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Case Study - Tackling the language barrier

  • Case Study - Tackling the language barrier

Seamus Galvin, ICT Coordinator at Christian Brothers’ Primary School in Co. Armagh, explains how a bilingual website helped to engage the school’s Gaelic and English-speaking community

Christian Brothers’ Primary School in Co. Armagh, is a mixed Gaelic and English speaking primary school with just over 440 pupils on the school roll. It also houses two Irish Medium Nursery (Naíscoil) units with 60 pupils on roll

I had been thinking about how we as a school wanted [our] new website to look for over a year, so we had a really good idea of the functionality and content that it needed. I’m not a design person, so I didn’t have a vision as such, but I definitely had a strong idea of what we needed it to do; we wanted it to be modern, professional but welcoming, and child-friendly without being overly simplified. We wanted our website to reflect our child-centred yet professional approach to teaching.

PrimarySite was recommended to us by one of our support officers. She showed me a few sample websites from other schools that had used its designs, which looked great! We really liked the fact that PrimarySite were active in suggesting changes that we could make to improve the look and feel of the website. They used examples of other websites to show us what we could do with ours and also explained how we could mix and match different features, which was really helpful.

Although I am responsible for updating the majority of content on the website, it also allows our teachers to update their individual class pages with images and text, which they have found really easy to do.

Adding a bilingual element
Ensuring that the website’s content was bilingual was something we kept at the forefront of our minds when planning, designing and rolling out the new site. We have been able to give the Irish language a much more visual and clear status in and around the school with its full inclusion in the website, helping to raise the status of the language with all stakeholders in the school. Throughout the site, we are able to use one colour for Irish and another for English.

The students love that they are able to view photos from various school trips and classes on the website. We also upload audio files of children making speeches and reading poems and stories, which can be viewed by students and parents. By recording and uploading pupils’ talking and listening activities, speech and drama performances and renditions of Irish songs and music, we are able to bring the spoken language to life and give the children an opportunity to listen to the language from sources other than just their own teacher.

It is a major aim of our school, and also an integral part of an immersive language school setting. that pupils are provided with an opportunity to engage and interact with a variety of forms of the spoken language, and the website helps us to fully achieve this aim.

Parental engagement
We use the site’s podcasting function to play recordings of any shows or plays that the parents might have missed, while enabling parents to leave their own comments on the podcast. This is a really useful feature for us, and we’ve seen lots of supportive and encouraging comments from parents. We’ve even had comments on the podcast from an inspector, who said that our website was the most comprehensive one he’d seen in a long while!

We’ve managed to increase parental engagement by using an email system to automatically notify parents when there have been updates made to the website. We also conducted a survey to gather feedback from them about the website, which was very positive.

We are extremely happy with our new website and the support and guidance we received throughout the process. It is a project that has required time and careful planning, but the end result has been worth it! We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend PrimarySite to other schools looking for a new website, whatever their needs.

Christian Brothers’ Primary School’s bilingual website can be seen at www.armaghcbs.com. For more information about PrimarySite’s website services for primary schools and academies, visit primarysite.net

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