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Pupils at Ardnashee school in Derry determined not to let the pandemic stop them from having their sports day

Special week-long series of events at the local school

Pupils at Ardnashee school in Derry determined not to let the pandemic stop them from having their sports day

Ardnashee School and College pupil Aoibh Cutliffe centre, pictured with her mum Breige and her sisters practising for the egg and spoon race which will be part of the school's fun week sports day.

A Derry special needs school is holding its annual 'Fun Week' online, so that pupils don't miss out on what is the highlight of their academic year.

Ardnsahee School and College yearly event is usually organised and delivered by the Parent Teachers Association and includes lots of treats and surprises for pupils like ice cream vans and bouncy castles.

Anxious that his pupils would still get to mark fun week during lockdown, Principal Raymond McFeeters decided to go virtual.

"One of the current challenges for us as a school during the Covid-19 pandemic is to try and keep things as normal as possible for our kids," said Mr McFeeters.

"In true Ardnashee fashion the school has pulled out all the stops to try and make this possible and have learned many new skills in the process.

"The emphasis of the fun week is most definitely on fun and and we hope that our wonderful pupils and their families will enjoy taking part in them."

Teaching staff at Ardsnashee have been engaging with pupils in lockdown via and educational app called 'See Saw'.

Senior teacher and governor, Sinead Crossan, said staff have been forced to 'upskill' to work around the current restrictions.

"One of the positive legacies of the coronavirus is that every teacher has had to upskill digitally to engage with our pupils," she said.

"See Saw allows us to connect with parents and send out work and then they can reply with the completed work.

"A lot of our pupils' learning is through practical activities too and we have done our best  to make that happen virtually.

"Fun Week is a great example of this as we have Paddy Nash doing a Facebook music session, we  have Emma Lindsay dance doing a dance class and we teachers susing their own skills like yoga, Irish dancing, movement and Makaton to come up with some great classes to.

"It's so important to engage with our children and we've had to look at new ways to do that when we can't be face to face with them."

Singer Paddy Nash said he was delighted to be kicking fun week off on the school's new Facebook page

"The kids at Ardnashee will always hold a special place in my heart," he said,

"We have had the best of craic and written some great songs together.

"In my work I have found that music is the best leveller.

"It knows no borders and the only language it speaks is emotion.

"Music lives in everyone, it is something we all share but it is something unique to us individually.

"The kids at Ardnashee taught me that."

The highlight of Fun Week will be sports day which will take place today.

In order to encourage pupils and their families to take part at home and send in pictures the staff created a special video to show get the ball rolling ,which can be viewed on Facebook.

"We had great fun making the video and we wanted to show the pupils we weren't afraid to go out of our comfort zones and they shouldn't be either," added Mrs Crossan.

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