New NI Education Minister Launches Mannok’s New Sustainability Partnership with Local School, Mount Lourdes

17th June 2021

Mannok have launched a new Partnership in Sustainability Programme with Mount Lourdes Grammar School, Enniskillen, as part of the company’s wider Educational Programme. The five-year partnership was officially launched at the school by Mannok CEO, Liam McCaffrey, School Principal, Sinead Cullen and the new Northern Ireland Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen. School students and staff were joined by local politicians, School Governors and representatives from Mannok at the launch event, where the Education Minister welcomed the announcement of the new partnership, saying,

“Mannok and everyone here at Mount Lourdes clearly recognise the importance of the relationship between education providers, the community and successful local industry. This partnership demonstrates a shared interest in and shared responsibility for the young people of this area.

I’d also like to commend the management and staff of Mannok. It’s encouraging to see an established local employer interacting with its local community, sharing its knowledge and expertise, building relationships with the school and most importantly valuing young people.”

The partnership will involve cross-curricular collaboration between Mannok and a number of departments in the school, focusing primarily on Geography and Careers, but extending to include other subjects, such as Science, Art and ICT, with a financial commitment from Mannok over the next five years to support the development of the School’s ICT facilities.

This is the third partnership of its kind established by Mannok, who have received widespread recognition for their award-winning Centre of Excellence Partnership with St. Michael’s College, Enniskillen, and more recently established a Business Insights Partnership with St. Aidan’s High School, Derrylin. The theme of the partnership with Mount Lourdes is sustainability, a key area of focus for Mannok which will cover environmental, economic and social sustainability, bringing real life learning to the curriculum and giving students and teaching staff at the school a range of opportunities to work with the Mannok team.

Mannok CEO, Liam McCaffrey, said of the company’s newest partnership,

“We’re delighted to announce our newest educational partnership with Mount Lourdes and to bring to the fore the importance of sustainability, which is the highest priority for us at Mannok. This 5-year partnership will allow us to build strong working relationships with the school which will be of mutual benefit and allow us to create opportunities for the students to play their part in growing the economic prosperity of their local community.

We’re very proud of our wide-reaching Educational Programme, which is an important part of our own socio-economic sustainability activity. As a large employer in this region, we have a very important role to play in supporting the local economy and helping sustain a skilled workforce for the benefit of our own organisation and the wider business and social needs of this area. For us, making deep rooted connections with the local educational establishments and the potential future workforce at an early stage is crucial to retain our best local talent and ensure we can achieve that longer-term goal.

When it comes to our schools partnerships, the key to a really successful and mutually beneficial partnership requires a great deal of commitment from both parties and the formation of close working relationships. Like everything we do, it’s the people involved that make it work so well, and having already seen impressive energy and commitment from both sides, I have great confidence that this will be another successful venture which we’re very much looking forward to progressing.”

Over the next five years, Mannok will provide financial assistance to the school, but they will collaborate closely with the teaching staff, particularly in the Geography and Careers departments to deliver a series of practical supports to enhance the educational framework by bringing real life learning and exposure to practical insights to the students.

School Principal, Sinead Cullen, explained how the school and students will benefit from the partnership, saying,

“The first-hand access to the expertise and facilities at Mannok will be invaluable for both our students and teaching staff, who will work closely with the company to deliver a number of events, such as focused site visits, discussion forums and case study sessions for our GCSE and A-level Geography students as part of their sponsorship of the Geography Department. There will also be a great deal of collaboration on our Careers Programme, where Mannok will provide paid work placements, mock interview skills and CV preparation sessions.

This type of blended learning will bring a new dimension to the educational framework for the students and staff involved which will enrich the learning experience for the girls and bring real-life experiences which just can’t be achieved through classroom learning alone. We’re delighted to agree such a comprehensive partnership with Mannok and are very excited to working closely with them over the next five years.”

Whilst the main focus of the new partnership will be on the Geography and Careers Departments, the first collaborative initiative of the partnership has already demonstrated how the theme of sustainability will cross over into other departments within the school with a cross-curricular project to study the kestrels nesting in one of Mannok’s quarries via Ireland’s first live streaming “Kestrel Cam”. Dubbed “Nestflix”, the school’s Year 9 students have worked on their kestrels project in both Science and Art, learning about the recently red-listed birds’ habitats, lifecycle and behaviours, and enjoying a creative kite making competition in Art class. With prizes donated by Mannok for the most creative kites, students have put their best foot forward to create a colourful display using recycled materials in keeping with the sustainability theme, whilst having fun naming their kestrel creations with clever puns such as Meryl Tweet and Kanye Nest!

Mount Lourdes Head of Geography, Gerard Quinn, said of the project,

“Sustainability is a theme which bridges everything we do and can be brought into every subject area we cover here at the school, as our very first engagement with Mannok has shown. It’s an essential area to expose our young people to at every opportunity given the widespread importance from an environmental, social and economic perspective, so it’s the ideal theme for our partnership with Mannok.

Kestrel Cam has been a really fun and engaging project for the students and has already demonstrated how practical, real-life learning can be brought into the classroom to enhance the learning experience for our students. We’ve had fantastic engagement from the year 9 students on the project, but kestrel cam has also been a source of great excitement throughout the school, with students from all year groups and even our staff becoming engrossed with the live stream from within the nest!

To return to school life after lockdown to such a positive, innovative project has given the whole school a very welcome lift.”


The Official Partnership Launch Photo Gallery