The Board of Management of Owenabue Educate Together National School is calling on the Department of Education to review and reconsider its proposed accommodation plan for the upcoming academic year (2024/2025). The current proposal, which involves splitting the school across two campuses, has been deemed wholly inappropriate and lacks an understanding of the local context.

Under the Department’s plan, scheduled for implementation in September 2024, most classes will remain in the current accommodation in Herons Wood, while two classes will be placed in prefabricated classrooms on the site of Carrigaline Educate Together National School in Kilnagleary, situated on the opposite side of Carrigaline.

This arrangement poses significant challenges for parents, particularly those with multiple siblings in the school community, who are now faced with the impractical task of shuttling between two locations amidst Carrigaline’s daily traffic gridlock. Moreover, the classes on the second site will have limited access to essential facilities, including support teaching spaces, sensory areas, and outdoor play spaces.

The Department’s refusal to address concerns related to integration for Autism Classes, health and safety issues, and the evident disparities in resources between the two sites has raised serious reservations within the school community.

The history of broken promises compounds the frustration felt by the Owenabue Educate Together National School community. The school’s previously planned permanent accommodation was reallocated in 2021. The purchase of a permanent site in Janeville in January 2023 was welcome progress but the Department’s latest proposal for the interim 4 or 5 years contradicts the earlier commitment to supporting the school. The Board’s initial request for temporary accommodation on the permanent site was rejected, citing cost concerns, and alternative options were dismissed without consideration.

Trina Golden, School Principal, remarked, “The current plan from the Department of Education is not child-centred, and makes maintaining our relationship-focused school culture impossible. It contradicts the positive relationships and interactions observed in classrooms and learning areas recognised by the Department Inspector in our 2023 whole school evaluation. We appeal to the Carrigaline community to support us in urging the Department to reconsider this unworkable plan.”

Maeve McGinn, Parent Nominee to the Board of Management, commented,”This decision by the Department of Education is beyond comprehension. Not only is this separating friends and siblings, it is isolating a number of pupils away from the main school with almost no facilities or supports. Furthermore, parents with siblings in the school cannot possibly get their children to school on time, given the time it will take to travel between locations. Those children will be denied the full education they are entitled to.”

Tanja Buwalda, Chairperson of the Board of Management, added “The Carrigaline community has supported us throughout an exceptionally difficult year. We now need your help to make the Department of Education reconsider this plan that hinders our community and the appropriate support of pupil needs.”

The Board of Management extends gratitude to local representatives Séamus McGrath and Michael McGrath, who have pledged their support against the proposed plan, and calls on other local politicians with an understanding of Carrigaline to join the fight.

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