An Educate Together school in South Dublin has successfully reversed an attempt to move it to a new location more than an hour’s drive away.
Firhouse Educate Together Secondary School opened two years ago. While waiting for its own premises, it has temporarily shared accommodation with the local Educate Together National School and Gaelscoil na Giúise.
But when proposals for a new local site were denied planning permission, the Department of Education decided to temporarily relocate the school to City West, and to bus students there on journeys that could take more than an hour.
Not only would that disrupt the daily lives of local families, but there would always be the danger that a temporary move might drag into being effectively a permanent move. So the board and parents resisted the move.
The Department eventually allowed the school board to try to find an alternative local site. But when they did this, Gaelscoil na Giúise decided to not allow the school to continue to temporarily share its building. The Department then reinstated the move to City West.
After political lobbying and protests, parents and the school board have now succeeded in reversing this decision. The school will now stay in its shared local accommodation for the next academic year, while architects begin plans to have the new building ready for September 2022.
This saga shows the futility of the Irish State forcing private patron bodies to compete for the right to run publicly funded schools. Having multiple private patrons is central to the problems with Irish schools.
Instead, there should be a single State-run education system that treats all families equally in all schools. Every child should have the right to access a local school that respects them equally.
One positive outcome was that local second-year student Jude Woodfull composed this song for the campaign to save the school. It shows that optimism and creativity can prevail in the face of senseless bureaucracy.