Decline, growth and amalgamation : an emerging picture in relation to the provision of post-primary education in Ireland with specific reference to five towns in West Cork and the enrolment trends between Catholic and State-Sector schools therein
This thesis traces the origin and development of post-primary education in Ireland with specific reference to the different forms of post-primary school. It examines recent and current trends in relation to the number of, and enrolment in, these school types. This analysis, at national level, points towards a change in postprimary enrolment patterns. The implications of this change for Catholic schools is examined, as is the implications for the various Vocational Education Committees. Consequent to this changing enrolment trend, the process towards amalgamation and the consequences thereof are also investigated. Specifically, the five main towns in West Cork, that are serviced by more than one form of post-primary school. are examined and the educational provision in these towns is assessed in relation to viability and future educational provision. These towns are Bantry, Dunmanway, Clonakilty, Skibbereen and Bandon. The enrolment trends in each of these towns are examined and compared with both the national trend and the trend in the other four towns. This examination is achieved through an identification of the 'feeder' primary schools for each of these towns, the current transfer pattern of students in these schools to the various post-primary schools and an examination of current enrolment within the various year groupings of these primary schools. From this examination, a projection is made of future enrolment in each of the post-primary schools within the five towns. This, in tum, leads to an identification of future possible amalgamations and a justification of amalgamations already proposed by the Department of Education and Science. The thesis concludes by making several recommendations which would safeguard the ethos of Catholic schools in the light of a declining secondary school enrolment, a growth in amalgamations and an increasingly significant role for the VECs in the provision of post-primary education. These recommendations would also ease the process of amalgamations in schools that are not viable, either economically or in terms of curricular provision.