Educate Together secondary school for Galway gets cross party support

Parents and children from GET2LS meeting with Galway politicians to seek support for an Educate Together Secondary School for Galway. (L-R): Maggie Hall, Andrew Ó Baoill, Minister Ciaran Cannon, Tadhg Ó Baoill, Jodi Blumenfeld, Noah Ó Baoill, Marguerite Hughes, Louis Hughes, Senator Alice-Mary Higgins, Dep Noel Grealish.

Parents and children from GET2LS meeting with Galway politicians to seek support for an Educate Together Secondary School for Galway. (L-R): Maggie Hall, Andrew Ó Baoill, Minister Ciaran Cannon, Tadhg Ó Baoill, Jodi Blumenfeld, Noah Ó Baoill, Marguerite Hughes, Louis Hughes, Senator Alice-Mary Higgins, Dep Noel Grealish.

Parents involved in the campaign for a second-level Educate Together school for Galway received a boost to their campaign following cross-party expressions of support for such a school for the city, during a recent visit to Leinster House.

Families with the Galway Educate Together Second Level Startup Group were in Leinster House to present a petition of more than 1,700 signatures in support of the project, with Minister of State, and Galway East TD Ciaran Cannon, accepting the petition on behalf of Minister for Education, Richard Bruton.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins hosted the group for their visit to Leinster House, where the group also met Galway West TDs Éamon Ó Cuiv, Noel Grealish, and Catherine Connolly. Messages of support were also received from Sen Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Dep Seán Canney.

Despite Galway's continued population growth, the city narrowly missed out on approval for a new second level school during the last capacity review by the Department of Education in 2015. Galway is widely expected to feature in a mid-term capacity review expected to be launched early in 2018. Second-level enrolment data, recently released census data, and current primary-level enrolments predict Galway schools reaching capacity following the September 2018 intake.

Any approval of new schools is a multi-step process. Once the DES identifies demographic need for a new school it opens a process to examine demand for different models within an area.

“It was heartening to hear commitments of support on Tuesday from those we met,” according to GET2LS member Maggie Hall. "Representatives were clearly very familiar with the significant growth in primary level Educate Together schools in the Galway area, particularly over the past number of years, and with the distinctive ethos the model provides.”

Fellow GET2LS member Marguerite Hughes said: "We are cautiously optimistic that the next review will finally bring a second-level Educate Together school to Galway, but we also recognise the challenges ahead.”

Educate Together is currently the patron of some 80 schools nationwide. Since being approved as a patron for second-level schools in 2012, it has opened nine second-level schools, with four more to open in 2018. There are five Educate Together national schools in County Galway.

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