Orla’s Story

Our Educate Together school campaign came from the heart

Orla Burke of the South Lee Educate Together National School Start-up Campaign reflects on her experience in advocating for an equality-based school for her family and her community. 

“Our campaign came from the heart. It came from a community that was yearning for change, that wanted a more inclusive future for our little ones. Every step of the way I was astounded by the level of commitment from fellow volunteers, many of whom were local parents of pre-school children themselves- the type of person who had the least amount of spare time or head space to devote to such a campaign. And yet they barreled through with ideas and personal stories, reaching out to others so that they too might have say in their children’s future.

I had the privilege of chairing the local parent-led campaign for a new Educate Together national school for Cork South City. I was the contact point for parents and other interested residents who wished to see more choice in primary education in our growing city. Time and again I was struck by the stories: Parents desperate for a place for their child in a school that would reflect their family, where their child would not be excluded, where they would experience freedom of conscience. Stories of families who still had not received a school offer for 2019 for their child whilst others in their pre-school had secured places. Stories of families who didn’t know the system: that they needed to place their child on school waiting lists shortly after they were born to be in with a chance of getting a place. I felt honoured to be the holder of these stories but I also felt the responsibility; that we needed to work together so that these children and their families could have a voice but more importantly, a choice.

A win for Educate Together is a win for all of us who gave of our time and hearts to this campaign. We braved the cold and the wet, we wrestled with other commitments and even our children. The sacrifice was hard but the pay off immense. Cork South City will have a new Educate Together National School in 2019. It will serve our children and that of the future generations of Cork City. I am incredibly proud today of what we have achieved here. I am also thankful to those in Educate Together national office who supported us and guided us along this path with great patience and dedication themselves.”

Orla Burke

Update: Educate Together has been awarded patronage of a brand new primary school to serve Glasheen, Pouladuff and Cork City.

Real stories from the Educate Together community

Educate Together’s schools mean so much to the lives of the children and young people who attend them, and to the communities that they are a part of. You can read, watch and listen to real stories from the students, staff and families involved in the Educate Together school movement on this page and at the links above. Do you have an experience from an Educate Together school which you would like to share? Share your story: info@educatetogether.ie