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HOW TO COPE WHEN SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAPPENS Handout for Students: R8
• Reach out – people do care
• Talk to your friends, family and teachers - talking is the most healing medicine • Remember you are normal and having normal reactions – don’t label yourself as crazy or mad
• It is ok to cry
• It is ok to smile
• If your feelings and reactions seem different from those of your friends, remember everyone reacts differently
• When the stress level is high there is a temptation to try to numb the feelings with alcohol and drugs. This complicates the problems, rather than relieving them • Some people find that writing or drawing is helpful. What about writing a note or letter to the family of the person who died or the person themselves? • Spend time with people who have a positive influence on you
• Make as many daily decisions as possible. This will give you a feeling of control over your life, e.g. if someone asks you what you want to eat – answer them, even it you’re not sure
• Recurring thoughts, dreams or flashbacks are normal – don’t try to fight them – they’ll decrease over time and become less painful
• Make a special effort to take care of yourself during this time. Try to get some extra sleep, eat nutritious foods and get some exercise, even if it is just a walk • Sticking to your “normal” routine helps. Structure your time – keep busy • Take time out – go for a walk or kick a football
• Provide some balance to the negative things that have gone on by doing something •
Useful websites: www.spunout.ie; www.youth.ie; www.reachout.com.au Above all, realise that what you are experiencing is normal following a traumatic event. Be understanding of yourself and others.
 STAGES OF GRIEF Handout R7 (May be used with various groups and individuals)
Grief is a normal, healthy and predictable response to loss. Although there are distinct phases in the grieving process, people go through these stages in different sequences and at different paces. Generally the grieving process in adults is thought to take about two years, while with children and adolescents it may be over a more extended time-frame with different issues arising as they go through developmental milestones. Denial, numbness, shock (up to 6 weeks) • Death of the person may be denied • Emerging feelings may be suppressed • Refusal to talk about the death • Bereaved keeps very busy to avoid thinking about the death • Bereaved may show signs of confusion and forget everyday routines • Children in shock may display either silent withdrawal or outbursts of crying Acute grief/searching and longing for deceased (6 weeks to 4 months) • Acute sadness – crying • Physical pangs of pain including loss of appetite and disturbed sleep • Emotional pain accompanied by dejection, hopelessness, lack of concentration • Fears of life after death, nightmares, ghosts • Disorganisation
• Strong guilt feelings and questioning of self and others, particularly in the case of a sudden death • Feelings of anger at the departed for leaving them • Bereaved may reject offers to comfort them Adaptation to life without the deceased (6 months to 18 months) • People begin to adjust to their lives without the person who is gone • Sense of isolation
• Fearful of forgetting the deceased • Less crying and irritability • Exacerbation of existing personality problems. Children with low self-esteem may be at a greater risk of emotional/behavioural difficulties Normalisation of life • Getting on with life • Returned sense of humour and play • Able to participate emotionally in new relationships • Changed relationship with the deceased – able to think of the deceased without pain • Reduction in physical/emotional symptoms • Less guilt 
REACTIONS TO A CRITICAL INCIDENT Handout for Students: R9
Following the recent sad event, you may now be experiencing some strong emotional or physical reactions. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to feel but here is a list of difficulties that people sometimes experience following such an event.FEELINGS
Fear
Guilt
Shame
Regret
Anger
Tearfulness
Loneliness
BEHAVIOURALNightmares Social withdrawal Over reliance on use of social media Irritability Loss of concentration Forgetfulness Physical/Verbal aggression Misuse of drugs, including alcohol Anxiety
Mood swings
Shock
Yearning
Numbness
Confusion
Isolation
Insecurity
THOUGHTSDisbeliefDenial
Sense of unrealityPreoccupation with images of the event/personPHYSICAL
Tiredness
Sleeplessness
Headaches
Stomach Problems Bowel/
Bladder problems Loss or
increase in appetite
WAYS TO HELP YOUR CHILD THROUGH THIS DIFFICULT TIME
Handout for parents: R12
Children do not need to be taught how to grieve. They will do it naturally and in healthy ways if we allow them and if we provide a safe atmosphere, permission and example to do so. • Listen carefully. Let them tell their story. Tell them that the reactions they are having are normal
