Mayo families search for new school, after Educate Together plan falls through

Mayo families search for new school, after Educate Together plan falls through

Ten families in Mayo are searching for a new primary school for their children after the opening of an Educate Together school was delayed by a year.

The school in Castlebar was due to open next week, but instead will open in 2016 after a dispute with the Department of Education over its location.

Educate Together say the Department wanted them to take up a building eight kilometres outside of the town, and that it was not a viable longterm site.

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said there had been an agreement that the old Burren National School premises, located 8km from the town, would be used.

However, as reported in today's

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Irish Examiner, the multi-denominational schools body said the school would not now open in September as planned, which it deeply regrets.

The body claimed to have been given an ultimatum by the department earlier this week either to accept as permanent accommodation a building that is inaccessible, not viable in the long term, and does not serve the needs of the communities it is meant to serve, or to postpone opening the school.

“The overwhelming majority of parents have told us that they will not send their children to Castlebar ETNS if it means accepting that the Burren is their ultimate intended school premises,” an Educate Together statement said.

Jarlath Munnelly from Educate Together said it was a tough situation for those who had enrolled in the school.

"It's particularly so for the parents of the kids who had their hearts set on their kids staring in the school - it's incredibly difficult for them to go seeking alternative schools att his stage," he said.

"I think making a decision that late, and how it affects kids on a very big day starting a new school is just appalling."

The department rejected Educate Together’s claims it had only accepted the proposed premises as a temporary solution, saying work to bring the school back to use was based on its acceptance by the patron body.

Minister Jan O’Sullivan said the group’s decision was disappointing, and urged them to focus on helping to improve school choice for parents, “rather than seeking to distance themselves retrospectively from agreements they have entered into with the department”..

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