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Sunday 10 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C Stephanie Joy Photography
Milltown School Initiative

"There would be people who still don't know whether they've got a place or not"

A busy area in South Dublin has no primary school for its 4,000 residents.

A CAMPAIGN BY a group of locals and parents to get to a national school for a growing area in South Dublin is about to reach a critical point.

The Milltown School Initiative have carried months of research and say that parents in the area are being forced to send their children to 19 other primary schools in 10 surrounding areas.

The well-organised group, who have set up a website, a Facebook page and Twitter account as part of their campaign, are now encouraging locals to download and sign a petition that’s aimed directly at Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan.

Milltown School Initiative say that the area has a population over over 4,000 people with the last primary school in the area, Mount St. Anne’s, closing in 1995.

They argue that the situation is being made even more critical by a population that has doubled between 2000 and 2011, and a tripling of the birth rate.

A long-held view that something needed to be done developed into something more concrete in March of this year. The initiative started after one concerned parent organised a community meeting and the turnout was such that a committee was formed and has been lobbying since.

Lorna Lynch explains that the first major thing they did was to survey families in the area to see exactly how bad the problem was.

“The average we found was that families applied for eight different places and most were granted one place, it means that some families didn’t get any place.”

Lynch says that some other parents chose to move out of the area to avoid the stress of the problem while others chose to hold their child back for a year.

The lack of places in Milltown puts stress on schools in the surrounding areas and Lynch herself says that her child has only recently been granted a place for the school year starting next month.

“There would be people who still wouldn’t know whether they’ve got a place or not,” she adds.

With parents being forced to travel outside the immediate locality to bring children to school, traffic problems in an already busy part of Dublin are made worse.

“What it means, even for me personally, is that we’re going to be going to wrong way out towards town adding 45 minutes onto my commute,” explains Lynch, adding that it makes taking public transport impossible for some parents.

Forward planning

The group met with the Minster for Education in May meeting with that meeting described as “very positive”.

They presented the minister with a detailed report they compiled which they say points to the gap in school provision in the area.

The minster told the group during the meeting that the department’s forward planning team was itself examining the demographics in the area and the need for school places.

A decision is expected to made in the coming weeks about potential capital funding and the group is keen to keep the issue live in the meantime.

The petition has been signed hundreds of times in the area but the group are looking for people to download and sign it before it is presented to the minister.

petition Facebook / MilltownSchoolInitiative Facebook / MilltownSchoolInitiative / MilltownSchoolInitiative

With a decision expected relatively soon on funding, Lynch says that a positive outcome would mean that they can at least optimistically look towards September 2016 as a potential start date for the new school.

Poll: Should Catholic schools be allowed give preference to Catholic children? >

Read: “The price of sending kids back to school is ridiculous” – parents want school crests taken off uniforms >

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