First Educate Together secondary school opens
Ballymakenny College in Drogheda hopes to expand to 1,000 pupils within seven years
Educate Together: 5th-class students at Balbriggan Educate Together NS, Co Dublin. The country’s first Educate Together secondary school opened yesterday in Co Louth. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
Ireland’s first Educate Together secondary school has opened its doors to the public.
Some 65 first year pupils started yesterday in Ballymakenny College in Drogheda, a community school which has as its joint patrons Louth Meath Education and Training Board – formerly the VEC – and Educate Together.
The school hopes to expand to accommodate 1,000 pupils locally within the next six to seven years. The pupils come from three counties and 12 feeder schools.
Ballymakenny’s staff and students will spend their first year in temporary accommodation at Aston Village Educate Together National School before moving to a new state of the art facility on the Ballymakenny road. The school will initially have eight teachers.
Ballymakenny College is one of three Educate Together secondary schools to open this year.
The two others are Kishoge Community College in Lucan, with 53 first year pupils, and Hansfield Educate Together Secondary School in west Dublin, with 75 first years.
Educate Together plans to open 10 schools with 1,000 pupils each over the next decade in the east of the country, where demand is greatest.
No religious instructionBallymakenny is co-educational and multidenominational as opposed to non-denominational. There will be no specific religious instruction in the classroom.
“There is no faith formation as such,” explained new principal Alan Mynes. “But we will have an ethical curriculum and ethical education class once a week and we are in the process of finalising that ethical education.”
The demand for Educate Together schools is greatest in areas where there is ethnic diversity.
Mr Mynes said the school mix was approximately 50:50 between pupils whose parents were originally Irish and those whose parents were from abroad.
In addition to three secondary schools, Educate Together are also opening six national schools, four of those as part of the schools divestment process. It is also opening its first school in the UK.