There is a huge emphasis placed on the importance of literacy in St. Vincent's. A comprehensive range of strategies and programmes are in place at all levels in the school, with the goal of enhancing the children's language and literacy skills. These initiatives include:

First Steps

Through the DEIS co-ordinator, the teaching staff has been trained in the First Steps literacy programme. 
First Steps is a literacy resource for teachers and learners based on sound theory and research and provides continuity across the whole school in achieving the literacy goals and objectives which the school has planned for the children. First Steps supports all children in making progress in language and literacy develo
pment in the areas of oral language, reading and writing. As children progress they move through phases of development. In First Steps this is called the Developmental Continuum. Children move from the ‘Role Play’ phase to the' Experimental’ phase and then into the ‘Early’ phase. First Steps uses this continuum to analyse and assess a child’s development.Teaching strategies are then employed to support the child in moving into the next phase. First Steps links assessment to teaching and offers practical support for teachers in implementing the curriculum. First and foremost it provides a child-centred approach to the teaching of reading,writing, speaking and listening. The focus is on the children who are active and interactive learners.
In St. Vincent's, we have been implementing the First Steps Writing since the 2007-2008 school year, We are currently exploring the Recount genre of writing at all levels, where children get to tell their news, and recount the details of a range of factual and fictional events. 

Reading Recovery

The Reading Recovery Programme was introduced to Cork for the first time in 2005. 
This is an early intervention programme designed to help children who may be experiencing problems in keeping up with reading in the classroom. It is targeted at six year olds and provides intensive individual help in their reading and writing. The child attends half an hour each day on a one-to-one basis with a trained Reading Recovery tutor for a period of 12 – 20 weeks. The goal is to return the very lowest achieving children to the average levels for their age as independent readers and writers in a relatively short time. It steps in before a child has a chance to experience failure and feel despondent about their schoolwork. Once the child has been through the Reading Recovery Programme, in most cases, he/she will need no more support outside the classroom, e.g. learning support. 
Ms. Niamh O Sullivan and Ms. Áine Nugent have trained intensively and are both fully qualified in Reading Recovery. They offer a wonderful opportunity to the children to catch-up quickly and experience success in reading instead of spending years attending learning support.


Since the 2008-2009 school year, we have been involved with the Pathways Project, a joint UCC/CIT access initiative. Infant Teachers, the HSCL co-ordinator and Principal attended seminars/workshops on language development at infant level facilitated by the DEIS Co-ordinator and a Speech Therapist. Through the auspices of Pathways, a Speech Therapist gave eight sessions of in-service on language development to our Infant Teachers in the afternoons, during the 2009-2010 school year. The Speech Therapist modelled these strategies for the teachers. 


This Pathways project aims to reduce the risk and impact of language and literacy difficulties in DEIS schools in this locailty. It aims to enhance language and literacy skills in peer group settings through activities and games. Collaboration between teachers, other school staff and the speech and language therapist in planning, selecting and evaluating specific in-class activities is seen as key to the project's success. At present, one Junior Infant class is involved in the 8x1.25 hour sessions of this programme. 


This literacy enhancing programme is run through the HSCL department. Parents are trained to make story sacks, which are sacks containing props for a story, e.g. a basket and a red cape for Little red Riding Hood. The parents then come into the Junior and Senior Infant classrooms and read the stories for the children using the props.


This programme was developed collaboratively a few years ago by a speech therapist funded by the Cork City Partnership and the staff of St. Vincent's, namely the Junior Infant teachers, the HSCL coordinator and the Principal. The programme was originally delivered in the 2007-2008 school year by the speech therapist in collaboration with the class teacher. When the funding ended, we were able to continue the programme in the school and now the programme is delivered by the Junior Infant teachers. The aims of the programme are to show parents how to read with their children and to enhance the childrens language skills. The programme is delivered in each Junior Infant classroom during 6 half hour sessions. The teacher reads a storybook for the children at each session - each book centres on a theme, e.g. myself, animals, clothes, etc. The parents then help the children with activities based on the story, e.g. jigsaws, matching, sorting etc. Parental involvement in these sessions is usually over 75%. 

Bridging the Gap

St.Vincent's Convent N.S. was invited by UCC in 2001 to participate in the Bridging the Gap project. The project formally ended in 2008, but is continued in our school in the same format to the present day, albeit without the funding and support from UCC. The project consists of parental involvement at First Class level in four six-week literacy modules, such as storybook reading, paired reading, literacy through ICT and story-writing. 


Performance Storytelling

This was a project begun in 2006 by Brett Dillingham from Alaska, USA, involving workshops based on stories of culture and place. The children performed stories they created at the Storytellers Club in Dublin for a number of years. We continue the project ourselves now, and the children have written stories with the help of their teachers and performed them through the media of dance, drumming, art and drama for an audience from different local schools.