PUPILS have to be taught in corridors at a Clare school because the Department of Education will not meet the €300 monthly cost to provide classrooms for two additional teachers.
Ennis National School was told four months ago it could appoint a fourth language support teacher, to help improve the English of almost 100 new pupils, and a resource teacher for children with learning difficulties. It had already indicated the likely need for extra accommodation last October and applied formally after the posts were sanctioned in February.
But the department has told the school funding is not available, meaning the teachers will have to use corridors for their classes.
“They’re able to approve teaching jobs but they won’t let us put them into a proper classroom. It’s ridiculous,” said principal Garry Stack. “The school board is thinking about advertising for a sponsor to help buy the two-classroom prefab we need,” he said.
A letter from the Department of Education points out that all applications it received for extra accommodation have now been considered. “In the context of the available funding and the number of applications... it is not possible to approve all applications... and only those with an absolute and demonstrated need for additional accommodation were approved,” an official wrote.
The issue was discussed at a meeting with parents of some of the 640 pupils last night, where further action in the campaign for work to begin on a new school was considered.
Ennis National School featured in the Irish Examiner’s series on unsuitable and overcrowded schools last week. Almost half of its 40 staff are working in 16 prefabs dotted around the yard.
But the Department of Education has stalled on the appointment of a design team for a new 32-classroom school on a site already made available by the local Catholic bishop, Dr Willie Walsh.
Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe has said he is reviewing the entire €580 million school building programme and it is possible that no further approval for projects might be announced this year.
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