• Pay extra attention, spend extra time with them, be more nurturing and comforting. • Reassure them that they are safe
• Don’t tell them that they are “lucky it wasn’t worse”. People are not consoled by such statements. Instead, tell them that you are sorry such an event has occurred and you want to understand and help them
• Do not be surprised by changes in behaviour or personality. They will return to their usual selves in time
• Don’t take their anger or other feelings personally. Help them to understand the relationship between anger and trauma. Help them find safe ways to express their feelings e.g. by drawing, exercise, or talking
• Help them to understand that defiance, aggression and risk behaviour is a way to avoid feeling the pain, hurt and or fear they are feeling
• When going out, let them know where you are going and when you will be back. • If you are out for a long time telephone and reassure them
• Tolerate regressive behaviour such as nail biting, thumb sucking, or the need for a night light
• Share your own experience of being frightened of something and getting through it • If they are feeling guilt or shame, emphasise that they did not choose for this to happen •

and that they are not to blame. Even if they were angry with the person who died, or had been mean to them, this did not make it happen
Work with the school support services and other available services.
As well as advising your child about appropriate use of social media, monitor their use, particularly during this vulnerable time. Useful website: www. webwise.ie 
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Teachers: R17
The following is a summary of questions often asked by teachers in the aftermath of a critical incident.
Q. I would like to opt out of support type work for personal reasons. Is this OK?
A. It has been found that their teachers are the best people to support students in school in times of distress because they are with people they know and trust. Accordingly, all teachers and other school staff members are encouraged to help the students at these times. However, nobody should be obliged to do this work and people should be able to opt out of it if they feel they need to. This may be for a number of reasons, including recent personal bereavement, experience of a loss similar to that occurring in the particular incident or other circumstances. However, in order to stay in touch, they would need to be in attendance at staff meetings where information is disseminated in relation to the incident.
Q. I have no qualifications to help out in this area. Shouldn’t the job should be left to the experts?
A. You probably have more skills here than you realise. Your experience, competence and skills as a teacher and as an expert in dealing with children and young people are invaluable. Most importantly, the students know you. Students need a safe environment in which to come to terms with what has happened. This security is often enhanced by being able to discuss the events with a familiar teacher in the first instance.
Q. What should I do in the classroom to be helpful?
A. You should acknowledge the situation and clarify the facts, as they are known. Honesty is essential. Encourage questions so that the students have a clear understanding. Try to establish normal routines as soon as possible – but balance this with allowing students opportunities to discuss the incident and to express their thoughts and feelings. Encourage them to resume extra-curricular activities and help them to identify where they can go to for support. Encourage them to be supportive of one another.
Q. What are the signs of grief that I may notice in students?
A. After bereavement students may have a wide range of different reactions – some may become quiet and withdrawn, while others may seem to be aggressive, irritable or angry. They may have mood swings or lack concentration. Try to handle all these ‘normal’ reactions with patience, do not seem surprised by them and do not get cross (see R6, R7 and R9). If students come from a background where there is family breakdown, serious illness, alcohol or drug related or other difficulties, then you need to take extra note of any behavioural changes.
Q. What if I think that some students are not grieving normally?
A. There is no such thing as a ‘correct’ way to grieve. Some people cry, some may laugh or become giddy, some show no reaction. The important thing is that all these different ways are natural and normal and you should try to help the student understand this.Q. What skills do I have that are important?
Q. Is there any one important thing I should say?
A. Yes – emphasise that grieving is a normal healthy process following a traumatic incident. It is the person’s way of coping with the event. It is also normal for people to react in different ways – there is no ‘right’ way to grieve.
