GET2LS AGM 2016

annual_meeting_clip_artGET2LS will be holding its 2016 Annual General Meeting at 8pm on Friday, May 20th in Galway Educate Together, N.S, Newcastle.

If you have already filled out an expression of interest form, are a parent of a child attending an Educate Together school in Galway, or are just interested in finding out more, we would love if you could attend.

At the meeting we’ll give an update on our activities for past 12 months.  These include:

  • presenting the GET2LS case at two meetings with Minister Jan O’Sullivan and her officials;
  • preparing a lengthy response to the demographic analysis on which the Department of Education based their decision not to include Galway in the areas for which new second level schools were announced in November 2015;
  • engaging in intensive lobbying of candidates in the lead up to the 2016 General Election. This led to commitments of support for the campaign from 4 of the 5 TDs elected in Galway West and 2 of the 3 TDs elected in Galway East.
  • increasing awareness of the GET2LS campaign by initiating a blog and remaining very active on Facebook and Twitter;
  • increasing awareness of the GET2LS campaign through traditional media coverage including lengthy articles in the Galway City Tribune, Connaught Tribune and Galway Advertiser, and letters to the editor of the Irish Times;
  • ensuring continued compliance with the Governance Code for the Community and Voluntary Sector;
  • gathering expressions of interest covering almost 200 additional children. This means that in total we have now collected 1,265 expressions of interest from parents who would like their child to attend an Educate Together post-primary school in Galway.

We are very interested in hearing your views on the GET2LS campaign so if you have any questions or issues you’d like to raise you can do so on the night or you can contact us beforehand by replying to this email.

Finally, we would be delighted to welcome additional members to the committee so if you are interesting in supporting this exciting campaign please let us know either by email or at the AGM itself.

Hope to see you there!

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The GET2LS Campaign – Pre-Election Update

election2016Last November, the Minister for Education and Skills announced a new school building program to cover the period 2016 – 2021. Despite extensive campaigning by GET2LS this list did not provide for a new second-level school for Galway.

Following last November’s announcement GET2LS requested the demographic data on which the Department of Education and Skills based its conclusion that Galway did not need a new second-level school. We received this data on December 22nd in the form of 2 maps and a cover letter, which can now be found on our website.

The data provided by the Department provokes more questions than it provides answers. As a result we have sent a lengthy list of questions back to the Department and are awaiting their response. Our questions can also be found on our website.

Now that the General Election has been called, GET2LS has intensified its efforts to seek support for our campaign among all the candidates standing in the Galway West and Galway East constituencies.

GET2LS has invited all candidates standing for election in Galway West to meet with the GET2LS committee on February 8th and all candidates standing for election in Galway East to meet with the GET2LS committee on February 12th.

We will use the meeting to remind the candidates about our campaign and to ask them what, if elected, they could do to help us.

Once these meetings have taken place we will provide you with details of the responses provided by all candidates.

In the meantime, we once again need to ask for your help.

If politicians approach you seeking votes in the upcoming election, please ask them what they would do to make an Educate Together second level school in Galway a reality.

The following are key points you could bring to their attention.

  • There are now 5 Educate primary schools in Galway that between them accept 6 classes of junior infants each year (in Knocknacarra, Newcastle, Kilcolgan, Claregalway and Tuam).
  • Over 1,200 expressions of interest in an Educate Together second level school in Galway have been collected by GET2LS.
  • There is virtually no choice in terms of ethos available to children at second level in Galway and the few new ETB schools are vastly over-subscribed.

In our last update we advised you that we would be holding a public meeting in January. We have decided to postpone this until after the election to give us more time to focus on meeting politicians before then. However, all of our committee meetings are advertised on Facebook and everyone is welcome to attend a committee meeting at any stage. We will update you on the revised date for the public meeting soon.

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What’s Next For GET2LS & How You Can Help

The Minister for Education and Skills recently announced a new schools building program to cover 2016 – 2021.  No new second level school for Galway was included on this list. This is despite that fact that an independent demographic study commissioned by GET2LS demonstrated a demographic need for a new school.

It is important to note, however, that Galway was mentioned in the public announcement as follows:

Emerging demographic demand also indicates that in the period after 2018 new schools may be needed in other areas.  This data will be kept under continual review with a view to being updated in conjunction with the overall midterm review of the Government’s capital programme.

The data at present indicates that new schools may be necessary at post-primary level in areas such as South Kildare; Enfield (Kilcock feeder area); Galway City; North-West Dublin City; the Dublin 13 & Dublin 17 area.

Since the announcement GET2LS has requested the demographic analysis on which the Department based their decision to enable us to challenge any inaccuracies that may exist. We expect to receive this information soon and will begin analysing it immediately.

