New School for D4

Dublin 4 Educate Together Announce Public Meeting

Back in June of 2011, the Department of Education announced plans to build 40 new primary schools, including one to service the Ringsend and Sandymount area. In May of this year, it was confirmed that a school would open in the area in September 2014.

Applications for patronage, i.e. the day-to-day administration and overseeing of the school’s ethos, were sent to the Department of Education in mid-June, and an announcement will be made this Autumn as to who will take over the running of the school. Factors taken into account for the awarding of the patronage include: the proximity of schools of similar ethos, parental demand for the school, and the extent to which the needs of all pupils in the area can be met by the school.

D4 Educate Together has been involved in the process since November 2011, when a number of enthusiastic local parents formed the group. Amy Swearingen is one such parent, who now acts as Communications Officer for D4ET. “Since starting our pre-enrolment campaign in May 2012, we’ve had over 600 pre-enrolments and we’re receiving more on a daily basis,” she tells NewsFour, highlighting the demand for a new school in the locale.

Local TD Kevin Humphreys confirms this need for classrooms. He tells us that, after being contacted by D4ET, he was keen to bring the process forward quickly. “The results of the 2011 census, showing increased population growth in the area, confirmed this need.”

Swearingen tells us that parents are wasting no time, with children already pre-enrolled who won’t actually be old enough to enter the school until 2017.
We ask her why she thinks an Educate Together school is a good fit for the area. “It’s all about choice,” she answers. “It’s great that the area has existing national schools, some associated with the Catholic Church, some with the Church of Ireland, but it’s important to give parents the choice of a multi-denominational environment for their children.”

The Educate Together system is inclusive of any child from any type of background. “This is a very diverse area,” she says, “and to serve the needs of such a population, you need a school which is as inclusive as possible.”

This philosophy is shared by An Foras Pátrúnactha, who have also applied for patronage, in order to establish a Gaelscoil. Caoimhín Ó hEaghra, General Secretary of the organisation, tells us of the growing demand for the Gaelscoil model of education. “By next year, we will have 67 schools open, with the newest opening in Firhouse, Stepaside and Kildare Town,” he says. “The three nearest Gaelscoils to the Ringsend/Sandymount area have over 600 applications for 2014.”

Under the model, all subjects are taught as gaeilge from the very first day. Ó hEaghra tells us that no prior understanding of the language is necessary for the child, and that “96% of our pupils’ parents lack a fluent knowledge of Irish.”

TD Humphreys is happy to be able to tell us that sufficient classrooms will be in place for September 2014 and that the process for acquiring a site is well underway. “In the past we’ve had too many pre-fabs,” he says, “but this new school will have proper, modern accommodation.”

Picture, above, courtesy of Educate Together.

By Eric Hillis