Educate Together believes that all children deserve to learn in a place that is safe, warm and local with adequate space to learn, play and exercise.
It is undeniable that poor accommodation is one of the major obstacles faced by new school communities and all too often inadequate accommodation remains an issue many years into the life of a school.
As the patron of a significant number of new schools which have opened in the past decade, Educate Together is well-placed to observe the difficulties encountered by school principals when they are obliged to open schools and work in buildings that are unsuitable and in locations which are outside the school’s official catchment area.
In 2019, for example, each of the twelve new Educate Together schools that opened are based in temporary accommodation. One of the reasons for this is the lack of planning with regard to where schools should be. Educate Together has consistently raised concerns with Department of Education officials around the short time-frames involved in announcing and subsequently opening new schools.
In addition to working within the confines of limited and inadequate space, it is unfair to expect new school communities to flourish in an atmosphere of anxiety amongst parents and concerns about staff retention.
This is why Educate Together is calling for legislation which ensures all new housing estates have schools ready for the families who move in and that all new schools open on time and in modern, safe facilities.
While difficulties regarding accommodation certainly exist, we will continue to work closely with the DES and other stakeholders to ensure new schools open in a manner which is as positive and efficient as possible. Educate Together hopes that opening new schools in permanent accommodation will become the norm in the future.
“We hope for news soon” – Aoife’s story
Aoife Mahon, Principal of New Ross ETNS, describes her experience of the Government’s divestment process. Only a handful of Educate Together schools have opened under this process, many in substandard or temporary accommodation. Five years after opening, New Ross ETNS is still in prefabs.
“Action is needed on school accommodation” – Donal’s story
Donal Evoy, Deputy Principal of ETSS Wicklow, describes how opening a secondary school in temporary accommodation can impact the delivery of a full curriculum.