GET2LS has been in regular contact with Derek Nolan, TD, since early in our campaign. Since the announcement Deputy Nolan has suggested, both privately to GET2LS and publicly on his Facebook page, that there may be a way to start a school without an immediate commitment of capital funding.  Deputy Nolan has committed his support to this and we hope to explore this possibility in the near future.

How You Can Help

We would also appreciate your help in furthering the campaign and have three requests.

  1. Please make your dissatisfaction at the lack of a second level Educate Together school known to your local politicians.  You can contact them via Facebook, Twitter, email or in person.  Please inform them of any difficulties you have had in seeking a second level school place.  We are including contact details at the end of this post.
  1. If politicians approach you seeking votes in the upcoming election please ask them what they would do to make an Educate Together second level school in Galway a reality.  The following are key points you could bring to their attention.
  • There are now 5 Educate primary schools in Galway that between them accept 6 classes of junior infants each year (in Knocknacarra, Newcastle, Kilcolgan, Claregalway and Tuam).
  • Over 1,200 expressions of interest in an Educate Together second level school in Galway have been collected by GET2LS.
  • There is virtually no choice in terms of ethos available to children at second level in Galway and the few new ETB schools are vastly over-subscribed.
  1. Please continue to support GET2LS and to engage with us on social media.  You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter

We have always believed that children and their parents have the right to equality-based education.  While this week’s announcement has come as a setback to GET2LS, we are determined to continue the campaign until our objective of an Educate Together second level school in Galway is achieved.

We will hold a public information session in January, which we hope you will attend.  We will send you details nearer to the time.

Below are contact details for some local TDs, Senators and 2016 election candidates

Galway East                      

Lorraine Higgins (Labour)                           lorraine.higgins@oir.ie

Ciaran Cannon (Fine Gael)                           ciaran.cannon@oir.ie

Paul Connaughton (Fine Gael)                     paulj.connaughton@oir.ie

Sean Canney (Independent)                         scanney@cllr.galwaycoco.ie

Ann Marie Roche (Sinn Féin)                       annemarie.roche@sinnfein.ie

Michael Fahy (Independent)                        Caherduff, Ardrahan, Co. Galway

Ann Rabbitte (Fianna Fáil)                            arabbitte@cllr.galwaycoco.ie

Colm Keavney (Fianna Fail)                          colm.keaveney@oireachtas.ie

Galway West

Mr Noel Grealish (Independent)                noel.grealish@oireachtas.ie

Mr Sean Kyne (Fine Gael)                            sean.kyne@oireachtas.ie

Mr Derek Nolan (Labour)                             derek.nolan@oireachtas.ie

Mr Eamon O’Cuiv  (Fianna Fáil)                  eamon.ocuiv@oireachtas.ie

Ms Hildegarde Naughton (Fine Gael)        hildegarde.naughton@oir.ie

Mr Trevor O’Clochartaigh (Sinn Féin)        trevor.oclochartaigh@oireachtas.ie

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Disappointing Day for GET2LS

Disappointing day for GET2LS, we were very hopeful that we would be included in the following announcement.

Thirty Galway schools included in new school building programme

The very hard working committee have put a huge amount of time and energy into highlighting the need for a second level ET, and I’m sure we will all be gathering together to both commiserate and to plan our way forward. Galway still needs aSecond Level Educate Together, We will keep you posted on our next steps.

We also want to thank Derek Nolan for all his ongoing support, we appreciate it.

“However, Dep Nolan was critical of the new programme, saying it was “disappointing” that the “need for a new second level school has not been identified”. He said: “I had hoped such a decision would have allowed for the development of Galway’s first Educate Together secondary school to offer a multi-denominational choice at second level to the five Galway primary schools already in existence. This need for choice still remains. The Department itself has stated that this demographic pressure will be kept under review.”

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Multi-denominational Understanding and Respect

schoolstoriesSchool Stories are a series of tales from parents and others involved in the school system, highlighting some of the joys and difficulties encountered while trying to get our children educated. 

My introduction to Educate Together came two years ago, when I became engaged in lively discussion with a GET2LS committee member via the GET2LS Facebook page regarding the topic of subjects taught at 2nd level. Having recently completed teacher training to be a Post Primary teacher teaching Business and IT I was particularly frustrated that given the need for suitably qualified IT professionals to work in industry, schools were still not teaching Computing at post primary level. At the very least given that we now live in a digital age where people of all ages are in possession of laptops, iPads and smartphones, students should be learning how to use IT correctly and responsibly in schools.

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Getting The Bus

schoolstoriesSchool Stories are a series of tales from parents and others involved in the school system, highlighting some of the joys and difficulties encountered while trying to get our children educated. 

We moved to County Galway in 2005 when our son was four. We considered a number of national schools within a 3 mile radius of our home, but on meeting the children and staff at Claregalway Educate Together National School (9 miles away), we were immediately convinced it was the right choice for us. Our son spent 8 very happy years in the school, participating in the community of Claregalway and achieving excellent academic results. It was our hope that by the time he finished primary school an Educate Together secondary school would exist so that he could continue in the same way.

