This Programme aims to awaken Primary School students’ interest in Irish books, by encouraging them to design and write their own books as Gaeilge. The Programme is being organised by Foras na Gaeilge, in co-operation with several Education Centres and organisations across Ireland. The Programme is run completely through Irish.
Each Centre has the freedom to alter the scheme to suit their own local needs and practices and invite schools to participate. Where schools are participating for the first time they will register with the Centre for a training course which entails:
- Irish writing in the Primary Curriculum,
- Creative Writing and developing imagination with students,
- A practical session on book binding and illustration, and
- A short information session on the Scríobh Leabhar Programme, questions & suggestions etc.
The teachers work with the students in the schools to develop their writing over a period of a few months. The students design, write and bind their books. Students can write individual books, or work in groups, or produce whole class books. At some stage the schools will have to send a Registration Form to the Education Centre listing the number of teachers and classes taking part, and the number of books they will write. This is important information so that the swapping can be organised, and so that the Certificates can be ordered.
Sometime towards the end of the Programme the schools swap books. The Centre will write to the ‘co-ordinating teacher’ in each school with information regarding the day/date for swapping, and information on how to present the books (copy of the list to be filled in etc.). The co-ordinating teacher is responsible for disseminating this information to the other participating classes and teachers in the school. Foras na Gaeilge will provide the information and any information sheets etc. for the Centre, or will translate letters etc. A date for swapping can be finalised at the course. The swapping can happen in a number of ways:
A. Teachers from each school bring the books to the Centre on an assigned day and time (after school), and exchange each box of books for another. The teachers then bring the books back to the schools, (if more than one class took part the books are divided among the classes etc.). The classes and teachers read the books. The teacher selects books for ‘Gradam’ Awards from each class. The books are returned to the central location on an agreed date and the ‘Gradam’ books are kept aside. A third date may be necessary for the teachers to come back and collect the books.
B. Teachers exchange the books in ‘cluster groups’ in a manner similar to above. A date and time is agreed, all the teachers in the cluster gather at that location after school and swap their books. They bring the books back to their schools, read the books with the students, choose ‘Gradam’ Award winners, and return the books to the cluster location at another agreed date and time. Because there are a smaller number of schools involved, it is probably possible for all schools to get their books back the same day they return the books, while still keeping aside the award winning books.
C. Schools are given a list of contact details for other participating schools, and the number of classes/students taking part in each. They select a school with which to pair up, usually either a school nearby or a school which will have a similar number of books. The schools contact each other individually and arrange to swap their books at a suitable time and location, and swap back when they have read them. The schools then post the award winning books to the Education Centre.
There are benefits to all three systems. A is good for keeping track of exactly which schools have taken part and submitted books etc., but it necessitates a large number of Education Centre staff being on hand to facilitate the swap. For system B to work, we would need a teacher in each ‘cluster’ area to volunteer to host the swap in his/her school some evening, and to collect the award winning books. The teachers could decide on the cluster areas and locations at the training day. C relies on the schools to take the initiative and swap themselves, and to send in the award winning books. This can be harder to administer but can be more practical depending on the geographical spread of the schools.
About a month is allowed for the ‘swap’ to take place, to allow teachers adequate time to read the books and select award winners, (sometimes days off/holidays can mean that a calendar month is only a few weeks of school etc.). All the award winning books are collected at the Centre. The covers are scanned in to make a presentation for the celebration night. Foras na Gaeilge will co-ordinate and look after this work. A list of all the students and books is prepared. Invitations are sent out to the schools, inviting award winners to a celebration night. All participating teachers are also invited. Every student who takes part in Scríobh Leabhar receives a Certificate in recognition of their efforts. Each school can also organise their own individual special event or ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the budding young authors.
A website of virtual books is produced after the Programme has ended. This is a great way of showcasing the wonderful works produced through Scríobh Leabhar and the wide variety and types of books published by students ranging from Junior Infants to Sixth Class. Over 600 students took part in the Programme in the 2013/2014 Academic Year in the Kilkenny Education Centre catchment area alone!