Q. Is it a good idea to organise a classroom session following a critical incident? A. Some schools do and they have found this to be very effective. You will find notes on leading a class session after news of an incident in R5. An advantage here is that students may feel safer and more secure with their regular classroom teacher.
Q. What should I do if I feel that a student needs more professional support?
A. Discuss the issue with the principal or guidance counsellor. They, in turn, may wish to discuss it with the NEPS psychologist or other support services and with the student’s parents. The outcome may be a referral to the appropriate service.
Q. What is the overall message in helping bereaved children?
A. “You will get through this difficult time and we are here to help if you need support. Take care of yourself and look out for each other. If you need help, or a friend is in difficulty, it is best talk to us rather than relying totally on social media.
Q. When should I get back to a normal teaching routine with a class?
A. It is important to give students sufficient time and space to share their feelings and to come to terms with what has happened. However, it is also important to move towards a normal routine as soon as possible. Getting on with the regular and familiar pattern of school life helps reduce stress. Avoid introducing new material in the immediate aftermath of an incident or bereavement, as grief and shock can interfere with concentration and motivation. It is often a good idea to consult the students themselves about returning to the normal routine.
Q. What do I do about the empty chair/a student’s belongings etc?
A. A helpful strategy might be to involve students in a discussion about what to do about the chair. This might also present an opportunity to move to a new phase in the process. With regard to the student’s belongings, it might be useful to put together a folder or a ‘memory box’ of the student’s work for the parents. This can be given to them at an appropriate time.
Q. Is there a danger that by talking about suicide you make it appear to be an option for others?
trauma generally feel that talking helps them to cope with their feelings. When you sense a student wants to talk, try to make the time. Be reassuring and patient while gently encouraging them to talk about the loss. Reassure the student that you are there to help. A. Listening skills are probably the most important. People who have experienced loss or cope with the truth, but suicide must never be represented as a valid option. There should be no criticism of the person who has died. Separate the person from the behaviour. It is important to talk about how a person can get to the point where suicide may seem to be the only option but emphasise that it is not a good option. Feeling low is usually a temporary thing, whereas suicide is permanent. With suicide the intention may have been to change life circumstances rather than end life. There is always help available if a person can take the step of reaching out for it. Encourage students to seek help if they need it. 
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Parents: R18
The following is a summary of questions frequently asked by parents after a critical incident. Q. This incident has upset my daughter/son. As there are many rumours circulating, I would like to know what really happened. How can I find that information? A. The school will inform students and parents of the core details of the incident insofar as they are known. It sometimes takes some time for the true facts to emerge. In the meantime, it is important to stick to the facts as known. Discourage rumour or gossip as it is often incorrect and can be distressing for the families and friends of those involved. Information on social media is not reliable and always needs to be checked. Q. Will help be available to the students in the school? A. This will depend on the particular situation. The school will usually put a plan in place for supporting students. This support may include classroom discussion, small group discussion or individual support for students who need it. If there is particular concern about your son or daughter, you will be informed. Q. How can I help my child?
A. You are the natural support for your child. He/she may want to discuss their feelings and thoughts with you. You can help by listening carefully. You should tell them it is ok to feel the way they do, that people react in many different ways and that they should talk rather than bottle things up. Advise on and monitor safe use of social media. Q. How long will the grief last?
A. There is no quick answer to this. It varies from individual to individual and according to circumstances. It will also be affected by the closeness of the child to the event or to person who died. Memories of other bereavements may also be brought up by the incident. Be patient and understanding. It can take time. Q. Since the incident occurred my child has difficulty in sleeping, complains of headaches etc. Can I be sure these are related to the incident? A. Grief can affect one physically as well as emotionally and these and other symptoms may be part of a grief reaction. If they persist, consult a doctor for a check up. Q. If my child remains very upset what should I do? A. If your child remains distressed after a period of six weeks or so, he/she may need additional support, but there is no fixed rule about the length of the grieving process. If you are very concerned at any point, it is best to seek more help through your GP/ HSE Services.
