“Action is needed on school accommodation”

Donal Evoy, Deputy Principal of ETSS Wicklow, describes how opening a secondary school in temporary accommodation can impact the delivery of a full curriculum and calls for action from Wicklow’s five prospective TDs. School accommodation is one of the key issues of Educate Together’s election awareness campaign: ‘Treating All Children Equally’.  Read more about the campaign here.

“As an Educate Together school, equality and inclusion are core to school life of ETSS Wicklow and we are committed to ensuring that all of our students, our young citizens, are treated fairly and justly. While the establishment and development of our new school is something that we are very proud of, we must recognise the serious inequality that has characterised much of our experience.  

Like many schools, we are currently in temporary accommodation. Our temporary site has no play area; we improvise by using a local handball alley. Neither does our school have a PE hall despite PE being a core part of the curriculum; we use the local GAA hall thanks to our friends in St Pat’s GAA Club in Wicklow Town. At this time, we have no indication of a location for a permanent site for our school, let alone a timeframe for its construction and completion. It would be remiss of us as a school not to ask the question: is this fair and equal treatment in the Ireland of 2020? That the Wicklow candidates who win the five Dáil seats in two weeks’ time respond constructively to this question will be of the utmost importance to the school community in ETSS Wicklow in the months and years ahead. 

The unequal treatment of ETSS Wicklow at a local level is sadly replicated in every county in Ireland where some schools enjoy acres of land and sports pitches and stateoftheart science labs staffed by privately employed technicians while other schools crumble under the weight of ageing buildings and can only pay for the necessities thanks to the generous support of parents and local communities. But we cannot teach our students that it’s okay to whinge and moan about injustice and inequality and stand idly by while expecting others to find solutions. If we are to realise the vision of Educate Together and indeed the vision of our Proclamation to ‘cherish all of the children of the nation equally’, then action is needed.

Read about our General Election 2020 campaign here.