herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Parents slam 'stressful' delays over building permanent school

Principal Marie Gordon and Robert Cochran, chair of the board of management, with parents and children from Ballinteer Educate Together School (INM0
Principal Marie Gordon and Robert Cochran, chair of the board of management, with parents and children from Ballinteer Educate Together School (INM0

Parents in a south Dublin primary school have hit out at continuing delays to building a permanent school.

Ballinteer Educate Together National School (ETNS) opened in 2012 in rooms in St Tiernan's Community School in Balally, Dundrum. It opened on the understanding that the substantial site would be used to build a new primary school and sports hall.

However, four years later there has been no planning permission secured for the new school building because of problems with access to the site.

Suitable

The schools are accessed via a residential estate that would not be suitable for two full-size schools.

Parents and staff have said that they can't understand why the Department of Education has not committed more resources to finding a solution to the problem with the access point.

The chairwoman of the Parent Teacher Association, Amanda Bailey, said that it was "very stressful" for parents.

Last year, the department added four prefabs to the site to accommodate the expanding school, which caters for junior infants up to second class.

"At the moment, we don't even know where we will manage to squash in two classes for 2016, or for 2017," Ms Bailey said.

"The children are squashed into half-size classes, they have no area [for play] when it rains.

"It's a brilliant school but we pay the same taxes as everyone else and our children are going without. There is a lot more moving around in junior schools now because of the way they teach the curriculum, so they need space to teach.

"It seems stupid to put in prefabs when they could just sort out an entrance and get a school built," she added.

Principal Marie Gordon said the problems at the site are not insurmountable and could be solved with good planning.

"The site itself is perfect and the department owns it. Senior planners have said that they are in favour of a school here," she said.

"We don't know what the hold-up is and it is hard to know what's going on."

There are around 280 pupils in the school at the moment and there are 214 on the list for the 2016 junior infants class.

Two previous applications for the school were refused by the local council and an appeal to An Bord Pleanala was also turned down.

The planning authority said that the proposed entrance to the school site between two roundabouts on Wyckham Way would endanger road users.

The board suggested that the council and the department work together to asses a new entrance point to allow the school to be built.

A spokesperson for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council said it had employed a "co-ordinated approach" with the department. "Until such time that an application has been received, assessed and decided upon, and possibly gone through an appeal, it is not possible for the planning authority to provide any greater detail on this situation at this time," the council said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education said that it was "continuing to liaise" with the council.

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