March and April Funding Requests

Over the March and April meetings the Parents Association Committee funding of just under €3,500 to a variety of requests. 

Dishwashers were approved for both the 6th Year Boarder Boys and the 6th Year Border Girls.

Contributions for the cost of accommodation for the Kate Russell Hockey Tournament, the Minor Boys Hockey trip to Northern Ireland and the Minor Girls Hockey Trip to Dublin. We also funded Medals for the South East Hockey Cup.

A request from one of the Senior Students resulted in funding for Megaphones and Drums to be used by pupils supporting the various school teams at sports matches.

Admissions to Schools Bill 2016

Text of Letter sent to Minister R Bruton T.D. regarding Admissions to Schools Bill 2016

 

 

Minister R. Bruton T.D.,

Minister for Education and Skills,

Marlborough Street,

Dublin 1.

16th March 2017.

 

Dear Minister,

We, the Parents Association of Kilkenny College, are writing to you following your invitation to make submissions on the Schools Admissions Bill and are pleased to makes ours herewith.

Introduction

While your Consultation Paper clearly states it is the primary school admissions system that is first being considered nevertheless, as the Parents Association of Kilkenny College secondary school, we are making this submission on the basis it will have both immediate and intermediate implications for us. Making changes in respect of the primary school system will inevitably impact on the secondary system. It is our deep concern that by altering primary schools admissions, the initiative will undermine the minority secondary school system with the effect that minority schools will not be able to serve the population for which they were established. As a school built of the ethos of the Church of Ireland but one whose Admissions Policy clearly provides for those of all religions and none, we are deeply concerned that all options presented by your Department place a direct threat to us as school providing education in line with the ethos of a minority religion. It is also one that we will steadfastly work to protect. By this submission we will clearly express that a fifth should be offered – retention of the status quo.

Our submission is framed in three sections namely:

  • General Background of Kilkenny College which includes some information explaining why Options 1 and 2 would not work.
  • A general comment on each of the Options and a suggestion for a 5th
  • A final section that outlines some broader legal and political factors that we believe will be important matters as the debate on this initiative unfolds.

Section 1 – General Background

Kilkenny College serves, in the first instance, as a secondary school for the Diocesan College of the Cashel, Ferns and Ossory Diocese of the Church of Ireland and has done so since its inception in 1538. The school is, today, the only second level school with a Church of Ireland ethos serving the following Counties:

  • Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford, Laois, Offaly, Kildare, Tipperary.

Kilkenny College is also the only co-educational second level boarding school with a Church of Ireland ethos serving:

  • Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford, Laois, Offaly, Kildare, Tipperary, Wicklow, Wexford, Waterford.

Our school has a current enrolment of 846 students of whom 432 are boarding students and 414 are day students. Of the 432 boarding students 420 live in the counties above and Westmeath, Cork and Dublin. There are 12 international boarding students.

Kilkenny College has a current total of 69 feeder national schools located in 12 counties of which 29 are Church of Ireland national schools. The balance are Roman Catholic, Educate Together or Gaelscoilleanna national schools. The school has grown with increasing popularity and respect and is currently heavily oversubscribed each year. In 2016 a total of three hundred and sixty two (362) applications were received for entry into 1st Form. Typical enrolment into 1st Form is one hundred and forty four students (144) of which 74 are boarding places. It is expected to grow to 870 by 2018.

Section 2 – Options and comments

Kilkenny College’s Admissions Policy is straightforward and transparent. Priority is given in the first instance to applicants from a Church of Ireland and other Protestant faith background. Priority is then given to siblings of existing students. Thereafter places are offered to applicants from the local and wider community. The College fills all available places each year and within the student community are students from all faiths and none.

Option 1 – Catchment area.

