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94 percent want mixed Westport secondary school - survey



Oisín McGovern

OVER 90 percent of Westport people recently surveyed are in favour of mixed secondary school education in the town, according to a new survey.
Co-ed4Westport say that 94 percent of people who responded to a recent survey want Rice College and the Sacred Heart school to become co-educational facilities.
Out of 87 parents of Sixth Class students surveyed, only two respondents said they would prefer single-sex education for their children.
One-hundred percent of survey respondents in Gaelscoil na Cruaiche, Brackloon NS and Trinity NS said they would prefer co-educational education.  Paula Ryder, spokeswoman for the group, said the level of support for co-educational secondary education in the area was ‘staggering’.
“We knew how we felt but we wanted to get a better idea from the public in the area, particularly parents of young children,” said Ms Ryder.
“So in order to gauge the level of support for co-ed at post-primary level, within our limited time and resources, we invited people to add their names to an online or in-person petition. Over one thousand members of our community have done that. This displays a staggering level of support in a community the size of Westport.
“Of the total of 1078 signatories, 717 identified themselves as parents of children under the age of 13 in the Westport area, ie, those who will be seeking post-primary education in the coming years. It gives a clear message as to what the will of parents and the community is.”
“If we don’t do something, nothing will change, we owe it to this generation and future generations,” Mr Ryder added.  Co-ed4Westport has sent the petition and survey results to the existing post-primary schools in the town and to Mayo ETB who provide co-educational post primary in other Mayo towns, and to the Department of Education, to communicate the level of support and to establish what their views are on providing co-ed in the town.”
Claire Murtagh, a member of the group and parent of young children, said that the initiative needs to be moved forward.
“Almost all the Sixth Class parents surveyed want co-ed for their children next September. Where there is a will there’s a way. All we want is the option for co-ed for our children and the children of Westport town and surrounding areas.”