Friday 18 August 2017

'We came together and said we can do this' - Parents open new primary school after owner retires

The montessori-style primary school teaches children through physical learning

Children learning at the Georgian Montessori Primary School Photo:Derek Speirs
Children learning at the Georgian Montessori Primary School Photo:Derek Speirs
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

A group of determined parents have decided to open their own primary school after it was announced their children's school would be closing down.

Parents at the Georgian Montessori Primary School on Mountjoy Square, Dublin 1, were left devastated when it was announced that the school would be closing following the owner's retirement.

Instead of the children having to move elsewhere, a group of eight parents decided to open and fund their own fee-paying school so their children could continue to learn in a Montessori environment. The school will also provide after-school daycare for children.

One of the parents Catherine Melody told Independent.ie that she was distraught when she heard the school was closing.

"I was at the school for two months with my three-year-old daughter when they announced that the owner was retiring and the school was closing.

"I was devastated. The school was so lovely and homely. It was a huge blow to the staff who have been there for years. Suddenly the teachers were out of a job and the parents had nowhere to send their kids."

The Montessori-style learning allows children to learn by physically doing the tasks. It caters for children aged between three and 12-years-old and follows the national primary curriculum.

"It's very hands on and children can learn at their own pace. For example when learning about geography, children will use globes and will feel their way around the map blindfolded. There will be sandpaper for land and smoother paper for water, so just by feeling and not seeing, they can learn that there is more water than land on earth."

She said the Department of Education do not fund Montessori-style primary schools, so the parents were forced to take matters into their own hands.

"We as parents came together and said 'we can do this'. We can run a school."

The parents formed an eight-member Board of Management to fund and run the new school.

"When we pooled our skills together we found out we had an accountant, architect, a solicitor and parents with teaching backgrounds. We had all the skills we needed.

"We're all working full time at our normal jobs and we won't be making any money from it. We're completely non-profit."

The school registered as a charity and the school fees paid by the children will be used to pay teachers and will then be put back into the school. There are currently three full-time teachers and up to 40 kids at the school.

The classrooms are divided into three age groups, 3-6, 6-9 and 9-12 and the school fees range from €2,806 per annum to €3,010.

The school also provides meals and extra-curricular activities such as swimming, music and French.

It will be opened on July 1 for summer school and will then open as a Montessori-style primary school in September with after-school daycare.

Catherine said that many of the global tech leaders started off their education at Montessori-style schools.

"Some of the head of tech companies in Silicon Valley have said they learned at these schools. They were taught to think differently and learn by doing."

The school website says that celebrities such as Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Jeff Bezos and even Anne Frank attended Montessori-style primary schools.

A school information day will be held on Saturday May 6 at 11am in The Croke Park Hotel.

Independent.ie contacted the Department of Education for a comment.

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