Treating All Children Equally: School Accommodation

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.  

Educate Together is well-placed to observe the difficulties encountered by school principals when they are obliged to work in buildings that are unsuitable in locations that are outside the school catchment area.  

In 2019, for example, of the twelve new Educate Together schools that opened, all are based in temporary accommodation. One of the reasons for this is lack of planning in regard to where schools should be. Educate Together has consistently raised concerns with Department of Education officials around the short timeframes involved in announcing and subsequently opening new schools.  

The State must commit to uphold a certain level of standards for students and teachers in terms of accommodation provision. Educate Together was recently required to open a secondary school that was unable to provide the full curriculum due to lack of storage space for Art, PE, Technology, Science, Tech Graphics, Maths, Music and Home Economics equipment. The school had one shared toilet between ten teachers with the requirement that staff members walk across a classroom to access it.  Art, Home Economics and Science classes were required to be held in half a classroom. 

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 on all candidates and parties to commit to supporting legislation that all new housing estates must have schools ready for the families who move in and to ensure that any new school in their constituency opens on time and in modern, safe facilities. 

You can can share your experiences on our Facebook page and @EducateTogether Twitter account using the hashtags #GE2020#AllChildren and #EducateTogether. You can also email Educate Together candidates’ interactions: info@educatetogether.ie

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