Parents group call for amalgamation to be paused
St Seton’s is set to open at the site of St Johns College this September, but as things currently stand, students will be split across three schools, until additional accommodation is built

Parents group call for amalgamation to be paused

A PARENTS group have called for the amalgamation of three local Ballyfermot secondary schools to be paused, until such time as all students can be accommodated in the same building.

Caritas College, St Dominic’s College and St John’s College, are amalgamating into the new St Seton’s Secondary School, which will accommodate 780-800 pupils.

St Seton’s is set to open in September 2022, at the site of St Johns College, but as things currently stand, students will be split amongst the three schools, until additional accommodation is built.

While third and sixth years will remain in their current campus, first years will commence in St Seton’s, second years in Caritas, fifth year in St Dominic’s and Transition Year students will be based at St Seton’s but have the use of the other two campuses.

Ballyfermot Parents United, who are made up of parents, residents and staff across the three schools, believe this will cause a “lot of upheaval” for students, and say this is “not the vision of a state of the art centre of excellence that was sold to us back in 2019”.

Lisa Marie Hughes, a representative for the group, said plans have yet to be submitted for the new school and believes the upheaval creates “health and safety issues for both staff and students”.

“This is the last thing we need at present as more than ever our young people need stability and consistency,” she said.

“They are adamant the new school open in September in this split campus situation. The new design put forward has no PE or canteen facility – this is completely inadequate for the support that is necessary in our area.”

Le Chéile and CEIST, the patrons of the three schools, sent out a letter to the Board on January 25, saying they had given “extensive consideration” to how best proceed while waiting for construction of the new accommodation.

Having “explored every option”, the patrons said the decision was to open St Seton’s across three campuses.

Acknowledging it is not an “ideal” situation, they said their decision to return to the Dept Education to seek improved facilities was “correct” and while “it has caused delays”, they are confident St Seton’s will be an “excellent” school when completed.

A number of parents appeared on Newstalk on Tuesday to express their concerns, including one mother who said they will block the streets of Ballyfermot “if we have to”.

“This will be detrimental to children’s health. The construction could take years. My son will have to move next year and if he does specialist subjects, will have to move between campuses. The people of Ballyfermot deserve better.”

In a letter by Sarah Green, Principal of St Seton’s, to parents this week, she said every effort was made to “retain as much consistency as possible for the students and to support them in this transition”.

She said consideration will go into having “some familiar faces for second year students” coming from St Dominic’s and St John’s, the prioritisation of pastoral care and “continuity of care for those with special and additional educational needs” with ASD classes and individual supports in place in September.

In 2019, Le Chéile and CEIST, said they were no longer in a position to provide same sex education in the area for the next 50 years, leading to the amalgamation of the three Catholic schools.

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