School catchment move leaves pupils out in cold

FOURTEEN pupils have been turned away from their local 1,600-student secondary school because the Department of Education says there is no room for them next September.

The catchment area for Gorey community school was widened several years ago when it had room for extra pupils, but the Department has now told the school to stick to the traditional boundary, leaving five primary schools and 14 pupils out in the cold.

The move means the five local Co Wexford schools formerly included in the extended catchment area in Ballygarrett, Ballyfad, Monaseed, Coolgraney and Monamolin have been excluded. Many students will now have to pass the gates of Gorey community school and continue several miles down the road to Kilmuckridge vocational school. Others will be forced to travel to Wicklow.

Only sixth-class pupils in the five affected schools who have a brother or sister already enrolled in Gorey will be accepted.

Yesterday, parents converged on the school and handed in enrolment forms for the coming year, desperate to have their children accepted.

“We want the department to recognise our traditional catchment area and to accept these pupils up until a new school is provided in Gorey,” said mother of seven, Josephine Gahan, spokesperson for the Ballybeg Education Action Group.

“Ultimately, what we need here is a new secondary school, the area is growing at such a rate,” she said.

She said the school or the people of the region were not to blame for the overcrowding. “Originally in Gorey, parents had a choice. They could send their children to the Loreto, the Brothers or the Vocational School.

“Some of the children going on to secondary this September have grandparents who were educated in Gorey. But they’re now being told they are not able to go and will have to go down the road or to another county altogether.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the school previously had additional capacity and accepted students from outside of its catchment area. “The school has now been advised by the department to restrict enrolment to the catchment area and it has done this.

“Those who feel they have grounds for an appeal can do so through a Section 29 appeal. The school will advise them on this or they can get information on it from us or on our website,” the spokesperson added.

Gorey community school is one of the largest schools in the country.

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