Students have difficulty securing second level places

By Aideen O'Flaherty

STUDENTS from Citywest Educate Together National School’s first 6th class are having difficulty securing secondary school places for the coming academic year, as there is no second-level school in their community.

The Department of Education has committed to developing a 1,000 student second-level school for pupils in Citywest and Saggart in 2020, but this means that Citywest ETN’s first 6th class pupils will all be split up when they attend their first year of secondary school this September.

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Sixth class students from Citywest Educate Together National School

Parents from Citywest ETNS set up the Citywest Educate Together Second Level School Campaign five years ago, campaigning for a secondary school in the area, now that one is being planned they hope that the patronage of the second-level school will be granted to Educate Together.

In the meantime, some parents have encountered difficulty in trying to secure secondary school places for their children.

Parent Leona Mc Mahon, whose daughter Chéile (12) is a 6th class pupil in Citywest ETNS, said: “We had a very worrying few weeks when Chéile had been turned down for a place in a school we applied for as she wasn’t in their catchment area, but we are one of the lucky ones because she eventually got offered another school place after a second-round refusals process took place.

“I wish it wasn’t down to luck though. Some of Chéile’s friends in her class still haven’t heard back from schools they applied to, or are on waiting lists for school places, with currently no place secured in a secondary school for next year.

“It’s frightening for parents to think the decision for a secondary school place might be taken out of their hands and into the responsibility of the Education Welfare Officer, whose only remit is to get them a school, not what type or particularly near to where they live.

“We are sad that our 6th class will be split up and spread out among many different areas other than our own next September.”

The school’s pupils have written many letters to the Department of Education over the past four years, appealing to them to allow the class to stay together when they progress to second-level.

Dave Murphy, chairperson of the Citywest Educate Together Second Level School Campaign, said: “An Educate Together second-level school is badly needed in Citywest.

“Between our own primary school of Citywest ETNS, and St Mary’s NS Saggart, we have all five of the areas ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) classes, and having a second-level school in our own community will make the transition easier for those children with additional needs.

“Citywest and Saggart has been identified as the fastest growing area in Dublin, and despite over 25 years of exporting our 12- and 13-year-old children to other communities for second-level education, we are a young, diverse and colourful community that deserves to aim high and start a legacy of an Educate Together Secondary school.

“There’s no reason why such a community shouldn’t hope for the best school to reflect this diversity and explore inclusiveness and community involvement together as teenagers for the first time in 2020.”

Patronage of the new school will be awarded by the Department of Education via a new voting system by parents of students within a certain catchment area of the school.

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