Few tears for tiny tots on very first day of big school
RECORD numbers of pupils are back in primary school this week as enrolments top the 510,000 mark for the first time.
And the upward trend looks set to continue for the foreseeable future with more than 75,000 recorded births in 2008, the highest for more than a century, and a similarly high number in 2009.
In Dublin, there were few tears as 44 children started their first day in Junior Infants at a city centre school.
The two new classes took to the new environment with gusto, Noirin Flynn, the acting principal of the Mater Dei primary school on Basin Lane, said.
"For those who had tears, they ended very quickly," she said.
The school in the south inner city has about 10 nationalities among its new intake, including a large number of Filipinos.
Like many schools around the country, for the first two days the pupils will be taken in for 90 minutes, which will be expanded later in the week.
"It is to ease them in gently so they don't get stressed because they become very tired if the first day is too long for them," Ms Flynn said.
And while most of the children were looking forward to their first day, it was an emotional day for some of the parents.
Catherine Kavanagh watched as her four-year-old Ryan went into the Junior Infants classroom -- the youngest of her five children and the last to go to school.
While Ryan was quickly looking forward to his second day at school, Ms Kavanagh said it was an emotional day for her.
"He got on grand, not a bother on him. He took it all in his stride. He was looking forward to it and asking for weeks and weeks when he was going to big school," she said.
In total, some 240 children filed into classrooms in the Mater Dei primary school yesterday, with most happy to be back with their friends following the summer holidays.
However, the INTO said the number of English language teachers for children who need language support continues to fall. Last year 500 such teaching posts were taken out of schools and this year could see a similar fall, it predicted.
Meanwhile, the Teachers' Union of Ireland is to hold a special delegate conference on September 25 to discuss its attitude towards the Croke Park pay deal. The union's executive will resume its deliberation on Friday on whether or not to lift its directives on parent- teacher and planning meetings outside school hours as well as a ban on swapping duties attached to middle-ranking promotion posts.
- The CAO announced that by 5.15pm yesterday a total of 36,392 acceptances were received on line. By this time last year, there were 35,669 acceptances in round one. Postal acceptances will be processed in the coming days.