Experience, travel - these are an education in themselves.


Erasmus +

We have become involved in the Erasmus+ to allow our staff to learn from and with our European colleagues and to share this learning with all in our school community. We have travelled to Vilnius, Lithuania to visit a primary school and to learn all about Lithuanian education and culture. We have also hosted teachers from Sevilla, Spain. 

Our Erasmus+ journey is just beginning and we have great plans for future years. 


Erasmus +       Dissemination

Review of Project      MuVi

The title of our  project was MuVi (Muineachán / Vilnius). Teachers from Scoil Mhuire, Muineachán, Éire  visited Gabijos Progimnazija, Vilnius Lietuva at the end of April, 2023. The following information is a summary of what we achieved.

We learned about the culture of Lithuania and we used this learning about Lithuanian language and culture to ensure that the Lithuanian pupils in our school are proud of their heritage. We created an information display on Lithuania in our school and we made a film to show our visit. Our work on Lithuanian culture has inspired us to do  further work with a Whole School impact to recognise the multitude of nationalities and cultures in our school  Fostering greater cultural awareness will generate a greater sense of identity among all of our pupils

We have established professional relationships with other teachers in Gabijos Progimnazija, this will  broaden our pedagogical knowledge and will  affirm our good practice. In relation to teaching and learning, we learned about specific areas such as Science, Technology, Maths and Art, English and Dance.

We are developing knowledge sharing networks among teachers, we aim for this to  develop into a Networked Learning Community called MuVinet. 


The MuVi project has enabled us to realise all five objectives that we had set out.
By implementing this project we will have a definitive impact on the work and culture of our school. Our school community has benefited  immensely from the realisation of these objectives. We have enriched our school culture, our teachers have learned from collaborating with others.

The Erasmus+ project was the first opportunity to collaborate with professionals in another country. 

Our senior teachers are influential in the school, they have ensured that all objectives of the project  have been met and they  will ensure all learning will be embedded.
We had a clear focus on subject learning in Science, Technology, Maths and Art.

The Networked Learning Community will ensure that we develop a community of professional learners and we will aim to add to this community of practice.


The following activities were undertaken as part of the project.  A project celebrating ties to Lithuania is on display in St. Mary's, this display will inspire other displays for other cultures in St. Mary's.

Staff professional relationships were nurtured and fostered, staff liaised with their counterparts and worked together.

Professional Learning in Science /Technology / Maths / Art / English and Dance took place, the sharing of information and knowledge will support our work. We are developing two new learning spaces dedicated to STMA in our school. Our visit to Vilnius was extremely helpful to this end, we have been inspired to incorporate a number of
We shared  teaching methodologies and disseminated all to all staff in St. Mary's, this is ongoing.
We have developed a networked learning community between teachers in Monaghan and Vilnius that will outlast the project.

What we learned 

Lithuanian Culture  Names and Placenames       Ms  Mc Gonnell 

Ms Mc Gonnell linked in with Asta and learned about the basic root words and root endings in Lithuanian Christian names. Firstly they talked about common name strings in the Irish language and how many derivatives of Christian names are commonly used in Ireland. They also discussed the Mac/Mc and O’ aspects of Irish surnames, which Asta found very interesting but after further discussion they realised that there is not a corresponding aspect to the formation of Lithuanian surnames.


By tradition Lithuanians have two names - the surname is inherited from one’s father (more rarely from the mother). Surnames first appeared in Lithuanian with the introduction of Christianity when at baptism people were given a Christian name which was as a rule used before the ethnic name. Currently about 50,000 surnames have been registered in Lithuania. 

The majority are of foreign origin derived from proper or common nouns.

The most frequent surname in Lithuania is Kazlauskas, with Petrauskas in second place.

Asta and Paula also discussed the common Christian names that are currently popular in Saint Mary’s Boys' School. Asta explained that the common “as”, “us” and “is” endings simply denote masculine versions of a name. Asta had researched Lithuania's most popular surnames and provided a document for us to read and share to provide us with the meanings associated with these surnames.

One notable feature that catches the eye is the difference between the surnames of married and unmarried women. Married women take on the suffix -iene while unmarried women use -uyé, -aité or -uté.

Paula also explained a little about our Irish “logainmneacha”, which is not a feature in Lithuanian placenames. The only exception to this according to Asta was the prefix “Svent'' which makes reference to a saint’s name in a particular area or place. 

Approaches to Teaching Art       Ms Mc Cague


Ms Mc Cague a had the opportunity to view an Art lesson which was taught by a specialist Art teacher. The class participating in the lesson were Grade 5 (approximately 11 or 12 years old). Each pupil brought their own resources to the Art Room in a large box folder, e.g. pots of gouache paint, pencils, colouring pencils and pastels. They also had, in each folder, a copy with sketches they had done previously for other pieces of art. Each child covered their table with a piece of oilcloth and took out their pages. 


