Tuesday 16 July 2019

Secondary school urgently needed for north Wexford

Sara Gahan

A concerned mother has called for an urgent meeting later this month to highlight the need for an additional secondary school in north Wexford.

Elaine Clarke from Riverchapel has called for the meeting over what she feels are growing difficulties parents have securing a place for their child in secondary schools in Gorey town.

'So far, my 12-year-old son does not have a place for September as he is still on the waiting list,' said Elaine.

After some research through Census 2016, Elaine claims schools in Gorey will be under severe pressure in the coming years as the population is only set to increase with numerous housing developments in the pipeline for Gorey.

She said an additional school is needed that will serve the outer communities such as Tara Hill, Castletown and Kilanerin - areas that are at a disadvantage as both secondary schools in Gorey currently give priority to those closest to the school.

'Gorey Community School is already full to capacity and Creagh College will soon be the same,' said Elaine. 'We have the population in Riverchapel for a school and it would help reduce pressure for Gorey Community School and Creagh College.'

Elaine, who has two other children due to attend secondary school in the coming years, said the community has had enough and that it is time for some action.

She said that five full buses leave Riverchapel every morning to attend schools in Gorey, not including the other buses who commute to Colaiste An Atha in Kilmuckridge.

'It is only going to get worse, especially with numerous housing estates granted for Gorey in the coming years,' said Elaine. 'Star of the Sea National School Riverchapel is already full to capacity and they are now extending out to the front towards the road. Something has to be done.'

Pushing for the need for a school in Riverchapel for quite sometime now is Cllr Robbie Ireton, who feels the area needs a national school as well as a secondary school.

'Hopefully this month I will meet the County Manager and show him a site that has become available,' said Cllr Ireton. 'There is land for sale at the moment that Wexford County Council could purchase and zone it to sell to the Department of Education.'

The site includes plenty of access, sewerage, water and electricity.

Cllr Ireton said over 400 children attend Star of the Sea in Riverchapel which is already full to capacity.

'There are limited in where they can expand,' said Cllr Ireton. 'They have been granted permission to come out further towards the road. Something has got to give.'

Cllr Ireton feels Gorey and surrounding district could do with another secondary school as Gorey is already under pressure to allocate places for incoming students.

'They say by 2020 it will be very difficult to get a place, that is why we need to get something rolling now so as to have a school in the near future,' said Cllr Ireton. 'Rather than put one in Gorey, put one in Riverchapel where the population just keeps growing.'

A secondary school in Riverchapel would also serve the catchment areas and take pressure off Gorey town.

Cllr Malcolm Byrne, who is chair of the Board of Management at Creagh College, said a shortage of second level school places is looming again in Gorey town.

He pointed out that on the basis of future projections, both Creagh College and Gorey Community School could reach capacity within a couple of years and this could lead to the same sort of pressures as a decade ago when overcrowding at Gorey Community School saw it limiting numbers.

'If we look at primary school enrolments in the North Wexford area and the fact that we expect continued population growth here over the next few years, there can be no doubt that our existing schools will be under pressure,' said Cllr Byrne. 'I've been warning about this for a while but we are now coming to crunch time. We either look at extensions to existing schools or a new school. The Department of Education needs to prioritise this.'

Creagh College can cater for a maximum of 1000 students while the Community School is not designed for more than 1400.

'We are fortunate to have excellent schools in Gorey but we have to ensure that they are not put under unnecessary pressure,' said Cllr Byrne. 'I also don't want to see what happened before where local children were not offered places in local schools.'

Creagh College came about after a sustained campaigned in 2010 when children who attended a number of North Wexford primary schools could not get places in Gorey Community School.

The meeting is open to all and will take place on Tuesday, January 29, at 7 p.m., in the Taravie Hotel in Courtown.

Gorey Guardian