Abbey VS Newsletter – Mon 14th Dec 2020

07/12/2020 to 13/12/2020

Positive Behaviour Christmas Raffle for 1st and 2nd year

 As part of our drive to recognise and celebrate some of the positive behaviour displayed by our first and second year students we are pleased to announce we will be holding AVS Positive Behaviour Christmas Raffles for both year groups in the last week of term. For every 3 positive behaviour points each student has they will receive 1 raffle ticket entry. Prizes include vouchers for local shopping and a brand new unisex mountain bike for each year group!

Christmas Exams

Thank you for your cooperation with the smooth running of the Christmas Exams. We hope that you all have benefited from this experience. 

Christmas Reports

Christmas Reports will go out via VSWare before the Christmas period for 3rd and 6th year students. Students in all other years will be in a position to access reports via VSWare in January. Date will be communicated to you on our return to school. 

A Cross-Border Christmas Collaboration

Over the past few months, a very special musical partnership has been formed between students at the Abbey Vocational School, Donegal Town, and North West Regional College, Derry. Audiences were wowed in November when a Virtual Choir version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ was launched on the Abbey Vocational School’s social media platforms. The release to date has had over 10,000 views.

The choir initially involved 22 singers from the Abbey Vocational School, and featured the instrumental talents of Music and Performing Arts students from NWRC. There has since been huge growth and interest in the project which now features over 50 staff and students from both organisations, with the addition of students from the Project Sparks initiative (Derry).

The students and staff are very excited to announce their next project, a cross-border version of the Bob Geldof and Band Aid classic ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’, which will be launched on social media platforms on at 8pm Thursday 17th December. Lyrics of the song have been altered as a dedication to the front line staff who have worked so tirelessly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The school is delighted to be involved in this project and commends the number of young people who have put themselves forward to be involved in this. We are particularly delighted to see our three music teachers performing as well as many  of our teaching staff and SNAs as well as our 4 member senior management team. This project has brought so much positivity to so many with its uplifting feel good spirit and it is just super to have access to a choir in this format as we all really miss this from a wellbeing perspective. 

The importance of such arts groups are essential to the overall well-being of the people who engage with them so this has really been so welcomed by performers and viewers alike.

We would like to thank Farrah Bogle, our music teacher who led out on this project for us here in the AVS as the undertaking of this arrangement is no mean feat. 

Parent Teacher Meetings

In light of the current restrictions on face to face meetings, we are not in a position to facilitate Parent/Teacher Meetings during this time.  Following direction from the DES, our plan is to send out a progress report from all subject teachers to you as parents on VSware on the following dates. The 6th year and 3rd year students have at this point received their progress report. 

                                        Short Progress Reports in place of PTMs
Year GroupReleased to parents on 
1st 15th January 
5th / TY/ LCA1  29th January 
2nd 11th February 

Well Being 

We are still welcoming recipes for ‘The AVS Food Bible’, we want to gather as many recipes as possible from students, parents, staff and past students, as well as some favourites from local chefs. If you have a delicious recipe you want to share please contact Ms.Mulhern for more information on this exciting project. You can email recipes to Please include the recipe, method and a picture of the finished product as a separate attachment. We have already received some delicious recipes but there is room for more! 

 Career Guidance

1.CAO 2021 – if any Leaving Cert wishes to register for CAO and has not yet already done so, please make contact with your Guidance Counsellor to schedule a time to meet.

  1. HEAR & DARE is now open for application via the student’s CAO online portal. This was explained during Guidance class and 1:1 meetings.  The student’s Guidance Counsellor is available to discuss further.
  2. UCAS applicants are encouraged to complete all parts of their application ASAP. The student’s Guidance Counsellor is available throughout the week to meet and discuss the student’s application.
  3. 1:1 appointments for Leaving Certs are available throughout the week; speak to your Guidance Counsellor for booking instruction. 
  4. 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.


On Friday 11th December some of our students took the time to pause and say go raibh maith agaibh to all members of our school community who helped facilitate and maintain a safe school environment for students and staff this year.

Leaving Cert Evening Study 

The second term of after school study has commenced and will continue until the 18th December. This is currently at full capacity for this term but a third term will commence after Christmas. The form has been distributed for this session and they must be returned by Tuesday December 8th in order to secure a place. It is a great opportunity for students to study in a quiet supervised environment. 

Incoming students 2021/2022

The following updated form was distributed to 6th class students. Please provide us with the required information by either emailing the office at or alternatively complete the link provided in the form (at the bottom of the following form)

Get Fresh Canteen 

The canteen is now Exclusively Cashless. Students are able to pre-order and pre-pay for their meals on This also applies to bottles of water. At the moment you do not need to put money onto the cashless card as all orders are paid for by using your Debit/Credit Card when you have placed your order. However, you do need the cashless card number as part of the pre-ordering process. 

