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The local group of parents that has been campaigning for a second-level Educate Together school for the past six years, GET2LS, has welcomed the announcement by the Department of Education and Skills that patronage of Galway’s new second-level school, due to open in 2019, has been awarded to Educate Together.

“Today’s announcement represents the culmination of years of campaigning by families in Galway,” notes Marguerite Hughes. “The 5 thriving Educate Together primary schools in the county provide abundant evidence of demand for Educate Together and it is wonderful that the students who attend these and other primary schools can now access second level education in a school with their preferred ethos.”

The principals and staff of the existing primary schools have provided important, and valued, support to the GET2LS campaign, most recently during the public consultation phase earlier this year. The local campaign has been volunteer-run, and benefited from the work and efforts of many parents and other volunteers committed to development of an educational system grounded in equality, diversity, and respect. In particular, GET2LS volunteers stressed the important role played by the many parents who participated in the Department’s consultation process earlier this year.

GET2LS volunteers noted that their campaign is part of a nationwide movement, and acknowledged the support of staff in Educate Together Head Office over the past number of years. Educate Together will now work with the DES on establishing the new school. “It is particularly welcome that patronage of all four new second-level schools nationwide has been awarded to Educate Together,” according to Andrew Ó Baoill. “We look forward to working alongside the groups in North Dublin, Drogheda, and Wicklow.”

Tribute was also paid to the TDs from both Galway constituencies and other local representatives who endorsed and supported the campaign, the local media that provided coverage of it, and the campaign volunteers who have devoted so much time and energy over the past six years.

This decision comes 40 years after the founding of what would become the first Educate Together school in Ireland, the Dalkey School Project, and next year, 2019, will mark 25 years since the founding of the Galway Educate Together National School.

“The selection of Educate Together as the patron body to operate Galway’s new post-primary school is a welcome addition to Galway’s education landscape,” according to Brendan Fogarty, “and will provide greater choice to second level students in Ireland’s most multicultural city.”

The GET2LS campaign had the support of all TDs in both Galway West and East, who attended meetings with the campaign group and pursued the issue with the Minister for Education and Skills through representations to him and by raising the matter in Dail Eireann. They also attended and spoke at public meetings organised by the Group, as did other local representatives, including the current Mayor of Galway.

Several public representative urged parents, whatever their plans for their own children’s schooling, to vote for Educate Together in the public consultation phase, to broaden the diversity of schools available in Galway, and ensure that the option is available to those parents who desire it.

“Educate Together offers an ethos that is inclusive and child-centred,” according to Maggie Hall. “It offers an approach to education that is democratic and nurturing. Many Galway parents are already familiar with it at primary level, but despite having five schools across the county, Galway has not until now had an Educate Together school available at second level.”

The new school, due to open in 2019, is a ‘regional solution’ aimed primarily at the Galway city and Oranmore school planning areas, and is intended to meet the increasing demand for second-level education in Galway, with an anticipated enrolment of 1,000.

“Students need a breadth of skills and attributes to succeed in today’s diverse world and changing workplace,” notes Educate Together CEO Paul Rowe. “They need to be able to learn, unlearn and relearn throughout their lives. Our second level schools aim to provide an education that will enable all students to contribute meaningfully to their communities, embrace the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in a democratic society and develop the knowledge and skills necessary to live their lives and to build their careers in the 21st century.”

Over the last 3 years, second level schools under Educate Together patronage have opened in Dublin, Cork and Limerick, bringing the total under their patronage nationwide to thirteen. GET2LS has been campaigning for an Educate Together second level school for six years, with over 1600 parents already expressing their support for this model over the course of the campaign.  The Department’s decision will fill that gap and diversify school patronage in Galway.