Derry primary school opens a new magical hideaway to help its pupil through tough times

'Umbrella Room' unveiled at St Eithne's Primary School

Derry primary school creates a magical hideaway to help its pupil through tough times

Education Minister Peter Weir officially opened the new room today.

A Derry primary school today officially unveiled a very special room to support its pupils.

The 'Umbrella Room' at St Eithne's Primary School offers children a quiet space away from the hustle and bustle of everyday school life.

It was officially opened today by the Education Minister Peter Weir.

School vice-principal and designated teacher for child protection at St Eithne’s, Sean Conaghan, explained the idea behind the room.

"This entire room and project has been developed in order to support our children, parents and families in dealing initially with this very difficult and challenging return to school as well as developing emotional resilience and life skills.

"This room will provide a quiet, reflective, peaceful and relaxing atmosphere for not only small groups of children but for the entire school community. 

"This room the children will be provided with experiences of mindfulness, circle-time and social skills as well as activities focussed on building confidence, self-esteem and developing relationships and trust."

Mr Conaghan said the need for the room was greater than ever due to the emotional impact of COVID-19. 

"I am acutely aware of the scale and impact of not only Covid-19 on our children, parents and families, but also the prolonged referral process to the Education Authority in relation to Special Educational Needs (SEN). 

"Therefore, as a school, we have identified the need for a self-funded and self-sufficient approach to meeting not only the educational needs of our SEN children but the emotional and well-being needs of all of our children."

He added that coronavirus restrictions have proved a 'significant challenge' for schools.   

"This academic year has presented significant challenges in meeting the needs of our children. 

"The strict constraints of Covid-19 and social distancing guidelines have resulted in very limited face to face support and interventions from outreach support services.  

"All of this, paired with our present financial crisis, has led us to a position whereby we felt the need to develop an internally driven and strategic in-house support mechanism to meet all the needs of our children. 

"This response takes into consideration meeting not only their educational needs but also their social, emotional and mental well-being which we aim to do through a pastorally rich and nurturing ethos,” added Mr Conaghan.

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