Q. In what ways are adolescents different from other children? feel confused about themselves and the world around them. Grief tends to heighten these feelings and increase the confusion. At this time, too, the individual may look more to friends than to family for support and comfort. Don’t feel rejected by this. Just be available to listen when they need to talk and make sure they know you are there for them when they need you
TEACHERS HELPING STUDENTS IN TIME OF CRISIS OR EMERGENCY
Handout for teachers R23
1.LISTEN 2. PROTECT 3. CONNECT 4. MODEL & 5. TEACH!
THINK ABOUT your students’ “DIRECT EXPERIENCE” with the event ie FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE of the event (physically experiencing or directly seeing it as it happens).
After the event, changes can happen in students’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Your students may worry about family members, classmates, friends, or pets they care about, and may worry that it will happen again. Common reactions to disasters, school crises and emergencies include trouble sleeping, problems at school and with friends, trouble concentrating and listening, and not finishing work or assignments. Your students may become more irritable, sad, angry, or worried as they think about what has happened, and as they experience recovery efforts after the event.
When students share their experiences, thoughts and feelings about the event, LISTEN for RISK FACTORS for adverse reactions.
Risk factors that may indicate a counselling referral is needed for students include:
• loss of a family member, schoolmate, or friend
• observing serious injury or the death of another person
• family members or friends missing after the event, past traumatic experiences or losses • getting hurt or becoming sick due to the event
• home loss, family moves, changes in neighbourhoods / schools, and/or loss of belongings If a student has had any of these experiences, you may wish to consider referring her or him to the HSE services. Your NEPS psychologist will be available to provide support and advice.
Now that you know what can affect your students after a disaster, school crisis, or emergency, you’re ready to
Listen, Protect, Connect, Model & Teach
1. LISTEN, Protect, Connect – Model & Teach
The first step after an event is to listen and pay attention to what they say and how they act. Your students may also show their feelings in non-verbal ways, like increased behavioural problems or increased withdrawal. Let your students know you are willing to listen and talk about the event, or to make referrals to talk to an appropria te professional, if they prefer it. Use the following questions to talk with your students. You can listen for clues that indicate when students are having a hard time. Write down a few examples that may be helpful to note:
• What might be preventing a student from coming to or staying in school?
• What might be preventing a student from paying attention in class or doing homework? • What might be preventing a student from returning to other school based activities Listen, observe, and note any changes in:
• behaviour and/or mood
• school performance
• interactions with schoolmates and teachers
• participation in school-based activities
• behaviours at home that parents discuss with youListen, 2. PROTECT, Connect, Model & Teach You can help make your students feel better by doing some or all of the following: • Answer questions simply and honestly, clearing up any confusion students may have about what happened.
• Let your students know that they are not alone in their reactions. • Provide opportunities for your students to talk, draw, and play, but don’t force it. • Talk to your students about what is being done by the school and community to keep everyone safe from harm.
• Watch for anything in the environment that could re-traumatize your students. • Keep your eyes and ears open for bullying behaviours. • Maintain daily routines, activities, and structure with clear expectations, consistent rules, and • Make adjustments to assignments to be sensitive to students’ current level of functioning. • Limit access to live television and the Internet that show disturbing scenes of the event. • Remember, what is not upsetting to adults may upset and confuse students, and vice versa. • Encourage students to “take a break” from the crisis focus with activities unrelated to the event. • Find ways for your students to feel helpful to your classroom, the school, and the community. • List other things you do that help your students feel better. Sharing this list with other teachers may increase ideas to help your students. Listen, Protect, 3. CONNECT , Model & Teach
• “Check in” with students on a regular basis. • Find resources that can be supportive to your students and staff. • Keep communication open with others involved in your students’ lives (parents, other teachers, coaches, etc.).
