Greystones Community College

Calls for building works amid school places crisis

Greystones Community College has only been in a position to offer 96 places to next year's first years, with over 180 applications having been made.
29-November-20

Greystones Community College has only been in a position to offer 96 places to next year's first years, with over 180 applications having been made.

The school sent out letters to parents this week, detailing whether their children will have a place in the school year starting in September 2021.

Greystones Community College is the new post primary school for Greystones under the patronage of Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board which opened its doors in 2020 to 67 first year students in temporary accommodation.

'Despite the many challenges in the run up to the opening of the school, Greystones Community College has gained the confidence of the community as a school committed to excellence in education while also providing comprehensive support and care for students,' said principal Ruairí Farrell.

'The admissions process for those students starting secondary school in September 2021 has been completed in line with the school's admission policy. All applicants have now been informed of the outcome of this process. As there has been no clarity regarding the future accommodation plans for the school, it was deemed necessary to limit enrolment to 96 students at this time. Greystones Community College was very heavily oversubscribed with applications, thus resulting in many disappointed families.'

He said that the management of the school is collaborating with KWETB, the Department of Education and other schools in the area to do everything possible to ensure that all children can access school places in the locality.

'We will endeavour to keep communication channels open with all parents as we work through the admissions process for 2021,' said Mr Farrell.

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Deputy Jennifer Whitmore and Cllr Jodie Neary of Social Democrats said that a crisis of secondary school places is looming for the district.

'Yet again, students in Greystones will have the stress and worry of not having a school place readily available to them,' said Deputy Whitmore.

'This is symptomatic of a Department that has not addressed the current capacity of secondary schools in order to meet the demand for places in the area.'

She said that a move to their new school in Charlesland will cater to more than is currently on offer, with that land still in the ownership of the developer.

'While these figures may change over the course of the next few months, the question remains where those school children who were not offered a place, going to go?'

She called on Minister for Education Norma Foley to act now.

'The Department must proceed with the purchase of the land on the new site in Charlelsand earmarked for the new secondary school building,' said Deputy Whitmore.

'Failing that, the Department must CPO the land if they cannot come to an agreement with the developer. Discussions have been ongoing with regard to the purchase of this land for a considerable period - it is now time for the Department to finalise those discussions one way or another.

'Then, once the land is secured by the Department, portacabins can be put in place on a temporary basis, which would resolve the issue in the short term. And this would enable the Department to quickly move to a design and build stage for the new building. Until the land is secured, the school will be in a limbo situation.'

Cllr Neary said that parents and children will need certainty if they were not successful in getting a secondary school place.

'It's important that the Minister for Education and the Department act now to provide certainty for families who want their children to learn near where they live,' she said.

'But it's also important that the Department acts now so that Greystones Community College School can plan ahead and build up capacity to meet local demand for secondary school places.'

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that last week he met Greystones Community College principal Ruairí Farrell to discuss the future of the school.

'Mr Farrell made it clear they were going to have to reduce their admission numbers for next year as they still had no clarity about their future,' he said. 'The issue of a shortage of school places in the Greystones area is something I've been focused on for some time which is why I've been a strong supporter of the school.

'I know the Department is looking at seeking planning permission for additional class rooms on the grounds of the rugby club.

'The issue of there being a lack of school places for next year is something I will definitely be raising with the Department as a matter of urgency. We need to see progress being made on the purchase of a site for the school as soon as possible. Unless that happens we are unfortunately facing a situation where there simply won't be enough school places which no one wants to see happen.'

Link: Calls for building works amid school places crisis

Wicklow & Bray People, November 14th 2020

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