Population boom having hugh effect on schools

Story by Tom Kelly

Thursday, 3rd February, 2011 9:30am

Population boom having hugh effect on schools

Senator Dominic Hannigan is running for Labour in Meath East.

Ireland’s population growth during the boom was more dramatic in Meath than any other county and it is having a profound effect on our education system, according to Senator Dominic Hannigan.

“One in five schools confirmed they turned away pupils this academic year. The community college in Dunshaughlin had to turn 257 down. Schools in Ratoath, Ashbourne, Duleek and Dunboyne recorded the largest increases in pupil numbers.

“The shortage of places in Navan post-primary schools is creating problems for schools in Kells, Dunshaughlin and Nobber who are making up the shortfall. It is clear we urgently need to press ahead with plans for a new post-primary school for Navan town,” he said

Meath’s educational needs have changed dramatically over the last decade, according to a new report on education in Meath conducted by the Labour Party candidate. He said the study gives an insight into the attitudes and experience of the county’s students, teachers and parents.

“I want to provide a full and fair assessment of the current state of our local education system. Many positive developments have taken place in the last 10 years but the ever-changing demographics of Meath are putting extra strain on the county’s primary and post-primary schools. Despite the best efforts of teachers, literacy and numeracy remain problematic. Too many Meath children are entering the post primary system without basic literacy and numeracy skills,” said Labour’s standard-bearer in Meath East.

He added the report reveals that Meath students are keen to learn more languages and Chinese is their most popular choice.

It finds that two in five Meath students have been bullied by text message. It also shows Meath parents want an evaluation system for teachers to make them more accountable. The report also reveals that Meath’s school principals are profoundly angry that school accommodation is failing to keep up with the county’s growing population.

Senator Hannigan’s study was carried out over the last six months and involved compiling information on the county’s education system. The work included interviews with key education personnel, a survey of the county’s primary and post-primary schools, focus groups involving parents of primary and secondary school pupils and an anonymous survey of 300 Meath students.

“We found that parents and students are broadly satisfied with our schools. In our survey, just one in 20 students said their schooling was unsatisfactory or very unsatisfactory,” he added.

The study - 'Education in Meath – A snapshot of where we are’ can be accessed on www.dominichannigan.com