• Restore interactive school activities, including sports, club meetings, student projects, and student councils.
• Encourage student activities with friends, including class projects and extracurricular activities. • Empathise with your students by allowing a little more time for them to learn new materials. • Build on your students’ strengths by encouraging them to find ways to help them use what they have learned in the past to help them deal with the event. • Remind your students that major disasters, crises, and emergencies are rare. • Discuss feeling safe and times they have felt safe. • List programs and activities that connect you and your students with the community. • Share your list with other teachers to create a larger list of activities and resources. Listen, Protect, Connect, 4. MODEL & Teach
• It is good to be aware of your own thoughts, feelings, and reactions, these can be seen and may affect your students.
• How you cope and behave after an event will influence how your students cope and behave. Your students will be watching you for both verbal and non-verbal cues. • Monitor conversations that students may hear. • Acknowledge the difficulty of the situation, but demonstrate how people can come together to cope after such an event.Listen, Protect, Connect, Model & 5. TEACH • Different people may have very different reactions, even within the same family. • After the event, people may also have different amounts of time they need to cope and adjust. • Encourage your students to identify and use positive coping strategies to help them after the event. • Help your students problem-solve to get through each day successfully. • Help your students set small “doable” goals and share in these achievements as “wins” for the students and your classroom
• Remind students that with time and assistance, things generally get better. If they don’t, they should let a parent or teacher know. • Over time, you, your students, their families, your classroom, can EXPECT RECOVERY Adapted by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) for Irish schools from Psychological First Aid materials developed by the American Red Cross (2014 and FEMA, see www.ready.gov). We acknowledge with thanks. 
One of the key areas of second level education is Career Guidance. In Scoil Uí Mhuirí, our Guidance Counsellor is Mr Aiden Matthews. The role of the Guidance Counsellor is to provide students and their parents/guardians with information and support which will help students make the right decisions in their lives. The Guidance Programme aims to help students become effective planners and managers of their own lives and careers. As well as class contact, the Guidance Counsellor will be available to students by appointment to discuss any personal, educational or career issue. A student may also be referred to the Guidance Counsellor by another teacher for advice and support. Should a Parent/Guardian wish to speak with Mr Matthews they should contact the school office.
In Scoil Uí Mhuirí the Pastoral Care Team meets on a regular basis to review how the school community is responding to the overall needs of each member of the school community but in particular the student and more specifically those students dealing with particular challenges. The Pastoral Care Team at the school comprises the Principal, Deputy Principal, Guidance Counsellor, a member of the Middle Management Team, the SEN Co-ordinator, the SCP Project Worke, the Home School Community Liaison Officer and various teaching staff members. At all times, the team works to enhance the provision of supports offered to those students experiencing difficulty within the school system.
School Completion Programme is a National Programme that assists and supports targeted young people in their attendance and participation in school.SCP Personnel in Scoil Uí Mhuirí support students in a number of ways including: working on school attendance, homework, exams, project work, moving from primary to post primary school and resolving difficulties and personal problems.
This section will be updated shortley
Parents Daytime Classes at Scoil Uí Mhuirí 
The following are some of the daytime classes that have been offered to parents in Scoil Uí Mhuirí to date:Knitting club
Large quantities of wool and knitting needles were donated by parents together with lots of patterns. A number of parents attended these sessions where the more experienced knitters were able to advise the newer knitters to the club. Some beautiful scarves and baby clothes were produced and light refreshments were served.

Cookery classes
While this class was called ‘Budget Cookery’, those attending had an opportunity to develop many culinary skills including yeast cookery, bread-making and cake making. It was a very enjoyable class. IT Computer SkillsSome parents decided to take their computing skills to a higher level with participants obtaining a Fetac Level 3 qualification. Health and BeautyWe were delighted to obtain funding for a Health and Beauty Class. Those attending the course had opportunities to explore areas such as Skin care, Fac