Breakthrough in school dispute over access of students with disabilities to LCA
Clonturk Community College says it has secured resources to deliver the programme
Students and parents at Clonturk Community College protest last week over students not being allowed sit the Leaving Cert Applied. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
There has been a breakthrough in a dispute in which three students with disabilities were told they would be unable to complete the Leaving Cert Applied (LCA) at their school due to a shortage of resources.
The school in question, Clonturk Community College in Dublin, has now said the Department of Education has agreed to provide it with additional resources and specialist classrooms which will allow the school to deliver the programme.
Gerry Fallon, a father of one of the three students affected, said parents were delighted with the announcement.
He was one of a number of parents and campaigners who protested outside the school last week, calling for children of all abilities to be given the chance to leave school with a formal qualification.
“It means the students affected can now get on with their education and reach their full potential in a much more settled way,” he said in response to the breakthrough.
“The senior cycle should provide options for students of all abilities and ensure they can all get a recognised qualification.
“We’re hopeful this will benefit the wider community of students. In addition to the three students we’ve been campaigning for, we’ve heard of others who hope to avail of the LCA as well.”
The LCA is a senior cycle programme which provides a greater focus on practical and vocational skills.
Schools have reported struggling to provide access to the programme due to the level of resources they receive.
Mr Fallon said the involvement of the school’s parents’ and teachers’ association had been crucial in giving a voice to students on this issue.
In a statement on Tuesday, Clonturk Community College’s board of management said the school had always hoped and intended to offer the LCA as an option to senior cycle students.
However, it said this was contingent on achieving a level of take-up of the programme by students which would make it possible to do so within the resources allocated annually to the school by the Department of Education.
The board said it was now in a position where the school could provide the programme. “The board also welcomes the decision by the department to provide additional specialist classrooms for its site in Whitehall, Dublin 9. These classrooms are essential to meet the educational needs of our fast-growing school, which has been massively oversubscribed since launch and is growing rapidly every year.”
The school’s board, however, said Clonturk college still had no permanent building and continued to be located in “temporary and inadequate accommodation”.
“It is now an absolute imperative to move swiftly and without delay to the construction of the permanent school building that our students deserve and need. We call on all relevant stakeholders to join with us in achieving this goal,” it said.
Clonturk Community College was established in 2016 under the patronage of the City of Dublin Education and Training Board, with Educate Together as trustee partners.
Clonturk describes itself as an equality-based, co-educational, learner-centred school, managed on democratic principles.
It says it is committed to creating a welcoming and vibrant school community in which all members will experience a real sense of active participation and belonging.