next few months and if anyone would like to suggest or assist with an incentive throughout the year please let any of the prefects or Ms Rooney know. 


Staff Kayaking

Following on from the success of the staff surf session, Abbey Vocational School staff will partake in kayaking with Gartan Outdoor Adventure centre on Wednesday October 14th, 4- 6pm! The staff will paddle around Donegal bay enjoying the local scenery.  A big thank you to Ms O’Mahony and the Wellbeing Committee for organising the adventure.

 Student Voice and Wellbeing 

Class captains have now been elected.  The Student Council has had 2 meetings in September where they addressed issues relating to school life, uniform and wellbeing in the current climate.  They hope to run events coordinating with Positive Mental Health Week before the midterm break.

Our members of the Donegal Youth Council also met last week. They primarily discussed the end of term showcase, which will now be done virtually.

Those who sit on other committees will remain on the Donegal Youth Council for a bit longer in some capacity for example councillors such as Frank Duffy who sits on the ETB committee.  

Our students have also offered to stay on with the DYC in a voluntary capacity; this will not affect the elections of students from the school.  Elections will be held virtually in all Donegal schools in November for the two year term of office.  Our students have benefited enormously from their experience and have contributed hugely to the lives of young and others in Donegal during their two year term. As members must be under 18, elections will include students up to 5th year.

 Transition Year

Westend Theatre Workshops

AVS Students engaged in the Westend Theatre Workshops with facilitator Emma Warren in the Parish Hall this week. Pre Covid 19 Emma was performing in musicals in the West End such as Les Misérables. Throughout the week each class attended the workshop where they got to experience what it is like to be involved in a West End production, the musicals they were introduced to were Les Misérables and Hairspray from acting out scenes and dance routines. 

Participation in drama boosts students’ feelings of belonging and helps motivate students at school. It also bolsters their ability to read and understand complex texts. The performing arts training also makes a positive difference in a students’ ability to understand the feelings of others. 

The performing arts are intrinsically valuable for the beauty and fulfilment they bring, but researchers have observed that theatre training and education are also valuable.

When students portray characters onstage, they practice putting themselves in others’ shoes. Children who study theatre tend to display higher levels of empathy later in life. Performing onstage is frightening for newcomers, which is why students feel an immense confidence boost after they practice hard, work together, and successfully stage a play for friends and family. Theatre training helps students gain confidence, build camaraderie, learn leadership, practice teamwork and build a skill set not only for a theatre but for the real world!

Drama students work together to meet rehearsal deadlines, master challenging scenes and develop a work of art in a limited timeframe. 

 They also learn to set smaller goals for themselves as individual performers. For instance, a student might need to improve his/her dance skills for one show, and work on delivering a moving monologue for another.

Peer Mentoring 

The Abbey Vocational School is very proud to engage in the peer mentoring programme. The programme is run by Ms. Kelly and will involve the mentors meeting with 1st year students during lunchtimes to support them in their transition into the secondary school environment. Activities will include our wellbeing walk, organisational skills, study skills, fun quizzes and games. Peer mentoring is a great way for TY mentors to be positive role models and feel a sense of pride helping 1st Year students. It is also beneficial for 1st year students to have older students to talk to if they need any support. The aim of the programme is to help students adapt and feel content in their first year at the AVS.

Transition Year Surfing

This Tuesday will be the last week of the  TY Students introduction to surfing. At the end of this week the students will get the opportunity to sign up for four more sessions to develop and to learn more skills at their surfing school that. Thank you to Neill and his team and Finn McCool surf school for providing such enjoyable and safe lessons. The sessions take place on Rossnowlagh Beach and the students get to enjoy the natural beauty of Rossnowlagh Beach and engage in an exhilarating pastime! Surfing provides many health benefits including: cardiovascular fitness – from paddling; shoulder and back strength – these muscles will strengthen from the paddling; leg and core strength – once you’re standing up on the board, strong legs and a strong core will keep you up.


Mr Young is working with Transition Year Students on the engineering competition F1 in Schools. It is a global, multi-disciplinary competition for secondary school students. Students design, build and race their very own miniature F1 car, with cars reaching speeds of over 100km/h! Through participating in F1 in Schools, students are provided with free access to CAD software, 3D printers and CNC machines to produce the most aerodynamic, most efficient and fastest car possible. Teams of 3-6 students can register for the competition with a coordinating teacher before the 15th of November 2020. Each year, the top four Irish teams travel to the F1 in Schools World Finals to represent Ireland at a chosen Grand Prix event as part of the trip of a lifetime.

BT Young Scientist 

Hoping to replicate the amazing success of last year, AVS Science Teacher Ms Furey will be working again with Transition Year Students in the BT Young Scientist Exhibition.

In 1963 two physics researchers from the University College Dublin, Dr. Tom Burke and Dr. Tony Scott, came across the concept of ‘Science Fairs’ while conducting research in New Mexico, USA. The pair decided that this type of hands-on science was something that students in Ireland could benefit from. And so the Young Scientist Exhibition was born. 

Young Social Innovators 

Transition Year students will again be taking part in the Young Social Innovators. As a young innovator students will be challenged to look at the world around them and to identify and explore issues affecting us, our friends, our community and wider society. More than just coming up with a solution, students will be asked to put that idea into action and to create change. They will see other perspectives, using their own expertise and creativity to design solutions based on real human experience and need.

TY Eco Workshop

The Abbey Vocational School TY Students will engage in modules which include:

Earth & Us  Viewing the planet as an organism and looking at its different functioning systems and comparing it to all life on Earth.

Our evolutionary timeline from apes to where we are today and the growing frequency and strength of “natural” disasters (background videos, survey and quizzes)

Climate Changed: The climate crisis, understanding different greenhouse gases and the damages they are causing. An insight into the world at 2 degrees and 4 degrees warmer than pre-industrial times (Carbon footprint calculator questionnaire & quiz)

Ocean Issues: Video aided explanations of ocean acidification, the plastic problem and over fishing (group research activity)

Mass Extinction & Over Population: The 6th mass extinction of species and our overpopulation (Survey & group research activity/debate)

The Unsustainable Food Industry: Animal agriculture in Ireland and the rest of the world, monocultures such as palm oil, soy and maize (solution activity and discussion).

TY Team

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  Septemb
  • 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, the 11th September  for  TY C, the 16th  September for 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.


P.E. Class

Enjoying the outdoors, socially distanced students enjoy a game of rounders

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.

Our activities programme will run for all junior years from Tuesday, 29th September. All activities will be non-contact and follow 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!

Lunchtime Activities September 2020

How to properly wash your hands – HSE Video

See our Covid 19 Information & Response Page HERE

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