THE parents association at one of three northside schools that are involved in talks about their future has said that the potential removal of the option of single-sex schooling if the schools merge “is regressive if it contravenes the wishes of the students and parents” in the community.
The St Vincent’s Parents Association comments come after The Echo reported that St Vincent’s, the North Monastery, and the North Presentation secondary schools are in talks to “explore together current and future Catholic educational provision in North Cork city”.
In a statement, the parents association said that it wished to “reaffirm the rights of our daughters and that of every young girl from the northside to an all-girls’ secondary education, if that is what she desires”.
Leone Constant, a member of St Vincent’s Parents Association, said that they “are totally against” any potential merger of removal of single-sex education.
“We sent our girls to an all-girls school because we chose to send them there,” said Ms Constant. “We want that choice for other parents, going forward, on the northside.
“We have a mixed school in the area as it is and if we wanted to send our daughters to a mixed school, we would have sent them there,” she said.
“Our girls love the school and we have great pride in the school and we just want it to remain an all-girls school.
“There will be no all-girls school in the area if this goes forward and we don’t want that.”
Local councillor Ken O’Flynn said he has spoken with a number of parents of pupils, and with past-pupils, who are upset by the idea of the schools merging.
He said that the situation would have to be handled cautiously.
“I believe we need to be investing more in our children’s education, providing smaller classes,” said Mr O’Flynn.
“I don’t want to see one or two ‘super-schools’ in the city.
“What I want to see is schools that are concentrating on the individual, giving them the best option to realise their best potential.
“I’ve already been in contact with a number of parents who have discussed it with me and past pupils who are quite upset by the idea of any sort of amalgamation.”
Mr O’Flynn also called for further clarity on the statement that was issued by the trustees of the three schools and called on them to “stop hiding behind clever wording”.
That statement was issued collectively by the Religious Sisters of Charity, Catholic Education an Irish Schools Trust, and Edmund Rice Schools Trust.
“A consultation process is now commencing which will seek to gather the perspectives of boards of management, staff, students and parents,” said the statement.
“We hope to capture the joys, concerns, hopes and anxieties of all which will inform a vision for Catholic secondary education in North Cork city and serve the community for decades to come. This process will be guided by an independent facilitator, Mr Frank Smith.”
Meanwhile, a Department of Education spokesperson said that, as yet, “the department has received no formal proposal from the patron/trustees of North Monastery Secondary School, North Presentation Secondary School or St Vincent’s Secondary School”.