More than 100 primary schools around Ireland are now involved in the Blue Star Programme!
2013-2014 has been the most successful year of the Blue Star Programme yet. It culminated in Europe Day celebrations in the Mansion House with not only the Lord Mayor, Councillor Oisín Quinn, in attendance but also the Minister for European Affairs, Paschal Donohoe TD. Along with the wonderful pupils of St Brigid’s in the Coombe, they formed a Handshake for Europe. The girls and their principal Deirdre Early and teachers Vicky Lawlor and Geraldine Tuohy then joined a large audience in EU House for a special international celebration of Europe Day.
But… We have wonderful Blue Star schools the length and breadth of the country now, and many of them marked their achievements in and around Europe Week. Two Wexford schools which joined together to celebrate even featured on the RTÉ’s News2Day show! Watch it here.
Our Executive Director Noelle O Connell attended another joint celebration in Blarney, between her old primary school, Scoil Chroí Íosa and their neighbours at Gaelscoil Mhuscraí.
We also received some great pictures from schools who celebrated Europe Day with a range of fantastic events, including with some of our former and future MEPs.
In fact, there is one more item on the Blue Star agenda for this school year, when 23 specially selected Irish teachers, who have participated in the programme, will make an educational visit to Brussels in July.
If your school is interested in getting involved in the Blue Star Programme, then all you have to do is contact our Education and Training Officer, Joe Bishop, at email@example.com. And don’t worry, we have lots of resources including a curriculum guide to help. We’d love to hear from you TODAY.
What is the Blue Star Programme?
The Blue Star Programme is an education initiative for primary school students across Ireland. The idea of the Programme is simple: to foster better understanding and knowledge of the European Union and how it affects the lives of Irish citizens among Irish primary pupils through classroom projects and activities.
Following on from EM Ireland’s role as National Coordinator for the pilot year of the Blue Star Programme 2011-2012, we were delighted to be appointed as the National Implementation Body for the Blue Star Programme 2012-2013 and again for 2013-2014.
The Blue Star Programme aims to introduce participants (pupils, teachers, parents and the wider community) to the EU; what it means and how it works. The Programme also aims to foster a strong sense of awareness of the EU among its participants that reaches far beyond the school walls and out into the wider community.
If after reading the Blue Star Resource Information & Registration Pack at the bottom of this page you still have questions on what is involved with the Blue Star Programme, please visit our Blue Star FAQ page where we hope you will find the answers!
This year for the first time, in connection with our Blue Star champion Teachers, we have developed a ‘Teacher’s Guide to Integrating the Blue Star Programme’. It includes practical advice and guidelines on all elements of the programme and we hope that teachers will find it a useful resource as you set out on your Blue Star journey!
How Does The Programme Work?
Teams of students of all ages, from primary schools all over Ireland, are challenged to get creative and think about Europe by carrying out projects in relation to the history, geography, culture and creativity, and Institutions of the EU.
Each participating school is required to carry out projects and tasks, incorporating elements that include information about:
- The foundation and development of the European Union
- The cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe
- What the European Union does and how its work affects the lives of citizens
The Blue Star Programme has creativity at its core and its structure and project work encourage teachers and pupils from all corners of Ireland to ‘think outside the box’. The wider school community are also encouraged to get involved and contribute to the Programme.
What Is Involved?
Participating schools submit an Action Plan to the Blue Star National Coordinator (which has been European Movement Ireland since 2011), outlining the goals they hope to achieve over the course of the school year.
At the end of the year, schools are required to submit a Final Report outlining how each of the four key elements (historical, geographical, cultural and creative, and Institutional) were explored over the course of the year. Schools are also required to host an event for Europe Day such as an art exhibition, concert, parade or food fair.
Each school’s submission is assessed by the National Coordinator and a Judging Panel. All schools that successfully complete the Blue Star Programme are awarded an EU Flag and a Blue Star certificate signed by the Minister for European Affairs.
Over 32 schools, small and large, from around Ireland were awarded their Blue Stars in June 2012 and the feedback from students and teachers alike has been overwhelmingly positive.
The Programme went from strength to strength in 2013, with almost 100 schools registered to participate. The Programme and participating schools also enjoyed widespread national and regional print, radio and television media coverage over the past 12 months, highlighting the successes of the teachers and pupils who took part. Blue Stars were awarded to all those who successfully completed the Programme in June 2013.
More in-depth detail on how the Programme works and what in involved is contained in the Resource pack, which can be downloaded below.
Feedback From Past Participants
I can honestly say that this Blue Star Programme was one of the most rewarding projects we have participated in over the years, and I have done quite a few!! It is a great idea and I would certainly encourage other schools to get involved. It is of course a very interesting topic and it integrates marvellously with so many curricular areas… The whole project was a huge learning experience, not only in terms of actual learning but it also upped IT skills, file management, editing, Powerpoint Presentation etc.
- Sligo Primary School
A particular highlight of the Programme was to witness children teaching each other i.e. the 6th class pupils delivering their Powerpoint on the European institutions to the other classes. This is something that we, as a staff, look forward to exploring further. There was a real “feel good” factor to our European Day… The children derived enormous satisfaction out of showcasing their various projects as well as other dramatic and musical performances.
- Dundalk Primary School
We really enjoyed participating in the Blue Star Programme. All of the pupils found it very interesting and enjoyed all elements of the programme. The programme integrated many themes and topics of the SESE curriculum. In addition, the writing and presentation of reports integrated with the English Literacy curriculum.
- Kilkenny Primary School
In the busy Irish Primary Curriculum many offers of external projects are not taken up because of the time factor. This project appealed to me because it had very defined guidelines and an easily visible framework. Allied to this the resouces were of a very high quality not just in pedagogical content but also in production eg. good DVD, quality paper, bright and colourful images in maps and text materials. All these materials prompted research which was a big element in the development.
- Tralee Primary School
The computer skills of the children were developed unrecognisably! From initially being able to type an essay in Microsoft Word, the children graduated to a level of technological competence that would merit a certificate! They are now competent at independently researching a topic online, they are able to download pictures, sounds and animations. Familiarity with PowerPoint has equipped them with the ability to utilise PowerPoints’ animation features to create a clever educational presentation.
- Limerick Primary School
The beauty of this programme for us was that it afforded all our families the opportunity to celebrate our diversity, learn about and enjoy our cultural differences and understand where we’ve come from. We received fantastic support from all our parents and students. Our Polish families revelled and taught us so much of their backgrounds, foods, interests, families and hopes. It is the first initiative that really has incorporated the entire school community and the feedback from it was fantastic. It is our hope that it will remain a permanent fixture on our school calendar.
- Mayo Primary School
For more information on Blue Star 2013-2014 and to find out how your school can join the Programme, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call the EM Ireland office in Dublin on 01 662 5815.
The Blue Star Programme is a venture of the Communicating Europe Initiative, supported by the Office of the Minister of State for European Affairs in the Department of the Taoiseach, the European Commission Representation in Ireland and the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland.