One of the smallest schools in County Limerick has big IT ideas

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

GARRYDOOLIS National School, Pallasgreen is one of the smallest in the county but it has big ideas.

GARRYDOOLIS National School, Pallasgreen is one of the smallest in the county but it has big ideas.

There has been a lot of talk about closing small schools but in Garrydoolis they are looking to the future.

They became one of the first schools in the county to receive a state of the art Young Explorer computer through IBM’s KidSmart Early Learning Programme. It is specifically designed for very young children

It is a worldwide initiative which aims to increase children’s IT skills.

And that’s exactly what the 35 boys and girls in the school are doing as they are taking on pupils from Azerbaijan to the USA in “Mathletics”.

“They are able to do maths and compete against kids around the world simultaneously,” said principal, Bernadette Boland.

The school hosted an open evening to show parents the Young Explorer computer, which has gone down a treat with their children. The new parents association also attended.

Deirdre Kennedy, IBM corporate citizenship and corporate affairs, said: “The children of today are the innovators of tomorrow and it is terrific to see the innovative approach Garrydoolis has taken in embracing ICT into their teaching and learning activities.”

She says the Young Explorer computer is housed in brightly coloured, child-friendly Little Tikes furniture and is equipped with award-winning educational software to help children learn and explore concepts in maths, science and language.

“One of the advantages of a small school is that the Young Explorer is divided between five and 10 pupils. Deirdre said it has been installed in big schools with five infant classes with maybe 25-30 pupils in each class. Here they can use it a lot more,” said Mrs Boland.

Through IBM’s Niall Boland, a former pupil, they have received four other laptops from IBM and in total they have a computer or laptop for every three children.

“The whole class can work on the computers together which is very useful in a small school. That’s the advantage, we have plenty to go around,” said Mrs Boland, who is joined by fellow teachers Tina Hickey, resource teacher Joanne Beary and SNA Patricia Leahy.

And if anything goes wrong they have former pupil Fergal Grace to fix it.

“That’s the beauty of a small school, the community is so close-knit,” said Mrs Boland.