Wicklow TD Jennifer Whitmore has welcomed a commitment she received from the Minister for Education in the Dail yesterday that all children in the Greystones area will receive a first-year place in secondary school for September 2024.
This commitment was given to Deputy Whitmore during a debate on the issue, where she raised the shortage of first year places for students of the area. This shortage has been highlighted recently by the principals of the local secondary schools, when they announced that they would be offering 72 less places for September 2024 than was available for the September 2025 intake due to limitations on school building capacity. Deputy Whitmore has been calling for clarity from the Department and Minister of Education on this since early October when the shortfall became apparent.
Speaking after the debate, Deputy Whitmore said: “I welcome the commitment from the Department of Education that every child in the Greystones area will have a secondary school place made available for them. For the many parents who have contacted me and who are very concerned that their child has not been offered a place for 2024, this is an important commitment and will go some way to alleviate their concerns. It is also welcome that the Department is actively engaged with the school bodies to deal with this issue.
“However, what we need to see now from the Department is an urgent response to this problem, and full clarity for parents as to how this shortfall in places will be resolved and when it will be resolved. Ultimately, parents want to know what school their child will be going to. And it cannot be the case that parents and students have to wait months and months before this information is available. This will only cause additional unnecessary stress for everyone. The Department must work with urgency on this so solutions can be provided over the coming weeks.
“The Department must also move away from this heavily reactive mode when it comes to the provision of classrooms and class places. This shortfall should have been apparent to the Department long before now, and it should never have become this crisis issue that it has. This causes a huge amount of stress to both the students and their parents. Having a school place is the most basic requirement of an education system – unfortunately, we have seen time and time again in Wicklow that parents have to fight for even that most simple of services.
“It is also critical that the Department expediate the school building programs for Greystones Community College, Templecarrig and Colaiste Chraobh Abhainn. All three schools are waiting for building projects to be completed, but these all appear to be taking far longer than anticipated. I made the point to the Minister that these projects must be fast-tracked, or we will be back in the same situation again for the 2025 intake.
Whitmore concluded “Finally, while the Minister’s comments last night were very positive, I will continue to stay on top of this issue and advocate on behalf of the parents, students and schools in Greystones.”