Covid – 19

We would like to thank all our school community for their diligence in adhering to protocols regarding Coronavirus. As we have now moved to Level 3 of the Government’s Plan for Living with Covid – 19 we would like to remind everyone to continue to adhere to HSE guidelines regarding social distancing and hand hygiene. 

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.  

School Uniform

Peter’s Man Shop and The Uniform Shop are stockists of the AVS school uniform. The school fleece is available to buy in both stores and with the weather getting colder it will be a welcome addition to the school uniform for the students. 


We have purchased a new app which is user friendly and will make communication of attendance notes from parents / guardians to the school much simpler and easier for all! 

The parent/ guardian can record the explanation for this absence online by using our new school app or their own digital device – computer Ipad etc. Please see

for a guide to downloading and installing the VSware app. 

Please ensure that the absence reason is recorded/inputted by the parent/guardian only so that it does not lead to any confusion. 

At the moment we are only recording full day absence on the app. If your son/daughter needs to sign out (eg, for a dental/medical appointment) then they must continue to use the diary for this as is the procedure at the moment where the note is signed by the Deputy Principal and then the student signs out at the office.

BTYS 2021- A Closer Look 

Our project aims to investigate which household items maintain the freshness of cut flowers longest. We decided to investigate this problem after my mother’s expensive birthday bouquet of flowers wilted two days after delivery. A preservative was not included with the bouquet so we just placed the flowers in water but unfortunately after just two days the flowers wilted making them a very expensive luxury given the small amount of time that they were enjoyed.

First we researched household agents that are effective in preserving cut flowers and we discovered that the best preservatives are bactericidal and include a surfactant and/or one or more nutritious substances. We will include these elements in our household recipes.

To help us identify suitable test commercial preservatives, we spoke to Donegal Flowers in our local town to see which commercial products they use to preserve the flowers in their arrangements and they kindly supplied us with some of this preservative for our experiment.

We have tested both woody and non-woody stemmed flowers but in order to have only one test variable we exposed the two kinds of cut flowers to the same conditions of temperature, water and light. We ran our experiment for 7 days and we measured the physical appearance of the flowers every day and we measured total height as a measure of wilting in the stem. This was important as we needed a quantitative dependent variable to carry out statistical analysis of our results. We carried out replicates of our test solutions and we will carry out statistical analysis using t tests on our results to see if any effect of our household preservative is significant compared to water alone and to the commercial preservative. 

Teaching & Learning: A look at SSE. 

There are many acronyms and abbreviations in the world of education and one that sometimes raises an eyebrow for parents, staff and management during school conversations is SSE. So, what is it?

School Self-Evaluation (SSE) was formally introduced into the Irish school system in 2012 as a collaborative, reflective process of internal school review, focusing on school improvement. In 2012, schools all over Ireland began to engage with the first cycle of this new process (2012 to 2016) and the various aspects that needed to be addressed. The second cycle of SSE began in September 2016 and was due to finish this year, however this has been extended to 2021, when the third SSE cycle will begin.

School self-evaluation is primarily about all of us working together to take ownership of our own whole-school development and improvement in Teaching & Learning. SSE is a six-step process to assist our school community to identify and affirm good practice, and to identify and take action on areas that may need improvement.

The SSE process begins with the identification of an area for focus and inquiry through our understanding and knowledge of our own school context. This is followed by the gathering of evidence from a range of sources with regard to the area or areas chosen. The evidence is then analysed, and judgments are made regarding the school’s current strengths and areas for improvement.

The next step involves the production of a school self-evaluation report and improvement plan. This takes place during, or at the end of the investigation phase. The resulting School Improvement Plan (SIP) describes the actions and specific targets for improvement and is shared with the school community on our school website.

The school improvement plan is then put into action and is monitored and evaluated over the course of its implementation until practice becomes embedded. The cycle can then begin again, focusing on either a new area which has been identified, or returning to the same area to seek further, deeper improvement. The School Improvement Plan is considered a live document in that it can be amended to meet ongoing needs or changes in the school community.

A key document intended to inform both school self-evaluation and external evaluation is “Looking at Our School 2016: A Quality Framework for Post-Primary Schools”. This is akin to a quality control document which outlines domains and standards for teaching and learning, and leadership and management.

