The oldest school on the southside of Cork city will take in girls for the first time from next year, it has been revealed.
Deerpark CBS, which has been catering for Catholic boys in the southside area for 190 years, will take in girls next September.
The Department of Education and Skills this week signed off on the school’s application, which it submitted in 2016.
“It’s huge news for the school and provides parents in the area with even more choice,” said vice principal Aaron Wolfe.
“It’s great to see the Department saying that the future of education is not segregated and this move paves the way for schools across Ireland to submit their own application.
“There are a number of fine single-sex schools in Cork city and some Protestant and non-denominational co-ed schools so we’re not replacing any school,” he added.
“We’re just offering parents and students a different choice, catering for Catholic boys and girls at a co-ed school for the first time.” The move comes after widespread change in the area with some primary schools, including Morning Star NS, going co-ed.
After consulting with the school's trustees, including the Edmund Rice Schools’ Trust, the DES decided there was a need for a Catholic co-ed school in the area.
Tanaiste Simon Coveney congratulated Deerpark on the announcement.
“This move has taken a lot of hard work and vision by the school and its management, and has really now paid off,” he said.
“For over 190 years this school has accepted boys only so this announcement truly recognises the modernising of the school’s focus for the 21st century.” Fianna Fail Leader and Cork TD, Michael Martin added that it is great news for Cork City.
“Deerpark has played a tremendous role in educating boys and young men of Cork for the last 190 years.
“It has an excellent reputation and this will only grow when it becomes a co-ed so that girls can now attend,” he said.
“This will allow Deerpark to grow and prosper well into the 21st century and beyond.” Cork South-Central TD Donnchadh O’Laoghaire said the development will add significantly to educational choice in Cork.
“This is a very positive development for education in the City as a whole, but particularly for the locality, the areas of the Lough, Ballyphehane, Friars Walk, Togher and Greenmount, and I know it is something that the school and it's board have been pursuing for some time,” he added.
The school will host another open night on October 11 to showcase all it has to offer to any interested female applicants.
“Deerpark CBS was the first Catholic school to raise the rainbow flag in Cork, we currently have 26 nationalities represented in the school community and we actually lead the country in terms of ASD integration, care and inclusion,” said principal Kevin Barry adding that including girls was the next logical step.
“It’s an important year for the school with our 190th anniversary,” said Mr Wolfe.
“While we’re reflecting on the past, we’re certainly looking to the future,” he added.
“The city has evolved and we’ve evolved with it.”
This story originally appeared in the Evening Echo