80% of Educate Together schools opened in last decade still in temporary accommodation

Eight out of 10 Educate Together schools opened over the last decade are still residing in temporary accommodation such as rugby clubs or community centres - awaiting the delivery of a permanent school.

80% of Educate Together schools opened in last decade still in temporary accommodation

Eight out of 10 Educate Together schools opened over the last decade are still residing in temporary accommodation such as rugby clubs or community centres - awaiting the delivery of a permanent school.

In the last 10 years, just 11 of the 57 primary schools opened by Educate Together are now in permanent accommodation.

Just four of the 17 second-level schools opened by the patron since 2014 have found permanent accommodation, figures released to the Irish Examiner show.

“We have opened 32 primary schools in the last eight years. Only nine of them are now in permanent accommodation,” said Educate Together communications manager, Luke O'Shaughnessy.

“That means students have gone through eight years of primary school and graduated while in temporary accommodation.”

"Every single one of these schools is State projects, funded by the taxpayer, which Educate Together has been asked to manage," Mr O'Shaughnessy added.

"This has become a systemic problem impacting on almost every newly opening school in Ireland. This is the situation for any new school that is opening up, it's not just Educate Together,” he added.

"A lot of temporary accommodation isn't bad," he added. "But nothing is as good as a permanent school."

"It's also stressful on a school's management, there might be issues around facilities."

There are a number of factors which can lead to delays, including waiting times around contracts and planning permissions. Suitable vacant sites can also be hard to find in populated areas, and new schools typically open with small numbers of students.

This week and next, Educate Together is set to open 12 schools, the highest number the patron has ever opened in one year.

This includes seven new national schools, four new second-level schools and one new ‘divestment’ national school.

None of these schools will open in their permanent accommodation.

One proposal for resolving future accommodation issue involves introducing the provision of permanent buildings for schools as a planning condition for new housing estates.

Educate Together has also suggested securing a permanent location of a new school as soon as it is decided that one is needed, or starting the patronage determination process only once there is certainty on the location of the school.

Meanwhile, 10 schools previously under religious patrons are to become multi-denominational or non-denominational schools this September.

In the coming weeks, ten new Community National Schools (CNS) will open under the patronage of Education and Training Boards (ETBs), with three of these schools to be opened for the first time.

Seven of these schools are in areas where a choice of patronage was required to cater for local communities and had a variety of different patrons including the Catholic bishops and the Church of Ireland.

One of these schools is Scoil an Ghleanna in Kerry. This is the first time an existing Catholic school has become multi-denominational.

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