Emer Nowlan, Chief Operations Officer of Educate Together, spoke at the official opening of New Ross ETNS on Wednesday 17 February.
This is fantastic day for New Ross Educate Together National School, and a great day for New Ross and for Wexford. It is also a great day for Educate Together, and for families in other parts of the country who are waiting for an Educate Together toopen in their area. Because this school is a really great example of what is possible when local goodwill, active community spirit, and support the state come together to meet the changing needs of local communities.
New Ross was one of 25 areas surveyed by the Department of Education and Skills in 2012 and 2013, where demand was established for Educate Together schools. It is a great model for the 19 areas in the country who are still waiting for those schools to open as a result of the same process. This school has been firmly established as part of the community in New Ross, thanks to the hard work of local parents and volunteers, and now the staff and board of management of the school.
Until you have been involved in the establishment of a brand new school, it is very difficult to imagine the sheer amount and difficulty of the work involved – from promotion and community engagement, to fundraising, to recruitment, to furnishing and equipping the school building and classrooms. This school has been created from nothing, poster by poster, enrolment by enrolment, table by table, and day by day. It will grow to serve this community for decades to come and you should all be very proud today of what you have created.
I would particularly like to acknowledge the hard work of principal Elaine French, and chair of the board of management, Niamh Fitzgibbon, who along with other volunteers have dedicated long hours and worked tirelessly to establish the school. Huge thanks are also due to our own Regional Development Officer, Niall Wall, who managed the school initially, recruiting first volunteers, and then staff, and supporting the school community to develop its own strong management structures and leadership. Thanks also to the planning and building unit of the Department of Education and Skills, who first established the demand for the school, and then adapted this building, so that the school could be established and function well in its initial phase. Thanks also to many local representatives and community leaders here in New Ross who have supported the school’s development.
New Ross Educate Together NS is the third Educate Together school to open in Co Wexford since 2008. Now the focus is on enabling the school to move into more permanent accommodation so that it can grow to meet the demand in the area. We are all very hopeful that this will be facilitated through the process of re-configuration of school provision which is already underway in the area. And I hear there is already a campaign underway to establish an Educate Together second-level school for the county – a logical next step.
So to all the children, teachers, parents and volunteers in this fledgeling school community, congratulations on your opening, and on establishing yourselves as a vibrant new choice for parents, embedded in the New Ross community.
Today you also join an extended community of 76 other Educate Together primary schools – and 4, soon to be 8, Educate Together second-level schools – around the country. I bring very best wishes not just from the national office, but from that whole extended family here with me today.
Comhghairdeachas libh go léir, agus gach dea-ghuí, de muintir Educate Together ar fud na tíre.
Congratulations and very best wishes from the whole Educate Together community on this very special day.