Preparation work for Galway’s Newest Secondary School continues apace

Preparation work for Galway’s Newest Secondary School continues apace

Planning and preparation for Galway’s newest secondary school, being established by the amalgamation of Our Lady’s College and St. Mary’s College, continues apace. CEIST Education Trust, patrons of Our Lady’s College and the Bishop of Galway, Most Rev. Brendan Kelly D.D., patron of St. Mary’s College both expressed their excitement and enthusiasm for this new co-educational school which will open on 1st September 2021.

The new school, a Catholic Voluntary Secondary School, will be co-educational, inclusive, richly diverse and welcoming of students of all abilities and of all faiths and none. The Catholic school has always been synonymous with the highest standards of teaching and learning and enabling students to flourish intellectually. More importantly, the focus is always on the education of the whole person and the showcasing of their many gifts, interests and accomplishments across the entire spectrum of human talent. The new school will represent a marriage of the historic educational philosophy of St. Mary’s College with two other towering education traditions in Galway City – Mercy and Presentation. The merging of these traditions into a new co-educational entity promises to provide an excellent, modern, outward looking educational facility for the present and future generations of young people in Galway.

With a future enrolment of 1,000 students, the new school will be located at the current St. Mary’s College complex on St. Mary’s Road having the advantage of an enviable location with panoramic views overlooking Galway Bay. The campus has excellent sporting and recreation facilities as well as significant outdoor spaces. Students and staff will benefit from the wide-open expanse of the site – particularly desirable in the current challenging Covid era! A capital works programme has been identified and agreed with the Department of Education and Skills to augment the significant existing facilities already in place at St. Mary’s Road. Additional classrooms and specialist rooms will greatly enhance the existing  provision but most importantly serve to offer the broadest curriculum possible to boys and girls.

The synergy of the amalgamation will ensure curriculum continuity for the current students of St. Mary’s College and Our Lady’s College and simultaneously facilitate a significantly expanded curriculum offering greater choices and thus greater long-term opportunities in terms of Third-level entry and career paths.

An Amalgamation Steering Committee, chaired by Dr Joe O Connell and comprising of Teacher, Parent, Board and joint Patron Nominees from both schools, is in place and meeting since October 2019. In preparation for the new school, the Steering Committee is tasked with managing a consultative process to share expertise, 2 practice and procedures, agree areas of commonality and effectively lead the process towards amalgamation. Both staffs have participated in a joint planning exercise facilitated by Billy Redmond to commence the process of both school communities agreeing a Code of Behaviour for the new school that complies with statutory provisions. Working groups have been established addressing a number of critical areas such as, Communications, Curriculum, Policy Formulation and of course working with all stakeholders to agree a name, crest and uniform for the new school.

A Virtual Open Evening for the new school will be held in early November. This will allow parents and prospective students to get a real sense of the new campus and all it has to offer. Both St. Mary’s College and Our Lady’s College are accepting applications for incoming first year students for the school year 2021/2022. Applications for all other year groups are also being accepted and enrolment forms can be accessed on both St. Mary’s College website and Our Lady’s College website.

The Interim Board of Management of the new school will be appointed by the joint Patrons before the end of October 2020. Our Lady’s College and St. Mary’s College are currently engaged in a process of selecting a Teacher and a Parent Nominee from each school for appointment to the interim Board of Management and of course the first task of the interim Board will be the recruitment of a Principal for the new school.

Though all of us may not be conscious of it, the establishment of this new school is a ground-breaking moment in the educational history of the city. Bishop George Browne appointed at the age of 36 and who presided from 1831 to 1844, established St. Mary’s College and worked closely with the Presentation Sisters in their early years in Galway. He issued the invitation to the Mercy Sisters to come to Galway in 1840. In 2021, we will have the coming together of three historic and enduring traditions into a new Catholic coeducational Secondary school which will serve the community of Galway for decades to come.!