independent

Monday 17 December 2018

Sargent back to old school roots

Minister opens new school building

ROBIN KIELY

Minister for Food and Horticulture, Trevor Sargent, cut the ribbon to mark the official unveiling of St George's National School, where he formerly worked as a teacher and principal. From having three teachers and 73 pupils, the school has grown to 16 teachers and 210 pupils and the minister referred to the 'huge expansion' in moving to the new building.

Minister Sargent said that it was impossible to expand the original school buildings due to the lack of available space, but added that the former building would continue to be utilised in the interest of education.

The minister spoke of his own experiences in St George's in the 1990s prior to becoming a TD.

'I would never have foreseen the day that St George's would grow to the extent that it has,' he said. ' This also reflects the massive growth in population in Balbriggan in recent times.'

Minister Sargent praised the schools in the Balbriggan area for meeting the challenges posed by newcomer children in schools in the area and publicly acknowledged the fact that each of the schools in the town had played a 'significant and pivotal role' in addressing the demand for new schools places in the area.

'I feel that the schools in the town were harshly dealt with in some media reports about the situation relating to enrolments and that much positive engagement by schools in meeting enrolment needs were overshadowed on occasions by less than favourable coverage,' he continued.

'The fact that significant numbers of children present in the school today were not born in Ireland or whose parents were not born here brings many challenges, but with these challenges comes opportunities.' The Green Party TD also expressed 'total confidence' in the teachers, the children and their parents in ensuring that the integration of all children continues to be a success.

Minister Sargent concluded his remarks by thanking Robert Cashell and the board of management for affording him the opportunity to officially open the new St George's and by wishing every success to the school, the pupils and the teachers.

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