The plight of almost two dozen children who won’t be allowed join their classmates in secondary school next September — and won’t qualify for free school transport either — has been raised by Galway TD Noel Grealish.
The children are in their final year at a number of primary schools but cannot get places in the relatively new secondary school in Claregalway, Coláiste Bhaile Chláir.
The school has had to cap its first-year intake for the next academic year at 180, which has resulted in a total of 23 applications for places already being turned down.
“Most of these kids are attending primary schools that have been designated as being within the Claregalway secondary school catchment area.
“Now, after spending maybe eight years sitting in desks next to their pals, they find that they aren’t being allowed join them in the same secondary school in September.
“If that isn’t bad enough, they won’t get free school transport to whatever school they do manage to get a place in, probably in the city or Headford, because they only qualify if they are going to Claregalway,” said Deputy Grealish.
The Independent TD for Galway West said that, in deciding who gets in and who doesn’t, priority is based on how close children live to the secondary school.
“But you could have a situation where one child has ben accepted and their best friend living fifty yards down the road has been refused.
“It’s not the fault of the secondary school in Claregalway, there is a limit to the number of places there and they have done their best to accommodate as many children as possible in the past.
“But I think that in future, once primary schools are designated as being within the catchment area of a secondary school in a rural area, then the resources should be allocated to that school to ensure it has the capacity and the staffing needed to cater for the numbers involved, and not leave children out.
“if there are, say, ten children going to one of these primary schools, who started together at Baby Infants and were together up to sixth class, and there’s seven of them going to get into Claregalway and another three are told they can’t, that’s splitting up friendships and causing unnecessary upset for the children and their parents.
“As if that’s not enough of a problem for the families affected, they won’t get free transport that they would be entitled to had they managed to get into the Claregalway school. That’s something that definitely has to change.
“This is something that’s not just confined to the Claregalway area — there are many other schools facing similar problems. It’s an issue I have raised with the Minister for Education,” added Deputy Grealish.
‘Feeder’ schools for Coláiste Bhaile Chláir, or CBC, include those in Carnmore, Cregmore, Bawnmore, Corrandulla and Claregalway.
CBC is a coeducational, multi-denominational school under the patronage of GRETB (Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board), which initially opened its doors to students in 2013. Construction has continued in stages, with two further phases yet to be completed.