Preparations have been underway ahead of the opening of Cork’s newest Educate Together school in Carrigaline tomorrow.
Owenabue Educate Together National School opens its doors tomorrow morning to a small number of junior infant students.
The school is one of five new Educate Together schools planned by the Department of Education and Skills because of the growing population and parental demand for their unique inclusive model.
The other four schools are located in Dublin.
Furniture was delivered to Carrigaline Lions Youth Centre, where the new school will be housed for its first year, on Friday, as well as other materials in preparation for tomorrow.
Principal of Owenabue Educate Together National School, Trina Golden, said it has been “down to the wire in terms of getting everything up and running but absolute excitement as well at the idea of the first day and a new start”.
Ms Golden said that she feels as though Cork, like many other areas, is “underserved in terms of options for parents”.
“While we have plenty of schools, in certain areas you wouldn't have a huge amount of options. In Carrigaline, there’s a very successful Educate Together school open already which is what led to us being successful in winning the patronage for this school because they would have a waiting list every year of parents who don't get their first preference which is Educate Together so there’s clearly a demand.
“It's great to be in a position to have those parents and students come to us,” she said.
She said that the small group starting tomorrow will be lucky “because there’ll be a lot of one to one attention that you wouldn't get in bigger classes when we grow in size”.
“There's going to be so many skills that those kids didn't get a chance to consolidate in preschool. All the independent skills, even little things like zipping up your own coat, putting on your own shoes and opening lunch boxes, all those things that we take for granted.
“This year, for a lot of kids who are starting, those are going to be a challenge so it gives us the opportunity to give that time and space to really focus on these kids and get them settled and feeling safe and happy and that's what we’re focusing on for the first few weeks,” she said.
The school will be located at Carrigaline Lions Youth Centre on Church Road for its first year before moving long term to where the current Gaelscoil Charraig Uí Leighin is located.
Ms Golden said they are very lucky with the room at the youth centre which opens straight out onto an outdoor area and has large windows that let in lots of light.
“We really lucked out with the accommodation,” she said, “Long term we will be where the current Gaelscoil in Carrigaline is. They’ll be moving into a new education campus so we’ll be moving onto that site so it's all mapped out ahead of us really so we’re very lucky.” CEO of Educate Together, Dr Emer Nowlan, paid tribute to the school managers, principals, staff and local communities “who have gone above and beyond to ensure these schools open safely and on time”.
“They have found innovative ways to overcome many challenges and create a welcoming and safe environment for children and young people, and they deserve enormous credit.
“We need to ensure now that these schools - and all schools - have the support they need to keep their students and staff safe, and to focus on what really matters; the wellbeing, inclusion and education of every child,” she said.
The five new openings will provide equality-based education to over 30,000 pupils, bringing the total number of Educate Together national schools to 95 while the second-level network expands to 19 post-primary schools.