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Secondary level schools in Ennis are experiencing an “unprecedented demand” for first year places prompting one school to review its intake as a Clare TD urged the Minister for Education to intervene.

St Flannan’s College received 476 applications for 216 places in its first year class, an increase of 76 applications.

Principal, Fr Ignatius McCormack told The Clare Echo, “Due to unprecedented demand for first year places in St Flannan’s and in second level schools in Ennis, the Patron and board of management of St. Flannan’s College has revisited our intake for this year”.

He confirmed that St Flannan’s will be offering a further 24 places in its first year class which will bring the total number to 240.

In May 2019, primary school principals in Ennis and surrounding areas wrote to the Department of Education expressing their concern that 40 pupils were without a secondary school placement. The matter was aided when Ennis Community College provided 42 additional places for the students.

Ten primary school principals have made contact with Clare Oireachtas members again as they shared their worry on the well-being of students who remain without placements.

Deputy Joe Carey (FG) outlined that “several distressed parents” have flagged the matter with him as their children have yet to receive a second level school place in Ennis. He appealed to the Minister of Education, Norma Foley (FF) to address the shortage of places as “a matter of urgency”.

Carey believed that the problem has deteriorated in recent years creating “a most disturbing situation for pupils’ mental health and well-being”. He referenced the extension at Ennis Community College which is nearing completion and the extra capacity that will become available there to add more secondary school places in the coming years but admitted it will not be sufficient for students starting secondary school in September.

Minister Foley was informed by Deputy Carey that the issues must be recognised as he sought adequate resources to resolve the matter. “As in previous years, there seems to be many cases of pupils receiving multiple offers whilst other classmates have not received any. This has created a most disturbing situation for pupils’ mental health and well-being”.

“Untold anguish” has been caused for children and their families, the Clarecastle TD felt. “A fairer system needs to be devised in order to protect the wellbeing of pupils caught up in this broken system. I am asking as a matter of urgency that the Department of Education convenes a meeting involving all secondary school principals with a view to coming up with a workable plan to deal with these matters which are impacting upon a large number of students and their families.”

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