The manager of a secondary school criticised for reducing intake from three classes to two is unable to say when a ruling will be made on whether to apply for extra buildings to cater for demand.
There is local anger that around 50 pupils have been unsuccessful in their applications for entry to Gaelcholáiste Mhuire at the North Monastery in Cork following changes to its enrolment policy. Many families are said to be preparing appeals to the Department of Education after the school limited admissions for next September to 58.
As some families and supporters protested outside the Dublin offices of school owners, the Edmund Rice Schools Trust, school manager Pat Keating said the 2014 admissions policy was designed to stabilise pupil numbers due to overcrowding. After three first-year classes were enrolled in 2011 and 2012, he said changes to the policy for entry this year were not enough to protect against overcrowding.
Mr Keating said his main concern is for the existing school community, and will hold talks with staff and parents of current students.
“I want to talk to everybody and if I’m happy there’s evidence there to approach the trustees with a plan for increased numbers, I would be very pleased to do that,” said Mr Keating.
He said the school is very well run, and careful planning would be needed over curriculum provision and buildings if any increased intake was allowed. Asked if a decision on expansion, or any associated application for temporary or permanent classroom accommodation, would be made in time for pupils applying next year for Sept 2015, Mr Keating said it was not possible to say.
Sinn Féin city councillor Thomas Gould, spokesman for the parents’ group pushing for three classes, and a board member of neighbouring primary Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers, which has had pupils refused enrolment, said some children have no place for next autumn because they applied too late or live outside the catchment area for other schools. Some have places in other schools but will have to travel to the city centre or Ballincollig, instead of their nearest gaelcholáiste, to avail of an all-Irish second-level education.
Mr Keating said he can not meet parents or representative because their cases may be the subject of appeals against the school’s refusal to enrol their children.
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