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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Time for cuts in education

This is one cut I’m proud of! Wexford’s newest school opened today. That’s me cutting the ribbon along with the pupils. Educate Together officially opened their primary school at Summerhill today. It was a great day for all concerned. I was delighted to be asked to do the honours and cut the ribbon. It’s been a rapid rise for the school from drawing board to reality but last September saw the school open. The school now has 15 pupils and 2 teachers and numbers will rise further next September. The school provides a new option for parents in Wexford in terms of patron, ethos, mix of sexes and provides a non-denominational school to the town for the first time. At a time when much of the news is negative it makes days like today more important. The reality is that future citizens of our town will be shaped by this school. It’s a sign of the diversity and recognition that the type of homogenous society that Ireland once was is now no more.

The Chairperson of the Board of Management Catriona Staunton had a vision of opening a school based on equity, democracy and one that would be child centred. I’ve met her bag packing, leafleting and lobbying in aid of her aspiration and you cannot be anything but enthused by her energy. The school is located in the former School of Music. This is a beautiful building with gorgeous plasterwork, fireplaces and really high ceilings. The Principal Maria and her teacher had put a huge amount of work into the opening day. All the pupils were excited at the prospect of the adults being in school, The highlight was when they sang Satchmo’s “Wonderful World” and “Sé mo Laoch mo ghile mhear” on the steps of the school.
Amy Hyland put today’s opening in the present context when she said that Educate Together didn’t visualise any further school openings this year. Other patrons such as the churches have said that they are happy to transfer patronage of some schools to other patron bodies if that is what parents wish. Clearly it’s change is coming in the area of schools in our country and I’m pleased Wexford will benefit from this change.
Unfortunately positive images like today’s get quickly forgotten in the media. I hope this school prospers and grows. May cuts like today’s live long in the memory of the school community

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