History, Trusteeship and Management:
Ardee Community School was established in 1974 as an amalgamation of the three existing Post Primary Schools in the town, St. Anne’s Secondary School for girls, De La Salle Boys’ Secondary School and Ardee Vocational School. The original school premises on the current site was built to cater for the amalgamation.
The school is under the trusteeship of the Archdioceses of Armagh and Louth Meath Education and Training Board (LMETB). The school is managed by a Board of Management, re-established every three years. Its members are nominees of the trustees (six), parents (two) and teachers (two), and the principal who acts as Secretary to the Board. The Board of Management is responsible for policymaking, finance, admissions, behaviour management, recruitment of staff and decisions on teaching and learning in the school.
Community Schools-The Beginning
By Padraig Faulkner Minister for Education 1969-1973
My primary aim as Minister for Education was to provide equality of educational opportunities for all our children, irrespective of ability, social class or the area in which they lived. To achieve this objective I had to provide, at post primary level, comprehensive facilities so that the varying aptitudes and abilities of our children could be catered for and developed.
New schools were needed on an extensive scale in rapidly expanding urban and suburban areas and also, to replace old and obsolete buildings throughout the country. Rather than building separate secondary and vocational schools in new areas in cities or rebuilding two or three small schools in need of replacement or major extension, a new type of school to be know as a Community School was decided on. The facilities for community schools would take in Science Laboratories, Language Labs, Social Studies, Commercial Studies, Mechanical and Technical Drawing, Home Economics and Needlework, Arts and Crafts, Music and Drama, as well as Workshops for Woodwork, Metalwork, Engineering and Building Construction, a Library, Assembly Hall and Lecture Rooms.
Demands on our resources for educational purposes were great, at this time, so we were fortunate to have an application by us, for a World Bank Loan, accepted. Normally, only countries with a low participation in post primary education would qualify but our application was approved largely on the basis that we were rationalising our post primary system through the development of state comprehensive and community comprehensive schools and laying greater stress than before on technical and technological subjects.
Not surprising, to many this radical proposal met with a very emotive response. Ownership and management of schools, rather than the educational merit of the proposal, dominated the discussion. In the Dáil I was accused of sectarianism; the religious orders claimed that I was planning to take over their schools. Vocational Educational Committees accused me of proposing to place their schools under the control of the religious orders. Teachers in Secondary and Vocational Schools were worried about their positions in the event of Community Schools coming into being. Those people who had attended the small schools and had secured good positions, understandably, were adamant that change was not necessary.
I was firmly convinced of the merits of the proposal. I met with the various bodies and I explained to them what I had in mind, and perhaps more importantly, what I had not in mind, such as, for example, a state take over of schools.
Living as I did close to Ardee, I believed it was an ideal place to build a community school. I sent a senior official from my department to attend a meeting in the town, called for the purpose of discussing the proposal, to explain exactly why I wished to establish a community school and to outline the advantages, which would accrue. There was considerable opposition for a variety of reasons, but after a period elapsed, a better understanding emerged and it was possible to proceed with the project. An education correspondent, from a national newspaper, who had attended the meeting wrote an open letter to me in his newspaper stating that The Grand Design of the Community Schools was as dead as a lamb chop. Fortunately, for all concerned, that prophecy didn’t materialise.
A special aspect of the Community School Management Board was that, for the first time ever, two parents, one of whom must be a mother, were to be directly involved in management. The management board was obliged to ensure that there was religious worship and religious instruction for pupils except where the parent objected.
I finally got the support of the Religious Orders, the Vocational Educational Committees and the Parents. In June 1972, this enabled me to announce fifty centres, including Ardee, for Community Schools.
For the past twenty-five years the school with its staff, under the leadership of first, Thomas Dalton and now Derek Mac Donnell, has gone from strength to strength, all concerned working assiduously for the welfare of their students in Ardee and district. I wish the school well in the future.
Taken from “Ardee Community School – 25 Years A Celebration 1974-1999”