Wicklow TD Jennifer Whitmore has raised the issue of a lack of permanent accommodation for Blessington Community College in the Dáil. Having met with the school’s Parent Teacher Association this week on the matter, Deputy Whitmore raised the issue directly with the Minister for Education this week.
“Blessington Community College (BCC) is the only secondary school in the Blessington area and it has been left to manage without a permanent building since it was founded in 2012. This lack of investment by the department in the school is now causing capacity issues for the students.
“Facilities at the school are simply not acceptable. It comprises of a labyrinth of portacabins. Despite the incredible work and dedication of teachers and parents of students in the school there are still insufficient class room facilities for subjects such as Home Economics, Physical Education, due to a lack of a sports hall, and Science. There is also currently no canteen in the school.
“BCC has 627 students currently enrolled. That represents a doubling of students over the last nine years. The projected intake for 2023 is 709 students. Demand for school places in Wicklow, especially in Blessington is only growing. I raised two issues with the Minister this morning. Firstly, the need for sufficient temporary accommodation to enable the school to take in the students who are already enrolled for the 23/24 academic year. Whist promises have been made on this matter before, the school has yet to be given any concrete timeline or commitment that this will be provided in time for September 2023.
“The second issue I raised is that of long term accommodation. In 2018 the school was promised a new building. There has been zero progress made since this announcement. Yet the temporary structures provided for the school thus far are already reaching capacity. I have called on the Minister to provide a timeline for when this building will be in place and to ensure that it has the capacity to deal with not just the current needs of the school, but it’s future needs too. It is clear that the original proposal for a 650 student school back in 2018 is no longer sufficient and needs to be reviewed.
“The Department of Education cannot stand over this and tell parents across West Wicklow that this is the best they can do for their children. The students and staff of BCC deserve a building which is capable of allowing them to flourish in their studies and of which they can be proud.
“I was unsatisfied with the Minister’s response this morning following my questions and I will continue to keep the pressure on her Department to deliver on this project, as well as the many other school projects across Co. Wicklow which are in need of Department support.”