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Educate Together or Educate Apart?

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At present there are a significant number of RETNS families who have failed to secure places for their children in Junior Infants 2016. All of the affected children have at least one brother or sister currently embedded in the school community. As you can imagine this is devastating both for the families concerned and the wider school community. As affected families, we are being left with no choice but to educate our children apart or to remove our children from the RETNS community they are already a part of. This is contradictory to the child centred, democratically run, equality based ethos of RETNS.

There are 77 ET schools in Ireland. RETNS is the only one which operates a ‘first come first served policy from age 2’ with no sibling preference and no discretionary places. This is the first year that the age 2 policy has been fully implemented and we believe this is why so many families have been adversely impacted this year. Other ET schools have responded to the needs of their school community by introducing sibling preference policies at short notice. It is within the remit and power of our current RETNS Board of Management to make such changes to our own school policy.

We are calling on the Board of Management to find a solution to accommodate the 2016 siblings who have not secured a place. We would also call on the Board of Management to make a commitment to ratify the sibling preference policy (which the parents have already voted in favour of with an 86% majority) before the suggested 2019 implementation date. This will prevent a repeat of the upset caused to families with siblings on pre-enrolment lists in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

This is devastating for us. It is heart wrenching to face a future of educating our children apart or uprooting children who are already settled and happy. As parents we need to do everything in our power to ensure our children are afforded the same opportunities as other families to be educated with their siblings in a school we are proud of and all love.

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