Thursday, May 17, 2018

Potential new patrons present at Brannoxtown NS

A good attendance at last evening's meeting in Brannoxtown National School heard presentations from three groups who are interested in becoming patrons of the school, writes Brian Byrne.

They were Educate Together, An Foras Pátrúnactha (Gaelscoil), and the Kildare Wicklow Education & Training Board (KWETB).

The event was consequent on the last public meeting about the school, which discussed the decision by the Archbishop of Dublin to officially close it and divest it to a new patron should one be found.

Welcoming those those who had come to what was 'probably one of the better turnouts' to the series of meetings which had begun last year, Conor O'Toole of Save Our School Brannoxtown said it was 'very encouraging'.

He noted that while the community had a role in the future direction of the school, by expressing a preference for a future patron, 'none of us are educators, and ultimately it will be up to the Minister for Education to decide'. He said the groups present were all 'highly professional people' well capable of running the school.

During the presentations, representatives outlined each group's ethos, history, size, and details about curriculum, spiritual and religious matters, and pupil and parental involvement. Two pupils from the Educate Together school in Newbridge and a parent from the Naas Community National School run by KWETB added their own experiences.

Following the presentations there was a short period for questions, after which a private ballot was taken amongst those present, the results of which will be sent today to the presenting groups and to the Diocese.

Gerry O'Donoghue, the Special Manager appointed to Brannoxtown NS by the Diocese last autumn thanked all present for 'keeping the issue alive' over the recent difficult period. "Only for the work you have done, I don't know where we would be now," he said.

He said that the Diocese had 'no interest' in prolonging the matter, and that the Department of Education had been written to in March to notify them of the Bishop's decision to divest his patronage. "Unfortunately, up to this evening, there has been no acknowledgement from the Department to that letter."

He added that to date, only 11 Catholic schools in the state had been divested by their patron, 'but the delays were not due to the patron'. "Local representatives need to step up and make sure this issue doesn't get buried," he warned, adding that Brannoxtown NS is physically in a 'very precarious position'. "At the moment we are depending on good neighbours to keep the school premises safe and heated. We have no grants, and in three or six months' time we don't know where we will be for funds to even keep the heat going."

He concluded by saying that whichever group took over the running of the school, they know that the community is 'invested in and committed to' Brannoxtown NS.