St Columbas Girls National School with Facility for Deaf Children

St Columbas Girls National School with Facility for Deaf Children

St Columba's GNS with Facility for Deaf Children is a proud DCU Changemaker School.

Located in Cork, St Columba’s GNS with Facility for Deaf Children has 16 mainstream classes and 6 Deaf Unit Classes including and early intervention class. Irish sign language is the third school language and the school, as well as being a DCU Changemaker School the school is also a Creative School. You can view St Columba’s GNS with Facility for Deaf Children's website here.


The school has many initiatives but notably, they deliver ‘A Lust for Life Programme,’ ‘Weaving Wellbeing Programme’ and the Young Social Innovators, programme ‘Design for Life.’ The school is also involved with international programmes such as ‘My Big Friendly Guide to the Eu’ and ‘3 billion trees’.

St. Columba’s emphasises and encourages the individuality of each child, including children with additional needs. Their school, with a facility for deaf children, provides a unique opportunity for our pupils to holistically learn empathy, communication, and respect for each other. 

Traditionally their school has had a reputation for being inclusive of all abilities. They are proud to maintain that reputation. Consequently, their children have a good understanding of equity and a heightened awareness of the physical and emotional needs of their peers. 

The teachers in the school put creativity at the heart of the children's education. Through the Creative Schools Initiative, under the Arts Council Outreach programme, their children explore what the Arts and creativity means to them. 

Their junior children are working with a street artist to visually enhance the playground, by upcycling existing storage units. In conjunction with the Crawford Art Gallery, their senior students participate in a print-making workshop, led by an artist in residence.

To celebrate the cultural diversity of their school population the choir sings in many languages accompanied by Irish Sign Language (ISL). The choir represents their school at many local and national events. 

The students of St. Columba’s are working towards their 9th Green Flag, “Global Citizenship and Travel”. The students actively practice the ethos of the green approach. Teachers facilitate the meetings, but their dedicated Green School Committee members lead in terms of disseminating key information to the broader school community. 

The school also has a very active Student Council, giving a voice to our student body and recently were central to the bike rack now on the school grounds.

There are numerous buddy systems in St. Columba’s- ‘yard buddies’ and ‘reading buddies’ are two such examples. Each year, a 6th class students are given the opportunity to work as traffic wardens. The students work on a rotational basis and are responsible for the safe management of the zebra crossing every morning and afternoon on their school grounds.

Their school is very innovative in how we support inclusion. All children learn Irish Sign Language (ISL). ISL is the third language of their school and the main form of communication for some of their students and staff members.

Singing and signing at the school’s morning assembly using ISL is a wonderful example of integration, inclusion, and celebration. ISL is part of the identity of St. Columba’s. Every year some of their teachers and SNAs enrol in specific ISL classes to assist ease of communication with their deaf or hard of hearing friends.

They are also part of the Young Social Innovator Programme “Design for Change.”  Our children are encouraged to make a difference in the world around them. Using the international FIDS (Feel, Imagine, Do, Share) framework, our children are supported to develop an ‘I CAN’ mindset and put their creative ideas into action to solve a social challenge. Through this programme the students learn to be innovators in the best possible way - by doing it! 

Innovation is very visible in their school - we have a sensory room that provides for children a sense of calm and comfort when they might feel overwhelmed, as well as a nurture room where children can explore any emotional issues that are bothering them. On their beautiful five-acre grounds, we have an outdoor classroom in the woodland area of our campus. This year they have built an amazingly beautiful Geodesic Dome where one and all can heal through the power of nature. Why not call over and see it?

Their Fifth-Class students have set up and run an Honesty Shop ‘Pinocchio’s,’ an unmanned shop providing a variety of school supplies that runs on the principle of honesty. The students attractively decorate this extremely popular shop. The children set up the shop each morning, re-stock at break and tidy the shop away in the afternoon. They do the stocktaking and money counting at the end of the week.

Children’s wellbeing is a core value in the school. They start their school day with a joyful assembly where the children sing and dance together. Birthdays are celebrated every Friday and each day the children’s achievements are acknowledged.

They are also working with Douglas & Frank field’s Mens’ Shed to upgrade their raised beds. Healing through nature is dear to them. They have a wonderful campus with many different spaces. Children love to run and play in their woodlands where they have fairy houses with resident fairies. A hillside walkway with a 400m all-weather surface where the children can exercise is perfect for quick movement breaks. Their very popular bog-garden where frogspawn arrive each March is a constant source of fascination. Their four playgrounds give the children plenty of space to play. Their Junior Playground in particular is very popular as it contains a climbing pyramid and several large play areas. Recently their caretaker finished a beautiful, designated play area for their Early Intervention Deaf Class.

A strong DCU Changemaker School, St. Columba’s is indeed a positive space where happiness and wellbeing reign.