Major Successes of the project

1. Raising of self-esteem and feeling of achievement.
2. Retention of the students in the education process.
3. Removal of the fear of failure.

1. As pointed out earlier, many students who come into LCA do so because they have very little academic motivation, having slipped through the net for one reason or another as they progressed through junior cycle. For most of them, this was the first time in their school life that they were objects of envy and stood out.

2. Most of these boys were coming into fifth year reluctantly and, in most cases, only because their parents were insisting on their remaining in school. We had no dropouts over the course, to date. All of these boys would have had summer jobs paying in the region of £150 to £200 per week. Yet they all came back to school in September. LCA, as a course of study for such pupils has great potential, not only as a preparation for work but also at a social level, improving their communication skills and general attitude.

3. Their abilities ranged widely and, in general, their literacy levels were very poor. They did not like to write anything because of their fear of failure. They felt that they were not really "students" like their coevals whom they usually referred as "swots". Yet when they were using the laptops they would use spellchecker (having been warned of its limitations) or would call out, without inhibition, "miss, how do you spell……..?" As their familiarity with the hardware increased, so did their confidence. They delighted in showing off to us how they could do things with programs or change their desktops to weird and wonderful pictures. As a group drawn from 4 different Junior Certificate classes, which did not do Transition Year, they bonded very quickly and helped one another with hardware problems such as the printer or system crashes. The early trip to Wales was a great idea in this regard. For nearly all of them, it was a first trip outside Ireland and a first stay in a hotel. Their attitude to learning improved when they saw the age mix in Ponty Pridd College, ranging from teenagers to grannies, all working at their computers and at their own pace. Some of them are now contemplating further PLC training and raising their career targets to a higher plane than builder’s labourer or handyman.

The LCA course and the SIP project have played a major part in this transformation and as a staff we are grateful to have been part of the experiment. From a staff developmental aspect, this SIP project has really transformed our school’s IT facilities. It is exactly twenty years since our present Vice-Principal took delivery of the first personal computer to reach Nenagh C.B.S., a Sinclair ZX80 with 1K memory, to be followed by my Commodore PET with 16K. Size counts! We have come a long way since then. Now our school has a full wireless (Airport) network system covering the entire classroom area, plus a wide range of latest computer technology. The interest created has had a very favourable impact upon all involved, both staff and students. Without the push generated by the SIP project all this would not have happened so soon, if at all.