herald

Saturday 7 December 2019

School-row parents claim children being 'herded like sheep'

Susan Henry with her two boys
Susan Henry with her two boys

Parents in a Dublin community fear their children will have no school to attend next year and have accused the Department of Education of "herding our children like sheep".

Pelletstown Educate Together National School in Ashtown is housed in temporary accommodation on a site being leased by Castlethorn Construction.

The lease is due to expire next June and building work for a permanent school has yet to begin, despite planning permission being approved last May.

Susan Henry, whose twin boys Robert and Shane are in third class, worries they will never see the inside of a primary school building.

The majority of classes for the 250 to 300 children are currently held in prefabs but, says Ms Henry, when the school first opened in 2015, children had to travel to a different school as there were not enough prefabs to accommodate them.

"For nearly three months they had to travel by bus to Broombridge Educate Together National School as the department didn't get prefabs on the temporary site in time," she told the Herald.

"The department thinks our children are like sheep that can be herded… this isn't what we signed up for.

"Every summer we're worried about where we're going to be next year."

Local Fianna Fail TD Jack Chambers described the ongoing saga as a "complete failure of planning by the Department of Education".

"The uncertainty and delay is causing huge distress and concern for parents of children at the school who have had to engage in a long fight with the department for a permanent school building," he said.

"We need to see real progress and development of the permanent site which the children and teachers need and deserve."

The building project will include 16 classrooms with a two-classroom special educational needs unit.

Discussions

In response to parliamentary questions from local TDs, Education Minister Joe McHugh said the department was working to tender for contractors to carry out the building works.

A Department of Education spokesman told the Herald yesterday: "Discussions are ongoing between the department and owner of the temporary school site.

"The department will keep the school authorities fully informed as the discussions progress."

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