The Catchment Area proposal, as outlined in the Consultation Paper, does not provide a workable for our school. The following points portray the reasons why we would object to this option:

  • In general local geographic catchments cannot be defined for the dispersed Protestant community and this most certainly applies to the population that Kilkenny serves. As noted above, we serve ten counties and, indeed, within the current student enrolment of approximately eight hundred and forty six, there are upwards of seventy students who come from outside of the Diocese.
  • Likewise, we consider it incorrect to describe the catchment area of Kilkenny College as being the province of Leinster, since the school has significant numbers of students, both day and boarder, travelling from the neighbouring county of Tipperary, which has no Protestant secondary school within its borders. Furthermore, pupils come to the College from as far afield as Meath and Westmeath.  – see background above. Serving the needs of ten counties is the reality that confronts our school.
  • This option would also seek to ignore long-standing family links with particular schools.
  • As noted above, Kilkenny College provides boarding facilities in order to accommodate Protestant students from their far-reaching catchment area. To confine our school to a more local “catchment” area will undermine boarding and almost certainly herald the end of this facility, one that has existed to serve the wider Protestant community on this island since its foundation in 1538. It will also render a large capital investment programme over many decades redundant with huge costs likely to be incurred in any restructuring of these facilities should the status of the school change.

Conclusion. The Catchment Area system, which sets boundaries to the catchment area, is completely at variance with the reality of enrolment of our school.

 

 

Option 2 – Nearest School Rule

In examining this proposal, we have also found this option inappropriate for the situation facing Kilkenny College. We note the following points:

  • As with the “catchment area” approach, it must be remembered that minority faith schools (particularly at second level) are not all the same in that we cater for many minority faiths and none – not just Church of Ireland.
  • The Nearest School Rule also seeks to dismiss the relevance of family traditions and identity within dispersed minority communities. As a general principle, we remember only too well, that religious viewpoints have dominated our society in the past and it is good to recognise more pluralism alongside religion. However, we are adamant that we must beware of not allowing the pendulum to swing too far in the opposite direction. 

 

Conclusion. We do not favour the nearest school rule, for the reasons outlined above but also in relation to the dispersed catchment area from which our students come. It is not acceptable that a Nearest School system be used which sets pre-determined limits on what schools are available to a child based solely on those spaces available within the immediate locality

 

Option 3 – Quota System

Overall, we find this a crude option and one that would create many problems. Limiting the proportion of faith-based places within a school espousing to subscribe to that same religious ethos would seem incompatible with its very identity.  We consider that:

  • It is entirely appropriate that a school founded and operated under a particular religious ethos should give preference to applicant students of that same ethos.  There is no doubt that within some faiths, religious upbringing and education are seen as contemporaneous and the imposition of denominational quotas would be viewed as completely irrational move.
  • The number of Protestant children can change from year to year and a fixed quota system could lead to Protestant children being turned away some years and not others. Those that would, basically, be randomly turned away would have to be accommodated in a school with a different ethos of their own, while places would have to be offered to those of no connection to that ethos. This would lead to unfairness which would cause a great deal of hurt to families. Again this would lead to a dilution of the school’s ethos
  • While, as a possible solution, that could possibly work in Dublin where more schools are available and distances shorter , it would undoubtedly damage rural Protestant primary and secondary schools where there will be a higher proportion of Protestant applications for a smaller number of places.

Conclusion. A quota system that (i) does not facilitate the accommodation of a scattered Protestant population and (ii) which would set pre-determined limits on enrolments each year will not be acceptable. Without clear exceptions being given would rule this option out entirely.


 

Option 4 – Outright Prohibition

The Irish Constitution, in Article 42, recognises the family as the primary educator of the child and makes particular mention of the rights of parents “in the matter of religious and moral formation” of their children.

It must be noted that Protestant schools in Ireland have a proud tradition of being inclusive and have long welcomed pupils from outside of their own denomination traditions.  This can be seen to be the current situation in Kilkenny College as set out above.

In light of the constitutional rights of parents, it is necessary, however, that where they are oversubscribed, Protestant schools continue to be able to prioritise applicants for places of their own denomination tradition, who may be travelling from very considerable distances away.

The extension to the Post-Primary sector of an outright policy prohibition from using religion as a factor in admission is overtly against the principles upon which religious schools were founded.  To permit faith-based schools to exist and yet to restrict them from accommodating members of their own faith is an inherent contradiction. 

