Festival of Learning – celebrating a year-long transition into secondary school

Aoife Fleming, Teacher at Sandymount Park Educate Together Secondary School  

Our Festival of Learning is a chance to celebrate students’ learning journey throughout their first year at Sandymount Park ETSS. The festival takes the form of a showcase, in which students exhibit their learning from the year. Students select three key moments from across their learning journey, which relate to one of the Junior Cycle Key Skills. Key moments can be selected from across curricular, co- and extra-curricular experiences.  

Staff support is a core element of the Festival of Learning. In anticipation of the event, a designated day is allocated for preparation. On this day, both teachers and ANAs (Additional Needs Assistants) guide students in preparing their displays and rehearsing their oral presentations. Well-defined criteria are shared with students ahead of the preparation day, ensuring they are well-prepared to achieve their best. 

For 2023, first year students focused on the key skill of ‘being creative’ and showcased their creative endeavours across several curricular areas such as: art projects, English essays, athletics, languages, science experiments, physical education and much more.  

Parents and guardians joined us on 26th May to visit the student displays and hear about the learning journeys and skills development. A team of teachers assisted in judging the showcase. Each student had the chance to present their work to one of the teachers who then assessed the showcase based on the predefined success criteria.  

Our inaugural Festival of Learning was held in the first year of our school in 2019 and what began as a discussion around assessment and alternative modes of assessment has now become a community event, a core date within the calendar and, most importantly, a day to celebrate the big transition to secondary school.