independent

Monday 26 June 2017

Renewed hope for Fermoy Educate Together school

Fermoy parent Conor O'Mahony
Fermoy parent Conor O'Mahony

Bill Browne

The ongoing campaign to secure an Educate Together national school in Fermoy will be the focus of a public meeting set to take place at the local Community Youth Centre at 8.30pm on Thursday, May 18.

In 2011 the government established the forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the primary sector, with the stated aim of increasing diversity and inclusiveness through the reconfiguration of Church buildings and school.

Parents in 43 areas were consulted on their school patron of choice, with those in Fermoy choosing Educate Together.  However, progress in the intervening years has been slow, due in part to what Educate Together said was the Department  of Education's insistence that it be 'no cost' process. 

The public meeting in Fermoy, will be hosted by Educate Together regional development officer Niall Wall, who said the campaign has been re-energised in the wake of recent announcements by the Department of Education and Skills. 

Mr Wall said that Educate Together had been encouraged by the Department's recently published Action Plan For Education, in which Minister Richard Bruton committed to "commence discussions with existing and prospective patrons on potential 'early movers' - schools in respect of which a desire for patronage reassignment has already been expressed." 

This, said Mr Wall, had raised the hopes of Fermoy parents that they will finally get their Educate Together primary school.  The latest development comes almost four years after Fermoy was one of 25 areas across the country promised an Educate Together school by the government under school patronage selection process.

On their website Educate Together said that given Minister Bruton's commitment to reinvigorating the process "now is the time to make the case that the government fulfil its obligation to families in Fermoy."  Furthermore, say Educate Together, the Minister's plan to accelerate the 'reconfiguration' process through leasing buildings from the patron of the majority of school in Ireland, the Catholic Church, would indicate that the State is finally willing to invest in provision for school choice.

"Educate Together is patron of a thriving network of school that are in massive demand nationwide," said Mr Wall.  "I have spoken to parents in Fermoy about the next steps for our campaign and am looking forward to working with them to establish an equality based primary school in the town," he added.

Fermoy resident Conor O'Mahony said he and other parents were keen to see the patronage process move forward. "It's important that families in Fermoy have more choice in relation to the schools they send their children to. I want an Educate Together school in the town because I agree with the ethos where children are all treated equally and learn about all religions," said Mr O'Mahony.  For more information visit www.educatetogether/fermoy or visit the dedicated Educate Together Fermoy Facebook page.

About Educate Together

Educate Together has been operating in Ireland in 1978, when its opened its first school in Dublin.

It currently operates 81 primary schools (six in Cork) and nine secondary schools across the country.

It has opened more new primary and secondary schools than any other school patron over the past decade.

Its school's are 'child-centred' and teach the national curriculum.

A founding principle of its approach to education is that all children are treated with equal respect regardless of social, cultural or religious backgrounds.

For more information about Educate Together schools visit www.educatetogether.ie.

Corkman

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