Monday 19 March 2018

New secondary school in Swords is enrolling

John Manning

There has been huge interest in the early weeks of enrolment at the new secondary school in Swords which is due to open in temporary accommodation in September.

The first new secondary school in Swords for decades will open its doors in September in a high quality temporary 'pod' building on the grounds of St Finian's Community College before moving to a permanent, state-of-the-art school building in the Mooretown area of Swords in 2019.

Swords Community College will welcome its first 40 students this year, and add 90 next year and will eventually expand in its permanent home to a school of some 1,000 students.

The newly-appointed principal of the school, Mark McDonald has been in the role for a number of weeks now and has engaged with the local community to invite applications for enrolment. He said that applications are 'steadily coming in' and there has been huge interest in the school particularly from parents of third and fourth class pupils where there appears to have been a population spike in Swords.

Mr McDonald invited interested parents to an information night on the school at Thornleigh Educate Together, which is scheduled for May 16 at 7.30pm and he says there will be two elements of the new school that he hopes will set it apart.

The Swords Community College principal said: 'We are looking to do something slightly different here in two ways. I want to create a digital school where iPads will be a crucial part of what we do. I realise that technology is only as powerful as the people holding the device but it can be a very powerful educational tool.'

The school principal also wants to make sure that students are at the centre of everything the school does and to move way from the model that says 'the teacher is the holder of all knowledge'. Instead, he wants the school's teachers to be 'facilitators of learning', encouraging the students to build the skills for learning, researching and thinking for themselves.

the new school principal ran a school in Firhouse for four years and before that he was the deputy principal of a start-up school so he has experience both as the principal of a school and of being involved in a new school setting up - a perfect combination of skills for his new job.

Originally from Coolock and now living in Clonee, Mr McDonald knows the Swords are well and has family living in the town.

He said as he has gone out and engaged with parents locally over the last few weeks, he has been impressed by parents' knowledge and interest in the education sector in Swords and he is looking forward to satisfying the huge demand there is out there for more choice and capacity in the local school sector.

The school will be located on a new 'education campus' which will eventually also house a new primary school. The Swords Community College principal believes there are clear advantages for co-locating a primary and secondary school and says it follows a successful Scandinavian model that sees a child spend its entire school career on the same site.

The arrangement will also allow the schools share facilities and knowledge for the benefit of both school populations.

There is also good news for the wider community in Swords in the arrival of the permanent school building for the community college. The building will come complete with a sports hall with the two facilities delivered under what was once called the 'Fingal Schools Model' which sees the council earmark sites for schools in exchange for shared community facilities, so out of school hours the sport hall will be available for community use.

The permanent school building that will be constructed in the Mooretown area, at the back of Cianlea estate and close to Applewood will be a 'rapid build' project which the principal hopes will mean it will comfortably meet its September 2019 target date for completion.

If you are interested in signing your child up for the school, email or look up Swords Community College on Facebook.

Fingal Independent