Educate Together remains the fastest growing primary education sector in Ireland. The National Office for Educate Together congratulate the voluntary work and energy invested by communities determined to set up multi-denominational schools in their locale on behalf of the State for a rapidly diversifying Irish population. This summer, committed parents from areas across the country had no option but to work tirelessly to secure accommodation and targeted start dates for their children’s new school. By the end of the month there will be an estimated 7,000 children in the sector and a total of 39 schools nationwide, each one set up on a voluntary basis and supported by a National Office with State funding of less then €41,000 per annum. The new schools are located in Ballbriggan, Gorey, North Galway and Tyrrelstown.
The four new schools are as follows:
- Balbriggan Educate Together National School
Balbriggan ETNS opened it’s doors yesterday on Church Street, Balbriggan. The town of Balbriggan has a population of about 14,000 with expectations of reaching 18,000 over the next 5 years. The Balbriggan Educate Together Association first met in June 2004 and under the guidance and help of Development Officer, Jane McCarthy an application was submitted in time to the Department of Education and in the spring of 2005 they received official recognition as a national school.
Like all start-up associations, the group were faced with major challenges from the beginning in relation to accommodation, however after exhausting research, the group made contact with Parkway Developments who had a site designated for a school, and after a several discussions between themselves, Educate Together, Fingal County Council and the Department of Education, Parkway Developments finally agreed to allow the school, rent free onto the site with the provision that the Department of Education buy the site at a fixed price later. This was an extraordinary achievement and Balbriggan Educate Together Association pass on a great deal of thanks to the Fingal County Council for negotiating on their behalf. However that site will not be ready for a few months yet hence the school are renting temporary premises at Sunshine House in Church Street in the town. The school community are delighted to welcome Fintan McCutcheon as the new principal. Originally from Cootehill in Co. Cavan he has been living in the Fingal area for over twenty years and brings a wide range of experience to this new role.
- Galway North Educate Together National School
Due to a steadily rising population and proximity to other urban areas Galway North Educate Together Associaion decided to locate the school on the Cloonebeggan Road, Claregalway.
This community’s experience of acquiring a premises could be described as a balancing act between the needs of the Landlord, the Department of Education and the County Council. The association went through the dramatic experience of losing their original premises five days before the Dept of Education deadline in late January 2005 and finding another premises in that five days which complied with the very rigorous criteria that the County Council applies to set up schools. The planning application aspect of the premises was hugely demanding on the volunteers and perhaps the most stressful aspect of the whole campaign. It took three months to get a final decision. The costs of setting up a school was one of the greatest challenges facing this voluntary group and an issue that urgently needs to be addressed by the Minister for Education. Financial demands include consultant engineers, environmental specialists, publicity materials, position advertisements, room hire, communications, the total fundraising came to approximately €29,000.
I can say that even at the most difficult times over the last year and nine months, we always felt that we were doing something truly worthwhile and that we had the support of a truly progressive movement and national organisation behind us. In the later stages of our campaign, we have found the Dept of Education to be very supportive and helpful also and this has helped us along the way. John Bradshaw, Galway North Educate Together National School Board of Management.
- Gorey Educate Together National School
Gorey ETNS opened it’s doors on the 5th September to it new pupils and the general community. The schools is located in Saint Walerans, Ballytegan Road Gorey, County Wexford. It took over 10,000 hours of entirely voluntary work by a group to get to the point of opening this wonderful new school. Over 80 children were pre-enrolled in the school before it’s opening, illustrating the determination and commitment of a large section of the Gorey community to build a multi-denominational school in their town. Educate Together are the Patron Body for Gorey Educate Together NS. Their continued guidance and support is essential to the success of our new school. With their help and guidance we have been able to get to the point of opening our school within 18 months of our first public meeting. We have a large number of enrolments for the coming three years with new enquiries coming in weekly. The future of our school looks bright. Our Acting Board of Management has become a dynamic and committed force working hard to guarantee the success of the project. We feel confident for the future of the school and of the continuing and growing support of our parents and pupils. Paul Fyffe, Gorey Educate Together National School Board of Management
- Tyrrelstown Educate Together National School
After long negotiations and increased stress levels the Tyrrelstown Educate Together National School opened its doors on Monday September 5th with over 90 students enrolled. Initially the school was to open on a site in Tyrrelstown with their teachers and Principal Nicola Wilson. However due to the building not being ready on time the school will now be located at Mary Mother of Hope N.S. in Littleplace along with two other primary schools, including Castaheaney Educate, Together N.S, also waiting for it’s permanent building. Late planning applications by the Department of Education and Science to local authorities resulted in these last-minute rearrangements. The school community are delighted to welcome Nicola as the new principal and look forward to moving to their correct location in the near future.