Cap on enrolments and Educate Together

 

Sir, – I am writing as chairwoman of New Ross Educate Together National School, in the run-up to the proud occasion of the third anniversary of the establishment of our school.

Our school was established following a survey of families in the New Ross town and environs, which clearly indicated these people’s desire for an equality-based Educate Together education. With 43 children currently enrolled, our school is small, but we are growing fast. That is, we were growing fast until we have been restricted from doing so.

A Department of Education and Skills directive, limiting our September enrolment to 13 students, has come as a shock to our school community and is clearly a retrograde step in meeting the people’s clear preference for non-religious education (“Children turned away from Educate Together schools due to ‘restrictions’”, News, February 3rd). At no stage during our establishment, had there been any mention that the growth of our school would ever be restricted in this way.

For readers outside of Wexford, it is important here to put the issue of capping enrolments in the context of the accommodation needs of our school. In our small town, there is not just one, but three recently vacated Catholic school buildings. Meanwhile, our own school continues to be housed in temporary, rented, private accommodation. The establishment of New Ross Educate Together National School was approved following the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism and as part of the divestment process, with the prospect of one of these schools being made available to us.

This directive is causing deep anxiety among our current and prospective families and staff. It is also far from best practice, in preparing our youngest citizens for their first experience of formal education. – Yours, etc,

NIAMH FITZGIBBON,

Chairwoman,

New Ross Educate

Together National School,

New Ross,

Co Wexford.