Concern as gaelcholáiste cuts pupil intake
on 20/09/2013 00:00:00
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn allowed the Edmund Rice School Trust (ERST) to replace the board with a temporary manager earlier this year after disagreement between trustees and the board, largely on whether to continue enrolling three first-year classes. The new policy says space is no longer available for three classes in Sept 2014.
Cllr Thomas Gould (SF) said temporary accommodation should be provided for the next year or two until capacity issues are resolved.
"The school is a victim of its own success, it's a great school. But parents and children, and particularly those living locally, are hugely stressed about this. It will mean some having to go to Ballincollig, Glanmire, or the city centre to get the education in Irish that they want," he said.
Mr Gould is a board member at nearby Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers, where he also has a child enrolled. It is one of the schools where he says pupils wanting to attend the gaelcholáiste in 2014 might not get in.
The number of students at Gaelcholáiste Mhuire has risen from 354 to 445 since 2010, but the new policy says the process to decide who will be offered places next year is fair and understandable.
ERST chief executive Gerry Bennett said the trust is satisfied that the manager consulted widely about the policy, which explains the rationale for the decisions, and the trust approved it last week.
Children with a brother or sister currently enrolled will get first priority on places next year, followed by siblings of past pupils, then children of staff. The next stage of the process will see places offered to applicants from two ERST boys' primary schools - one at North Monastery and one in Blarney St - and two local girls' convent schools.
Mr Gould believes fewer than 20 places will be left and even pupils in the next group of feeder schools could face a lottery at that stage. These schools are: Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers, and Scoil Iosagáin and Scoil Aiséirí Chríost, both in nearby Farranree and overlooking the gaelcholáiste.
The concern is that no places will be left for pupils at the next group: Sunday's Well Boys and Sunday's Well Girls national schools; Gaelscoil Ghoirt Álainn, Mayfield; Scoil Mhuire, Rathpeacon; Scoil Oilibhéir, Ballyvolane; and Scoil Padre Pio, Churchfield.
Sunday's Well Boys NS principal Paddy Lynch expressed disappointment, as it has been a feeder school to the gaelcholáiste for 30 years, and sends an average of five pupils each year.
"To date, the children of our school had the right to be educated through the medium of the official language of the State. This proposed criteria denies them that basic right as well as changing the fabric of how education operates in the north of this city," he said.