Huge turnout for new school meeting

Front page, 25 January 2008

If evidence of the strength of feeling of local parents about school provision in the area was ever needed then the outcome of the recent meeting to set up a new Educate Together School to serve the Carpenterstown area speaks volumes.

Over 300 people attended the Saturday morning public meeting in the Castleknock Hotel organised by the new Carpenterstown Educate Together committee and over 200 children were pre-enrolled for the school which has not yet been sanctioned by the Department of Education and Science. Indeed an application to have the school approved has yet to be made.

According to Maggie Hyland from Riverwood, who is chairperson of the start up committee for the school, “while this campaign grew out of the problems with local school places last year, it is now less to do with St Mochta’s and St Patrick’s and more to do with education. During our campaign we found that we really had no options available to us – it was either a catholic school or nothing.

“It’s not that we are anti the other options, it’s just we want more choices and we feel that this is what Educate Together has to offer,” she said.

Pointing to the huge attendance at the meeting, Ms. Hyland told Community Voice, “people have been very supportive of our campaign and they are very critical of what has been happening locally. Parents are also becoming much more savvy about what they want for their children and are considering their options at a much earlier stage. We have parents here today whose children were only born six weeks ago and already they are looking to enrol them in this new school.”

As they arrived at the meeting parents were given pre-enrolment forms for their children. The forms were numbered on a first come, first served basis and by the end of proceedings 202 completed forms had been returned to the organising committee.

According to Amy Mulvihill, New Schools Officer with Educate Together, “it was one of their best attended public meetings in the history of the organisation, confirming the contention of the local group that there is still a major demand for the Educate Together ethos. We initially responded to requests from local residents for the provision of additional places in an Educate Together school and began working with the group in December. As a result of the high turnout today, we will now proceed to apply to the Department of Education and Science to open the new school.”

Speaking at the meeting, Paul Rowe, Chief Executive of Educate Together told parents “if you do get involved in this school and in the Educate Together movement, I can guarantee you that there is no downside. In years to come you will look back at the great contrbution your involvement with this type of schooling has made to your life.”

The range of questions from the floor showed a keen interest among parents in what Educate Together had to offer: what provision would there be for special needs; the policy on enroling siblings; enrolment numbers; faith development; when would the new school be open?

Responding Amy Mulvihill said “while we can’t categorically state that the new school will be in place by September we will be applying to the Departmental Schools Task Force before January 31st. This group will then make a recommendation to the Minister for Education. What we have to do is prove that Educate Together is what is required for the Carpenterstown area.”

Her views were echoed by Maggie Hyland who told parents “we can’t guarantee to be open by September, but the will is there and we are very determined people.”

There are currently 44 Educate Together schools in Ireland – of which three are based in Dublin 15 in Castleknock, Castaheany and Tyrrelstown.

Explaining the ethos of the movement, Paul Rowe said “Educate Together aims to meet a growing need in Irish society for schools that recognise the developing diversity of Irish life and the modern need for democratic management structures. In particular, Educate Together guarantees children and parents of all faiths and none equal respect in the operation and governing of education.”

Further information on the new Carpenterstown school project is available from Amy Mulvihill (tel. 01 4292500 / e-mail: amy.mulvihill@educatetogether.ie).

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