Carpenterstown Educate Together plans hit stumbling block

7 March 2008

Members of the start up committee of the proposed new Carpenterstown Educate Together school are up in arms following indications that their proposed new school may not be sanctioned for next September.

Following a massive public meeting in January, over 200 children were pre-enrolled for the new school and an application was submitted to the New Schools Advisory Committee of the Department of Education.

However this committee has now told Educate Together that it can’t accept the application as it is “incomplete.” This is based on the fact that the proposed new school does not have its own accommodation.

According to Maggie Hyland chairperson of the committee, “we proposed using some accommodation in the new 16 classroom school being provided for Scoil Choilm in Kellystown until we got a site of our own. There will be a lot of spare rooms in this new building and such an arrangement has worked well in other areas.”

Ms. Hyland sees the response of the department as a device to stop the school proceeding. “The department see us as a threat to their plans to develop VEC schools in the area. They are completely ignoring the parents’ choice to educate their children in an Educate Together school rather than in a school dreamed up by Mary Hanafin. I don’t want to send my kids to a VEC school but I do want to send them to an Educate Together school and so do the parents of 250 other children who are voting with their feet on this issue.

Scoil Choilm was originally set up under the patronage of the Archdiocese of Dublin and this is being transferred to the Minister for Education pending legislation to allow the VEC become a patron for the provision of primary education.

Maggie Hyland suggests that there is now a conflict of interest arising around the Educate Together application.” How can the Minister for Education as patron of Scoil Choilm be involved in refusing temporary access to a school site in the same area to another patron, surely this is a conflict of interest? The department of education see us as a threat to their plans,” she claimed.

“If the powers that be make such a bad fist of planning our local education needs then it’s not surprising that we try to shape it ourselves. There are a lot of parents that feel very strongly about this Educate Together School and I think it is important that we shed light on what is happening.

Ultimately this all comes down to parental choice and you can’t sweep that under the carpet,” she said.

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