A CONCERNED Cork mother has spoken of her shock at the news that school patrons have decided that St Vincent’s Secondary School and North Presentation Secondary School are to amalgamate and become a co-educational school.
The decision follows a consultation process that involved stakeholders from the school communities and that ran from March 2021 to February 2022.
News emerged in recent days that the Catholic Education Irish Schools’ Trust (CEIST) and the Religious Sisters of Charity will submit an application to the Department of Education to amalgamate North Presentation Secondary School and St Vincent’s Secondary School and for the amalgamated school to become co-educational.
Currently, both secondary schools are single-sex schools with only female students.
Sonya Lane, whose daughter Katie is a TY student in St Vincent’s Secondary School and who is a member of the Save St Vincent’s Secondary School group, said they have been ‘blown away’ by this week’s decision.
“It is a very bad decision, especially for my daughter in the ASD unit,” said Ms Lane. “The news came this week, and it was a huge shock. We were absolutely blown away by the decision. It would be very traumatic. We will be meeting up as a group. The effect this would have on my daughter in so many aspects would be huge.”
Ms Lane said she deliberately chose St Vincent’s Secondary School for Katie as the single-sex status suited her requirements.
“St Vincent’s is the only school that has an ASD unit just for girls. I sent her there specifically because it was an all-girls school.
“Kids on the spectrum struggle as it is with everyday normal life. Even for the last two weeks the anxiety of her just going back to school has impacted hugely on the household.
“Transitioning from primary into secondary was just huge but I knew by sending her to St Vincent’s that she would be very happy. She is happier in a single-sex school. Other parents share the same mindset.
“Kids on the spectrum have so many challenges in life and we always hoped that for their education, which they are entitled to, there would be some bit of a secure environment for them.
“That kind of transition into a co-educational school would have a huge impact on them,” she added.
In a separate development, the North Monastery Secondary School is to remain an independent school, but the Edmund Rice Schools Trust will submit an application to the Department of Education for the school to change its status and become co-educational.
Acting principal Jim Boyle told The Echo the decision will represent a ‘major change’.
“This is a response to parental choice,” he said.
“It represents a challenging and major change for us in the North Monastery, but we all look forward to the chance to extend the great work being done in the school to both boys and girls.
“We have a very proud tradition of educating the boys of the northside of Cork City and beyond. The time is right now, we believe, to extend this educational opportunity to the girls of the northside and beyond.
“The Edmund Rice Schools Trust will further this ambition for us now with the Department of Education,” he added.