During school self-evaluation the principal, deputy principals and teachers, under the direction of our Board of Management, and in consultation with our parents and students, engage in reflective enquiry and research on the work of the school. For example, from time to time we will ask students, teachers, parents and management to partake in surveys and small focus groups. As part of the monitoring process during March and April of this year, we conducted several online surveys with both staff and students and despite school-closure over 350 of our students contributed. This not only provided an extensive range of data about teaching and learning, but highlights the importance of ‘student voice’ as part of the process, and their input is greatly appreciated.

Areas for focus in our current school improvement plan include:

  • Improvement in use of Learning Intentions
  • Development of, sharing and co-creation of success criteria
  • Increase student reflection time during or following delivery of a lesson / topic.

In summary, SSE helps us as a whole-school community to:

  • to take the initiative in improving the quality of education that we provide for our students.
  • to affirm and build on what is working well.
  • to identify areas in need of development and to decide on actions that should be taken to bring about improvements in those areas.
  • to report to the school community about the strengths in the work of the school and its priorities for improvement and development.

Creative Schools Initiative 2020 

We are delighted to announce that the Abbey Vocational school has been successful in receiving the creative schools initiative funding for 2020-2022.

This funding was applied for through the arts council by Mrs Mc Carthy and our project is in the induction stages of planning.

Participating schools will understand, develop and celebrate their engagement with the arts, empowering them to bring about real change in the way they work. They will draw on the range of resources within their school and wider community, developing new ways of working that reinforce the impact of creativity on student learning, development and well-being.

Children and young people will have a central role in this process. 

We were delighted to meet our creative associate, Ms. Siobhan Shiels who is working with the Arts Council and will be helping to develop the initiative with staff and students.

She is going to work with our student council in the New Year to explore the creativity within our school.

Christmas Concert 

Our student concert will take place on Friday afternoon.  This will be streamed into our classrooms on Friday afternoon.  There are many surprises this year in the concert as well as some acts that are familiar faces and voicesRecording for this concert will take place at home and in school on Monday.  It promises to be a fun filled and talented show!

We also are having our first ever ‘Gig in the bicycle shed’ as part of Active Schools.  On Thursday classes will take part in a fun day along the school walkway.  They will be entertained by bands and soloists at a socially distanced live performance…Our performers will be safe and protected from any undesirable weather in our decorated glass bicycle shed.  We hope that this will also highlight the excellent facility of the school walk and the bicycle shed and encourage as many as possible to cycle to school in the New Year.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a video for our Christmas Virtual Choir Video, we are looking forward to showcasing the end result before Christmas!

Learner Voice

Background: The Instructional Leadership Programme (ILP), which we have implemented in the AVS over the past number of years, is committed to enhancing teaching, learning and assessment in Irish classrooms and exploring teacher professional identity through:

• supporting teachers to acquire the conceptual awareness and vocabulary by which they can articulate their practice and engage in meaningful professional conversations with colleagues.

• extending teachers’ instructional repertoires of tactics, skills and strategies and deepening their awareness of how and why they invoke various interventions and actions in the classroom.

In the context of the continuing implementation of Junior Cycle, the Instructional Leadership programme is collaborating with the NCCA in a project focused on Learner Voice. This project will seek to identify, support and share practices rooted in the principles of Instructional Leadership that promote students talking about learning, teaching and assessment in the classroom, and being empowered through creative and thoughtful pedagogical practices to use their voice to enhance their own learning.

In the AVS we are going to focus on exam years, 3rd & 6th, to develop students’ understanding of how best they learn. The focus for our programme came about through student surveys, both during lockdown and when they returned to school. We have 2 strands in operation with a focus group in each year and we will evaluate progress after Christmas. This programme will draw on teachers’ and students’ experiences of learning, especially of IL strategies, and will help them to devise and deliver targeted educational supports. All this is done with the impetus coming from the students in relation to what they themselves decide they need to improve on and what supports they need.

Student Voice

On Wednesday the Student Council presented the school hampers – Food and care products collected from staff and students – to Mr Frank O Donnell of the Vincent de Paul, The response to the collection was overwhelming and gave our school community the opportunity to think about others who may be less well-off this year and to do something practical to help.  Mr. O Donnell thanked Ms Diver and the student council for organising the collection.  India Kennedy spoke on behalf of the student council to say how much we the school got from being able to contribute. We have been enriched in many ways through this collaboration.

‘You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving, 

Pictured are some students donating their items – Marc Bennett, Emily Reid and Michaela O Connor.

Friday 11th December is GRMA day – Go raibh Maith Agat.  The Irish Secondary Schools Union has asked everyone involved in the school including staff, students, bus-drivers and everyone in between to say GRMA to acknowledge the work of our Frontline workers.  Those without exams on Friday met to say GRMA.  The council has decided that we will promote this initiative next week and we will also include our collective gratitude during our Christmas Wish next week.