Conclusion. We do not believe an outright prohibition of religious denomination as a factor in Admissions to Schools is acceptable as this undermines Article 42 of the Irish Constitution as set out above. It is therefore not acceptable that an outright prohibition on religious denomination be the system used to manage admissions to schools.

We recognize that our above considerations have each presented reasons why each particular option would not work and that we have been less constructive in proposing solutions. This lies in the fact that we firmly believe that a 5th Option – retaining the status quo – is the only one that genuinely protects our minority status and respects the ethos to which we subscribe. Equally, we would add that is not a right that comes without a cost either on our side (as parents or members of our particular faith) nor that of the State. We would point that we too provide considerable additional resources, both in terms of actual finance but also our own time and commitment to maintain our school and insure the retention of an ethos we value.  

 

Section 3 Other Issues

Finally, there are a number of additional issues we would like to bring to your attention.

  1. The extension to the secondary school sector of an outright policy prohibition from using religion as a factor in admission is overtly against the principles upon which religious schools were founded. Allowing faith-based schools to exist and yet to restrict them from accommodating members of their own faith would seem to be a contradiction. 

 

  1. While religious schools have welcomed state assistance in terms of payment of teacher salaries and in some cases complete state-funding, at no stage during the process to enter the free scheme was the assistance understood to be contingent upon changes to Kilkenny College’s Admissions Policy. In fact, the contrary was assured i.e. our Admissions Policy was guaranteed to remain. Had alteration of our Admissions Policy been a condition it is very conceivable that the school Board would have made different decisions at that time. Adoption of this Bill without full recognition of our status and honouring the terms and conditions agreed in good faith would represent a serious change and led us to seek legal opinion and action. Additionally, at a stage when many schools have become economically dependent upon the state for their existence, a reversal to being wholly independent so as to protect our identity and ethos may no longer possible.

 

  1. In addition to our reference to Article 42 of the Constitution, we would also draw your attention to Article 2, of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights which states ‘No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.’ We are of the view that this is a right against the State not against an education provider. We consider this a very legitimate right and would argue that, as a minority religion that could be discriminated by the Admissions Bill, this Article is an important protection against such discrimination. Politically, we would also feel that in light of any possible steps to move towards an united Ireland, such discrimination might not sit well in the overall scheme of future negotiations.

 

  1. Finally, we would note that in answer to Deputy Martin Heydon’s parliamentary question on Schools Enrolments Data 200-226 on 23rd February, the Minister responded that the information requested by Deputy Heydon was unavailable. To date no evidence has been provided in support of a need for change to admission policy in either the primary or post-primary educational sectors. The Minister has referred to a lack of school spaces in certain urban areas and oversubscription in the primary sector as affecting less than 20% of religious-based schools. In the absence of clear, strong data and evidence, we question why such a policy on Admissions is being pursued.

We thank you for the opportunity to make this submission and look forward to hearing the outcome of these deliberations. Once these are known we will be glad to work further with you in addressing the concerns we have raised.

 

 

 

Mr. Nick Bennett

Chair

Kilkenny College Parents Association

 

February Funding Approvals

At the February committee meeting the following funding requests were approved ;

  • 6th year Hoodies for the Debs €1,190
  • Music Department Formal Folders for the Choirs €1,100
  • Support towards Hockey Equipment Storage Unit €4,000
  • Outside seating for Girls Dorms  €1,400
  • P.E. Benches €955

Annual Carol Service

 

KILKENNY COLLEGE SERVICE OF NINE LESSONS AND CAROLS

 

In  The Cathedral of St. Canice  

 

@ 11:00 a.m, on Monday 19th December

 

