Francis Street School

Colin the Reading Dog

Colin the Reading Dog

Francis Street School located in the heart of the Liberties in Dublin 8. The school is co-ed and was one of the first nominated Changemaker Schools in Ireland. Nominated in 2014, Francis Street School has the four pillars of empathy, creativity, leadership and teamwork fully embedded in all it does. 


Check out their website here

'The school has 5 student committees or leadership teams- their Student Council, their Green Team, their Wellbeing Warriors, their Fit Squad and Coiste Gaeilge. The school is also on a journey to becoming a UNICEF Child’s Rights School and have established a committee to engage with the SDG’s. The exploration of the SDG’s is further enhanced by their Erasmus programme. This year their students are travelling to Turkey, Barcelona, Portugal, and Poland with their leadership project entitled ‘Preparing Today the Leaders of Tomorrow’

The development of an inclusive school culture is especially important at Francis Street School. With two classes for children with autism the school operates a policy of reverse integration and was the first school to participate in the High 5 boxing programme that is specifically designed for children with additional educational needs.

The school has developed the four pillars over many years. Many of the staff are trained in Restorative Practice, Peacebuilders, Mind-Up, the Alert programme, Incredible Years and Trauma Informed Care. The staff is relational in its approach to all aspects of the school with the staff regularly practicing moments of genuine connection (MGC) with their students. The school has an extremely specific approach to the transition to post primary school. Using a peace circle workshop, students in 6th class sit with the principal and students in the local secondary schools. The school also runs, in conjunction with other HSCL initiatives Together Time with parents. Students have the opportunity to be taught chess from older students via a buddy system

The school has developed its own breathing techniques linked to the practice of mindfulness, with the view to supporting the regulation of students. Each day, the whole school engages in a breathing exercise prior to entering the building and a Tibetan bell ring over the intercom at intervals to encourage students to ‘just breathe.’ The students also have the opportunity to attend 6 yoga classes per year.

Recently the school has partnered with the Burns by your Side charity programme. Colin is a specially trained dog who visits the school weekly to support children in their literacy, confidence, and communication skills. Colin also supports the students in their wellbeing. Each dog therapy visit has proven therapeutic effects resulting in less stress in reading with the dog providing comfort. The scheme also offers training for school children on how to respect and care for companion animals and be less fearful around unknown dogs.

Francis Street School is an integral DCU Changemaker School, engaged in much research with the University as well as facilitating and organising networking opportunities between schools. Their teachers have visited Scoil Bhride in Shantalla, Galway and Armagh. Their second-class students are participating in a penpal programme with St Ultans. Next year, the school will host a mini-conference with 4 other DCU Changemaker Schools.