The story of a school at Westgate began almost one hundred years ago in 1918 when Wexford Corporation bought two semi-detached three storey houses fronting onto Spawell Road for use as a part-time school. The part-time status of the school remained unchanged to the year 1930.
In the summer of 1930 the Town of Wexford Vocational Education Committee was established and the Vocational School opened that September with an enrolment of 28 full-time day students. The new school was radically different form the Primary and Secondary Schools of the period. The emphasis was on practical subjects. Young people were to learn by doing, by discovery methods and by undertaking projects. Subjects of the ordinary school curriculum were to be taught with a view to their use in adult life in general and in the world of work in particular.
The new school differed in other important ways. It was co-educational – boys and girls being educated together. Some people had serious reservations about the wisdom of education teenage boys and girls together. However, the Committee Members and their teachers believed that if education was about anything it was about preparing young people for adult life, for the world of work and for the fostering of relationships.
The new school was interdenominational. The local clergy were invited in to provide the classes in religious education for their own parishioners. Clergy saw the potential that the school had for young people in their care. They were accordingly supportive of the school.
The full-time day courses were of two years duration. There was no terminal examination like the Intermediate and Leaving Certificate Examinations in the local Secondary Schools. Students could and did take examinations in single subjects. In the late 1940’s the Group Certificate Examination was introduced. The objective was to provide students with a national certificate that could lead to employment.
From the beginning in 1930 the school became the major provider of adult education courses in the town. The lights burned into the late evening. People attended the night classes for a variety of reasons – make items of furniture for the home, to make their Christmas cakes, to learn to design and make their own clothes, to compensate for an education on which they missed out, to prepare for the single subject examinations of the Department of Education, to pursue a hobby or just to meet with their friends for a night out.
The Intermediate Certificate was introduced to the school in September 1966. The Leaving Certificate Courses was introduced in September 1969. The first students of the school sat the Leaving Certificate examination in 1971. The previous year (1970) a new extension – The Technical Instruction Block – was opened. In 1976 a larger extension was provided. It consisted of eleven classrooms, Principal’s and Secretary’s offices and a staff room.
After many years of waiting the new Extension was officially opened in 1997. Since then several rooms have been changed in layout and use in response to the changing needs of the curriculum and support services available for students and their parents. Major upgrading works have been carried out with funding from the Department of Education and Skills to provide a modern learning environment for the current generation of students.
When established the school was managed by Town of Wexford VEC, then County Wexford VEC and since 2013, Waterford & Wexford Education and Training Board. In August 2015, the college was renamed as Selskar College.