I’ve always been a supporter of creating an inclusive learning environment in our education system. Therefore, I was delighted to hear that a local primary school, formerly named St. John’s National School in Lecarrow, is now open under the patronage of the Galway and Roscommon Education Training Board (GRETB) and operating under a new multi-denominational ethos!
So this week, I’d like to say a big well done to all involved in the creation of Lecarrow Community National School for being forward-thinking, progressive individuals who have at last recognised that, in order to keep our beautiful rural schools viable, a move of this nature was necessary. I consider it to be a positive move…a wonderful opportunity for kids to become involved in an all-inclusive practice delivered by teachers whose skills, knowledge, understandings, attitudes and resources will be employed in an education strategy that’s now gaining popularity right across the country.
Indeed, (and I say this with a sense of pride to those who slag off rural Ireland as being ‘backward’), isn’t it great that our forward-thinking county of Roscommon is not playing catch-up, rather we’re leading the way! Yep, Roscommon schools, and namely Lecarrow Community National School, its principal, its teachers and its students and parents are setting the standard of learning through change and transformation.
Now I do know that part of this change of attitude is down to the fact this school is very small and a major drive was needed in order to attract new students to keep it open and ensure its continued survival; but that’s not the point! It’s all good. And what’s important here is that nobody’s kid is in any danger of having their personal religious beliefs (whatever they are), hijacked or negatively affected; so calm down. As it happens, if your child is being raised in the Catholic faith, preparation for sacraments such as First Holy Communion and Confirmation will still be implemented, but these will occur outside of the normal school hours; meaning nobody misses out.
Look readers, we’ve known for a long time that Ireland has been bearing witness to a change in its education landscape. However, did any of us realise the roots of this reform would begin right here in our trailblazing county where liberal-minded parents and educators no longer wish for their children to be under the control of the Catholic Church? Now I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I was convent-educated and I’m Catholic, although non-practising in that I don’t feel the need to go to Mass. And, due to lack of choice in our schools, I raised my kids in the Catholic faith, and they received the relevant sacraments, so please don’t think I’m disrespecting the Church; I’m not! And please, no letters to our editor, he’s a busy man. It’s just that I believe an education structure that sees over ninety per cent of our primary schools being under (what has been) the controlling thumb of the Catholic Church has got to be at odds with today’s societal shifts and trends.
In addition, I feel cheated that, as a parent, this non-denominational education choice was not available to my family when my girls were of school-going age. To that end, I’m really pleased and proud that a small local rural school in this county is embracing and creating a safe and supportive, all-inclusive environment by planning to deliver what I believe will be an equitable learning policy for all of its students!
To the rest of the country I say…if you want to witness modern Ireland in action and experience opportunity and choice…come along to Roscommon, sure haven’t we got it all! Comhghairdeas to all involved in Lecarrow Community National School; by embracing change, your strong vision and commitment to forward thinking will ensure every student who passes through your doors will receive the excellent standard of education they deserve.
Childminders to face new legal requirements
I’ve always had a healthy respect for anyone who minds kids for a living for the simple reason it’s a tough job, riddled with all sorts of challenges and responsibilities. It’s also a job that, up until now, did not require the care provider to be registered with Tusla or undergo Garda vetting. However, in order to bring childminders in line with the National Childcare Scheme, due to come into effect next month, the new legislation proposes to address those childminders who’re self-employed and working from their own homes. Indeed, as I understand, (I could be wrong), but apparently these new regulations will not extend to childminders who work in the child’s own home because they’re regarded as being employees. Neither do these regulations apply to childminders who’re related to the kids they’re minding, i.e. grandparents, etc.
Now, as it’s estimated there are up to nineteen thousand childminders operating across Ireland, this new approach will require them to become garda vetted, be proficient in first aid and undergo training in order to be in receipt of a ‘bespoke’ qualification, the finer points of which have not yet been determined. They’ll also be obliged to have their homes (the premises where they mind the child) inspected in order to make certain they comply with basic standards. Those who do not comply with these new regulations could face prosecution!
Now I’ve never been a childminder, nor do I plan to be, it’s just not a job I’m cut out to do. Look, I’ll happily mind your pets, but not your kids. Now don’t get me wrong, I view those who mind young kids as being hardworking angels; but me, I just don’t have the patience needed for such a demanding job. However, I do believe in light of the recent crèche improprieties involving some childcare facilities, (not all; I’ll remind readers that there are many fantastic childcare providers in this county), this move is vital in that it offers parents a level of reassurance and children a better and necessary level of protection.
Also, in view of the fact that currently out of the nineteen thousand childminders operating across Ireland, worryingly, it appears only eighty one of them are registered with Tusla. Therefore, as an incentive for parents in the market to engage the services of a childminder, the government will roll out an allowance of up to €900 a month for those who use a registered, trained and vetted one.