By Lara Forde
Current student of Journalism, Digital Media and Public Relations
Dunboyne College of Further Education opened in September 2003 with just 54 students in attendance. The courses on offer at the time were business and social care, with the progression routes being Blanchardstown IT or any other IT nationwide.
I conducted an interview with the Principal of the college, Denis Leonard, asking him firstly about what he found most daunting when Dunboyne was just starting out. “I also knew we would have to work hard to get standalone status,” he replies, “Proper recognition in the competitive world of further education, as well as proper teacher allocation for the high student demand in this region.” He also discussed how this job is so multi-faceted in terms of student welfare, finances, policies, academic standards and so on.
The schoolyear of 2020-21 marks the first year that the college has over 1,000 students in attendance, something that would typically call for a celebration. Given the extenuating circumstances of a global pandemic, however, Denis tells us that commemorations will be postponed for the foreseeable future.
In late 2003 the college was simply two rented rooms in the old national school in Dunboyne, a far cry from the excellent campus we have today. This was needed, “Just to get it off the ground,” Denis stated. In 2005, the college was moved to the grounds of St Peter’s College in 4 temporary accommodation rooms, introducing Nursing, Healthcare, Sports and Marketing. In 2007 they moved to Dunboyne Business Park with just 10 courses and 180 students, and this is where the college stands to this day. In 2020, there are over 20 units being leased and over 50 courses, showing the exemplary growth of something that started off so simple and small.
Finally, I asked Denis what he was most proud of about the college. “That students love to come here and feel they are welcome and supported in every facet of their development, that over 90% of those who get a full award here get a third level offer or a sustainable employment opportunity. I am also proud that we have attracted here such a dedicated professional teaching and support staff who put students first and are so generous with their time and expertise.”
A huge thank you to Denis Leonard for taking the time to speak with me and, on behalf of all DCFE students, giving us the chance we need to get to where we want to go in life – and making sure we’re having fun while we’re at it!