Holding Our Breath For A School Place

holdingIt’s gas isn’t it? How something so small can make such a big difference? Just 1 little school place.

When my first baby was still in his pram I made the long trek to our chosen primary school to put his name down and do the interview with the Principal. The interview was essential you see as it’s important that first-time parents understand the commitment it takes to send their child(ren) to a full immersion Irish language school (Gaelscoil). It was then that I learned that simply having his name down early, and my command of the Irish language, was not a guarantee of a school space. We probably needed to get him into the NaĆ­onra (Irish language Montessori in our case but preschool in general) to boost his chances of being offered a space.

Unusually for a primary school in Ireland that isn’t an “Educate Together”, being baptised into the Catholic faith or any other faith doesn’t factor into how our school spaces are allocated. There are criteria which favour families who support Irish language education. We had already decided that a Gaelscoil was the only option we would consider for our children, so our commitment wasn’t in doubt.

There was a nervous wait 3 years ago to see if our eldest would get a magic space. We were so nervous we checked out spaces in another Gaelscoil over 30 kilometres away; simply to make sure we would have some form of Irish language based education in place come the start of the new school year. All our worries faded away when the now 7-year-old got that magic school space.

Once again earlier this year we had a nervous wait, not quite as terse as the first time around mind you as we had a better chance of getting a space because of a sibling rule. Still we held our breath a little bit until we got the letter home and confirmed that the baby of the family will follow in his big brother’s footsteps in September. There has been great excitement here; September 2016 has been fixed in my diary for a long time. The smallest boy is ready for school and I’m ready to give him a little nudge on the next step to school.

This week he’ll meet his first primary school teacher and classmates for the first time. He’s ready; I’m ready!

I know I mentioned it in a recent newsletter, but this school year has been challenging for me in many ways. I will breathe a sigh of relief when the two boys are in the same school, at the same time. Considering how relatively easy it was to get the school places for the boys I can only imagine how difficult it is for others.