Lobbying Letter to Minister Jan O’Sullivan 22nd June 2015

Dear Minister

We are a group of parents, most of whom have children in Educate Together primary schools (both in Newbridge Town & Kildare Town), and that very positive education experience, coupled with limited alternative options, has been our motivation, to initiate a campaign to try and bring an Educate Together Second-level school to Kildare South.

In addition to our motivation to have our children continue their Second-level education in the Educate Together ethos, both our Educate Together primary schools will continue to grow.

Already, in Kildare town, the Second-level Community School is enrolling at capacity, and that is in advance of the first Educate Together children leaving Kildare Town ETNS in 2019. By 2021, the ETNS will have double-stream leaving school, and the Gaelscoil Mhic Aodha will also have their first class leave primary, which will result in a large shortfall of school places in Kildare Town.

Currently, within Newbridge and the surrounding locality, there are 582 pupils leaving primary schools this June 2015. Following enquiries to all the secondary schools within the town, we know that new enrolments for this September will be capped at 420, leaving a shortfall of 162 Second-level school places (an increase of 29 on same research last year).

Despite 500 new places planned for St. Conleth’s Community College, and an application for extension for the Patrician Boys School (PBS) in Newbridge, all indications are that those measures will not be sufficient to meet the significant growing demand for more choice in Second-level education in Newbridge and the wider South Kildare area.

The increasing gap identified in the local analysis(attached) is compounded by the CSO figures which, as you will know, suggest that the number of primary school-aged children is set to increase by up to 100,000 by 2021. It further highlights that the mid-east area of Ireland will experience greater growth than even Dublin.

Current analysis of local figures(from talking to primary and secondary schools in Newbridge and it’s hinterland), show that current extension plans will not be sufficient to meet this growing demand.

In 2007 there was an acute shortage of places for children starting primary school in Newbridge, with some children not able to start school until the age of 6. These very same children are now moving to Second-level, and these children and more, are experiencing the same problem for a second time. Our Newbridge ETNS is not yet at full capacity either – the first double-stream of 6th class pupils will be leaving primary in 2018.

Now is the time to act to get the Second-level places and choice of school in the Newbridge/Kildare area.

meeting thurs nightSouth Kildare Educate Together Second-level Campaign Group (SKET Second level) held a public meeting on May 7th 2015, to address the chronic shortage of, and lack of choice for, Second-level places in Newbridge and surrounding areas. We had a full house, with standing room only, in the foyer of Newbridge Educate Together National School.

The main feedback that came from the Public Meeting, and from talking to schools in Newbridge and surrounding areas, was:

  1. The significant and growing shortage of Second-level places in Newbridge.
  2. Widespread concern about the lack of choice for parents of children seeking Second-level places – both currently and in the future.  
  3. Absence of ASD units in Newbridge.

Any parents who have a concern about the lack of Second-level places, and choice of Second-level available to them in Newbridge and the wider south Kildare area, have been invited to fill out expression of interest forms online on http://sket2ndlevel.org/

Over a couple of months we have gathered almost 400 expressions of interest (equating to over 600 children) from parents who want an Educate Together Second-level school in Kildare South, and these numbers continue to grow daily.

I was delighted to hear you speak so highly of Educate Together and it’s continued growth, at the recent Educate Together AGM Open Forum in Portlaoise. I believe the growth figures you outlined reflect that more and more parents now want this model of education both at Primary and Second-level. Indeed many of our parents travel long distances daily to bring their children to our two schools.

I would welcome an opportunity to discuss our research, and our campaign for an Educate Together Second-level school in Kildare South, or any other query you might have.

Yours Sincerely,

Jennifer Buttner, Chairperson of South Kildare Second-level Start-up Group

* Note this letter sent to Minister Jan O’Sullivan on behalf of start-up group,  Monday 22nd June 2015

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