Dream comes true for campaigners
THE action group set up to campaign for a second-level Educate Together school in Balbriggan has said the news that dream is to become a reality is reward for seven years of hard work.
The Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn, has awarded patronage of a new 700-student secondary school for Balbriggan to Educate Together which is set to open its doors in either 2015 or 2016.
Lavinia McLean, Chairperson of the Balbriggan action group, Balbriggan ET2L said: 'We are delighted with the announcement today, which recognises parental choice in second-level education.
'Parents and community representatives have worked hard for seven years in Balbriggan to achieve this goal, and are looking forward to a new Educate Together Secondary School in our community.'
The Department of Education and Skills has appointed Educate Together as patron to five new second-level schools across the country opening in 2015 and 2016.
The schools will be located in Cork, Celbridge, Co. Kildare, North Wicklow, and Balbriggan and Ballinteer in Dublin. Four of these new schools will be voluntary secondary schools, with Educate Together appointed as sole patron.
In Celbridge Educate Together said it is delighted to be working in partnership with Kildare & Wicklow ETB, as joint patrons of the planned new second-level school for the area.
The announcement is warmly welcomed by parent groups in these areas - including Balbriggan - that have campaigned for many years for access to Educate Together schools in their communities.
Educate Together CEO Paul Rowe: 'We are delighted with this announcement. Well done to the start up groups who have been working hard to ensure their children can access their preferred model of education.
'We look forward to working with the local community, local authorities and the Department to make sure these schools open as efficiently as possible.
'This represents a really positive step in our work to give Irish parents a choice of school type for their children's education.'
Second-level Programme Manager for Educate Together, Ruth Doggett, said: 'The selection of Educate Together as patron of five further schools, in addition to the three sanctioned last year, shows the increasing demand for this innovative model of education.
'Parents are looking for a new approach to second-level education – one that focuses on the lifelong learning needs of learners in the 21st century. We look forward to engaging with the Department of Education and Skills in relation to securing the necessary resources to open these schools.'
According to the organisation: 'Educate Together second-level schools will place the student at their centre. They will be vibrant, welcoming communities in which every student feels a real sense of belonging. 'The Educate Together approach at second-level moves away from 'teaching to the test' and towards an emphasis on the learner.
'Here, students will develop skills in creative and critical thinking, communication, teamwork, research and leadership.'