For this reason we fully supported the GET2LS (Galway Educate Together 2nd Level Secondary) campaign.

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No Child An Outsider

schoolstoriesSchool Stories are a series of tales from parents and others involved in the school system, highlighting some of the joys and difficulties encountered while trying to get our children educated. 

My eldest son is in 6th class. We have applied to 5 schools in Co. Galway. NONE of them are ideal, none of them are even remotely like what he is used to. The transition from Primary to Secondary is difficult for most, I have actual nightmares about how it will be for him. In his Educate Together primary he has never worn a uniform, he has always called his teachers by their first name – an environment of mutual respect. He has not been excluded from a class or activity based on his religion (or lack thereof), his uniqueness has been celebrated, and his family welcomed.

None of this will be the case in any of the schools we have applied to. His application won’t be accepted by any of them within the first three categories of their enrolment policies. Policies such as – having a sibling in the school already, living in a particular catchment area, or having gone to a particular feeder school. Those feeder schools, by the way, are all the ones that asked for his baptismal Cert.

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School Stories: Some Thoughts on Equality

schoolstoriesSchool Stories are a series of tales from parents and others involved in the school system, highlighting some of the joys and difficulties encountered while trying to get our children educated. 

My introduction to Educate Together came almost 7 years ago when I nervously met for the first time with the Principal of the Educate Together primary school that my son subsequently began to attend.

I was nervous, because my son has Prader-Willi syndrome (a rare chromosomal disorder that typically results in physical, behavioural and emotional challenges), and I was unsure how accommodating the school would be. Frankly, I was unsure whether the school would accept him at all given the nature of his needs.

Of course I knew that equality and being child-centred lay at the heart of the Educate Together ethos, but I was nonetheless sceptical as to whether these lofty principles would translate into everyday practice. Were they mere rhetoric or would they really mean that a school would be willing to make significant changes to accommodate a single child?

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GET2LS AGM 2015

GET2LS will be holding its 2015 Annual General Meeting at 8pm on Friday, June 12th in GETNS, Newcastle.

If you have already filled out an expression of interest form, are a parent of a child attending an Educate Together school in Galway, or are just interested in finding out more, we’d love if you could attend.

At the meeting we’ll give an update on our activities for past 12 months. These include:

  • preparing a 10-year analysis of enrolment figures for primary and post-primary schools in Galway;
  • holding separate meetings with Minister Jan O’Sullivan and the Forward Planning Unit of the Department of Education and Skills;
  • informing directors of services in Galway City and County Councils about our campaign;
  • presenting at the Humanist Association of Ireland’s 2014 education conference;
  • increasing awareness of the GET2LS campaign by winning the national Better Together video competition with a video created to promote our cause;
  • increasing awareness of the GET2LS campaign through social media, radio, and national and local newspapers;
  • increasing awareness of the GET2LS campaign through running a “My Dream Secondary School” essay and art competition;
  • ensuring continued compliance with the Governance Code for the Community and Voluntary Sector;
  • gathering expressions of interest covering 200 additional children. This means that in total we have now collected 1,077 expressions of interest from parents who would like their child to attend an Educate Together post-primary school in Galway.
  • We are very interested in hearing your views on the GET2LS campaign so if you have any questions or issues you’d to raise you can do so on the night or you can contact us beforehand by replying to this email.

Click here to view minutes from the 2014 AGM.

Finally, we would be delighted to welcome additional members to the committee so if you are interesting in supporting this exciting campaign please let us know via our contact form/email or at the AGM itself.

Hope to see you there!

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My Dream Secondary School Competition Results

GET2LSCompetitionResults_header

A big thank you to all the pupils from the Educate Together primary schools in Galway city and county, who participated in the My Dream Secondary School Art and Essay-writing Competition and, of course, not forgetting the parents and guardians who supported the children in their wonderful artistic work.

Míle buíochas to the teachers who creatively incorporated the competition into their curricula; no doubt your enthusiasm and commitment helped fuel the same in the children.

We at the Galway Educate Together 2nd Level Start-up group would also like to extend our gratitude to our prize sponsors:  Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop, Cregal Art and Powell’s Art and Music Shop.

We are also very grateful to our fantastic judges,Bernie Crawford, John Hearne and Frank Sanford, who did very detailed and professional assessments for us, all on a voluntary basis.

Award Winning Art Under 9 Yrs

Award Winning Art Over 9 Yrs

Award Winning Essays Under 9 Yrs

1st Prize 2nd Prize Joint 2nd Prize Joint 3rd Prize

Award Winning Essays Over 9 Yrs

1st Prize Joint 1st Prize Joint 2nd Prize 3rd Prize Joint 3rd Prize Joint 3rd Prize Joint

Click through to see the rest of our wonderful entries and the comments from our Judges…

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