We are extremely concerned that there is no second-level option for our children locally. What will we do?
My husband and I are from different religious backgrounds, and came up against our own battles when we sought to get married within the faith I was brought up in, so neither of us wanted a situation where any of our future children were excluded in their education, or left feeling different, because of religion.
In 2004 I had work colleagues who had children in Educate Together primary schools and I discovered how refreshing an Educate Together education sounded; inclusive to children of all faiths whilst not instructing on one particular religion, democratically run, with child-centred learning.
So I sat in the office of Newbridge Educate Together NS in early 2005, whilst pregnant, and enrolled our first child.
Five scarily quick years on and our first born started Junior Infants in September of 2010 at Newbridge Educate Together NS. Since then we have two more children attending the same school, and our last two children will start there in 2018.
Worry of Limited Second-level Options
We never imagined that with our eldest now only in 4th class, we would be encountering the worry of the limited second-level options available to her locally – in fact, when she leaves primary in 2018, there are zero options for her. Why?
- We want our children to continue their education in a co-educational school, which automatically rules out two secondary schools in the immediate area. The other co-ed school in the vicinity, which we would choose, will most likely not offer her a place due to changes they have made to their admission policy due to unprecedented demand for places over the last few years.
- Having been both educated in the public school systems, we believe in that system so private school is not an option – another school ruled out.
- We want for our children a full choice and diversity of subjects for maximum academic achievement and progression to third-level.
- Most importantly we wish for a truly multi-denominational second-level experience for all our children.
At the moment that choice of school is not available to us.
Thus we have NO Second-level option available to us in the immediate area.
Our children have a multi-denominational school experience at primary, why shouldn’t they have it a second-level?
Like thousands of children who have passed through a denominational primary school education system and followed that choice into second-level, why shouldn’t our children have their preferred choice – an Educate Together Second-level school?
Our Serious Question to Consider
Will we have to move our daughter and our other children to a faith-based primary school in order to increase, yet still not guarantee, their chances of getting into the faith based co-ed second-level school, that we feel offers the most appropriate academic and social curriculum available to us, in the absence of a Second-level Educate Together school?
We do not want that for our children. But like many parents who do not have the choice of an alternative to a faith-based primary school for their children, and baptise their children against their beliefs to secure a place in that school, you do what you gotta do.
- To move them would be a decision to take them away from their all-important friends.
- It would be a decision to move them to a faith-based school, where they are not even baptised in that religion.
- It would be a decision to move them to a school where they will either sit through a religion class and not be able to take part in it, or sit out the class in another room.
This goes against everything they’ve experienced in their Educate Together education; ‘No Child an Outsider’.
A decision to take them out of the very type of school which we both felt was the right choice for our children’s primary school education in the first place.
Article by Elizabeth Bartholomew
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