THE mother of a 12-year-old boy who has been refused a place at St Brogan’s College in Bandon, despite living across the road from the school, said she is totally frustrated with the process and feels like she’s hitting a brick wall.
Bobby Lynch is the only one out of eight boys in his class at Knockavilla National School who has not secured a place at St Brogan’s College, due to a huge demand for places and a lack of extra classrooms.
Susan Fehilly, who attended St Brogan’s herself, as did Bobby’s father Robert Lynch, said the criteria for selection of students from the Cork Education and Training Board (CETB) is far too stringent and that her son is being punished for that.
‘We enrolled Bobby last year and we received a letter last November saying that he wasn’t successful in getting a place and that he was being placed on a waiting list. At the moment he is number 31 on that list,’ Susan told The Southern Star.
‘While Bobby is attending a feeder school, the other criteria set down say he must be the eldest child but he is not, as he has two older sisters who attend a different school in Bandon.’
Susan said that Bobby is interested in the practical subjects that are provided in St Brogan’s College and that it’s very upsetting for him to hear he won’t be going to the same school as his friends.
‘I don’t have a school for Bobby as it stands now and he can’t actually say where he will be going this September,’ added Susan.
Susan and Robert have pleaded Bobby’s case to the school’s board of management and the CETB.
They appealed the decision last Monday and are now awaiting a date for that appeal to be heard.
They have also contacted local councillors and local TDs who have been pursuing their case.
‘It doesn’t make sense and they need to get in extra portakabins to cope with the demand for places.
‘If our appeal fails in Cork, we will it appeal it to Dublin,’ she said.
Susan also said that they don’t have a back-up plan as they didn’t attend other secondary school opening nights and while Bobby is on the waiting list, there is no guarantee that he will secure a place at St Brogan’s.
Cork South West Independent TD Michael Collins said St Brogan’s College is a victim of its own success and he has raised the issue in the Dáil.
Deputy Collins said that temporary portakabins were supposed to be installed at the school, but following the collapse of UK construction firm Carillion, they were no longer availalble.
‘I have contacted a West Cork company who are willing to put in two portakabins at St Brogan’s if the ETB will sanction it,’ he said.
‘As these portakabins need planning permission, we need to get the ball rolling on this as soon as possible.’
Bandon-based Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony also voiced her concern at the issue regarding St Brogan’s.
‘If it means getting extra portakabins so be it, but an extension is urgently needed,’ she said.
A CETB spokesperson said that St Brogan’s College has experienced significant growth in the number of students choosing the college over the last number of years, and they regret that they have no option but to limit places in first year to the numbers that the building can accommodate.
‘The school has an enrolment policy that was formally agreed with all stakeholders, was passed by the board of management and is in line with national policy. The school has adhered strictly to its enrolment policy in allocating places to students.’
As a patron of the college, CETB acknowledges the difficulty that this has caused for students on the waiting list and their families.
‘CETB is making every effort to address the need for additional accommodation in the school.’