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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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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