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.
So Why Do I Support the Campaign?
I am a practicing Catholic and I feel that my children are probably well served by the education that lies ahead of them, in an ethos I understand and have experienced, and that supports the ethos in which they are being raised. I would be deeply unhappy if my only choice of school, either due to locality, or finances, or for any other reason, was a school with an ethos specifically contrary to my own.
But, if I would be unhappy for my children to attend a school which undermines my family’s faith, why should I expect other families to accept what I would not? As a country, it is time to accept that the dominant hegemony of our childhood is a thing of the past.
We have welcomed many nationalities into our country and, to a much larger extent, we have witnessed the mass departure of Irish people from active participation in Church life, and a significant reduction in parental interest in faith formation and doctrinal instruction.
Under these undisputed circumstances, it is time to address the hypocrisy of preventing grass-roots organisations like Educate Together, with proven track-records of successful provision of primary and secondary education, from providing the multi-denominational education that contemporary Irish society needs.
Advantages of Proposed Second-level Educate Together School
The proposed new school in Kildare South offers many other potential advantages, apart from the simple and long-overdue provision of more multi-denominational education in our locality.
- It offers a solution to the ongoing, chronic overcrowding in Newbridge’s existing secondary schools.
- The proposal (as with all new builds) would allow for a specialised education unit for children within the autistic spectrum, which is absent in the local school provision currently available.
- Additionally, if adequate interest is displayed by the community, this new school could provide an Irish-language-medium schooling stream.
Assuming that the vast majority of the children currently enrolled in Newbridge Educate Together National School were to transition seamlessly to the proposed new Educate Together Second-level school, that would instantly take approximately 60 children per year (from 2018) out of the scramble for secondary places each September.
Additionally, there must be many other parents who each year send their children to our local Catholic schools by default.
Why You Should Support the Campaign
Whether you support the provision of the new Educate Together school from pure altruism, or in support of the parental choice enshrined in our Constitution, or to increase your own child’s chance of obtaining a place in the school of your choice, or to protect the Catholic ethos of the Catholic schools, which currently take all pupils, including many with little or no connection to the faith life of the parish, there appears to me to be no downside whatsoever to supporting this petition for increased educational diversity in our locality.
With thanks to Orla McAlinden for providing this piece.
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