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Thursday, 7th November 2019

Disappointment as Educate Together School enrolment capped at 48 again

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 Flashback to happier days as the ribbon is cut to open the new Drogheda Educate Together Secondary School on August 27th 2019. 

Nash outraged by Education Minister’s ‘let them eat cake’ attitude

There was great excitement August 27 this year when the long awaited Drogheda Educate Together Secondary School opened its doors to its first cohort of First Year students in temporary accommodation in Laytown/Bettystown Youthreach.

The expectation was that the Department of Education and Skills would find permanent accommodation for the schooland that enrolment numbers would increase each year until the full six years classes were filled.

Excitement has rapidly turned to disappointment however as the Minister for Education Joe McHugh told the Oireachtas today that student intake into the new school will remain low ‘in its first few years’ and until such time as a permanent school facility is built. 

Senator Nash called this “an absolute disgrace and a slap in the face” for the hundreds of locals in the Drogheda and East Meath areas who campaigned, as he did, to secure Educate Together patronage for the new local school. 

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“There is huge demand, but the Minister and his department have made a mess of this” Nash said. “The school has 48 places for First Years for the 2019-20 school year. 

“Remarkably, the Department in effect capped places at 48 for the 2020-21 year also. This has resulted in the school being over-subscribed, with a lot of very frustrated and disappointed young people who haven’t managed to secure a place in the school of their choice. 

“In a parliamentary question reply, Minister McHugh has in effect said that enrolment will continue to be lower than we would like and will remain low until a permanent new school is built at some undetermined date in the future. 

“I am outraged by the Minister’s ‘let them eat cake’ attitude. There is a clear and demonstrable demand for places at the school. The new school must be allowed to meet its own exciting ambitions and the Department must change tack and back the school to help it meet the demand for places.” 

Senator Nash had asked the Minister about his plans to provide more resources to the school to enable it to meet the clear demand for first year places for the 2020/2021 academic year. 

He also asked why a cap of 48 places had been introduced for the 2020/2021 academic year. 

In his reply the Minster said: The school referred to by the Deputy opened in September 2019 in interim accommodation pending delivery of its permanent accommodation as part of my Department's Design and Build Programme. 

In an interim situation it is not possible to provide the same level of accommodation which will be delivered as permanent accommodation.  This may mean that the schools intake in its first few years of operation will by necessity be less than would be possible in permanent accommodation. 

My Department's main priority is to ensure that all pupils have access to a school place, however, this may not always result in a school place of first choice.  A range of factors including parental choice, school location and commuting patterns can contribute to oversubscription of certain schools within an area.

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