Monday 25 September 2017

Eighty children to miss out on Gaelscoil as waiting list soars

Pledge: Minister for Education Richard Bruton has vowed to tackle school admission policies Photo: Tom Burke
Pledge: Minister for Education Richard Bruton has vowed to tackle school admission policies Photo: Tom Burke

Patrick Kelleher

A Gaelscoil in Co Kildare will be unable to provide school places for almost 80 children next September, due to huge numbers enrolling at the school.

Scoil Ui Riada in Kilcock, Co Kildare, has approximately 56 places for next September; however, 52 of those places have already been reserved by siblings of current pupils.

This leaves just four places for new families in the school, as the waiting list hits 130 children. The school has been oversubscribed since 2013, with parents fighting each year for extra places.

In previous years, the school has been granted extra places to accommodate as many children as possible.

However, this year the Department of Education and the school's patron, the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, are insisting that there should only be two streams rather than three. There are four other schools in the area for families to choose from, but parents are adamant that they should have the right to educate their children through the Irish language.

Brendan Shalvey has had his daughter on the waiting list to attend Scoil Ui Riada since she was nine months old but fears that she will not get a place in September.

"It turns out that there are people who have been there from about three months old.

"We want Irish to survive, we want Irish to thrive and we want it to be a living language."

Parents' Committee member Eimear de Faoite says the fight for extra places at the school is lasting from spring to September each year. "At this stage, there is a precedent that parents here wish for their children to be educated through Gaeilge," she added.

Seamus O Muirithe, principal of Scoil Ui Riada, told the Sunday Independent that he supported the parents.

"Unfortunately, at the moment, we are bound by other decisions made by the Department of Education.

''These decisions do not allow us to give parents what they would like in relation to education through the medium of Irish."

The school's patron, Bishop Denis Nulty, declined to comment. Last week, Minister for Education Richard Bruton revealed that he intends to tackle school admission policies that give preference to Catholic children. The changes will prevent Catholic schools from exclusively selecting children who have been baptised for admission.

Meanwhile, the Education (Admissions to School) Bill is currently making its way through the Oireachtas.

The bill will mean that waiting lists for schools will be banned, which is intended to alleviate pressure on parents with children attending oversubscribed schools.

Sunday Independent

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