Frustration expressed at Delays in Temporary Classroom Provision for Blessington and Greystones


Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady has expressed his frustration at the failure of the government to provide clarity around the provision of temporary classroom accommodation for students and staff at both Blessington Community College, and Temple Carrig Secondary School in Greystones.

In November 2022 Brady received notice from Minister Norma Foley that her department had approved the provision of interim accommodation for Temple Carrig Secondary School in Greystones. In now appears that there will be challenged to have this in place for the start of the new school year in September, until a new permanent extension could be constructed.

In addition to this following a meeting with the Blessington Community College staff and parents in February, which was attended by other TDs from the County, Brady subsequently attempted to get clarity from Minister Norma Foley, the Department of Education, and the Kildare Wicklow Educational Training Board (KWETB) around the provision of the six additional classrooms which were going to be required to accommodate new students in September 2023. A request went in from the five TDs to the Minister for Education looking for a meeting, but no meeting has been forthcoming since.

Brady said:

“The failure of the government to deliver the much-needed temporary classroom accommodation for either Blessington or Temple Carrig in Greystones is indicative of the neglect of the educational needs of County Wicklow.

The reality is that these two schools need extension built to accommodate the increased student numbers in the respective areas. That the government is stalling plans to move forward with the extensions, is compounded by the failure of the government to provide urgently needed temporary classroom accommodation before the new school year commences in September.

The current situation is simply unacceptable. These schools need to be provided with a clear timeframe as to when they can expect to have the temporary accommodation in place in order to allow them to plan for the new school year.

Blessington Secondary School, which is a 1,000-pupil school urgently needs the addition of six temporary classrooms to address its needs by September. For which the Department continues to avoid issuing a timeline.

I had received assurances from the Minister that temporary accommodation for Temple Carrig Secondary School had been approved in November, yet the Department continues to dither, and avoid giving a commitment for the delivery of the temporary classrooms.

This despite Temple Carrig agreeing to expand what is a 750-pupil school to accommodate an addition 250 students in 2020 to ensure that the local demand for school places could be met. The school has plans for a permanent extension to accommodate the extra numbers, but despite running two public procurement competitions for temporary accommodation in 2022, the Department of Education refused to allow the school to award the contracts.

Instead stating that the Department would provide reconditioned prefabs from another school site in North Dublin.

At present, as this school year comes to a close, there is considerable overcrowding in the school. In some instances, teachers are being forced to teach classes in the school corridors.

Such is the crisis that the school faces, they may be forced to put students on a four-day week in an attempt to stagger attendances and reintroduce remote teaching.

This is unacceptable, it is a disgrace, and represents a further indictment of a government which offers daily evidence of how out of touch it is with ordinary people across this state.

In the week that witnessed the release by the CSO of the latest census figures for Wicklow, which indicated a population increase of close to 10%, we are already witnessing the consequences of the failure of this government to plan to meet the challenges that the population will pose for services across the board.

We need to see tangible progress made with the planned extension project for the school, which is currently stuck within the Department. This project needs to go to planning as soon as possible.

The schools need clarity as to when the temporary classroom accommodation will be in place. Schools cannot be left in a situation where they cannot plan for the start of the new school year in September and all the challenges that this will bring.”

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