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School with one pupil doubles its numbers

IRELAND'S smallest national school has doubled its size- to just two pupils.

Scoil Aoife, a brand new Tallaght national school, opened its doors last week for a single pupil.

Ella Gilsenan (4) completed her first week at 'big school' alone. But on Monday Alex Keogh joined her in the junior infant class in the community national school.

Yesterday the duo donned their royal blue uniforms for the first time. However the school could face closure if the class size doesn't increase.

School principal Stacey McAuley said: "If enrolments don't increase it obviously wouldn't be viable with just two students."

However she reamins confident that the school will attract more pupils before the end of the month.

The model of community schooling is popular and that as word gets out local interest in the school is rising, she said.

The classroom can comfortably hold up to 16 pupils but the school may be able to go on with just seven.

"Every case is assessed individually," Ms McAuley explained.

She added that the decision about the future of the school would rest with the Department of Education.

"We certainly won't be turning anyone away," she said. The school will host an information evening today.

Despite a promotional drive during the summer months enrolments didn't materialise.

The school is currently in temporary accommodation in Brookfield Community Centre.

It is made up of one well-equipped classroom and has access to both a PE hall and playground.

But Ms McAuley is concerned that until the permanent site of the school is announced parents will be reluctant to send their children there.

Irish Independent