Tuesday 20 November 2018

'Significant structural issues' to force part of Dublin school to close 'immediately'

Ardgillan Community College (inset text received by parents)
Ardgillan Community College (inset text received by parents)

Rachel Farrell

The immediate closure of part of a school building in Co Dublin will see over 200 students displaced in the next few weeks.

Ardgillan Community College in Balbriggan, with a population of 910 students, will partially close 'immediately' after 'significant structural issues' were discovered.

The 'Phase 1' part of the building was built in 2009 and a recent fire safety assessment, carried out on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills, found a structural problem with the building.

"During the course of these works, additional issues of a structural nature were identified," a spokesperson for Dublin & Dun Laoghaire Education & Training Board (DDLETB) said.

An examination of the building behind the plaster work was carried out in two classrooms on Friday and the school have since decided to close as a result of the findings.

"Having considered the engineer’s advice and in the interests of the health and safety of the students and staff of the school, DDLETB in consultation with the Department of Education and Skills and school management, has made the decision to close phase 1 of the school building, effective immediately," the spokesperson said. 

Text received by parents
Text received by parents

The school has asked around 100 Transition Year students to stay at home next week to free up capacity to accommodate the students discommoded by the closure.

It is understood that a solution will be in place to accommodate all pupils going forward after the mid-term break, which takes place next week.

The 'Phase 2' area of the building, built in 2015, remains unaffected and will stay open, the spokesperson added.

Audrey Myers, whose children attend the school, said the closure didn’t surprise her but praised the school for their quick response.

“All of my kids went there and I still have two attending. I am not surprised to be honest. A few years back they had to undertake works during school holidays to repair pyrite in the same building,” Audrey told Independent.ie. 

“It’s just laughable that last year they had to remove all artwork from the walls as it apparently didn’t comply with fire safety regulations and in the meantime the actual building was a bigger hazard.”

Another parent told Independent.ie: "I was very surprised... we had received a text to say that remedial works need to be carried out, however I presumed that it was linked to the fire retardant works which have been ongoing for a number of weeks. It’s concerning that the works needed are due to structural issues.

"I have 2 children who attend the school, one of which will only have have school on Tuesday as they are in Transition Year. I was also surprised to see that some of the students will have to be accommodated elsewhere and have not received any communication about where this take place."

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said Ardgillan Community College was assessed as part of a fire safety programme. 

“The Department is aware of structural issues that were identified during opening up works on Friday. The Department is working closely with the ETB in dealing with the issues.

"Following advice from a consultant structural engineer and in consultation with the ETB a decision was taken to close a section of the school with immediate effect.

"At all times the key priority of the Department is the safety of students and staff."

In a separate incident last week, the school was closed for a day after a student allegedly posted gun-related threats online against staff in the secondary school.

The security alert began when the pupil allegedly posted extremely disturbing threats on social media.

The series of threats were posted online as the pupil warned his fellow students not to go into school if they had "any regard for life".

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