Sunday 17 December 2017

Educate Together school 'shocked' by demand for places

Principal Susan Campbell. Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Principal Susan Campbell. Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The first second-level school in Dublin city under the Educate Together banner is seeking approval to increase enrolments next year, after parents queued overnight to get a place for their child.

Clonturk Community College, Whitehall, opened last month with 47 students and was planning an intake of 96 first years next September.

But when the co-educational school opened for formal applications for 2017/18 yesterday, more than 100 names were quickly on the list.

The school's first-come, first-served enrolment policy drove highly motivated parents to camp out from Sunday to ensure they got a place for their son or daughter.

Clonturk Community College is a partnership between City of Dublin Education and Training Board and Educate Together, which is gradually moving into the second-level sector after almost 40 years in primary.

The school had an open evening last week, when it got an inkling of interest among parents, but principal Susan Campbell said she was "unbelievably shocked" by the queue that had formed by 10am yesterday.

Clonturk Community College was only formally announced last January and, while it was geared for an initial intake of 75 students, a lack of awareness about it may explain why it took in a little more than half that number.

It is well-situated on the northside of Dublin city, on the campus of Plunket College, Whitehall, at the junction of Swords Road and Griffith Avenue, within easy access of communities to its north, south, east and west.

While an obvious choice for parents sending children to Educate Together primary schools, Ms Campbell said the interest came from a "strong mix" of parents seeking a particular ethos, which, she said, was about more than religion.

Like all Educate Together schools, there is no religion on the curriculum and it has been sanctioned to teach an "ethical education".

Parents are heavily involved in policy-making at schools under the Educate Together banner, and at Clonturk, there is no uniform, teachers and pupils operate on first name terms and iPads take the place of books.

Despite being more than oversubscribed on their first day for applications for 2017, Ms Campbell said they would continue taking names until October 17, as originally planned.

The school is operating in temporary accommodation, and Ms Campbell said she would now be talking to the Department of Education "to ensure we have enough places for anybody who needs them".

Irish Independent

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