Educate Together to Evaluate Tánaiste’s Joint-Patronage Proposal

Educate Together is to evaluate the Tánaiste’s expressed preference for shared patronage of the new school at Clonburris with the VEC. A letter detailing the Minister’s views is due to be issued by the Department of Education and Skills to Paul Rowe Educate Together CEO.

Commenting on the Tánaiste’s statement, Mr Rowe said ‘Educate Together has been informed by the Department that the Minister wishes us to enter discussions with the VEC on an approach to operating the new Lucan second-level school as a formal partnership. We will evaluate this proposal when we receive the documentation from her office. While we do not discount productive discussions with the VEC, they would be entered into on the understanding that any partnership must facilitate delivery in full of Educate Together’s blueprint for second level education. In addition these discussions should not override Educate Together’s right to have its longstanding applications adjudicated upon under existing education legislation’.

Educate Together’s local parent group has run a 10 year campaign to open a second-level school in Lucan which commenced with 1,500 expressions of interest. A formal application was made in 2007 but this has still to be adjudicated upon by Department officials. A national petition by Educate Together calling for Second-Level recognition had over 700 signatures from Lucan alone.

Emer Nowlan, Head of Education and Network Development for Educate Together says “Parents have been campaigning for an Educate Together school in Lucan for years now. To meet this demand any proposed new model would have to provide a real choice for parents in the area – it must be a brand new type of second-level school which delivers Educate Together’s specific democratic ethos”.

Mr Rowe again ‘We have a responsibility to the local people of Lucan who have supported us to ensure that our vision of a second-level school, the one they have fought so hard for, is delivered to the community for the community’.

Educate Together’s Blueprint for Second Level education proposes a new approach to the delivery of the second level curriculum. The approach is learning centered rather than exclusively focused on teaching to a test. It also encourages and fosters the development of key life skills such as critical analysis, problem solving, independent research, leadership, teamwork and innovative thinking. Educate Together second-level schools will build on the values of democracy, equality of esteem, cultural awareness and parental participation which have been tried and tested for over 30 years in its primary schools.

The Tánaiste also announced the establishment of a new expert group to establish a transparent and accountable framework for second and primary level patronage. Educate Together has welcomed this initiative.

Established in 1978 with the opening of the Dalkey School Project, Educate Together is the representative body for 58 multidenominational primary schools nationwide. It applied to open its first second level school in Lucan in 2007, where it has five primary schools in operation. Educate Together’s Blueprint for second level has attracted widespread acclaim from educationalists, industry and parent and student groups. It has also been endorsed by representatives from all the major political parties in the Oireachtas.