Campaign for Second-level Educate Together Fights On

The Campaign Group for a Second-level Educate Together school in Kildare South continues to fight on, and challenges the demographic exercise performed by the Department of Education & Skills, and the subsequent decision by Minister Jan O’Sullivan to deny a new school build for Kildare South.

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Kildare South was included in a list of areas for ongoing demographic review, and the Department of Education & Skills agreed to share their demographic analysis data of Kildare South with the group, when they met with the Minister on 17th November. The group received this data mid December.

Having analysed the Department’s demographic data, group members met with Kildare South elected representatives Jack Wall TD, Sean O’Fearghail TD, and councillors Mark Wall and Fiona McLoughlin Healy, on Thursday 14th January, to outline their concerns with the Department’s analysis.

All present acknowledged that there are inaccuracies in the assumptions made by the Department of Education & Skills, and that future growth and expansion in the area, due to the recovering local economy, is not being taken into account.

Deputy Jack Wall confirmed that the Minister has agreed to meet again with the campaign group, within the next 2 weeks, so they can present their concerns.

Jennifer Buttner, chair of the campaign group said

“We have analysed the Department’s demographic data for Kildare South, and as expected, we are deeply concerned with the assumptions made. At a high level the main issues we see are :

  • The Department defined Feeder Areas are very different to what is happening in reality on the ground e.g. the Kilcullen area shows 3 primary schools on Department map, but in reality there are 9 feeder primary schools listed with the Kilcullen Cross & Passion College.
  • Additional places in Naas are being factored in to the Newbridge and Kilcullen area capacity by the Department. In reality, Newbridge & Kilcullen children don’t choose to attend schools in Naas, and often only do so when no places of choice are available to them in their area.
  • The widely varying Admission Policies in operation across the second-level schools in the area are not factored into the Department’s analysis.
  • Kildare Town Community School is already enrolling at capacity from their catchment area, and that is in advance of children leaving 6th class from the 2 new primary schools in Kildare town from 2019 onwards.
  • The fee-paying Newbridge College is assumed in the Department’s capacity figures for the Newbridge area. The group strongly believe that only non-fee paying, publicly funded, schools should be included in the capacity assumptions.

We look forward to meeting the Minister of Education Jan O’Sullivan, and the Department officials again, within the next 2 weeks, to highlight our concerns.

We will continue in earnest, on behalf of the 2060 children’s names now registered for a South Kildare Educate Together Second-level, to campaign for a NEW Second-level school build which will provide choice, diversity, and equality-based education locally for all families in Kildare South”.

Press Release 18th January 2016

Are you a concerned parent? Make your voice heard.
Talk to your GE16 candidates. Email your concerns to the Minister’s office.

You Can Register your interest here for a Second-level Educate Together school in Kildare South & follow our campaign on Facebook & Twitter.

Why I Support The Campaign for a Second-level Educate Together School

Why bother campaigning for a school you don’t want to use?

South Kildare is hosting a campaign in support of the foundation of an Educate Together Secondary School to serve the town of Newbridge and the wider locality.

From the first day that the project was explained to me, I have been in favour of the establishment of such a  school, although it wouldn’t be my first, or even second, choice for my own children.

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Letter to Minister from Concerned Kildare Parent

There is a very real crisis in South Kildare right now, that is not being solved by the current school buildings announcement.

Our campaign group are regularly meeting worried and stressed parents, many of whom don’t yet have second-level places secured for their children for 2016. And this situation is only going to continue to get worse.

Children end up moving outside their area, without their peers, to secure a second-level school place which is extremely stressful, when they are at such a vulnerable age in their young lives.

Here is a letter from one such concerned parent:

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Our Statement in Response to School Building Programme

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The Campaign for Second-level Educate Together in Kildare South acknowledge the School Building Programme 2016-2021 that was announced today by Minister Jan O’Sullivan, but are extremely disappointed that Kildare South has NOT been granted a NEW Second-level school build. Extensions have been granted for local Second-level schools (Monasterevin 2016, Kilcullen 2018, Newbridge PBS 2019-2021, Athy 2018), but as we had already strongly expressed to our elected representatives, the policy of extensions over new builds are not the answer.

  • 1900 namesExtensions neither provide for choice nor diversity in provision.
  • Extensions do not address the need for an ASD unit in this area.
  • Extensions will be insufficient to meet demand.
  • Extensions do not acknowledge the almost 1900 children whose parents want an Educate Together Second-level in Kildare South.

We welcome that our area has been mentioned for ongoing demographic analysis, and we will continue in earnest to campaign, both this Government and the next, for a NEW Second-level school build which will provide choice, diversity, and equality-based education locally for families.

Thank you for your on going support.

Innovative Approach to Learning in Second-level Educate Together

kaboompics.com_Think outside of the box

Have you wondered how a second-level Educate Together school runs in practice?

This article featured in the Liffey Champion in March 2015, takes a look at the Innovative Approach to Learning in Kishoge Community College:

“A unique and innovative approach is being taken by Kishoge Community College, Lucan when it comes to teach and learning.

The Educate Together school has been in operation for six months and Principal Niall Hare explained that they are using the blank state of the new school as a way to find a fresh approach to teaching.

Staff have been speaking with universites and inspectors from the Department of Education to establish the best way to approach the various aspects of the education process.

One difference within the school is classes take place for an hour, compared to the standard 45 minutes.

“The idea is we want students to have a different classroom experience” said Mr. Hare.

“They do not sit in rows, they sit in groups. There is a lot of emphasis on active learning, we would all students to be involved in their learning”

Download PDF to Read the Full Article Here

This article first appeared on the Liffey Champion on 28th March 2015.

Campaign Featured in Local Press This Week

Leinster Leader 18th AugMore than 850 children’s names have been registered by way of expression of interest, for a new Educate Together Second-level school in Kildare South, catering for Newbridge, Kildare, Kilcullen and surrounding areas.

“We are continuing to collect names and the numbers are growing. We have a number of information days lined up. On August 23rd, we will be at the Kicullen River Festival,  and on Saturday 29th August, we will have a stand in Whitewater Shopping Centre” said Jennifer Buttner.

Campaigners point out that there was a shortfall of 162 second-level places in Newbridge for this September. They say that despite 500 new places planned for St.Conleth’s Community College, and an application for  an extension to the Patrician Boys School, indications are that these will be insufficient to meet significant growing demand for more places and choice in Second-level education in the area.

They also point out that the Kildare Town Community School is also enrolling at capacity and by 2019, the Kildare Town Educate Together School will have it’s first 6th class pupils graduate, and in 20121, Gaelscoil Mhic Aodha will also have it’s first pupils leave the school for Second-level.

Jennifer points out that the school would be open to all people, not just pupils from Educate Together Primary schools.

“The school would cater for a broad demographic and obviously the location would have to be decided by the Department, but it could cater for areas across South Kildare” she said.

The group has written to Minister Jan O’Sullivan, highlighting the need for a new school, and requesting a meeting.

Parents can log onto www.sket2ndlevel.org to express their interest or access further information.

This piece first appeared in the Leinster Leader on Tuesday 18th August 2015

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