Donabate-Portrane, Co.Dublin

In Brief

In keeping with the Educate Together philosophy, Donabate-Portrane is built around their motto, “learn together to live together,” with diversity and human rights central to the daily lives of the children in the school. From initiatives as varied as learning partnerships with organisations in Cambodia to a buddy system devised to help integrate children with autism, the school uses peer-to-peer learning to teach global citizenship and match it with local action.


Donabate-Portrane Educate Together National School in Donabate, Co. Dublin was established twelve years ago by a group of local parents interested in Educate Together’s approach to education, centred around human rights, equality and democracy. The school has since grown to almost 500 pupils, developing several unique methods to put these values into practice.

The Biggest Idea

Built around their motto “learn together to live together”, DPETNS extends this idea as far afield as Cambodia, where they have developed a teaching partnership with local youth organisations. Here, older students have the opportunity to teach younger students from their partner school, and peer-to-peer learning in other forms takes place throughout each day at DPETNS.

Life at DPETNS

Working under a simple vision statement - ‘no child an outsider’ - everyone in DPETNS takes responsibility for making sure this is the case. Teachers facilitate the pupils to learn from one another in as many ways as possible, with formal peer-to-peer programmes set up to encourage this culture to take off informally throughout the school day. Older pupils team up with their younger peers and children with an autism spectrum disorder to ensure that every child feels at home, and conflicts that do arise are resolved by 6th class Peer Mediators. 

Through the partnership with Cambodian youth organisations PEPY and Seedling of Hope, this spirit of learning together expands into a new culture and an awareness of global issues. Exchanging letters, artwork and videos of games and performances throughout the year, the pupils also celebrate Cambodian festivals and mark global awareness days with different projects. Fundraising throughout the year, children in DPETNS contribute to vocational trainings and other strategic interventions for students on the the other side of the world. With a strong personal connection, the learning experience is all the richer, as the children begin to understand problems in more depth, and can begin to see how lasting change can come about.

This burgeoning global citizenship is captured elegantly in the school’s outdoor classroom with a sign that reads:  “Children of our school, citizens of our world.” Designed and built by pupils, staff, parents and grandparents, the classroom is indicative of the school community seeing their role in a global context, but focusing their energy on solving problems locally as well as abroad. It is also just one example of the school working as a broader community. Just as parents came together to initiate the school twelve years, many parents remain heavily involved in developing new programmes alongside teachers.

The Leadership

Maeve Corish has been the principal at Donabate-Portrane ETNS since it opened in 2002. With over 30 years of teaching experience in north county Dublin, Maeve arrived with a passion for restorative justice and conflict resolution, which has underpinned the school’s emphasis on peer-to-peer learning and human rights. Most significantly, she has bred a culture of innovation among the staff at DPETNS, with several innovative programmes emerging and parental involvement rotating along with them. From a major, positive mental health programme involving everyone in the school, to the sensory garden and murals celebrating diversity, ideas are tested from every persona and every corner of the school.