Some students have no school place in September
Concerned parents faced with the prospect of having no school place for their children in September broke down in tears at last Thursday at the inaugural meeting of Concerned Parents for Secondary Education in Wexford.
The meeting which was very well attended heard horrendous stories from parents who are faced with the prospect of having to send their children to school outside the district or in some cases the county in September because of the lack of secondary school places available.
The majority of parents are forced into this situation because their children don't have a parental link to any of the five secondary schools in Wexford.
Solicitor Lisa McDonald who chaired the meeting said she was going to investigate the possibility of mounting a legal challenge to the parental rule to help ensure a level playing field for all students in the town. She also expressed her disgust at those in power for allowing neighbour to be pitched against neighbour in this way. 'The increased traffic between the main towns in our county is making commuters out of our children at an early age and should not be tolerated', she said.
The shortage of places presented to the meeting are based on the findings of a study commissioned by a sub - committee of Wexford County Council which shows that there is currently a shortage of 509 places in Wexford District which will rise annually to over 600 pupils up to 2021.
All the parents who have been turned down by a secondary school has been urged to lodge a section 29 appeal to the Department of Education.
The meeting was unanimous in its view that there is a crisis in the provision of secondary school places and an urgent need for both short term and long term solutions exists. It did not recognise the excuse proffered by those in power for further examinations of the numbers.
One concerned parent who attended the meeting said that as the current situation stands her daughter will be forced to attend school outside of Wexford because she herself didn't attend school here.
'One woman at the meeting spoke about having to send her children to school in Waterford. It's horrendous what people are going through. My children won't be going to secondary school for a couple of years but many parents there still haven't been offered a place for their child for September. That's so unsettling and it's having a psychological effect on the children too. They want to be able to go to school with their friends but some of them haven't even got a place. They are in no man's land.
'Something is going to have to be done and very quickly. We should know the number of students affected by this crisis before Christmas. The council is trying to attract businesses to Wexford but how can people come to live here when they won't be able to send their children to school. It's ridiculous.
'The parental rule is creating havoc. I won't mind if it was a lottery system because that's fair but the parental rule doesn't give people a fair chance.'
The meeting called for immediate action saying that in the short-term temporary accommodation and additional teachers are required. However, there was a clear direction given to government from the meeting that Wexford needs a new secondary school forthwith and without delay.