Science success helps fire up school’s expansion plan

Plans have been lodged for a major extension at Kinsale Community School to cater for growing student numbers.

Kinsale Community School students Emer Hickey, Ciara Judge, and Sophie Healy-Thow who scooped top prize in this year's BT Young Scientist competition. Picture: Des Barry

The school caters for 770 students but the Department of Education has been prompted by an expected rise in enrolments to 1,000 in the coming years.

Principal Seán Ó Broin has put the continued growth in numbers down to the reputation built around success of students at every level. While it has earned national renown for churning out BT Young Scientist winners — three top prizes in the last seven years — he said it also caters well for students with special education needs.

“Whether people go on to attend university or taking part in one of our ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) programmes we look after them all, we really do both ends of the educational spectrum and everything in between. It’s what being a community school means,” he said.

The school runs one ASD programme, but Mr Ó Broin said that could increase to two or three with capacity for six students in each, if the new facilities go ahead.

“Our numbers have grown gradually since we opened with 500 students in 1996. I would put it down to people voting with their feet, or with their children’s feet, as they have chosen our school over others in the city or other towns,” he said.

The planned development at the edge-of-town school site was the subject of an application to Cork County Council a fortnight ago and includes a new three-storey classroom block, and a single-storey and a two-storey classroom extension to the existing building, which will itself also receive a general refurbishment. A new sports hall would also be provided, with a canteen set to replace the current gym, where Mr Ó Broin, the other students, and more than 50 staff welcomed back this year’s BT Young Scientist winners in January.

The latest big success in the science and technology exhibition came earlier this year, when Emer Hickey, Ciara Judge, and Sophie Healy-Thow scooped the overall prize at the RDS in Dublin. Mr Ó Broin said there have been a range of good news stories in the meantime.

Among them is the selection this month of 2011 Leaving Certificate student David Briscoe as a Trinity College Dublin scholar in history, one of 90 students there picked for their academic prowess in their chosen subject.

Fifth-year student Karen Briscoe earned herself an honorary mention from the jury at the European girls’ maths olympiad in Luxembourg, where she was one of a four-member Irish team.

Eoghan Gilleran from the school’s transition year recently won a US embassy prize of an all-expenses paid trip to a space camp in Alabama this summer.

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