Last February, the Department of Education told Gorey Community School in Wexford that it could no longer take pupils from five primary schools in the area because of overcrowding problems.
But following pressure from the parents of pupils in Ballygarrett, Ballyfad, Monaseed, Coolgraney and Monamolin, Education Minister Mary Hanafin gave parents and teachers a commitment in March that the children could be enrolled.
On foot of that commitment, the ten sixth class pupils sat an entrance exam for the local community school, attended an open day there and even chose their subjects for September.
But in the past few days, the principal at Gorey Community School received a directive from the minister’s office ordering him not to take pupils from the five primary schools. It has left ten children in Ballygarrett with no option but to enrol at Kilmuckridge Vocational School.
Furious parent and campaigner at Ballygarrett, Josephine Gahan, warned: “We’re not taking this lying down. We’re planning a march on Friday evening at 4.30pm through Gorey to highlight this issue. It is going to cause chaos and it will cause traffic disruption. If they are doing this to our school, which school is next?”
Principal in Gorey, Nicholas Sweetman, said he sympathised with the parents but could not disobey a Government directive.
“But we should not be fighting over 10 places,” the principal said.
The Department of Education said the minister told parents and representatives at the meeting last March she would consider letting pupils outside the traditional catchment area go to Gorey this year. But a spokesperson for her department said when the matter was further explored, it was just not possible because of the precedent it would set and overcrowding at the school built for 1,300 pupils.