Salesians junior school proposal a concern for parents

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

Changes afoot?: Salesians Infant School at Fernbank
PARENTS on the northside are growing increasingly anxious over educational provision for their daughters with further changes potentially afoot at the Salesians in Fernbank.

PARENTS on the northside are growing increasingly anxious over educational provision for their daughters with further changes potentially afoot at the Salesians in Fernbank.

Neither the Salesians Infant School nor the order has commented on a “consultation process” just launched, the outcome of which could be to take girls out of the mixed junior school to boost numbers in the all-girls primary school next door.

The order has already announced the closure of Salesians Secondary School, which is to merge with St Nessan’s Community College to form the new Thomond Community College from September 2016.

Two meetings were convened at the Greenhills Hotel last Wednesday night, one for parents with children in the Salesians Infant School, the other relating to the primary school. While they share a campus, the schools have separate boards of management.

One of the 100 parents who attended the junior school meeting said “no definite decisions have been made but it seems they want to separate out the girls and one of the reasons is that the numbers are falling in the primary school. The boys would stay in the junior school”.

“But there is a lot of concern because the parents regard it as one of the best infant schools around. And with the secondary school closing as well, there is no follow-on school for them any more. That is different to the boys who go into JFK after they make their communion and on to Ardscoil Ris in secondary. The nearest girls-only school after Salesians closes is St Mary’s (Corbally),” she said.

Asked if Salesians girls would not be preferred for entry into Thomond Community College, the parent said the meeting was told there would be no such right or entry to the new community college. The school was asked to clarify this but had not responded at the time of going to press.

Parents who spoke to the Leader, meanwhile, said that while boys from the Holy Rosary Parish (Ennis Road) had a clear path through schools with a proven academic record, Thomond College would be a new entity without such a record. One parent felt snobbery was an issue.

The consultation comes at a time of great change in educational provision at the northside. St Lelia’s Girls NS, Kileely, and St Munchin’s Boys NS, Shelbourne Road, are to close in the summer and amalgamate with Convent Girls School in Ballynanty.

Gaelscoil Sairseal is to move from Bridge Street to the vacated school site on Shelbourne Road.