The lesson Ms Mc Cague  attended was based around Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.

It was pointed out that this particular painting was chosen in solidarity with the Ukrainian people in their war with Russia, the sunflower being one of the national symbols of Ukraine.

On the interactive whiteboard, the teacher had various samples of  Van Gogh’s work. She had close-ups of the marks employed by Van Gogh in his paintings, brushstrokes, swirls etc. She drew the pupils’ attention to the colours, lines, foreground, background and focal points.


The pupils had already been working on their paintings. Most pupils had their background almost completed. They were to paint the table, background,vase and stems but were going to make the sunflowers out of  yellow and orange coloured card.

The primary pupils (Grades 1-4) are taught Art by their class teacher.

Only Grades 5-8 have Art lessons provided by the specialist teacher.


 Approaches to teaching Maths        Ms Mc Gonnell Ms Mc Cague


Ms Mc Gonnell and Ms Mc Cague attended a Maths lesson in Grade 3. The lesson began with a movement break activity on the interactive whiteboard(IWB) to settle the children and to encourage focus.

The lesson was based on problem-solving and the focus at the beginning was on Oral Maths. Following the Oral Maths, the teacher provided a worksheet for group work and answer cards for the pupils to raise in the air to show answers to the teacher. 

The children were well practised and they were very engaged in the lesson. There was no differentiation and each group was working on the same problems.

There were lots of opportunities to move around the room and use the IWB. It was notable that when Subtraction was involved, the pupils used decomposition, as is common in Ireland, but they were encouraged to do so mentally to achieve their answers.

The teacher also had a movement break during the lesson. 

There was no discernible difference between Maths lessons in our school and the lesson observed. The Maths textbooks looked the same, had colourful illustrations and the problems to be solved were written in short story form. The teacher used the textbook pages on the IWB as teachers in our school do.

 Science, Technology and Music         Ms Mc Adam  Ms Hackett

We had the opportunity to sit in on a Geography lesson with the class teacher Rasa. There were twenty three children in the class aged between 9 - 10 years old. There was also an SNA working with two children at the top of the classroom, one of whom had a hearing impairment. It was interesting to see how the SNA engaged with the teacher in the lesson in order to simplify the lange for these two children. 


The lesson was based on the topic of Africa. The lesson structure was similar to how we would structure a lesson in Ireland. It is presumed that the children had already learned a little about the continent of Africa in previous lessons. Rasa informed us that this topic would be covered over 3-4 weeks. 

She began the lesson with some oral language questions to gather any prior knowledge the children had on the topic. A globe was used to discuss the north and south of each African country as well as its closeness to the equator.  There was great use of the interactive whiteboard. 

The children would read a short passage and would then discuss what was read by looking at additional pictures and videos on the interactive board. 

Once the children had finished reading there were a number of true or false questions on the board which the children discussed in small groups and chose an answer. If a child had chosen the wrong answer there was more opportunity for the teacher to discuss with the class the reasons as to why that answer was incorrect. 

The lesson progressed onto video footage showing different geographical features of Africa such as desert and mountains, they also viewed examples of the animals and the people that live there. 

There was minimal written work in the lesson, it was mainly oral language and reading. The children had a workbook in which they had to complete a matching activity. 

The lesson ended with a Kahoot quiz to test the children on what they had learned the the lesson. Despite the bell having rang for their ten minute break the children remained engaged during the quiz and you could tell that the ten minute break previous to this lesson had helped their concentration.


We  also had the opportunity to view a Music lesson. The teacher Simonas had a class of twenty three eight and nine year olds. The children had just returned to class after a movement break and when the bell rang the children sat immediately and were fully engaged in the lesson. Simonas began the lesson with a vocal warm up using a Youtube solfa sing-along  video. The children sang in tonic solfa practising both scales and intervals. They then moved on to engaging in body percussion following rhythmic notation with pictorial symbols on the interactive whiteboard. 

The children looked at crotchets, quavers, crotchet rests and quaver rests. The support used for this was a YouTube Just Beats video. They subsequently sang traditional Lithuanian songs in unison and touched on dynamics and structure. Some of these songs included body percussion where the children were active and stamping their feet and keeping a pulse to the music. They sang a call and response type song in Lithuanian in which Simonas played the guitar and sang while the class responded to short melodic lines. 

The children then took out their Music workbooks and listened to short extracts of music. For each of these extracts, the children had to decide from a list of four genres/feelings/moods of music, which was the odd one out. The children crossed out the irrelevant mood from the list and shared explanations for their choices with the class. Overall, the lesson was energetic and engaging and the children explored a myriad of musical elements such as structure, pulse, tempo, dynamics, style and timbre. The children appeared to find the lesson enjoyable and its active nature seemed beneficial to their engagement and learning. 


