Contract signed for campus hosting primary and second-level schools

A SCHOOLS campus bringing primary and second-level education together in the west Cork town of Bantry is set to be finished by the end of next year.

The Department of Education expects the new home for Gaelscoil Bheanntraí to be ready for its 200 pupils by September 2010 and the new Community College should open its doors within months or even weeks of that.

The two schools are among six being built as part of the latest bundle of public private partnership (PPP) schools for which Education Minister Mary Coughlan signed contracts with Macquarie Partnerships for Ireland (MPFI) yesterday.

They are being built on the same site at Seskin on the west side of the town, between the town’s existing second-level schools, St Goban’s College and Árd Scoil Phobail, which are amalgamating under the patronage of Co Cork Vocational Education Committee.

The VEC’s education officer Joan Russell said a name for the community college was likely to be approved shortly but work is already under way between both staffs to make a smooth transition when they merge next year.

“The builders should be on site within days but both schools are already working on uniforms and new policies, with the code of behaviour being introduced for pupils from next September in preparation for the move,” she said.

The PPP contract means the 700-place community college and the eight-classroom primary school for 200 pupils will have the most modern teaching facilities and shared sports hall and play fields. As private partners, MPFI will be responsible for maintenance of these facilities at all six schools – whose construction will employ 1,000 people – ensuring staff can focus solely on educational provision.

Co Cork VEC will be patron to the second-level school and joint trustee with the Catholic diocese of Cork and Ross.

The diocese will be patron to the Gaelscoil, which will be the country’s first PPP primary school.

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