herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Smallest school sees big jump in numbers - to 7

JUST a few weeks ago there was only one pupil enrolled in the entire school - but a Dublin primary school has since enjoyed a seven-fold increase in pupils.

With a major increase in its class size, the new junior infants are getting well accustomed to life at Scoil Aoife in Tallaght.

Teaching principal Stacey McAuley said all at the school - seven pupils and one teacher - are starting to feel like a "real class" now.

Scoil Aoife began the school year in a bizarre manner with just one pupil, Ella Gilsenen (4), but take up has since improved.

"I'm having to say stop talking, which never happened before," Ms McAuley told the Herald.

She said parents are keen to send their children to the small school because they know that they are getting "invaluable" attention.

"There are huge benefits for them - we are getting through so much more work because they're a smaller class," the principal noted, "I think that's the main attraction".

But enrolments will continue until around Halloween and the Tallaght principal hopes that the class size will reach 10 pupils.

"I believe that we might get to 10 and that would be lovely - it would mean we have two groups in the classroom," she said.

"I wouldn't be pushing too much further beyond that. It would defeat the purpose for the parents who sent their children here in the early days.

"Ten would be satisfying for me as a teacher and for the children."

The classroom can comfortably hold up to 16 pupils.

formally

A month after opening, the community national school will be treating October 1 as the first real day of school.

"I'm going to look at October 1 as things starting more formally," explained its only teacher.

The school, which has seen "a lot of first days", is located in Brookfield Community Centre. The seven pupils are all local children.

"It's funny, some of the children are saying 'we have enough friends now'," she revealed.

"Every time someone new starts it gets very quiet for a while."

Now that things are looking up for Scoil Aoife, the enrolment process will become more selective so as not to end up poaching students from other schools in the area.

When 20 pupils are enrolled, another teacher will be appointed - but there is a contingency plan in the pipeline to cover days when Ms McAuley is ill or due for a training day.

hnews@herald.ie

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