Chalk Talk: News and views in education

Branar theatre company in ’Twas the Night Before Christmas

Branar theatre company in ’Twas the Night Before Christmas


nMore power to them

Branar, a

children’s theatre company, may well turn out to be more timely than it had planned in its choice of Christmas production. The play is set in a village in 1940s Ireland before there was electricity – a situation that could be replicated in 2013 – and it is loosely based on the classic poem, “ ’Twas The Night Before Christmas”. Their lovely work for children (aged five upwards) has just started a 10-stop Irish tour of their Christmas show, often aimed at school groups.

Branar’s artistic director, Marc Mac Lochlainn, was originally a teacher and founded the company in 2001 to make theatre for children. Branar’s work conveys story through sound, music and physical theatre, sometimes without language, and where there is language, it’s often bilingual. Get a flavour: and see


e iPoints app, developed at NUI Galway for students to calculate Leaving Certificate points, won a bronze in the best educational app category at the Appy Awards in Dublin. The free app has been downloaded more than 6,000 times.

nIrish Teachers’ Journal

A new journal of education has

been launched as a platform for teachers to get their work into print. ‘The Irish Teachers’ Journal’ is published by the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation and the first issue has 128 pages, with articles on school leadership, literacy, interculturalism and digital literacy in the class.

Prof John Coolahan writes the first guest article, acknowledging the challenges faced by teachers but urging the profession to take ownership of reforms. Copies will be sent to all primary schools.

nThe Leaving Certificate Applied

(LCA) association’s national conference is next Saturday morning at the Red Cow Moran’s Hotel, Dublin, with talks about mental well being, the LCA classroom, and the Sweetman Education Trust, which organises LCA student visits to the European Parliament.

nCork wins

Violinist Mairead Hickey (17), a sixth-year student at Mount Mercy College, Cork, won the 2013 Fr Frank Maher Music Awards, Ireland’s largest classical music scholarship for post-primary schools, sponsored by Top Security. Peter Regan, Aisling O’Sullivan, Martha Campbell, Amy Gillen, Aina Hanissa and Fionnuala MacMahon were also finalists and they competed at Castleknock College, Dublin, for the €2,000 prize to further their musical career.

Sian Joyce, also from Cork, was named Irish physics teacher of the year at the Institute of Physics (IOP) teacher award ceremony in London. Joyce, of Coláiste an Sprioraid Naoimh, was described as an inspirational teacher who creates remarkable enthusiasm and engagement among her students. The citation mentioned her work with students who recently won the Esero Can Sat competition to design and launch a small space satellite.

nThe children of Scoil Bhríde Cailíní at

Blanchardstown, Dublin have launched their own book ‘We are Writers’, a celebration of the different languages in the school. About 75 per cent of pupils are from families whose first language is not English and the book reflects the rich variety of backgrounds and ethnicities.

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