Calls for Education Minister to address liquidation of school in her constituency

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A private senior cycle and language school in Tralee has ceased trading.

Appeals are being made to Minister for Education Norma Foley, asking her to step in, especially as this is her own constituency.

Numbers are not clear but it is believed dozens of students from Tralee, Killarney and other parts of Kerry will now scramble to find a place in fifth and sixth year classes in other second-level schools.

A number of foreign language students were already in Tralee and in quarantine, it is understood.

The 30-year old Brookfield College had suffered “a significant loss” as a result of Covid-19, its principal told students and parents in an email on Thursday evening.

Students were due to begin on September 2nd and had paid deposits for the year.

One student, who had been interviewed for a place in the school two weeks ago, told Radio Kerry how he had bought his books for his coursework just two hours before receiving an email saying the college had ceased trading.

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Fifth year student Jude Pearse from Ballyduff had enrolled for the two year senior cycle course and was preparing to start school next week.

"I was disheartened. I was in dismay. I couldn’t believe it. We sent in our application in July,” he said.

Students had been interviewed and paid a deposit of €1,500 on August 13th and there was no indication of a downturn in numbers.

Mr Pearse is now worried that given the pandemic, most secondary schools are preparing for specific numbers, so it will not be easy to obtain a place.

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Cathal Foley said this was “a devastating blow” for students, staff and parents, saying Deputy Pa Daly has been in touch with the Minister regarding the matter.

The school was based in a rented premises in Monavalley and has garnered a reputation as a grinds and language school.

It accepts students from all over the world for English language courses, including China.

In an email to students and parents, principal Elisha Dowling said: “The company has suffered a significant loss as a result of the Covid crisis. We have also had very few new enrolments for the upcoming year and consequently the business is no longer viable and has been placed in liquidation.”

Those who had already paid their fees would now be listed as creditors, and liquidators JPA Brenson Lawlor would be in contact, Ms Dowling said.

Some 16 teachers are employed in the school.

A query has been placed with the Department of Education.

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