Anger over plans to merge two of Cork’s oldest schools

Bishop John Buckley: Agrees plan in principle.

The proposed merger of two of Cork’s oldest primary schools is causing controversy on the city’s northside.

The amalgamation plans for Scoil Mhuire Fatima boys’ school at the North Monastery and nearby St Vincent’s Convent National School were announced by their trustees to staff yesterday. There has been primary education since 1811 at the North Mon, which has 171 second to sixth-class pupils, while nearby St Vincent’s, which has male pupils up to first class and girls up to sixth, first opened in 1847.

However, the Edmund Rice Schools Trust, which controls former Christian Brothers schools, and the Sisters of Charity want to amalgamate them by next September. The newly named school would see pupils and staff of the North Mon primary relocate to the St Vincent’s site.

One North Mon teacher said staff were shocked and angry at the news delivered in a meeting after school yesterday, particularly at the plan their building would be taken over by a neighbouring gaelscoil. The move will also be an issue for parents, particularly with months to decide important issues such as uniform policies.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation said concerns have been raised about the plan and full consultation with all partners is essential.

“It is important that future school provision is planned properly rather than quickly,” a spokesperson said.

In addition, the Presentation Sisters have agreed to change the North Presentation Primary School near the North Cathedral from a girls’ school with infant boys to a co-educational primary — but on a phased basis. The trustees said the restructuring process will include consultations with each school’s board, staff, and parents.

“This new structure will provide a more secure future for these schools. The ethos of the existing trustees will continue within the two newly restructured schools,” said a joint statement from the trust bodies and the Cork Catholic diocesan trustees.

The plan is for primary education to continue at the North Monastery, as the expanding Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers would move into the vacated site from temporary accommodation in nearby Farranferris. It would also transfer from diocesan trusteeship to the ERST.

The combined enrolments at the four schools fell from 947 in 2007 to 868 last year, but Scoil Mhuire Fatima’s and St Vincent’s fell by 64 and 47 respectively, while the other two schools have grown.

All four are in the North Cathedral parish, and Catholic Bishop of Cork and Ross, John Buckley, agrees in principle with the plans.

“If the trustees are in agreement and the schools are in agreement, the patron would be supportive,” his spokesperson said.

The trusts said a change of trustees for Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers would allow pupils more secure progression to Gaelcholáiste Mhuire on the North Mon campus.


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