Sunday, 18 February 2018
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Christmas & New Year 2016

It’s the end of another year and as primary schools prepare for Christmas fairs, nativity plays and carol services, and everyone (especially teachers) looks forward to the holidays, we take a look at some outstanding achievements this term…

More than 36,000 people across Northern Ireland, including hundreds of primary school children, have accomplished their mission of walking, running or cycling around more than 150,000 miles – equivalent to more than thirty times the length of The Great Wall of China. Funded by the National Charity Partnership between Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Tesco, throughout autumn ‘Beat the Street’ saw large parts of Northern Ireland turned into a real-life game, where residents were challenged to go on a virtual race to race, tapping special sensors with cards in return for points and prizes for their chosen school or team. An awards event was held at Queen’s PEC in November to celebrate Belfast’s community’s success, where the top team, Stranmillis Primary School won £1,000 in Decathlon vouchers for walking, running and cycling more than 15,000 miles! Prizes were also awarded to St Bride’s Primary School, Strandtown Primary School and Cranmore Integrated Primary School. Although the Beat the Street game has now finished, organisers Intelligent Health will continue to build a legacy for the game in Northern Ireland through further events and activities. Visit or to stay up to date on future Beat the Street updates.

Many children and their parents have learnt to read through Oxford Reading Tree and it is 30 years since Biff, Chip and Kipper were first introduced to our schools. Oxford University Press ran a competition this year to celebrate the 30 year anniversary and pupils were asked to write and illustrate a new Biff and, Chip and Kipper story under two age categories 4-6 and 7-8. There were over 4,000 entries from over 130 countries worldwide and 30 winners were selected in total to have their books published. Adam Hanna from Ballinderry Primary School was only in Primary One when he wrote his story “Chips Monster” which was selected by the judges to be one of the 30 published. Adam was only four at the time and is therefore the youngest winner, and the only winner from Northern Ireland. In November, Ballinderry Primary held a special Assembly with pupils and staff dressing as characters from Oxford Reading Tree stories. Adam and the school Principal, Mrs Lorraine Magowan were presented with published copies of Adam’s story “Chips Monster” by Mrs Oonagh Kelly, Oxford University Press, Primary Educational Consultant.

Primary 7 pupils from St Joseph’s Primary School in Carryduff were welcomed into the wonderful and top secret world of Allied Bakeries in October for a guided tour of the bakery and a pancake decorating demonstration. The 29 excited children and teachers, who won a competition to visit the bakery through Ni4Kids, witnessed how some of Northern Ireland’s most mouth-watering baked treats are made. They watched wide-eyed as Sunblest pancakes, soda bread and potato bread plus Kingsmill loaves were mixed, baked and packaged, ready for delivery. One of the highlights of the tour was seeing a real-life pancake robot in action and then using Sunblest pancakes, fresh from the oven to create funny faces with fruity toppings.

Peter Henry, General Manager of Allied Bakeries Ireland, said: “We absolutely loved opening the bakery doors and offering a sneak peak for the pupils of St Joseph’s Primary School as part of our community outreach programme. We are a local business, based in East Belfast, and as such we want to engage with the community in which we operate – this was a particularly fun way in which to do this, so much so that we hope to make it an annual event.”

Biology students from Ulster University and aspiring biologists from DH Christie Memorial Primary School in Coleraine celebrated Biology Week together with a special fun-filled afternoon of science experiments exploring nutrients and health. The event tied in with the primary school’s current curriculum topic the Victorians to help them explore how food and its nutrients are important for a healthy body. Pictured is BSc Hons Biology student Stephanie Ashfield-Beattie (second left) with DH Christie Memorial Primary School Year 7 pupils Kyle, Millie and Amelia.

Toni Wilkinson and Andrew Christie from Hazelwood Integrated Primary School in north Belfast put the Woodland Trust’s Throne Wood under the microscope. The centuries-old wood, at the foot of Cave Hill, is set for a facelift thanks to funding of almost £48,000 from the Alpha Programme, administered by Groundwork Northern Ireland.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Hilary McClintock, is pictured with pupils Ellen, Grace, Claire, and Josh from St Catherine's PS who came second in the Strabane section of Council's Scarecrow Competition. The competition was part of the Council's 'Out of this World' Halloween celebrations and invited local schools to make scarecrows to be displayed in local shops.

"This was a very successful initiative and one which helped bring extra footfall into shops in the district during the Halloween celebrations," said Alderman McClintock. "The attention to detail and artistic imagination that went into each scarecrow was genuinely impressive. I'd like to congratulate all the winners and all the schools who took part." The winners of the Strabane section of the competition were St Theresa's PS Glebe.

Children’s charity, Replay Theatre Company brought its popular watery adventure, Into The Blue, on tour to special needs schools throughout Northern Ireland this autumn. Into The Blue is Replay’s aquatic voyage performed in special school hydropools, designed for those aged 5-18 with profound and multiple learning difficulties and / or autism. With a score sung by award-winning composer David Goodall, this blissful journey takes its audiences through gentle waves, bubbling whirlpools and out to the open sea. The immersive performance visited Parkview Special School, Ardnashee School and College, Lisanally Special School, Willowbridge School, Kilronan School, Knockevin Special School, Riverside School and NI Children’s Hospice. Speaking about the show and its effect on audience members, Artistic Director, Janice Kernoghan, said: “Floating in water allows children and young people with all sorts of disabilities to be free of physical limitations, and allows them to fully relax and enjoy the music as it takes place all around them. It’s what all the best theatre should be – fun, engaging and deeply personal.”

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