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Works will let gaelcholáiste enrol three first-year classes

October 15, 2014

An all-Irish secondary school that turned down dozens of applications this year will enrol three first-year classes in 2015 after approval for a long-term expansion and building works.

The policy change at Gaelcholáiste Mhuire at the North Monastery last year, restricting new enrolments to just 59 students in two classes, caused controversy because of the number of applicants. It had enrolled three first-year classes each of the previous three years in response to demand, but concerns over space and accommodation prompted the trustees to limit numbers.

However, approval was received from the Department of Education last month for a project that would see its enrolment rise, from the 350 for which it was originally opened, to a maximum of 520.

The decision to revert to a three-class intake has been influenced by this approval, with discussion between management and department officials since then about the level of accommodation needs.

The revised enrolment policy says student numbers have risen from 354 to 451 since 2010, and that continuing demand for places is evidence of the excellent quality of education at the school. However, it also advises parents this high demand means it is still likely to be unable to offer places to all applicants next year.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Thomas Gould, spokesman for a campaign group set up to seek a return to the increased enrolment figures, welcomed the decision.

“Last year, the school received 112 applications for 58 places,” he said. “The increase in number of enrolment places for 2015 will reduce the number of disappointed children and families.”

Mr Gould thanked parents for fighting to bring about the change.

The school had tried to limit new entrants to two classes last year but the success of appeals to the department led to three classes being enrolled, before a firmer policy was put in place for the current school year.

Irish Examiner