Director of Schools with CMETB Paddy Flood.

Pressure on secondary schools places

Some local secondary schools have had to cap numbers and carry out a lottery for first year students due to demand.

Director of Schools with Cavan Monaghan Education and Training Board, Paddy Flood, told a recent meeting of the organisation’s board that the number of students enrolled at its secondary schools across Cavan and Monaghan had risen from 3,700 to 5,800 in “a short space of time”.

“It’s a huge vote of confidence in our schools,” he said.

Outlining the measures, Mr Flood stressed the need for clear rules around admission policies, given the high likelihood of legal action.

“If the process isn’t followed, it is subject to appeal.”

However, the decision around the criteria for admittance is one for each Board of Management to make, something that drew unease from some CMETB board members.

“It’s a joke that the onus is left to ordinary people to make. It leaves teachers in a catch-22. They’re afraid they won’t [have the numbers to get] development at their school but don’t have the space to house them,” said Monaghan Cllr PJ O’Hanlon.

Mr Flood stressed that CMETB’s aim is to provide quality education to its students, not to enrol as many as possible in its schools. “We’re not in the business of numbers. We’re in the business of quality.”

One local school, he said, had seen its student numbers grow by six times over the past six years, which he said created “a very challenging environment”.

Teacher representative Micheál Martin also noted the pressure being placed on schools, particularly as some families have been long-term supporters of ETB schools.

“A lot of families support ETB schools and they run the risk of not getting a spot. Policies used to have a hierarchy, if your sibling or parent went to the school then you had a better chance.”

Again, Mr Flood stressed the need for a clear policy.

“One of the most contested issues is twins, where one gets a spot and one doesn’t. We do have to have a number. We can’t differentiate once we meet the criteria.”

Further pressure was placed on local schools due to the number of Ukrainian students to be accommodated.

Mr Flood noted that all living in Cavan and Monaghan had been given a school place but admitted the process had been “strained”.

He concluded the discussion by saying that across the board, CMETB “accommodated almost every student but this year, not every student.”


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