Educate Together expresses serious concerns over delays to school building projects

Educate Together has today expressed serious concerns in relation to a delay that has been placed on school building projects going to tender and construction. The school patron body has been informed by the Department of Education that some projects due to go to construction in 2023 are now currently on hold due to funding pressures, whilst a review is being conducted by the Department.

Schools impacted by this delay include Harold’s Cross ETNS and Harold’s Cross ETSS in Dublin 6, and Shellybanks ETNS and Sandymount Park ETSS in Dublin 4. The Harold’s Cross and Sandymount schools are currently in temporary accommodation on their permanent sites. They were opened to cater for growing population in their areas and will simply run out of space if construction does not commence as soon as possible.

Speaking about this delay, Emer Nowlan, CEO of Educate Together said:

“We have been pleased to see some improvements in the school building programme in recent months, with the handover of five permanent buildings for Educate Together schools in the past year, and sites confirmed for a number of others. We were dismayed, however, to learn that several projects due to commence this year are now delayed.”

Educate Together has been a leading provider of new primary and post-primary schools over the past ten years, opening more than 50 new schools in the past 10 years. There are currently 29 primary and 14 second-level Educate Together schools in temporary accommodation awaiting permanent buildings.

An ESRI study published in 2021* identified negative impacts for students and school leaders of prolonged periods in temporary accommodation and Educate Together has been seeking greater certainty and quicker access to permanent buildings for all new and developing schools for some time.

Emer Nowlan again:

“We understand that a hold has been placed on a number of projects, and we are very concerned about the impact this will have on schools that are already under considerable pressure. If this is a question of funding, then it is a false economy – any delays in construction will simply increase temporary accommodation costs, as well as limiting the development of these new schools. We are also concerned about the wider impact on the school building programme if these projects are delayed.”

Paula Mulhall, principal of Sandymount Park ETSS commented:

“The recent news from the Department that tendering has been paused is extremely disappointing. This delay will inevitably have a negative impact on the development of our school. We have worked tirelessly since we opened in 2018 and are delighted that the demand for places in Sandymount Park ETSS is consistently high. However, due to the limitations of our interim accommodation our enrolment numbers are restricted and we have a long waitlist of disappointed students whose first preference is to join our school. 

Sandymount Park ETSS is very successful, yet our growth is being hindered by our current accommodation and the facilities available to our students are not what they should be. We cannot offer the full range of practical subjects and whilst we can adjust for this in the short term, a protracted delay to the tender for the permanent build will disadvantage our students into the long term. We urge the government to progress the school building programme and deliver on their responsibilities to our students.”

Educate Together is calling for the school building projects to proceed to tender and construction as a matter of urgency.

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