North Presentation Secondary School in Cork city is to press ahead and become co-educational after a planned merger between the school and St Vincent’s was called off this week.
From next September, the school in Farranree will welcome both girls and boys while expanding its curricular and non-curricular provision.
On Thursday, the Religious Sisters of Charity, the patron of St Vincent’s, confirmed a planned merger between the two schools on the north side of Cork city from next year would no longer proceed following “significant opposition”.
In a statement issued on Friday, CEIST, the patron of North Presentation, said it was with “disappointment” that it learned of the decision of the Religious Sisters of Charity to withdraw from the amalgamation process “at this very late stage.”
“Over the last few weeks, a great deal of misleading and false information has been put into the public domain,” it added.
“This has caused immense hurt and upset to the North Presentation School community.” CEIST refrained from commenting to date out of respect for the process, it added.
“The board of management, senior leadership, students, and parents have conducted themselves in a professional, dignified and respectful manner for which we commend them.”
“At this stage, we believe that it is imperative that the record is set straight and that the voices of CEIST and that of Presentation Secondary School are heard.”
There had been strong objections to the planned move locally, with students from St Vincent’s telling thethey had been left "heartbroken" and "completely blindsided”.
Parents had also expressed concerns regarding the move to co-education, the proposed timescale of the amalgamation, and the facilities, particularly for students in the Lir Hub autism centre.
This week, each of the four TDs from Cork North Central called on Norma Foley, the Minister for Education, in the Dáil to pause the amalgamation. Taoiseach Micheál Martin also called for a “full and comprehensive consultation” on the plans. The Department of Education had approved the amalgamation of the schools in October.
According to the statement issued by CEIST on Friday, there was a "robust and facilitated period of consultation", including 31 formal meetings conducted by an independent facilitator with boards of management, staff, students, parents, and guardians.
"In addition, the parents and guardians of students who currently attend the 14Catholic Primary schools in the catchment area were included in the process."
"In the course of the consultation process, both patrons and school partners recognised that students deserve an education service with excellent facilities and high standards of teaching and learning. The schools clearly saw their mission as ensuring the provision of an education to all the students of the area, irrespective of their background or needs.
"The school community looks forward to welcoming both girls and boys and a newly expanded curriculum including construction studies/engineering, technical graphics, design, and communication graphics. We are extremely grateful to the Department of Education for its continued support as we begin this thrilling and progressive journey."