National College of Ireland, through its Early Learning Initiative, has been working with crèches, schools, services and community groups in the North Wall area for over a decade. The TV programme aired last night in no way reflects the positive stories and the great work being done by our neighbouring communities to improve things for children and young people.
Anyone who has read The Boundary Wall Report (Mc McCarthy 2013) (PDF 5MB) will understand why young people in the area reacted as they did to the cameras and the TV crew who filmed them without their permission, despite being asked to stop.
While great strides have been made in the North Wall area at pre-school and primary school levels, one of the most enduring and serious issues is the difficulties with post primary education. There is a significant information deficit about second level in the community with many parents, most being early school leavers themselves, having very little understanding of the school system at that level. As a result, young people in the area are not getting the support they need to plan their educational and career pathways.
Through our work with young people and their families we are aware of a level of anger about the post-primary education system, particularly the perception that young people are being ‘put out of school’ rather than choosing to leave. They feel let down by a system that encourages young people to take the easier educational routes that lead to unemployment and a dead end rather than supporting them to get the qualifications they need for third level education and employment.
The TV programme does not reflect the great work being done by all of us in the area to improve things for children and young people. The Early Learning Initiative and National College of Ireland have the height of admiration and respect for the people of Sheriff St, who are determined to give their children the chances in education and life that were not available to them. This negative publicity will make us even more determined to work together to improve the learning environment for children in the North Wall area - at home, in the crèches, schools, afterschool’s and in the community.