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Delay in opening school leaves families without school places

Posted by SchoolDays Newshound on 27/08/2015. Delay in opening school leaves families without school placesTags: Education And Politics Parenting

A row has broken out between Educate Together (ET) and the Department of Education after the school’s patron has refused to proceed with the opening of a school in Castlebar just a week before children were due to start there.

Educate Together announced that it was deferring the opening of the school until 2016 and has blamed the Department of Education for offering accommodation that was “inaccessible and not viable in the long term”

The building offered was a catholic school which closed about 20 years ago and is in an isolated rural location, 8 km from the town. It was handed over to the Department of Education by the Catholic Church as part of a national process to provide diversity of choice for parents.

According to a statement from Educate Together, they had been prepared to proceed to open the Castlebar ETNS on 1st September 2015 in temporary accommodation. However they say that they were “ issued with an ultimatum by the Department of Education and Skills: either it must accept as permanent accommodation a building that is inaccessible, not viable in the long term, and does not serve the needs of the communities it is meant to serve; or it must postpone the opening of the school."

The statement goes on to say that "the overwhelming majority of parents have told us that they will not send their children to Castlebar ETNS if it means accepting that the Burren is their ultimate intended school premises. Therefore, given the limited options available to us, we have decided under duress to defer the opening of Castlebar ETNS until 2016 pending a full review of the accommodation options and possibilities for the school in a more central location in the Castlebar area for 2016.”

However, according to the Independent , the Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan has called the decision by the ET to defer “a misplaced effort to apportion blame for the consequences of their own decisions upon the Department of Education and Skills”. She said that Educate Together had previously accepted the building, the former Burren National School, and the department was working on bringing it up to standard.

Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland this morning, the Regional Development Officer for Ireland West for Educate Together, Jarlath Munnelly, has rejected the claim that Educate Together initially accepted the school site. He said that Educate Together had indicated to the Department in February this year that they had a strong reaction from parents that the site was not good.

It is believed that around 10 children were due to start at the school next week whose parents now have the unenviable headache of trying to find places for their children just before the school year starts.


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