Educate Together awarded patronage of new Galway Secondary school

Patronage of Galway's new second-level school, due to open in 2019, has been awarded to Educate Together, following a long campaign by Educate Together, and a grassroots group of Galway parents who have been working on this over the past six years.

The decision to award patronage was announced by the Department of Education on Wednesday morning.

The new school will be the first Educate Together secondary school in the West of Ireland.

This decision comes 40 years after the founding of what would become the first Educate Together school in Ireland, the Dalkey School Project, and next year, 2019, will mark 25 years since the founding of the Galway Educate Together National School.

The new school, due to open in 2019, is a ‘regional solution’ aimed primarily at the Galway city and Oranmore school planning areas, and is intended to meet the increasing demand for second-level education in Galway, with an anticipated enrolment of 1,000.

The campaign for an Educate Together secondary school - grouped under the moniker GET2LS - has been volunteer-run by parents and has been supported by the principals and staff of the five existing Educate Together primary schools in Galway city and county, as well as by the Educate Together Head Office.

GET2LS also thanked the eight TDs in Galway West and Galway East who also supported the campaign.

"Students need a breadth of skills and attributes to succeed in today’s diverse world and changing workplace,” said Educate Together CEO Paul Rowe. "They need to be able to learn, unlearn and relearn throughout their lives.

“Our second level schools aim to provide an education that will enable all students to contribute meaningfully to their communities, embrace the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in a democratic society and develop the knowledge and skills necessary to live their lives and to build their careers in the 21st century.”

Galway politicians have welcomed the news. The Mayor of Galway, Labour city councillor Niall McNelis, said it was a "moment of success and recognition" for Educate Together and for "the grassroots group of Galway parents who have been working on this over several years".

He added: "Galway children will now benefit from an increased range of opportunities at second level.

“I look forward to working with the new school, and its pupils, in the years to come."

Fine Gael Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton said the new secondary school will "provide an option" for pupils in the Educate Together primary schools; and "provide much-needed additional capacity and facilities on this side of the city for our school-going population, which is projected to grow significantly in the coming years".

The Green Party spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs, and Galway West General Election candidate, Pauline O'Reilly, called the decision "a huge win".

She said: "Our city needed to have a school that is multi-denominational. Many children have been attending schools that did not reflect the ethos of their families, but now they have choice."

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