Transition Year

Lough Eske River Walk

Transition Year Students enjoyed a day at Lough Eske Nature Loop Trail. The weather was beautiful, crisp & dry as the students walked the trail which is 5.6 kilometer long and located near Donegal. Lough Eske Castle, is located on the shores of Lough Eske, a Historic Castle 15th century and closely identified with the O’Donnell Clan.  The Castle is set in a secluded storybook location within 43 acres of native woodland on the shores of Lough Eske with the dramatic Bluestack Mountains as a stunning backdrop, it is the ideal place to enjoy an amazing walk. The TYs embraced the outdoors and relished the beautiful surroundings of Lough Eske!

Murvagh Activity Trip

Transition Years 4A & 4B embraced a trip to Murvagh Beach this week. Murvagh is a beautiful, sandy beach, four and a half kilometres long, on the west coast of County Donegal. The beach, which has been awarded Blue Flag status, is backed by sand dunes, which are designated as a Special Area of Conservation and then by Murvagh Forest.

This makes it an excellent destination for walking and exploring on a family day out, as well as a popular place for a picnic. It is also a good beach for bathing, being located in a sheltered position, protected from the strongest sea currents.  Lifeguards patrol the beach from June until August. There is a car park behind the beach, which is reached on a path over the sand dunes.  From the car park there are spectacular views towards Crownarad and Sliabh Liag.  The nearest village from the beach is the small village of Laghy, which has a few shops and restaurants. The larger town of Donegal is about 5 kilometres from the beach and has many facilities to cater for visitor’s needs. Donegal makes a good base for walking in the Blue Stack Mountains.

“Tuesday 8th December, classes 4A and 4B ventured to the picturesque beach at Murvagh and trekked roughly 8-10k! It was fabulous! The scenery, the view and the company was wonderful! As with the covid regulations and limited travel for the past few weeks, it was lovely to immerse ourselves in nature and enjoy the fresh air! We had a competition to see who could get the best and most scenic pictures. The rain held off and we laughed and chatted, it was really enjoyable!” By Sophie Kennedy 

TY’s Prep ePortfolio

As the Abbey Vocational School took part in Christmas exams this week, Transition Year Students took the opportunity to work on their Transition Year Eportfolios. The aim of the Eportfolio is to provide TY Students with an opportunity to display a comprehensive body of evidence and lasting permanent record of their Transition Year. It reflects the wealth and depth of learning and experiences in Transition Year. Transition Years start using the TY Eportfolio at the beginning of the school this year. Students produce their own portfolio at the end of the year for the TY Showcase and the portfolio helps students to keep an accurate track of activities they have been involved in, learning outcomes from visits, activities, speakers, trips etc. It is an excellent resource to help students reflect on and evaluate their own learning.

Mr. Russell’s Maths Investigation

On Wednesday the 9th of December Transition Year Students took part in a mathematical investigation with Mr Russell. A mathematical investigation refers to the sustained exploration of a mathematical situation. It distinguishes itself from problem solving because it is open-ended. In mathematical investigations, students are expected to pose their own problems after initial exploration of the mathematical situation. Subject areas include: Algebra, Amusements, Calculus, Combinatorics, Complex Analysis, Constants and Numerical Sequences, Differential Equations. Research studies show that when students discover mathematical ideas and invent mathematical procedures, they have a stronger conceptual understanding of connections between mathematical ideas. Flexing the minds of our TY Students!

HSE Safety in the Workplace

This week the Transition Year Students were immersed in the world of health & safety, with the HSE Safety in the Workplace Online Course! This course introduces students to the principles of workplace safety, health and welfare. The course is aimed at young people starting work for the first time or preparing for work experience. It is also suitable for further education students and as a refresher for individuals returning to the workplace.

Learning outcomes:

On successful completion of this course you should be able to:

• Distinguish between employer and employee duties and responsibilities with regard to safety, health and welfare at work

• Understand ‘hazard’ and ‘risk’ and why employers carry out workplace risk assessments

• Apply decision making skills in a variety of health and safety situations in the workplace

• Source appropriate and reliable information on safety, health and welfare in the workplace

Yoga Workshop

This week the AVS Transition Year Students enjoyed an exhilarating Yoga Session. The benefits of yoga include: increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone. Also, improved respiration, energy and vitality maintaining a balanced metabolism and weight reduction. As well and mental health and wellbeing benefits!

Circuits Workshop 

This week TYs took part in an exhilarating class of circuits with Ms Grennan in the Bosco. The benefits of circuit training include:

  • Improvements in cardiovascular fitness.
  • Improvements in muscular strength.
  • Improvements in muscular endurance.
  • Increased social interaction during a workout.
  • Increased adherence to exercise.

