Tuesday 17 September 2019

Islamic Foundation in bid for first post-primary school with Muslim ethos

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Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The Islamic Foundation of Ireland is applying to set up the country's first post-primary school with a Muslim ethos.

There are already three Muslim primary schools, all in Dublin, but none at second level.

Ireland's Muslim community is growing rapidly and, in the 2016 census, accounted for 1.3pc of the population, making it the country's third-largest faith group. About half of the 63,000 population live in the Dublin region.

The Islamic Foundation is one of five patron bodies vying for a new school due to open in Blanchardstown, west Dublin, next September.

The school will have capacity for 800 pupils and is one of six being established in 2020 to cater for the growth in post-primary enrolments.

The three other new schools in Dublin will serve Goatstown/Stillorgan/Dún Laoghaire Rathdown; Tallaght/Newcastle/Rathcoole, based at Citywest/Saggart; and Dublin 6/Dublin 6W.

There is also a school planned for the Enfield/Kilcock area on the Meath/Kildare border, and another serving Kilcoole and Greystones, Co Wicklow.

Parental preferences are a major determinant in deciding patronage, while consideration is also given to the level of school diversity available in the area.

A key stage in the decision-making process kicks off today.

Education Minister Joe McHugh has announced surveys, which are open to parents and guardians of children who are due to enrol in post-primary school between 2020 and 2024 in these parts of Dublin, Meath/Kildare and Wicklow.

The online survey for parents can  accessed at  https://patronage.education.gov.ie 

The process is open until October 4 and, as well as giving their view on the model of patronage, parents can also state a preference for English or Irish as the medium of instruction.

Mr McHugh said it was "a great opportunity for mothers and fathers and guardians to help to shape the education of the future".

Urging maximum participation, he said "we need parents' support to ensure we reflect the views of families in the areas where we have younger and growing populations".

Other patrons in the field for all six schools are the Irish language body An Foras Pátrúnachta, Educate Together, the local education and training board (ETB) and Scoil Sinéad, which has a particular focus on the integration of children with special needs.

Additionally, Catholic education trusts are applying for two of the schools: Ceist in the case of Citywest/Saggart and Le Chéile at Enfield/Kilcock.

The patronage process is overseen by the independent New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG). When the surveys close, the department will compile a report for the NSEG, which will issue a recommendation to the minister.

Irish Independent

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