Pupil numbers in Educate Together National Schools have exceeded 15,000 for the first time. The annual school returns for 2012 show 15,353 pupils enroled in the 65 schools in the Educate Together network.
The data, collated from school statistics submitted to the Department of Education and Skills, also shows 918 teachers and over 250 Special Needs Assistants in employment in the Educate Together sector.
Paul Rowe, Educate Together CEO commented:
"2013 marks 35 years of Educate Together schools in Ireland. To grow pupil numbers by 1,500 in one year and break the 15,000 mark on this anniversary is a great achievement for a voluntary community initiative. The sustained growth in pupil numbers shows that more and more parents want to send their children to Educate Together schools".
The growth in pupils numbers reflects both the new schools that have opened in recent years (5 in 2012) and the extension of school buildings within the network. In the last two years alone, Educate Together schools in Tyrellstown, Donabate, Swords, Lucan East, Balbriggan, Mullingar, Holywell and Thornleigh have moved to new buildings or been expanded to meet growing demand. Even if no further Educate Together school was opened the current network has a total capacity for 20,000+ students.
Paul Rowe again:
"Educate Together is the fastest growing sector in primary education and you can’t argue with the numbers. Is is especially pleasing to me that a movement which Florrie Armstrong (the first Principal of the Dalkey School Project) was told would finish her career if she joined, now employs over 1,200 teaching and learning professionals."
The prospects for continued growth of the multi-denominational sector are also positive for Educate Together. Two new primary schools have already been sanctioned to open in 2013 and the results of parental surveys in December show interest in five other areas for Educate Together schools to be established. The Forum on Patronage and Pluralism, where a further 38 areas around the country are currently being surveyed, could indicate further parental interest in Educate Together schools.
The sucess of Educate Together at primary level has led to the sanctioning of three second-level schools, due to open in 2014. The demand for places at primary level is now being translated into increased demand for Educate Together second-level schools. A public meeting last week in Wynn’s Hotel saw hundreds of parents attending, all seeking an Educate Together second-level school to be established in the Dublin City area. Political support for the campaign is broad and all parties were represented at the event.
Educate Together opened its first school in 1978. Since then 65 schools have been established on the principles of equality of esteem, parental involvement and multi-denominational education.
- Educate Together schools opened in 2012 are located in Ashbourne, Ballinteer, Kildare Town, Stepaside and Citywest (Dublin).
- The five areas surveyed for parental preference on local school patronage by the Department of Education and Skills in December are Arklow, Castlebar, Tramore, Trim and Whitehall.
- The new Educate Together second-level schools opening in 2014 are Hansfield Educate Together Secondary School Blanchardstown, Kishoge Community College, Lucan and Ballymakenny College, Drogheda.
- There are currently 572 individual classes in Educate Together schools with capacity in the network for an additional 200.