Parents vent frustrations at Ministers’ ‘non-response’ at public meeting

About 60 people attended an online meeting on Monday last hosted by Coolmine Community School Parents Action Group (CCSPAG).

by Rose Barrett
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The meeting was attended by Ministers Roderic O’Gorman and Jack Chambers, both of whom had to leave halfway through the meeting owing to other engagements. 

Also in attendance were General Secretaries of the TUI and ASTI along with Cllr Siobhan Shovlin (FG) who stood in for Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, TD for the area. 

Mother of three Andrea Fitzpatrick from Castleknock (co-founder of CCSPAG) stated: “Many parents expressed their upset at the loss at the three subjects: metalwork, woodwork and graphics at the school. 

“My own son Jack (13) who is in second year has only had two weeks of tuition for woodwork. One parent Alicia spoke at the meeting and said her son had selected all three subjects – the quality of his education in these specific topics has been greatly impacted.” 

An architect technologist by profession, Ms Fitzpatrick noted that graphics, metalwork and woodwork are gateway subjects to careers in architecture and engineering, and other industry trades. 

This, along with absenteeism owing to teacher illness and lack of cover as schools cannot secure stand-in teachers, is causing havoc to the school’s schedule. 

“An ex-Coolmine teacher spoke positively about her working time at CCS. But as she and her partner could not afford the €2,000 monthly accommodation fees, she was forced to leave – a Home Economics tutor, one of the most difficult posts to fill,” noted Ms Fitzpatrick. “She loved working at Coolmine and praised Principal Ms McPhilips but she and her partner are now living back home separately because they can’t afford the rent in Dublin.” 

CCSPAG further stated: “Teachers need to be offered permanent positions if they’re to be enticed home from abroad, something the TUI rep addressed. Out of 41 positions recently advertised for secondary school teachers, only one was a permanent position.” 

But perhaps the biggest emotion expressed by parents was disappointment at the contribution of both Ministers who stated while they empathised with Coolmine CS and others facing this situation, they had no update, nor assurances and “nothing new to the bring to the table.” 

“Both Ministers said they raised the matter with Minister for Education, Norma Foley but each left the meeting before many parents verbalised their experiences and frustrations.” 

Coolmine CSPAG called on other secondary schools in the area to speak up on the issue which is now a national crisis. 

“Many schools are in competition with each other to secure student admittances,” said CSSPAG. 

“But we are calling on them now to speak out about the issue. We’d like to thank Principal McPhilips for her exceptional honesty and support to date, she spoke out as she put the children first, a great endorsement for the school.

The group called for Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister Norma Foley to attend the group’s next meeting expected to be held in January 2023.

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