A day in the life: Galway ETSS

We’ve been checking in with Educate Together schools to see how they’ve been supporting students through distance learning during the covid-19 restrictions. Here’s an update from the Galway ETSS school community – teachers, students and parents: 

Health and Wellbeing is always priority in Galway Educate Together Secondary School and during this time when anxieties are high because of Covid 19, the staff and teachers are trying to support their students and their families by keeping the school routine going remotely for all of those who are able to participate. The teachers and students use a combination of iPads and Microsoft Office 365 to enhance learning for their students and this has really helped in the remote learning process.

Classes are still going on at their scheduled times with teachers doing online live meetings and classes with their students using Microsoft Teams and Zoom. The staff and students are very familiar with this way of learning as MS Teams, incorporating OneNote Class Notebooks, is used every day for collaborating and sharing in Galway ETSS.

Using Digital Learning effectively has allowed the very creative learning that happens in school continue. Through Teams teachers can easily communicate live with their students at the time of their usual lessons. We are aware that it might not be possible for them to log on at the normal time so for those who can’t the lesson is recorded and accessible after the specific time.

Students also submit their work through the Assignments feature or through their OneNote notebooks and teachers respond with their feedback, they can do this verbally or in writing. Teachers are very careful to keep a balance and much of the work is very active learning, many assignments do not require the iPad until the upload point.

Some examples of the learning in different subject areas:

In English, the students are looking at videos of drama performances, doing writing activities and using apps like Forms and EdPuzzle. They are having discussions about the texts we read through video calls using Zoom or Teams. The students also record themselves on flipgrid. Their written tasks are assessed using the assignments function on teams.

In Art our classes we have been exploring Imaginative Creatures, students have followed teacher guidelines and success criteria sent to them via OneNote and Teams, students are working on creating their designs. Great work has been submitted for teacher feedback. Each class starts with a Zoom video call to touch base with students, help with direction, answers questions and students are then able to continue developing their work like they would in our normal Art class.

First Years are completing an interior design module in Home Economics, last week they designed a kitchen and this week they are designing their dream houses. They are submitting to Microsoft Teams where their teacher can give them individual feedback.

Irish students are studying poetry to link in with the topic of ‘Caitheamh Aimsire’. We are using Microsoft OneNote and Voice Memos to recite poetry at home. Oral feedback is embedded into their individual copies online for them to listen to.

In Science, the students have been learning about the Corona Virus and the scientific rationale behind social distancing with the task of writing a letter about it.

In Geography, students have been finishing off the section on Coasts and the balancing act between protecting nature and using these areas for enterprises. They have been working on a project on Doonbeg.

Students are creating websites with HTML and CSS in Coding. Their classes are being streamed online and they are submitting their work virtually.

Technology students have been working on their sketching and design skills. Last week they partook in a national competition to redesign soap dispensers in a the light of Covid-19.

Technical Graphics students are using their iPads to learn about Computer-Aided Design where they use software to design 3d artefacts.


This hasn’t come without its challenges and there has been a period of adjustment where both teachers and students have had to work together to figure out what works best in a remote learning situation. While the engagement has been very positive, it is not the same as face to face time in school. Online Parent and Student Feedback using FlipGrid and Microsoft Forms has been really helpful here and the teachers are evaluating and adapting the approach every day to improve the learning experience for all of our students. Video calling and online live meetings have been one very positive tool.

All students are unique and have different learning needs so just like when we are in school, great efforts have been made to make the lessons accessible and manageable for all and where anyone is struggling our teachers and learning support team have reached out to students and parents at an individual level to support. We are also very conscious of anxiety levels and wellbeing at this time so we have offered support in relation to this also, incorporating wellbeing tasks into the learning where possible.

Staff Wellbeing

Staff meet for their usual break every morning at 10.45. We have a coffee and a catchup together and then stay on for a staff meeting so that everyone can collaborate and share what has been working well and any concerns or challenges that are presenting. This has been very positive for our staff wellbeing, keeping connected has been really important.

What the students have to say?

“I like using my iPad at home. The communication is really good- teachers reply to any questions within the hour. One thing I find hard is the time management- we don’t have the teachers telling us to get to class but that is something that I have had to take more responsibility for now.”– Amber

“I find remote learning easy. We have video calls with our teachers. I also have been helping my friends from other schools use the apps we use like Teams. I do find little things like not having a proper break and meeting friends hard” – Eireann

“I find remote learning works well. If you miss a class there is a recording or explanation so you can catch up later- so I find that I am learning more.” – Tristan

“I think learning online is fun. I find all the teachers answer my questions because all I have to do is type it in. I find this way of communicating is easier if you are struggling with something” – Jude

“Remote learning is enjoyable. It gives us more responsibility to have our work done without the teachers reminding us in class. I also feel that I have become more confident at using features of my iPad”. – Sadbh

From Galway ETSS Parents’ and Guardian’ Community

The School had begun preparations with the students and teachers for online learning well before the announcement was made.  When Friday morning came, our children, were up as usual, dressed, ready at their iPads and online at 8:45am.  Their teachers were online to meet them, support them and to continue lessons without any interruption to their schedule or learning.  As parents, we watched in awe as the school staff and students went about their day without the need for the parents worry, it was seamless.  In the days that followed, this has continued without the slightest hesitation and as a school Community we cannot argue the support from GETSS in these trying times.

Real stories from the Educate Together community

Educate Together’s schools mean so much to the lives of the children and young people who attend them, and to the communities that they are a part of. You can read, watch and listen to real stories from the students, staff and families involved in the Educate Together school movement on this page and at the links above. Do you have an experience from an Educate Together school which you would like to share? Share your story: info@educatetogether.ie