A FORMER secondary school on the southside of Limerick city has been given a new lease of life as a further education facility.
St Enda’s School at the Kilmallock Road closed on its 40th anniversary earlier this year.
But now it has reopened as a further education and training centre under the auspices of the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB).
It is expected the facility will become a hub for community learning and development in the area, and will accommodate up to 500 students over the next three years.
A wide range of full and part-time courses will be offered through programmes such as literacy, community education, Youthreach and Back to Education initiatives.
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan was on hand to open the new facility, saying: “It builds on a very long and proud tradition of further and community education in this part of Limerick.”
The centre, Ms O’Sullivan added, will give young people an opportunity to form good careers for themselves.
“It is a really strong example of the further education sector and the opportunity it presents,” she said, “It allows learners who have not engaged in learning for some time to take a leap back into education, and I think it is hugely important to offer people this second chance.”
Chief executive of the LCETB George O’Callaghan said: “It’s great to see the vibrancy and life that is being breathed into this building. This facility will build on the contribution and tradition of educational service offered here by St Enda’s since its foundation 40 years ago.”
The opening also saw a speech from Vtos student Declan O’Neill, of Garryowen.
A former prisoner, Declan spoke of how he went back to education. Now, he is teaching at the Limerick Institute of Technology.
Gaisce awards were also presented to three students: Mary-Anne Phelan, 17, and Molly Moloney, both from Weston, and Patrick Hehir, 17, from Carew Park.
Falling numbers led to axe
St Enda’s Community School closed earlier this year, having served the southside for 40 years. The closure was announced by the former City VEC back in 2012 in what was a controversial move.
The VEC - since subsumed into the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board - cited the low number of students as a factor in its decision. In 2012, just 127 pupils were enrolled.
But parents argued this was actually a benefit, as students with learning difficulties benefitted from smaller class sizes. The school was designated as DEIS - Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools. It meant it got additional teachers and supports.