Press Release | Save Our School

The Save Our School Campaign Management Group is sharing this press release to highlight our school's accommodation situation and seek support to find a local solution for the coming academic year.
29-July-20
Press Release | Save Our School

Media Release

For Release: 12am (Midnight) Thursday 30th July

In the midst of a Covid-19 crisis: This school’s entire future stands on a cliff edge.

Firhouse Educate Together Secondary School mounts protest as time runs out with no answers and no viable options offered from the Department of Education and Skills.

Representatives of the Firhouse Educate Together Secondary School community will gather from 10am today, outside the Convention Centre/temporary Dail, to protest the continued inaction of the Minister for Education and her Department to provide suitable local accommodation for 130 students for the new academic year. At a time of colossal investment to support schools modify their buildings for reopening in Autumn, mere weeks away, this school is highlighting the fact that despite multiple appeals to the Minister, their children, including disabled students, are still being left with no suitable building at all.

Earlier, the Firhouse Educate Together Secondary School community came together to mount a public protest as their pleas for a safe, local option for their school appear to be falling on deaf ears with the Minister and Department of Education and Skills. The school fears its students are literally slipping through the cracks in the context of the Covid-19 crisis.

Students, parents/guardians, teachers, SNAs and supporters gathered at the site of the school’s current temporary location, co-located between Firhouse Educate Together National School and Gaelscoil na Giúise. They used 130 schoolbags, representing the 130 families who risk being left with no school accommodation, and just weeks to go until schools should re-open. The bags spell out ‘S.O.S’ in a direct appeal to the Minister and those stakeholders who have the power to help. Students, socially distancing, held banners to demand action to save their precarious educational future. Images of the protest are available as stills and video for media use.

The school’s community had previously made public its fears that the school children would be left out in the cold some months ago, when they were dismayed to learn that the Department of Education was proposing, with no consultation, to require children to travel to a site in Citywest/Saggart, located far beyond the school catchment area, until a permanent school is built, which may take over 2 years. This option had already been tabled in 2019 and roundly rejected by the school’s Board of Management. It is proposed that multiple buses, funded by the Department, would carry the children from Firhouse to Citywest and back, with an expected travel time of between 1 hour and 1 hour 30 minutes in the context of peak traffic at either end of the school day.

The campaign already garnered strong attention, featuring on RTE’s Drivetime and other media outlets. An open meeting with local representatives garnered strong cross-party support from all the elected TDs for the catchment area. Numerous direct appeals have been made to the Minister and the Department to support a local solution but so far there has been no action, or public acknowledgement that what they have suggested is a completely unworkable option. Time is now running out for the school.

Board of Management Chairperson Conor Harrison said: “We have brilliant cross-party support for our campaign. This is not a case of us rejecting a viable option the Department has put forward. It is not that we won’t go to Citywest, we simply can’t go. This could kill off a new, vulnerable and much needed secondary school provision that the Firhouse area desperately needs for its growing young population. It is simply unconscionable that the Minister and Department have not responded with the obvious solution to keep us where we, and our children, need to be.”

Parent David Putt who has a child entering into 3rd Year of Junior Cycle, and another due to start in 1st Year, said: “We should be able to stay where we have been for the coming academic year, while the Department progress a temporary solution on our permanent site which we can transfer to for the 2021 school year. There are empty classrooms, labs and equipment which were already invested in for our school in situ. This is a complete no brainer and we are devastated that they would risk our children’s education especially at such a time of incredible uncertainly and fear. It’s just not good enough.”

A number of the children have additional vulnerabilities including extreme anxiety and cannot travel the long distance by bus proposed by the Department. Their particular vulnerabilities have been highlighted on multiple occasions to the Minister and Department. There are fears among some parents that they would have to give up work to try and facilitate the commute; others have tried to find new schools and while some face the calamity of no other schools available, others have; which creates a genuine existential risk to the future of this much needed school which ought to serve 1000 children when permanently accommodated.

Deirdre Doyle, acting chairperson of the School Community Association commented:

“As a parent committed to my child receiving an education according to the Educate Together ethos, finding ourselves in this situation is incredible to me. Many parents are in a complete panic, as we may literally have no option for an accessible school come September. Yes, there is a lot going on but our situation is symptomatic of how so many others are being treated. This is a matter of all our children’s human rights to education, and particularly the school’s disabled students’ human rights to an accessible education. Today, we need the Minister and Department to step up. We should be used as an example of how they can support schools, not cut us adrift which it feels like they are right now.”

In a further appeal directed specifically at the Minster and her Department officials, Deirdre Doyle pleaded: “Today, in the midst of all the focus on school provision for those who at least have a school building to operate from, please spare a thought for those of us at the hard edge of this horrible crisis – and do something about it.”

Additional Press notes:

The school’s full accommodation story to date is detailed here: http://www.firhouseetss.ie/Page/Accommodation/4340/Index.html?fbclid=IwAR302LJiELXCnzm7Dk-LyFvl8to1oj3Eb8MSUX3aXmwqoSdtl301J-1S-Uo

Protest Images:https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1q_Youk47qafghELp3bwXtqL80wgYNn0-?usp=sharing Images can be shared in other formats on request

Voices from the school community: parents and students, expressing their fears and concerns and explaining why the school needs to remain locally accommodated can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAm26hPLCUl2l7BdrdiCbyw

All our TDs worked across party lines to raise a Topical Issue of unanimous concern about this situation for debate in the Dáil on this issue. Linked here with the Minister’s response promising to ‘examine all options’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWO0880ILP4&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1Q2TUD3tFXaygqcW4EVY2iazvj3aEqJRito_Oukh9HGtwK1fkj05-GMoQ

A petition garnered support of over 3300 in a matter of days when released: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/save-the-firhouse-educate-together-secondary-school-1?fbclid=IwAR2XlxatNjszIF-zp7osgzlqpKQSCFx5GCaLJ4tsIbgsONWwdds8GqkiTmM

Press enquiries to: Deirdre Doyle 085 1457095 or to sosfirhouseetss@gmail.com

Spokes People available for comment:

Conor Harrison, Chairperson Board of Management

Deirdre Doyle, Acting Chairperson School Community Association, Parent representative.

David Putt, Parent representative

Nov
25 2020
3rd Year Student Progress Meeting
Dec
23 2020
Winter Break
Jan
13 2021
1st Year Student Progress Meeting
Feb
03 2021
2nd Year Progress Meeting
Feb
15 2021
Midterm
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Contact
Firhouse ETSS,
C/O Firhouse ETNS,
Ballycullen Dr,
Dublin 24,
Ireland


01 961 8199

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