An Taoiseach Enda Kenny went back to school on Monday, when he attended the very first day of school in Newtownwhite Educate Together national school. The school, which is located just outside of Ballina, was re-assigned as an Educate Together school from its former patronage of the Church of Ireland.
While attending the school, An Taoiseach commented: “This is an important day in the education system. It’s very important that our children, the next generation, be raised in an ethos that gives them a sense of values, principles, ethics, environment, of issues about human rights and humanity. When they grow up they will play their part in a world that will be changed utterly. We hope that Newtownwhite in its own way, as well as the four other Educate Together schools opening today, will be a bright light in the evolving system of education that we have in Ireland.”
The principal of the school, Catherine Boland, said; “It is quite clear that Educate Together and Newtownwhite was an ideal marriage as much of the Educate Together ethos already existed here in the inclusive environment of Newtownwhite. In the diverse society in which our children are now growing up the philosophy of ‘learn together to live together’ is a necessary one.”
Educate Together CEO Paul Rowe, also speaking at the event, remarked; “This is a great day for parents in the Ballina area, who finally have the choice of an Educate Together national school. We want to ensure that parents in every county in Ireland have this choice, and as the first Educate Together school in Mayo, and the first school where patronage is being directly transferred while keeping the school open, this is an important step.”
Demand for Educate Together schools has been steadily increasing in recent years, and the organisation is the fastest-growing school patron body in Ireland. As well as expanding its network of primary schools, Educate Together has also opened its first three second-level schools this year in Dublin and Louth.