Refreshments for Parents/Guardians in

Rothe House, Parliament Street

 following the Service

Courtesy of the Parents’ Association

2016 /2017 Parents Association Committee

The Committee for the coming year is as follows. We welcome our new members onboard, and look forward to meeting up with them at our December meeting. Nixk Bennett is the new chairman, Colin Feely remains as treasurer and Brian Scobie as Website / PRO. The new secretary will be appointed at the December meeting and the sub groups finalised for the year ahead. All parents please remember that The Parents Association is there to promote the interests of all pupils at the school, if you want the Committee to raise any issues with the school please send your contact details and county to info@kcpa.ie and the relevant member will be in touch.
County Kilkenny:
  • Nick Bennett
  • Colin Feely
  • Brian Scobie
  • Jackie Treacy
  • Dermot Dalton
  • Kieran Dempsey
  • John Clarke
  • Ger O’Neill
  • Sol Saez
  • Kieran Pryal
  • Amanda O’Flaherty
  • Helen Dobson
County Carlow:
  • Patrick Empey
  • Fiona Hawkins
County Kildare:
 
  • Dawn Barrett
County Laois/Offaly:
  • Richard Jack
  • Alan Stanley
County Tipperary:
  • Jenny Fahy
  • Eileen Spens
County Waterford:
  • Julie Green
  • Trish Power
County Wicklow/Dublin:
  • Sinead Hamilton
  • Elaine Smyth Collier
  • Doro Callinan
County Wexford:
  • Glen Jacob
  • George Steacy
Ex-Officio – Parent Representatives on the Board of Management:
  • Shelly Stokes
  • Derek Beattie

AGM 2016

The AGM of the Parents Association took place in The McAdoo Hall last night.

Highlight was the very entertaining talk given by  Dr Fergus Heffernan

We will update the information about the new committee members in the next few days.

Thanks to Mr Simon Thompson and his staff and to all parents that were in attendance.

2015 AGM Minutes

Kilkenny College Parents Association Minutes of AGM Held on Tuesday 15 September 2015 at the Newpark Hotel, Kilkenny at 7.30pm

Officers Present: Chairperson – Kieran Pryal, Secretary – Julia Glass

Kieran Pryal opened the meeting by welcoming all parents and the Headmaster Mr Simon Thompson. Apologies: Shelly Stokes, Derek Beattie, Louise Pim, Mark Kennedy, Johnny Honner, Elaine Smyth Collier, David Burgess and Dermot Dalton. Minutes: The minutes of the 2014 AGM having been read were proposed by Mandy Beattie and seconded by Kieran Dempsey. Chairpersons Report Kieran Pryal started by thanking the members of the Parents Association for their work over the year and in particular the members finishing their term on the committee. This included George Steacy, Louise Pim and Johnny Honner. Kieran also confirmed that he was finishing his 4 year term.

Activities undertaken during the year by the Parents Association included holding the 2014 AGM with John Lonergan as guest speaker, Christmas Carol Service Parents Reception, Careers Evening, Dragon’s Den TY Event and the Debs Ball including Parents Reception.

The Treasurer’s Report handed out provided detail of income and expenditure for the year. Funding Requests that had been received and approved by the Parents Association included new lockers, building signage around the school, common room equipment for day pupils, furniture for boarding houses, a practice piano and two electronic keyboards, printing press and other art room equipment, TY Yearbook and Dragon’s Den Prizes, Kate Russell Hockey Tournament, contributions to the debating and sailing teams travelling to competitions, and prizes for the Junior Mace hosted by the college.

Parents Association Nominations New Committee Members:

Sol Saez (Co Kilkenny) nominated C Feely & seconded by K Pryal

Ger O’Neill (Co Kilkenny) nominated G Jacob & seconded B Scobie

Sinead Hamilton (Co. Wicklow) nominated M Beattie & seconded by J Glass

 

Committee Members Re-elected after 2 years:

Colin Feely (Co Kilkenny) nominated K Pryal & seconded N Bennett

Brian Scobie (Co Kikenny) nominated J Glass & seconded K Dempsey

Jackie Treacy (Co Kilkenny) nominated M Beattie & seconded K Pryal

Mark Kennedy (Co Kilkenny) nominated K Pryal & seconded J Glass

Karen Roberts (Co Kilkenny) nominated M Beattie & seconded K Dempsey

Richard Jack (Co Offaly) nominated G Steacy & seconded C Feely

Alan Stanley (Co Laois) nominated B Scobie & seconded K Pryal

Julie Green ( Co Waterford) nominated J Treacy & seconded J Glass

 

 

 

Headmaster’s Address Simon Thompson thanked the PA committee for their support and investment in the school, and in particular the Christmas and Debs receptions which had been well attended and wonderful events.

