Faughart parents to escalate their protests amid concerns for the future of local school
Parents of children in Scoil Naisiunta Bhride in Faughart are set to escalate their protests regarding the future of the school.
For the past five weeks parents have been boycotting a day’s class per week amid concerns with the management and teaching standards in the school.
A demonstration has now been organised for 8pm tonight at the school with everyone in the Faughart community and with links to the school invited.
The parents outlined their position in a letter to Talk of the Town yesterday.
It read: “ We the parents of Scoil Naisiunta Bhride in Faughart, have completed five weeks of action by keeping our children from attending school for one day a week. This follows concerns by all parents of the quality of teaching in the senior classes. This has been backed up by a Whole School Evaluation completed in March 2017 by a Department of Education inspector. In his report he outlines some serious concerns in the school.
“At this point, we have sought engagement from the Board of Management, the Department of Education, the teaching council, Archbishop Eamon Martin and local TDS but all requests for meaningful efforts to address our deep rooted concerns have fallen on deaf ears and, five weeks later, despite the action by parents, the above authorities have still not engaged with us. We have received written responses from the Department, the Archbishop and the Teaching Council, none of which offer any confidence that there is an appetite to address this with the required urgency. Despite requests throughout the years and more requests recently, the Chairman of the Board of Management has never met parents to listen to our concerns.
“The parents have been actively trying to address these concerns over the last five years in conjunction with the Board of Management. Throughout this period, school numbers have halved from 106 in 2011 to 53 currently. Since the publication of the WSE, more children have been permanently removed from the school and the indications now are that a very significant amount of the remaining children will be removed if their concerns are not adequately dealt with urgently. In recent weeks, the two parents’ reps on the Board have felt there was no option but to resign from the Board.
“The system is incredibly frustrating where the parties in authority seem pre-occupied by protecting themselves rather than prioritising the children. This despite the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association’s mission statement outlining that school Boards of Management should prioritise the childrens’ needs over all other matters. There are some very worrying concerns for the proper education of our children – backed up by the Department’s report, but no-one will help. This school is going to close unless the Board shows some leadership.
“We have a great sense of community spirit in Faughart and the whole community including children, parents and grandparents want our school to thrive. At a recent public meeting many parents and members of the community came out in support of our school and all are engaged in trying to Save Our School. We have some fantastic teachers in the school but our concerns with the principal’s ability to lead our school, appropriately teach our children and to engage with us as a community are so great, that we cannot stand idly by any more and allow the problems to persist. It is very unfortunate that it has taken so long for a Whole School Evaluation to take place which only confirmed what we have known and witnessed for years.
“This week, our actions will be escalated to a protest outside the school as keeping children off for one day every week does not seem to cause any concern for the school management and no efforts have been made to meet with us despite this. Children are entitled to a decent standard of education and our community is entitled to a National School that will flourish for years to come.”
Some of the key points from the Whole School Evaluation that has concerned the parents are listed below:
- The mission statement in the school is not being realised
- Leadership for learning is not prioritised sufficiently
- There was significant variation in the quality of teaching in certain subjects ranging from outstanding to poor
- Leadership and coaching supports should be accessed by the principal
- There is a need to develop differentiated teaching approaches
- There is a need to improve the quality of both teaching and learning in core subjects at certain class levels
- An over emphasis on workbook exercises was observed
- There was insufficient evidence of teacher correction for older pupils
- Satisfactory progression in learning and in particularly in the standard of spoken Irish is not being achieved
- Members of the school community expressed concern re: a lack of consistency in provision for pupils and in light of the falling enrolement, the need for greater stability
- The Board is experiencing difficulty in discharging some of its duties. Oversight should be strengthened.
- Board and parents reps reported significant concerns re: school leadership, quality of education and the limited involvement in co-curricular provision
- It is strongly recommended the Principal access relevant leadership training, coaching and support. The Deputy Principal attends to her current duties in a very capable manner.
- Irregular practice in the deployment of the learning support teacher.
- The whole school development planning process requires considerable review.
- Class level differentiation of reading resources and pupils’ reading experience was insufficient.
- Fewer than half the children agreed that their teacher talked to them on how to improve their work.
- The school’s potential to undertake the required improvements is limited by a number of factors relating to the weakness in aspects of school leadership and inconsistency of provision for pupils.