In Educate Together we say that every Educate Together school starts with a conversation!
This could be a chat between two or more parents, an enquiry to a member of the Educate Together national office or following a media interview by one of our Regional Development Officers. What will be common to all schools is that this conversation will almost always be initiated by local interest. Indeed, it is one of Educate Together’s claims that we do not open schools, but we support families and communities who wish to see an Educate Together school in their area.
Along with a commitment to co-educational, multi-denominational and child centered education this democratic and bottom-up delivery is important to us as, under our model, parental, community and pupil involvement are critical to the development and sustainability of our schools.
The Educate Together school that is opening in Rochestown, Cork this September is a case in point. While the Department of Education and Skills announced that school was needed in the area it was the voice of local parents that ensured the new school would be an Educate Together school. The same parents are currently busy working to ensure that the school will open successfully in just over six months time.
Said Educate Together’s Regional Development Officer for the area, Niall Wall:
“From the initial meeting I had with parents in the Douglas/Rochestown area the interest, energy and positivity was remarkable. We had been aware from phone and email contact that the interest was there but were bowled over by the response at a public meeting we arranged.”
From this initial meeting a steering group of parents was established who canvassed other parents to pre-enrol their children in the proposed school. So successful was the group that when the Department of Education came to chose what type of school it would be, Educate Together, based on parental preference, was the clear winner in Douglas / Rochestown.
Said Niall Wall again:
“The group have been a dream to work with and they have been active in supporting the opening of the school in every way. From raising awareness, to locating suitable premises and to connecting with and including many others, they have demonstrated a positivity and care that is wonderful to behold. Currently, we are in the process of recruiting a Principal teacher for the school and the parents are so looking forward to him or her coming on board and advancing the opening of the school.”
Said Chairperson of the local Start-up Group, Barra Casey:
“To see this school opening is a dream come true for us. Literally it has been a labour of love and we look forward to helping make the school as wonderful as it promises to be, in the best tradition of Educate Together schools throughout Ireland.”
So local interest and action augurs well for Douglas / Rochestown ETNS.
Niall Wall, Regional Development Officer, Ireland South