herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

'Smallest school' in big push for second teacher with one more pupil needed

Scoil Aoife's two students and teacher; Stacey McAuley with Alex Kehoe (4) and Ella Gilsenan (4).
Scoil Aoife's two students and teacher; Stacey McAuley with Alex Kehoe (4) and Ella Gilsenan (4).
Stacey McAuley

ONCE Ireland's smallest national school with just a single pupil, Scoil Aoife in Tallaght now needs just one more pupil to qualify for a second teacher.

The school's first pupil Ella Gilsenan has finished her junior infant year, with seven classmates, following a heavy recruitment campaign locally. Her mum Kelly previously told the Herald that she was afraid she would have no friends to play with at school.

Now almost a year on, 19 pupils are registered for September in junior and senior infants - one more pupil will qualify the school for a second teacher under Department of Education guidelines.

"I'm confident that we will make the numbers, though I thought there would be more demand. It seems that locally there is an incredible number of people who don't know the school is open," principal Stacey McAuley told the Herald.

The class group this year were "like a family group" the said Ms McAuley.

"There really was a great sense of belonging and they had a really positive opportunity for learning in a small class," she added.

At the moment the school is located in the Brookfield Youth and Community Centre, but planning permission has been lodged to build the permanent building at the Magna Business Park in City West.

Construction is expected to start in October and the school will be ready for pupils in September 2016.

It will boast 20 classrooms, three gardens and an outdoor classroom. It is expected that more than 400 pupils will be accommodated in the school.

"It is only the second time in Ireland that this design has been used, it's going to be a lovely building," Ms McAuley said.

Despite the struggle to fill classes, Ms McAuley said she is confident that the proposal for the permanent school building will hold.

A number of estates planned for the area near the school will also feed the classes going forward.

Advantage

Throughout the year Ms McAuley has held coffee mornings for parents, and has been in touch with childcare centres locally and held other information sessions to highlight that the school was open.

Registration is still ogoing for Scoil Aoife and Ms McAuley is urging people to take advantage of sending their children to a school where they will be taught in such small classes.

"The students really thrived last year. This is a golden opportunity for parents in the area," she said.

This year the school will be staffed by Ms McAuley, who will remain a teaching principal, and an Special Needs Assistant.

She hopes to open a second classroom upstairs in the youth centre.

A sub-teacher will be employed in the school until the end of September when it will be decided if a second teacher can be sanctioned depending on numbers.

There will also be dance classes, violin classes and singing lessons offered to pupils.

Last year the school also suffered setbacks when it was vandalised and robbed on three occasions. A brand new playground was also destroyed.

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