Ms Mc Adam, Ms Hackett and Ms Mc Gonnell  also observed a Crafts lesson. There were eighteen children in the class that were 11 and 12 years old. The pupils were prepared for their lesson and brought in their sewing kits and needles. The teacher showed them a piece of flax tied with a piece of its final product- linen. She explained some information about flax and linen and displayed photographs on the interactive whiteboard. 

She then distributed squares of linen to the class and carefully demonstrated how they would thread their needles using the correct steps. Some achieved this step easily and others needed some support. Some children had quite thick thread so therefore needed thinner thread to work with. 

The teacher then exhibited some slides about buttons and the children viewed a YouTube video explaining how to sew on two hole buttons and four hole buttons. While the video was playing the teacher went around the classroom and gave assistance or guidance to any children who were finding the task difficult. 

The children went on to try this for themselves and when the bell rang, they stored their pieces of linen with buttons on in a drawer that appeared to be assigned for their class. Before the children left the classroom for their break the teacher showed them the piece of artwork that they would be creating. It was nice to see what they would be working towards. 

It was notable how the background in the material (linen) was explained before the craft began and also how the children were allowed to attempt and persevere at the craft before the teacher supported or intervened. This gave the children a sense of achievement and autonomy in their craft. 

School Leadership       Mr Mac Cinna       Mr  Kniska

The name Gabijos, as used in the school name, relates to a goddess of fire from Lithuanian mythology. All of the schools in that particular district of Vilnius were named after fire gods and goddesses.

Mr Mac Cinna had a number of meetings with Mr Kniska, the principal of Gabijos Progimnazija and other staff members. He also took part in a number of tours of the school to view the school layout and facilities. 

Mr Mac Cinna was also briefed on the staffing of the school, the Lithuanian curriculum and contemporary and historical issues affecting school management and leadership.

The financing structure for all schools in Lithuanian is very different to Ireland. The school building was built by the local municipality to meet demand for school places and the building is less than five years old. The local municipal council consulted the teachers in relation to the design of the school in advance. Gabijos Progimnazija is heated by a district heating system and all energy costs and building maintenance issues are covered addressed  by the municipality.

Mr Kniska outlined the structure of the school and related the means by which pupils were assigned school places according to their catchment area. This catchment area can change from year to year. An interesting anomaly had arisen where the large apartment blocks beside the school were now allocated to a different school in a different district, having previously been served by Gabijos Progrimiazija. The second issue that can arise with the changing of districts is that members of the same family can end up having to go to different schools when their district changes. The pupils would stay where they are enrolled, siblings would have to enrol in another school. 

The school had over one thousand students and was oversubscribed. 

Pupils wore a formal school uniform and Friday was a non-uniform day.

In relation to staffing, each class is taught by a class teacher and all classes remain as a class group as they move through the school. Classes are not reassigned into new class groups from year to year.

Aside from the class teacher, the school had a principal, a deputy principal, an administrator and a number of other roles that would not be typical in an Irish school. As an example, the following ex quota staff were employed by Gabijos Progimnazija: two educational psychologists. two speech therapists and two librarians. A teacher designated as a social pedagogue dealt with all behavioural and welfare issues in 

The following support staff were employed, Special Needs Assistants, School secretary, Caretaker and Canteen staff. A doorman meets and greets all visitors to the school.

The three storey school was well designed with a central courtyard, wide expanses of glazing lent and open feel to the entire building.

The range of facilities included:

Gymnasia - Large and small gymnasia equipped for basketball, climbing and Olympic Handball. 

A school music hall  with a stage for performing shows and an open floor for dance, we observed some pupils performing traditional Lithuanian folk dancing.

A dance studio with dance mirrors and a barre. 

School offices in a quiet administration section, 

A school library

Craft Rooms 

Sensory Room

Locker area 


WIFI and hard wired internet access 

LCD screens in all classrooms

Musical school bell for change of classes 

Google Classroom and Google Suite were in use

Epals       Ms Mc Adam Ms Hackett 

Our teachers visited an English lesson and met the English teacher Virgomitr. Virgomitr teaches two English classes with thirty children in total. Email addresses were exchanged. Virgomitr’s class will be emailing Ms Mc Adam's  3rd class and Ms Hackett's  5th class in due course. 


Networked Learning Community

We intend to build on our Erasmus+ trip by establishing a Networked Learning Community with our host school in Vilnius.


Erasmus+        Visit to St. Mary's   Spanish Colleagues

We had the pleasure of hosting four teachers from Colegio Diocesano Ntra. Sra. De Las Mercedes in Sevilla, Spain in May 2023. Our Spanish colleagues paid a number of visits to St. Mary's. The purpose of their visit was to learn about school transitions. We facilitated a number of meetings and we arranged visits to St. Macartan's College and St. Louis Secondary School. During these visits the group met up with all of the Spanish students in both schools. There was great conversation about the differences and similarities between the education system in Spain and in Ireland.