The National Parents Council (Primary) welcomed the transparency in Education Minister Noel Dempsey’s announcement this week of the
€343 million school building programme for the year. It allows for work on 149 large-scale projects and capital funding for 433 schools, all at primary and second level.
But NPC chief executive Fionnuala Kilfeather said a clear set of criteria and priorities must be set down when it comes to school buildings.
She called for:
Schools that breach health and safety regulations must be improved immediately.
Buildings that lack basic facilities to deliver the curriculum must be prioritised.
Provision for maintaining the existing school buildings is essential.
“It is clear that boards need and deserve technical support to assist them in the maintenance and upkeep of schools,” Ms Kilfeather said.
The parents’ leader said one department cannot possibly provide a school upkeep and development service to the country’s 4,000 primary and second level schools.
She said proposals such as public private partnership need to be explored with the teachers and parents’ groups to ensure that any such initiatives yield real gains for children and the community.
Mr Dempsey’s announcement of the building programme was the first time any Government had published such a list. He said one of the key aims was to ensure openness and make clear that no school could be seen to jump the queue with political help.
However, schools are considering protests to demonstrate their disappointment and being let down again.
Richard Cotter, principal of St Anne’s National School in Shankill, Dublin said parents and teachers were angry at continuing delays.
“We were promised last February that our five-room extension would begin by Christmas, but the project has just failed to materialise,” he said.
“It is time for parents and teachers from different schools to meet and build up a groundswell of protest to voice our anger.”
The 520-pupil school received planning permission for the extension last September, but did not feature in Mr Dempsey’s list to proceed to tender.
Mr Cotter said he already had dozens of calls in support of protests after he made the suggestion on RTÉ’s Liveline radio programme yesterday.