Saturday 25 May 2019

Parents seek clarity on school's future

The current home of North Wicklow Educate Together on Putland Road.
The current home of North Wicklow Educate Together on Putland Road.

Parents of children at North Wicklow Educate Together Secondary School in Bray are demanding answers as they await construction of a permanent school building.

NWETSS is currently on Putland Road, in premises also used by Bray Adult Education Centre and formerly part of the Presentation College campus.

In letters sent to ministers, TDs and government officials in Wicklow, Dun-Laoghaire-Rathdown and nationally, parents have expressed their frustration about what they say is a 'lack of progress' in building an appropriate school for their children.

A Department of Education spokesperson said that a major capital project to provide permanent accommodation for North Wicklow Educate Together Secondary School is being addressed through the Department's Capital Programme. 'It is envisaged that this accommodation will be provided through a campus arrangement with a local Institute of Further Education on its current site,' said the spokesperson. 'This project will also include the redevelopment and provision of enhanced accommodation for the Institute. In the context of initiating architectural planning for the project, the department is liaising with Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board. The department will continue to liaise with the school's patron in this regard.'

In a statement last week, the parents said: 'We expect the Department of Education and Skills to uphold its commitment to build a permanent school. Instead it appears that no progress has been made at all on the development, design and construction on the site identified officially almost 16 months ago, on the Novara Road campus.

'Now we find that the there has been no provision made to house the school once the lease on the temporary premises expires a month before the end of the current school year and before the Junior Certificate exams. This neglect of our children's education and welfare is utterly unacceptable.'

The parents said that the Department of Education and Skills and the KWETB have failed to sort out any difficulties, to provide students with appropriate facilities in the interim and to proceed with construction of a building.

In July 2017, the school's board of management confirmed the location of the forthcoming building, while principal Jonathan Browner said that they had no further information at that time regarding when to expect a move.

The project had originally been earmarked to begin in 2018.

The Labour Party's general election candidate in Wicklow, Jack O'Connor, said that the lack of a permanent home for NWETSS has left the school management and parents alike with little security for the education of students into the future.

'It must be remembered that the North Wicklow Educate Together community were awarded the patronage of a new secondary school as far back as November 2013, five long years ago,' said Mr O'Connor. The lease for the current premises expires in April 2019, weeks before the start of the school's first ever Junior Cert.

'I understand that a lot of communication has taken place with the Department of Education and the Kildare Wicklow Education Training Board but no assurance has yet received from either body to allay the fears for the future of the school,' he said. 'It is my understand that there were plans to locate the ET Secondary School in a new school building on the grounds of BIFE on Novara Avenue.'

Bray People