“Gortskehy is a perfect example of why we must ensure that small schools in rural areas continue to serve their Community.” This was stated by Ireland North and West MEP Marian Harkin as she unveiled a plaque to mark the national school’s 125th anniversary on Saturday last, October 6.
Gortskehy NS is a two-teacher, co-educational primary school situated in the parish of Roundfort. The school prides itself on having a positive working relationship with the whole school community – management, teachers, parents and pupils.
“Before I visited, I was extremely impressed with the school’s website, which lists its students’ achievements and progress in areas as diverse as sport and film, participation in the cross-border orchestra and the Young Scientists’ Exhibition in 2011,” Harkin noted.
“When I visited the school itself,” she added, “its energy and dynamism was so obvious – the bright colourful classrooms; the beautifully kept grounds; the enthusiastic, confident boys and girls; the committed parents and dedicated teachers; all combining with the wider Community to deliver a world-class primary education.”
The Independent MEP continued: “The sense of being rooted in the Community and the continuity of doing so for 125 years, the linking of the past and the looking forward to the future clearly showed the hugely valuable contribution that small schools can make to any Community.”
MEP Harkin also had words of warning for the Government on closing small schools.
“In my opinion,” she said, “the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn should visit schools like Gortskehy before he speaks of a ‘critical mass’ or ‘value for money’ in relation to the closing down of smaller schools.
“Having visited Gortskehy, I am absolutely convinced that the children attending this school will leave their primary education fully equipped to make their way in the wider world, proud of their local area and full of confidence following a first-class primary education”.
On the day of Harkin’s visit, the school also welcomed teachers from Turkey, Romania, Austria, France, Italy, Estonia and Hungary, who are collaborating with Gortskehy NS on a Euro-project entitled Follow our Footsteps.