Brannoxtown school likely to reopen under new patron

Public meeting called

Paul O'Meara

Reporter:

Paul O'Meara

Email:

paul@leinsterleader.ie

Brannoxtown school likely to reopen under new patron

Brannoxtown NS

A new primary school is virtually certain to open in Brannockstown, Naas — replacing Brannoxtown National School.

A public meeting has been called for the school tomorrow (Wednesday) at 8.30pm. It’s been organised by Save Our School Brannoxtown (SOSB), a local group campaigning to ensure that primary school education continues in the area.

The archdiocese of Dublin confirmed the closure of the primary school in Brannoxtown last week.

The school effectively closed for the first time in over 133 years some four months ago, after the last remaining three pupils left six months ago.

SOSB had highlighted the decline in pupil numbers — which it said fell from 87 in 2011 to none by last December.

“This level of decline is phenomenal and disconcerting. The decline cannot be blamed on demographics. Between 2011 and 2016 the population of children aged 5-12 in the Newbridge/Kildare/Kilcullen area, which includes Brannockstown, grew at 154% of the State’s population growth rate of 3.78%.

“Indeed Brannoxtown School had been heavily supported by the attendance of children from outside the village,” the group said in December.

They added that generations of local residents have been educated there and the school has been at the centre of village life for well over a century.

Most of the pupils who left the school transferred to schools in Halverstown, Kilcullen and Two Mile House.

According to Conor O’Toole of SOSB, the school will only be closed for a short period of time “and not the foreseeable future, which was a major concern.”

It’s understood that the patron will invite interested parties to tender for the running of the school.

The new school could be run by Kildare Wicklow Education Training Board (which already administers a primary school in Naas).

Alternatively it could be a gaelscoil or an educate together school.

Annette O’Donnell, a representative of the archdiocese said it had been decided to close and divest the school because there were no applications for admission for the forthcoming academic year.

Divesting is process whereby a school building no longer required by a patron, such as the Catholic church, is taken over by another patron body.

This process is overseen by the Department of Education which will determine the level of interest from other patron providers. Given the level of interest in maintaining a school in the area, it’s more than likely a new patron will emerge shortly.

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