Pastoral Care award inspired by Adele

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A new award, inspired by the work of a local school, has been launched by Education Minister John O’Dowd to recognise exceptional pastoral care in schools.

Launched jointly with the Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency (PHA), Dr Eddie Rooney, the Derrytrasna Pastoral Care Award will recognise school communities that have demonstrated exceptional co-operative effort in supporting the pastoral care of pupils and their families. There will be one award each for the primary and post-primary sectors.

The award was inspired following a mother’s praise for the exceptional way her dying daughter was treated at school at St Mary’s Primary School, Derrytrasna.

Adele Madden was in P3 at St Mary’s Primary School, Derrytrasna when she took ill in 2009 but the eight-year-old loved school so much she continued to go as often as possible up to her death in February 2011.

Her mum Eleanor was so impressed with the care her little girl received, she wrote a moving letter to Education Minister John O’Dowd.

Mr O’Dowd said: “I am honoured to launch the Derrytrasna Pastoral Care Award today. We rightly expect our schools to nurture and encourage our children and young people to fulfil their potential and perform to the best of their ability, and such work goes on every day through the academic year.

“Occasionally there are school communities that make that extra effort and go beyond what is reasonably expected to support a child or young person facing a particular challenge or hardship. I believe that it is important that we take the time to recognise and celebrate such exceptional practice, which is what this award will do.”

“The award is named in honour of St Mary’s Primary School which provided outstanding, heartfelt and hugely valued pastoral care and support over a period of many months for a terminally ill pupil. The pupil’s family emphasised how the support the school gave helped make her last days at school a happy, special experience. This new award will honour exceptional support like this by local schools in the primary and post-primary phase. It is a privilege for me as minister to open the call for nominations and I encourage anyone who knows of a school delivering such exceptional pastoral care to nominate the school.”

Principal of St Mary’s Joan Aldridge said: “It’s great for Adele and her family.”

Nominations should not be for individuals but for whole school communities. Applications should be made to the Department not later than 30 September. 2014.