Montessori to bid for patronage of primary school
The race for control of a new primary school in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, due to open next September, is hotting up.
St Nicholas Montessori Society, which runs a teacher training college and a small private school in the south Dublin town, has announced that it plans to bid for patronage.
"This is a new departure for us", St Nicholas director Ian McKenna said. "We have a waiting list and we haven't got the capacity to take them."
He said the board of trustees saw it as an opportunity to establish a primary school, based on Montessori principles, within the State system.
Mr McKenna said changes to the primary curriculum in recent years brought it closer to the Montessori model.
The St Nicholas school is based on the Montessori teaching philosophy and has 120 pupils from pre-school up to sixth class. Annual fees are €2,800 for three to four year olds and €3,475 for older pupils.
The proposed new school will have 16 classrooms, with two classes for each year. The Education Department is planning for an intake of 27 for each of two junior infant streams next September.
If St Nicholas Montessori School was awarded patronage, it would have to stop charging school fees, but Mr McKenna said a benefit being within the State system would be that it would qualify for funding from the Education Department.
Dún Laoghaire is the location for one of three new primary schools opening in September 2017 for which Education Minister Richard Bruton invited potential patrons to apply.
There is already keen competition for the school. Other patron bodies quick to announce their bids include Educate Together, Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board, for a community national school, and An Foras Pátrúnachta, which runs Irish-medium schools.
Parental preference is a key factor in the decision-making process and the Education Department has given patrons until January 6 to submit their applications. Patrons are now asking parents to sign up to them.
The Education Department will announce the outcome of the process in February.
Mr McKenna said all the patron bodies did "fantastic work", but St Nicholas wanted to offer parents another option.
The St Nicholas school, which has been running for more than 35 years, describes itself as multi-denominational, with a Christian ethos.