By Rose Barrett
Parents seeking a place at the new Educate Together secondary school in Belmayne have hit out at a decision to limit the number of first year admissions to 52.
For parents Fiona and Tony Peachem from Baldoyle, the lack of sufficient spaces for first year students is a nightmare.
“I was a founder member of the committee that campaigned to secure a secondary school for Belmayne ET,” Fiona told Dublin Gazette. “I love the ethos of Educate Together and we enrolled our daughter Katie when she was only six months old.
“Now she is due to start secondary school in September 2020 but she is currently only twelfth on the waiting list.
“We’re devastated for the many other parents and students who will be disappointed. At least 170 applications were received for first year entries in September, which is now down to 96, but the Department of Education will only guarantee 52 places.”
A parent’s committee launched an online petition which has already exceeded over 1,000 signatures in a short period of time.
Mother Jacinta O’Toole was equally critical of the curtailed admission numbers, although her daughter Zhara has been accepted for the ET secondary school next term.
She said: “I’ve been on the Parent’s Council for Educate Together NS for 11 years. My son Evan attends Clonturk ET SS in Whitehall.
“But I feel very strongly that parents favouring the Educate Together ethos within the catchment area have only one facility to choose, where parents whose children were educated at other mainstream schools (often run by religious denominations) have up to six secondary schools to choose from”.
Principal Aishling Kenevey stated: “There are currently not enough school places in Belmayne ETSS to meet the growing demand in the community.
“We cannot accommodate all of the families seeking places, and will regrettably have to turn away students.”
Jacinta and Fiona called on the Department of Education to use some of the prefabs allocated for Belmayne in September 2021 to facilitate more enrolments.
But Ms Kenevey confirmed she was told that “until the construction of the school’s permanent home is complete, Belmayne ETSS will regretfully remain restricted in how many places it can offer”.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said a new 1,000-pupil school campus on the Grange Community College site was due to open in early December.
They added: “It will not be possible for the secondary school to increase its enrolment intake beyond the current intake level (up to 48 pupils at first year) for the 2021/2022 academic year.”