Saturday 25 March 2017

Parents camp outside secondary school to gain place for children

Principal Susan Campbell ,Clonturk Community College in Whitehall .
Principal Susan Campbell ,Clonturk Community College in Whitehall .

Cian Murray

Over 100 parents queued outside a secondary school over the weekend in the hope of gaining a place for their child.

Many of the parents were camped overnight from Sunday, with the aspiration of being near the top of the queue when Clonturk Community College in Whitehall, Dublin, opened its enrolment at 10am on Monday morning.

One of the parents hoping to gain a place for her child was Aileen Rogers.

She was waiting at the school since 9pm on Sunday night.

Parent Adrienne Smyth outside Clonturk Community College in Whitehall .
Parent Adrienne Smyth outside Clonturk Community College in Whitehall .

She insisted that she was there because of the Educate Together ethos.

She said: "It is the only secondary Educate Together school in the area. Not in a million years [would I camp out for any other school]. This is the only one and the only time I would ever do it.

“This is the only time I’d ever queue and if he ever tells me he doesn’t like this school, he is getting a toe up the backside.”

Adrienne Smyth, another parent who was in the queue since Sunday evening, said that she was prepared for such an experience.

Parent, Aileen Rogers, pictured outside Clonturk Community College
Parent, Aileen Rogers, pictured outside Clonturk Community College

She said: “I knew they were signing up on a first-come, first-served basis, so I just needed to be near the top of the queue.

“I am not sure what that system should be... there has to be some selection process.

Tom Nolan, who was waiting since 7pm on Sunday suggested that this sort of action is expected.

He said: "We have often stayed out later for a lot less. To stay out a few hours to know that you will get the school you want for your young fella, it is no problem for me anyway."

Parent Tom Nolan outside Clonturk Community College
Parent Tom Nolan outside Clonturk Community College

Principal Susan Campbell, said that the Educate Together school wasn't prepared for such a large volume of parents.

She said: “We are shocked that so many people are here today and so many people were here yesterday. We got a sense of how interested people were last Wednesday when we had our open evening, but we had no idea [it would be this popular]."

The principal also expressed sympathy for the parents and said she was surprised to see roughly twice the amount of the current student population waiting in this "first-come, first-served" enrolment.

“I am actually devastated for the parents, because if I could have predicted this , we would have looked at how we were going to handle applications but we are a brand new school. Last year, only 47 students applied."

Clonturk Community College isn't alone when it comes to parents camping overnight for school places.

Previously, staff of Loreto College in Rivervalley, Swords north Dublin made public pleas to parents to not start queues, saying: "Remember if no one starts the queue then there’ll be no need for others to queue."

It is not just Dublin that has this problem either, with overnight camping reported from other areas, as the race to get into the country's best schools.

With the queues in full-flow, Mrs Campbell revealed that she believes everyone at Clonturk will get a place.

"We will be onto the department as soon as we can and ensure there are enough places for anybody who needs them," she said.

This is good news for the people who have been queueing all night, but perhaps even better information for the large contingent of people who only arrived at the school at 9am on Monday morning.

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