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Another Wonderful Winter Webinar (Dec 15th 2022)

This event was the second part of SoSI’s “Sophia Project”, a project which sought to gain a better understanding of the challenges and problems Ukrainians are facing when dealing with the Irish system of education and to provide support and share information with them.

The first part of which was an online survey that was shared widely in September and October, to which 180 number of Ukrainian parents responded. The responses, concerns and questions formed the basis of the information shared in the December 15th webinar.

We had 112 registrations for the event, most of whom were individual Ukrainian parents. This demonstrates the clear need for this kind of support. Schools of Sanctuary Ireland is very lucky to have Tetiana Hrebeniuk-Murphy on the staff team and Tetiana presented the webinar and slides in Ukrainian as well as providing fantastic live translation where English was spoken.

The team was supported with a huge  generosity of time and passion by a number of educational and community work experts, including three more Ukrainian people:

  • Aileen Kennedy, Principal, Bunscoil Loreto, Gorey, Co Wexford
  • Narrell Byrne, Post Primary EAL Advisor, Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), former EAL Coordinator, Co Waterford
  • Yuliia Polishchuk, SET Teacher, Bunscoil Loreto, Gorey, Co Wexford
  • Olga Ray, Teacher of English and Spanish, Kyiv/Sanctuary Ambassador, Co Wexford
  • Olga Iamstun, Community Support Officer, Wexford Local Development, Co Wexford
  • Jude Darcy, Guidance Officer and School of Sanctuary Lead Teacher, Creagh College, Gorey, Co Wexford

With warmth and passion, the contributors addressed the most prevalent questions and concerns that had arisen in the survey – the main differences between the Irish and Ukrainian education systems, how children progress from primary to post-primary in Ireland, what kind of psychological or counselling support is available for children in Irish schools and how to balance between Ukrainian homework and Irish homework if the child is doing both.

English language comprehension is obviously a huge issue for Ukrainian students. Narrell Byrne provided detailed and insightful information about how students at post-primary level are helped through EAL supports, both by teachers and technology. But most important was Narrell’s message- “the most important thing is not for your child to learn English at school but to access the curriculum and be educated at school. Rather than focus on the English that they don’t have, we should recognise, welcome and embrace their home language, their prior literacy, their prior subject knowledge and make space for this in our classrooms. Narrell’s website has a lot of fantastic EAL resource:, and can be recommended to all parents and students.

Other useful resources we recommend:

To request the video of the recording (45 minutes duration) and the follow up resources (slides and activity sheets), please email us: [email protected]

To ensure you don’t miss out on future notifications of upcoming events and webinars, please request to join our mailing list. Send us an email: [email protected]

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