Zumba Workshop

Transition Year Students moved to the beat in an inclusive Zumba Workshop with Ms Kelly this week, in the Parish Hall. Zumba is an aerobic fitness programme featuring movements inspired by various styles of Latin American dance and performed primarily to Latin American dance music. It is a great way to keep fit and healthy and there was a fantastic uptake on the initiative – well done to all students involved! 

TY School Digital Champion

The Programme aims to promote digital adoption and encourage the productive use of technology by students. Our school has selected a team of 5 students to act as leaders/role models in completing a project showing how technology can be used to find a solution to day to day problems. Sarah Donovan, Odhran Gallagher, Matthew McGroary, Matthew Byrne and Eoin Meehan have been selected from AVS. The students can look forward to training and workshops on video editing, web design, coding and App design, as well as on communications and presentation skills. Also included are workshops on coding with microbits and an introduction to infographics. We look forward to seeing this project develop over the next few months. Many thanks to Mr. O’Mahony on facilitating this project going forward.

TY Enterprise Christmas Market

Covid-19, Lockdowns, zero Christmas Markets and Craft Fairs weren’t enough to stall our enterprising 2020 Transition Year students!

They have been busy creating products.

Welcome to our virtual Xmas market. Browse the following pages and see if anything catches your eye

Brian’s Cool Coasters

Customised, one of a kind cool coasters can be ordered now as a wonderful Christmas present for someone special!         

Clean Green is a sustainable and cruelty-free handmade soap business

We are selling high quality scented soaps for €4 each or 3 for €10

A third of our profits will also be going to a local charity –  Animals In Need 

Contact info: @CleanGreenSoaps on Instagram 



Gone Haywire

We make handmade framed Wire Art with designs such as

  • Silhouettes
  • Flowers 
  • Symbols i.e coffee cups 
  • Words and/or phrases

 All are decorated with elements of nature, watercolour and other materials

We are raising awareness of climate change through our designs. We are giving a % of our profits to a non-profitable organisation called “Start the Wave” focused on creating positive waves in communities all over the world who are in need.

For more information Contact:

Large Frames : €22.00            Small Frames : €15.00

Irish Tweedscapes

 Irish Tweedscapes specialises in unique hand – crafted Magee Tweed frames, capturing the heritage of our country. 

Price- €15

For more information or to place an order contact me through my email address: — 

Calm Bam

The BAM that Calms

€3 for one unit 

Two units for €5

No one likes stress do they? Unless you’re rare.

“Calm Bam” is a panic or stress reliever. 

It is made up of essential calming oils such as: rosemary, chamomile and lemon. You apply this balm to your pressure points – wrist, neck, under your nose.Calm Bam” contains: Sweet almond, coconut oils blended with chamomile, rosemary, lavender and geranium essential oils and beeswax pellets.

Contact: for further information  

G&C Sweets are selling small paper bags filled with sweets and chocolat

They are the perfect stocking filler or treat for everyone

€2 each

Contact us through Instagram; @gandcsweets 

Sweetie Cones

€2 or 3 for €5.These delicious treats are filled with a variety of sweets!

Candy Cracker 

At €2.50 these are great stocking fillers and fit the Christmas theme perfectly – filled with delicious chocolates!

Hot Chocolate Bomb 

At €3.50 or 4 for €12, these are delicious and are made with quality ingredients to maximise flavour. Watch as you put them into a mug of hot milk. The marshmallows and hot chocolate powder inside burst out in an explosion like fashion. They come in a variety of flavours such as classic milk chocolate, salted caramel and more.  You can find more about the prices, products and order/contact me on facebook “Bombs Away Donegal

Hello my name is Enda McGready and my company is called “Pretty Plaques.”

I make high quality wooden plaques that are customisable and environmentally friendly 

Only €15 a plaque

Here is a sample product:-


False eyelashes in multiple styles. All packages put together by hand. Lashes range from natural to as big and fluffy as you’d like. They come in a goody bag with sweets and accessories 🙂

€5 per pack 

Contact us: 

Bree’s Homemade Creations 

Made By Bree Hanna 

For my mini company I am making handmade personalised decorations and gifts

  • Personalised hanging ornaments – €5 each or 5 for €20
  • Let it Snow hanging ornaments – €4
  • Oh Holy Night or ant personalised picture – €12

Snowman, small €3 big €5

Santa’s €3.50 each 

Reindeer €12

Log €10

Log with candles €15

To order contact Emma Meehan TYA


Lunchtime Activities 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!

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