Principal forced to look at ‘time of birth’ when enrolling new students

by Sylvia Pownall

A SCHOOL principal in Swords has admitted ranking students not just by their date of birth but by the hour of their birth due to overwhelming demand for places.
The Holy Family NS in River Valley has already turned away three classrooms worth of pupils for the academic year ahead, principal Mark Cunningham revealed.
Mr Cunningham said the lack of classrooms is to blame for the chronic shortage – and he fears the 96 incoming students still on the waiting list will have to travel well outside the parish to secure a place in September.
Holy Family NS has an enrolment policy which prioritises older Catholic children.
Mr Cunningham said: “We are in a situation now where we are looking at the birth certificate, and we would have a number of children that would be born on the same day so we have to look at the time of birth.”
He called for additional resources to meet demand and said the removal of the controversial Baptism Barrier which allows Catholic schools to prioritise Catholic children would make little difference.
Meanwhile Deputy Darragh O’Brien (FF) is warning of a crisis for incoming secondary students after the opening of two new schools in Malahide/Portmarnock and Swords were pushed back by more than a year.
Minister Richard Bruton confirmed through a parliamentary question that the new schools which were due to open in September will not now open until September 2018.
He said the patron of the Malahide/Portmarnock Educate Together decided “for operational reasons” to postpone as did the patron of Swords Community College.
Minister Bruton said: “The acquisition of school sites in densely populated areas such as Swords presents an ongoing challenge for my department as the availability of suitable property is often extremely limited, due to the area of accommodation and ancillary facilities required.”
Citing high birth rates and a rising population Deputy O’Brien said: “Local parents are becoming increasingly anxious about whether there will be a place for their children come September.”

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