A new era in second-level education in Ballincollig commenced last week when 21 students became the first-ever students of the Le Chéile Secondary School.
The new school officially opened on Tuesday, August 31. The principal of the new co-educational school Nicola Barrett said the first week has gone well.
“The first week has been great. There has been a great buzz and lots of excitement. Our immediate focus was on them getting to know each other and the teachers getting to know them in a relaxed atmosphere. We had a four-day induction which included an IT induction, creativity induction, teaching and learning induction and sports induction. It all culminated in a fun afternoon last Friday,” she said.
Ms Barrett who was appointed as the principal in April is pleased with the number of students who have started their first year in the new secondary school.
"It was very positive as the school was only sanctioned last Christmas and the enrolment process only started in February. We are starting the enrolment process already for next year. We will build up gradually. Next year we will have first and second years students.
"We are the third second-level school in Ballincollig. It is a growing area. We have eleven feeder schools on our admissions policy that we would be catering for.
“It can be an anxious enough time starting in first year. Our pupils all came from different national schools which meant they didn’t come in with friends or knowing people as such. We are very grateful they took a chance and we won’t leave them down. Our main aim is to ensure they are happy in school and things will fall into place after that,” she added.
The Le Chéile Secondary School is based in the former Cork Film Centre building in Ballincollig. Ms Barrett is thrilled with their new facilities.
"The old Cork Film Centre has been completely renovated for us and is in a good location. The facilities are excellent for both the students and the teachers. There is a lot of footfall by the Regional Park so it is nice for the community to see the school open.”
The teachers and the students also have use of the Ballincollig GAA grounds for PE and extracurricular activities. The school principal paid tribute to the local GAA club for their help.
“Ballincollig GAA have been absolutely fantastic. There is a lease agreement between the Department of Education and Ballincollig GAA.
"We are using their pitches and their pavilion for sports and extracurricular PE. There is a good community effort ongoing to get the school up and running.”
Ms Barrett said that the proposed plan for the Le Chéile secondary school is to move into temporary accommodation in the GAA grounds next September as they await plans for a permanent base.
“The Cork Film Centre is being used to get us through the first year. We are in a contingency at the moment.
"The temporary accommodation will be based on the GAA grounds. The temporary accommodation all going well will open next September to cater for the growing numbers.
“We will be getting bigger every year. The school has been sanctioned for 1000 pupils eventually. The permanent build is still in discussion. The Department has said that the temporary accommodation certainly will have at least eight classrooms and four specialist rooms. It will be a modular building and will be state of the art,” she added.
Ms Barrett who previously served as the principal of the Presentation Secondary School, Ballyphehane praised the impact their ‘energetic’ seven teachers have already made in the new school.
“We have young, energetic and motivated staff who are putting their own stamp on things. Our seven teachers cover the full curriculum. The students have access to all the subjects and they have the bonus of small class sizes. I am determined to establish our own culture, atmosphere and history. It is the beginning of a new era for second-level education in Ballincollig.”