“Junior infants really are the lifeblood of the school”, said Kyle NS principal Joanna Kelly after nine new students joined their national school for the start of the new academic term.
Kyle NS which is a co-educational school is a typically small country school located in the parish of Killeagh.
Ms Kelly said there was great excitement when the school reopened recently.
“It was lovely. There was fierce excitement. Six kids started as junior infants which is a brilliant number. Junior infants really are the lifeblood of the school. For the existing pupils to see new kids coming in is lovely. They are all so small and their jumpers are so big,” she said.
In total nine students started in Kyle NS this year which ensures their full school number is now at 26 which offers the school principal great encouragement.
"This year our numbers have started to creep up. We went down to 19, we came up to 21. This year we are at 26. We are hoping to get back over the 30 pupil mark in the near future.
“We would always have done open days but due to Covid, all our PR stuff got pushed online so we had to really drive our social media campaign and this has helped.
"The recent trend is the bigger schools are getting bigger and the smaller schools are getting smaller. I think we are just starting to turn the tide on that,” she added.
Kyle NS boasts a number of high profile former students which include current TD James O’Connor, former Cork hurling captain Mark Landers, RTÉ news reporter Dyane Connor and Muriel Foley who runs her own Digital Marketing company. Ms Kelly said when she started out as principal of Kyle NS the current TD for Cork East James O’Connor was in sixth class.
“James has been a wonderful advocate for the school. His father is currently doing his second term on the board of management.”
The school principal said there are many advantages for both students and their families in attending a small national school.
“There is a lovely atmosphere in the school. We are able to give a bit extra because the school is so small. The minute you drop the class size there is more care, time, and more expertise for the pupil.
"The home school links are critical and they are a trademark of small schools. Students have a greater opportunity of reaching their individual potential as we cover the curriculum to a very high standard because of the low teacher-pupil ratio.
“We are also very inclusive. We have quite a lot of children of other world faiths and none in the school.
"We also do extras such as participating in the farm safety awards. We had a winning project in the SOPHia project which promotes physics among girls. We also participated in Feel Good Friday which promotes positive mental and physical health and wellbeing,” she added.
Kyle NS has been serving the educational needs of the local community since 1870.
Ms Kelly is confident the school has a bright future ahead.
“It has a huge history and tradition in the area. Hopefully, that will continue for many more years to come. Dwindling numbers have been a problem in the past. The school faced closure sixty or 70 years ago and the parents fought to keep it. We are going to do the same. We are going to build on the gains that have been made this year.”