Innovation at Etsswicklow

We have developed a national debating competition. This competition is a first of its kind in Ireland and we are happy that our school created it - the idea was to connect Educate Together Secondary Schools throughout the country with the great art of debating. Now all Educate Together Secondary Schools are involved and its turning out to be a high quality debating experience for students across the network of schools.

This debating Competition is a modern way for schools across the country to connect. Debaters work through league stages and into knockout rounds until two teams remain in the competition ready to battle it out in the Ireland final - in its first year, Galway ETSS won the final against Cork ETSS - the motion was 'Free Speech does more harm than good!' and it was a great demonstration of the art of debating.

The competition is now in its second year with great debates going on all over the country. It is developing student leadership by involving students not only as chairpersons and timekeepers, but also in the judging - that's a first in Ireland! Students from Malahide Portmarnock ETSS and ETSS Wicklow. Also the structure promotes fairness and inclusivity with every school volunteering to judge a debate between other teams with one teacher, one parent and one student on the judging team ideally.


We've just experienced two years of digital revolution as the Covid-19 crisis unfolded. Now the question is whether it is time to reimagine organisational culture - what can we take from this experience back into our practice in education? Is it time for a change audit for schools?At ETSS Wicklow, right from the beginning, we embraced the opportunity t work online. We were well placed for this transition because all the students had iPads. The teachers upskilled significantly quickly and now find there are many opportunities to bring those new skills back into mainstream school life. Firstly, screencasts have become the norm - teachers have great expertise in putting together tutorials and webinars which are interesting and engaging. Secondly, we have developed a parent-teacher meeting model which most parents and guardians believe is better than the events we used to run at the school. A majority have requested we stay with this new model where families can meet teachers for ten minutes from the comfort of their own homes - the added positive impacts are less traffic on the road and more time saved. Thirdly, we developed an online Model United Nations template that replaced our planned hotel event and now find ourselves ready to run high quality international virtual events. This is a new way to connect with many other schools at home and abroad. School exchanges have never been easier - during lockdown we were connected with schools in France and Spain for lunch time exchanges. Fourthly, staff meetings have worked out very successfully online - teachers leave the school, drive home and then attend the meetings online - is this something that should be continued in the future? There are strong arguments that such meetings are more time efficient and facilitate greater collaboration with breakaway rooms so easy to organise. Fifthly, online school assemblies have been very successful - teachers are now experts in setting everything up quickly and students like participating from the comfort of their own classrooms. Sixthly, livestreaming classes to students in social isolation or with Covid-19 has created the possibility of livestreaming to students who are out of school for some reason but can still attend classes. This is very valuable service schools can now provide in the future. Seventhly, electronic surveys have become the norm - evaluation of service has never been easier and feedback has been enhanced significantly.

The above points are just the start of the conversation really, and are a fair indication that we may find the post Covid-19 world a very different one indeed to the world we knew before.


This short film was created by three second year students from the SPHE class on the importance of finding the best way to work for you!