The visit by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, had been a highlight of the year. Kilkenny College is one of the largest schools in the country, but still has a framework to allow individuals to develop. High standards are set and while trying and succeeding is good, effort is rewarded. It is the largest co-ed boarding school and has a happy yet secure environment. Smart cards have been introduced to help keep records and for security purposes.

The school is in a transition period following return to the ‘Free Schools Scheme’. Enrolments in 2015 were 824, in 2016 were 850 and in 2016 will be 865. There will eventually be 6 class groups of 24 pupils in each of the 6 years. There are currently 17 international students, adding diversity to the school. Leaving Cert results have been outstanding this year with all exams passed. More students have taken Junior Cert Maths at higher level, at the school this was 76% of students, where as the national average is 55%. This is typical across all subject areas.

Priorities in the school are the IT infrastructure, appointment of a chaplain, reroofing of the McAdoo Hall, day pupil common room, replacement of the old hockey pitch and the proposed Music and Arts Building.

The ‘Senior Cycle Social Area’ has been successfully completed in the Swift Building, funded by BOD and PA contribution. A redundant science lab is being renovated to form the new school chapel, which is to be opened with a formal dedication. Application has been made to the DoES for refurbishment of the McAdoo Hall. The Incorporated Society are assisting with the cost of replacing the old hockey pitch later this year.

AOB

J Eviston, from the floor, complimented the school on the Senior Cycle Social Area in the Swift Building, which has been a great success.

 

Guest Speaker Unfortunately our guest speaker cancelled at the last minute and we were most thankful to Simon Thompson who stepped in at the last minute and talked on changes to the Junior Cycle.

Parents Association AGM

All Parents of students attending Kilkenny College are members of the Parents Association automatically.

The AGM this year is taking place in The McAdoo Hall on Tuesday 22nd November at 7.30 PM . Refreshments will be available from 7.00 PM prior to the AGM.

The Parents Association Committee is seeking new members  particularly from the following counties.

Kildare x 2, Tipperary x 2, Wexford/ Dublin x 1, Kilkenny / Carlow x 1

If any parent is interested in getting involved and wants more information on joining the committee, please speak to a current committee member or email to info@kcpa.ie

All Parents are very welcome, and we hope to see you there.

 

Compass Interactive Meeting

You are invited to: Compass Interactive Meeting

 

Date: Saturday 19th November, 2016

Time: 10.30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Venue:  Dundalk Grammar School, Dundalk, Co Louth

 

Agenda

 

10.30 a.m.       Coffee on arrival

 

11.00 a.m.       Presentation and Discussion: “Healthy Eating and Active Living in 2016”

 

We are delighted that this talk will be presented by

 

Prof. Donal O’Shea

Consultant Endocrinologist – St Columcille’s and St Vincent’s University Hospitals, Clinical Professor of Medicine – University College Dublin

 

Professor O’Shea qualified from University College Dublin in 1989 and then moved to Hammersmith Hospital in London. Completed an MD with Professor Stephen Bloom on GLP-1 and appetite control. Moved to current position establishing the first hospital based multidisciplinary treatment unit for the management of adult obesity in the country. Is a member of the Department of Health special action group on obesity established in 2011 and chaired a group carrying out a health impact assessment on the potential benefits and harms of a tax on sugar sweetened drinks. Has presented the EU Ministers for Health and the Director General of the WHO on the importance of prevention of childhood obesity. Has specific interests in and published over 100 peer reviewed publications on obesity, thyroid eye disease, gut endocrine tumours and gender identity disorder. Has supervised a number of clinicians to completion of their PhD’s.
 

12.30 p.m.       Lunch for those who would like to avail of it.  (If so please contact martin114@eircom.net)

 

We hope that many parents from Compass affiliated schools can attend and look forward to seeing you at Dundalk Grammar School.  We extend our thanks to the Headmaster, Mr. Jonathan Graham, for facilitating this Interactive Meeting.

 

 

Julie Carr – Secretary COMPASS