Q & A
Willow Park is large school of more than 600 boys. It is nearly 100 years old and has many traditions that have developed over that time. It can all be very intimidating. The little ones seem to take it in their stride. But it can be hard for their parents to understand it all.
Here is a question and answer document which all parents but particularly new parents might find useful to read. It gives a brief overview of a range of issues. More detailed and definitive answers to questions about the school can be found on the school website. You will find all of the policy documents there.
If you have any questions, ask your class rep or your son’s teacher.
HOW MANY CLASSES ARE IN THE SCHOOL
There are 26 classes with over 600 boys at Willow Park. There are limitations set on class sizes. For senior classes, the maximum number of boys in a class is 28 boys.
HOW DO I GET INVOLVED WITH THE SCHOOL?
As you will see on this website there are many ways to volunteer. The key issue is that you must be Garda vetted before you can get involved. You can get the relevant forms from your class rep or the school receptionist.
HOW LONG DOES GARDA VETTING TAKE?
It is generally a matter of weeks but it can take longer if you are an international parent or have lived overseas.
WHAT IS THE SCHOOL POLICY ON LUNCHES?
The school operates a healthy eating policy and has run educational programmes for the boys on the subject. Sugary food in lunchboxes are not allowed.
MY SON HAS A SERIOUS NUT ALLERGY?
The school has a no nut policy. You should inform the school about any health issue your son faces. The school employs a nurse Chris Roe to care for the health needs of the boys.
ARE THERE HOT LUNCHES IN THE SCHOOL?
Yes, boys from 3rd form upwards can get a hot lunchbox in the hub. The lunches are provided by an outside company. Let your son’s class teacher know that you would like to sign up.
HOW DOES THE SCHOOL MANAGE THE PSYCHOLOGICAL WELLBEING OF THE BOYS?
The school has run a wellbeing programme in the classrooms.
Many of the teachers have undertaken the Rainbows training to support any child who is bereaved.
A counsellor is available in the school once a week and any child can avail of sessions with her. If a parent is concerned about their son, they can contact the Principal to avail of this confidential service.
The Spirit of Willow awards is run by the school and every month children are nominated by their teacher and recognised by the school for their personal qualities such as kindness, hard work, generosity and resilience.
I THINK MY SON IS BEING BULLIED. WHAT DO I DO?
The school has a policy on bullying which you can find on its website. You should contact your class teacher with your concern. There is a clear protocol in the school for managing bullying.
MY SON CAN BE A HANDFUL. DOES THE SCHOOL HAVE A POLICY TO MANAGE BEHAVIOUR?
Yes. The school has a discipline policy which you can find on its website. Basically, any issue is dealt by the class teacher in the first instance. If the behaviour does not improve, the issue is referred to the Dean and to the Vice Principal or Principal as a last resort.
WHILE MY SON IS ENROLLED IN THE SCHOOL, I AM NOT CATHOLIC. WILL THIS CAUSE A PROBLEM?
No. The school is a Catholic school and was set up by the Spiritian Order. But it welcomes children of all faiths and none. Feel free to speak to your son’s teacher about your family faith or if you have any concerns.
MY CATHOLIC FAITH IS IMPORTANT TO ME. HOW DOES THE SCHOOL TEACH RE?
The Chaplain in Willow Park is Victoria Byrne who organises religious education in the school. Her key role is to prepares the children for the Sacraments – First Confession, First Holy Communion and Confirmation.
DOES THE SCHOOL HAVE A CHARITY IT SUPPORTS?
The school has a strong tradition of supporting charities. It has a close relationship with a number of charities particularly The St Vincent De Paul, the centre and Focus Ireland.
There is a charity committee that manages the school’s charity contributions. Willow families can suggest a charity by signing a form which is at reception.
There is a Jersey Day at mid term and at the end of each term. The boys wear a jersey to school and donate €2 to an allocated charity.
There is the Focus Fun Run at Christmas. The Food and Toy Appeal also goes to a local primary school. A collection is organised every Christmas for the Capuchian Day Centre in Dublin.
I AM NEW TO THE SCHOOL. HOW DO I GET THERE?
There are many ways of getting to the school. Willow Park is located off the Rock Road so you can drive to the campus.
The school is also served by public transport – buses and the Dart. Booterstown station is opposite the school.
The school also promotes cycling and there are facilities for the boys to lock up their bikes.
For boys around Foxrock there is a private bus service serving Willow Park. This has been organised by parents.
HOW ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS IS THE SCHOOL?
The school has a Green Committee and every week the boys help with tending to the garden in the school.
The school water bottle is biodegradable and a Willow Park student – who developed the bottle -was a delegate at the 2019 Youth Assembly on Climate in Dail Eireann.
There are brown bins in all classes so that the boys can recycle as much as possible. The school has also been given huge brown bins from its waste company.
MY CHILD ISN’T INTO RUGBY. WHAT’S HERE FOR HIM?
Rugby is an important sport in the school but a wide range of other sports are offered before and after school (for a fee).
Swimming is a core sport and the boys have swimming sessions each week. The school has its own pool and a highly regarded international swimming coach.
The school hopes to get an active school flag.
MY CHILD HAS A LEARNING DIFFERENCE, WHAT KIND OF HELP DOES THE SCHOOL PROVIDE?
The school has a Learning Support unit which offers one to one tuition or teaches child in a small groups. A number of Special Needs Assistants are also available to support children in the classroom. It depends on the needs of the child. So it’s important to inform the school of your child’s learning strengths and challenges and to share any reports and assessments.
MY CHILD APPEARS TO BE GOOD AT LANGUAGES, WHAT DOES THE SCHOOL OFFER?
English and Irish are the core languages taught in the school. A number of other languages are taught after school for a fee. The language options range from French to Chinese.
I WANT MY CHILD TO PLAY A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT. WHAT’S ON OFFER?
The school has a strong music department and the boys can get lessons in a specific instrument outside of school (for a fee). The school has its own orchestra and choir. Contact the music department for further information.
HOW SECURE IS THE SCHOOL?
The school has child protection protocols in palce. Teachers supervise the children who have been brought to school early every morning. Children generally should not be in the school before 8:30am.
The back gate to the school is supervised by a member of staff and is closed at 9:15am.
Access to the school building is secured with codes that are only known to parents. The only way to access the school is via reception. Any visitor to the school must have an appointment an sign in.
Volunteers for any school events must go through Garda vetting.
Willow Park junior school comes under the jurisdiction of Tusla – the child protection service.
WHAT PRECAUTIONS HAVE BEEN TAKEN TO MANAGE COVID?
The school is advised by the Medical Committee in its response to the pandemic. It also follows government guidelines issued by the Department of Education.
In terms of classrooms, the desks are spaced appropriately and the teacher’s desk is protected. UV light is used to destroy any viruses as well as air purification units which are available in each classroom, the hub and the nurses station.
Hand sanitisers are available in classrooms and throughout the school.
The children have been taught the protocol of using cleaning hands regularly, not touching their faces, keeping a social distance and coughing into their arms.
There are posters throughout the school informing them of the protocol. There are marks on the floors to show them how to keep ther distance from one another.
The children are kept in their class pods during the school day and a one-way system is operating in the school to reduce the chance of mixing.
The cleaning staff deep clean the classrooms every day and are using high quality cleaning products recommended by the Medical Committee.
Teachers wear disposable face masks which are discarded at the end of each day.