First Sod Turned at Ardee Educate Together National School as the school celebrates 21 years of equality-based education

There was great excitement today in Ardee in County Louth when the Ardee Educate Together National School community, led by principal Ann Middleton, turned the sod on the site of their new school building.

Ardee ETNS opened with just 17 pupils and two teachers in the Old School House on the Dundalk Road in 2002. Twenty-one years later, the school community boasts 207 students, 18 teachers and 14 additional needs assistants. The national school has twelve classes, including four specialist classes for autistic students, and has needed a new school building for some time now.

Attending the sod-turning event this morning were the children and staff of Ardee ETNS, the Student Council, members of the school community, Educate Together CEO Emer Nowlan and Ged Nash TD, a supporter of the school over many years.

The school has been waiting for a new building since 2012 when it was added to a new build list by the Department of Education. Whilst successive delays in construction have been frustrating, the turning of the sod today heralds a new phase of excitement for the school community.

Speaking at the event, school principal Ann Middleton said:

“Here in Ardee Educate Together National School, we have been delivering multi-denominational, multicultural education for girls & boys for more than two decades. This September our school celebrates twenty-first birthday. Having our brand-new state-of-the-art school facility under construction is the best birthday present our school community could ask for!”

Speaking at the event, Educate Together CEO Emer Nowlan said:

“After 20 years in temporary accommodation, we are thrilled that the Ardee ETNS school community will finally have the building and facilities they need and deserve. The growth in the school on their current site is a testament to the hard work and commitment of the school’s staff and volunteers. We look forward to working with the Department of Education, Louth Co. Council and MDT to ensure the project proceeds on schedule, and the school can move into a wonderful new building in early 2025.”

The construction contract has been awarded to MDT Construction (see plans for the school’s construction on the Louth County Council website here). Work on the site officially commenced this month and construction is expected to take 18 months. In the interim, the school is currently split over two school buildings, a junior school and a senior school.

The modern design of the new school includes eight spacious mainstream classrooms as well as specialist classes, library, multi-purpose hall, sensory room and outdoor ball court and play areas, which will allow children to learn, play and exercise in state-of-the-art educational facilities for many years into the future.

Equality-based school patron Educate Together will continue to advocate for school communities such as Ardee ETNS, and to work closely with the Department and other stakeholders to ensure that the children and young people in our schools can learn in modern, appropriate and safe educational facilities.