Parents across Meath are becoming increasingly concerned over the lack of secondary school places for their children who are due to begin second-level education next year.
The situation has become so worrying that Meath West TD, Peadar Toibín held an open-air meeting in Trim last Friday with the issue being the sole topic up for discussion.
Afterwards he told Meath Live, “It is incredible that that so many parents and children in the Trim are left stressed out and waiting on lists simply to get their child into their local secondary school. It’s even more incredible because this is happening year after year in Trim”.
“Parents who have been born and raised in Trim who live 200 metres from the school are worried that their children will be forced to commute 15 or 20 miles every morning to a school in another town. Other parents have been told that because of the catchment area that they are in, they have only one option and if they don’t get their applied school they will have no school for their child.”
“Parents with children with autism are I believe being discriminated against. There are simply not enough places in the secondary schools in Trim to accommodate the number of children with autism in the primary schools. Many children with autism in Trim will have to go to a school outside of the town simply because they have autism.”
“None of this is the school’s fault. They are doing the best they can. The schools have been desperately seeking to provide accommodation through extensions and new builds. But this has not been provided for by the Minister for Education despite years of waiting. None of this is accidental as the Department knows through looking at primary school numbers and planning permissions, years in advance, that demand will increase in these secondary schools. How can the authorities allow for more and more houses to be built in Trim without building the necessary school accommodation.
“I have met with the parents. I have raised it with the Minister and I will be meeting the principals in the schools in the coming weeks. The schools are trying to whittle down the lists by working out how many students have applied to more than one school. But this won’t fix things for everyone. This crisis needs to be resolved now and not just a temporary sticking plaster, we need to see the necessary school accommodation built now. “
Meanwhile, one parent in Ashbourne has become so anxious he has placed his son on a waiting list for five separate schools in Dublin
Leo Li, whose son David, (13), is due to begin secondary next autumn, said, ‘We live in Ashbourne and I tried first in the local Community school but at the moment David is number 47 on the waiting list, so realistically he is not getting in.
‘I have tried five different schools in Dublin, which isn’t all that far away, and had no joy either, he’s on waiting lists there either.
‘It is very frustrating, apart from the educational aspect there is a social development side to it as well, lads who have become friends at primary school would traditionally have followed each other to secondary but these days they are scattered everywhere.
‘The bottom line for David is that he hasn’t got a place anywhere .’