The Honourable
The Irish Society

Committed to serving the community

St Columb’s College, Derry

An all-boys post-primary school founded in 1879, St Columb’s College is the oldest Catholic Grammar School in Derry.  It has a long and distinguished tradition of meeting the educational needs of its students and service to the community.  But, post-pandemic, this has proved more challenging – with many pupils suffering mentally, academically, economically and socially.  So, recognising the need to offer easy access to a variety of alternative supports, the College has developed a Nurture Centre (the Iona Room).  And applied for funding towards a nurture teacher one day a week from May to June, plus morning breakfast for 20 identified pupils over 55 days.  The Committee agreed a grant of £1,000 from the NW Schools’ Fund to provide services tailored to the needs of pupils who require help in improving their behaviour, attendance or attitude to learning.  As a result of the grant, we learned that the College was able to staff the Iona Room more often, giving their most vulnerable and identified pupils access to more dedicated regular enhanced nurturing services through ‘Connected Kids’.  Twelve pupils received three sessions each, provided in two blocks of three sessions.  And a further twelve pupils for the next block of sessions have already been identified.  Vice Principal Caroline McLaughlin told us that “the difference has been remarkable.  This investment in the pupils identified has enabled them to attend school more regularly and access the curriculum in ways that they were unable to before.  The behavioural conduct of these pupils is also notably improved.  We are using a nurturing, restorative and reflective approach with these pupils in an attempt to avoid pupil suspension from school and so far this approach has been successful”.  She added her “thanks again for awarding us a grant” and included a photograph of the Iona Room in operation.