As Spring enters its second month parents in Lucan begin to panic.
In September 2002, a voluntary group of parents opened an Educate Together school. This group received over 700 children’s names to put on a first-come-first served pre-enrolment list. Today only 24 students can be facilitated, with 2 teachers working from a cramped Scout Hall in Lucan Village. There is clear sense of anxiety felt by parents due to the desperate need for schooling facilities in the Griffeen Valley area. According to councilor Derek Keating The Crisis in the deficiency in education accommodation in the Lucan area in Dublin has reached alarming heights as time is now running out for Griffeen Valley Educate Together. It is clear that Griffeen Valley Educate Together will be without premises from June 2003 and therefore must be on the site from June 2003 if classroom accommodation is to be available for this school by Monday 1st September 2003.
Families are now being faced with the decision to leave Lucan in order to get their children into primary schools; Karen Lynott originally from Lucan said;
In June 2002, my family moved out of Lucan because I could not get my eldest daughter a place in any local school in Lucan. Her name had been down in all of the local schools in my locality since she was 6 months old and this did not secure a place for her. I was aware of a schools crisis in Lucan from about 2000 as I saw so many houses being built but did think that schools would soon follow as all children have this basic right to a primary education. I joined other parents campaigning for the Griffeen site school. We had been on to Mary Harney on numerous occasions and she was giving us as much information as she could about whether this school was going to happen for September 2002. Up until June 2002, we had no guarantees that the school was going to be there and my daughter still did not secure a place in any school in Lucan. Finally, I gave up trying, and decided to move out of Lucan in order to secure a place for my child in school. I moved to Leixlip and had no problems getting a place for my daughter in the local school.
To date a three-acre site owned by a prominent building developer has been designated for a primary school in Griffeen Valley and Planning permission was achieved in 2002 for a 16 classroom temporary school development. Negotiations for the purchase or lease of the site between Department and the land developer is on going yet there is no guarantee for the parents that the Department will provide the funds for either leasing or buying the site this year. Clearly these temporary schools are bleeding public funds through renting buildings and pre-fabs. According to government sources this costs the taxpayer €17 million per year in total. This has been going on for some eight to ten years for buildings that will never be owned.
To accentuate parents problems Griffeen Valley Educate Together National School has only been given temporary recognition by the Department. This means that the Department will provide 75% of the funding for the school instead of 95% for permanent schools. Voluntary groups of parents have been told that they will have to source temporary accommodation for up to 10 years before the state will be in a position to supply a permanent school building yet no landlord will provide a lease for more than 4 years 9 months, as tenants then gain rights. In order to keep their school open the parents must engage in ongoing fund raising for the day-to-day running costs. This also means that once the Department has acquired or leased the site, the cost of carrying out site development works and providing the temporary buildings on site could be in the order of €700,000.00. The Department bizarrely considers that the parents should contribute a significant element of this amount.
As many as 15 out of a total of 28 multi denominational schools in Ireland are also without permanent accommodation.
Facts and figures about Lucan
- According to a pre-statement by the central statistics office, Lucan is the fastest growing small area at electoral division level.
- Lucan-Esker recorded the highest increase in intercensal population – its population almost trebled since 1996 to reach 21,785 in 2002.
- According to the South County Dublin Enterprise Board economic profile, South County Dublinis likely to be the main focus for growth in housing in Dublin over the period of the Strategy. The projected population increase over the coming years is expected to be influenced significantly by both in and out â migration. The population structure of the County is unique and differs significantly from the national characteristics. This is particularly so in relation to the Lucan / Clondalkin areas. The most significant difference is the high proportion of the population under 25 and especially in the school leaving age groups.
Facts about Educate Together Schools
Educate Together schools operated by the member associations of Educate Together have a distinct ethos or governing spirit. They are:
- Multi-denominational i.e. all children having equal rights of access to the school, and children of all social, cultural and religious backgrounds being equally respected
- Co-educational and committed to encouraging all children to explore their full range of abilities and opportunities
- Child centered in their approach to education
- Democratically run with active participation by parents in the daily life of the school, whilst positively affirming professional role of the teachers
- Whilst the concepts of child-centredness and co-educationalism are now widely accepted in Irish primary education, what distinguishes the Educate Together schools is their hard work in developing a culturally inclusive and democratic ethos. This has pioneered unique approaches to inclusion of minority opinions and faiths in the Irish context.
- Today there are 28 schools, 15 of which are in the greater Dublin area.