independent

Monday 18 December 2017

€10m schools of the future open in New Ross

Pupils now have their every need catered for at modern school

Teacher Aoife Hanrahan with junior infants Leon Murphy Stafford, Bridget Goggins, Maja Banasik, Ksawier Niwinski Lewandowski and Aoife Dreelan
Teacher Aoife Hanrahan with junior infants Leon Murphy Stafford, Bridget Goggins, Maja Banasik, Ksawier Niwinski Lewandowski and Aoife Dreelan
Junior Infants Amanda Wall, Evan O'Leary, Mia Waters, Szymon Filipiak and Farah Anderson McGarr
4th class pupils in the new Edmond Rice school with teacher Joan Whelan
Junior Infants Julia Sturgulewska, Ella St Ledger, Tom Connors, Eva Davgmalite and Pijus Smigelkas

David Looby

After a 22 year wait, New Ross finally has its new primary schools and what schools they are!

The Catherine McAuley and Edmund Rice school buildings opened to 660 very excited pupils on Thursday, with hundreds of equally excited parents attending the premises last Monday.

The bright, ultra modern two-storey buildings boast the latest technology, with 75 inch whiteboard screens in all 17 classrooms which are used by teachers to teach in a fun, stimulating way.

Junior Infants to 2nd Class pupils attend the school closest to the road, while 3rd to 6th class pupils attend the school further back from the road.

When the New Ross Standard visited the school on Friday, 4th Class pupils, who were in the middle of doing their morning exercises with teacher Niamh Foskin, called out in unison from their shiny new desks: 'We love the class' when asked what they like about their new school. Each classroom is an oasis of calm with soundproofing ensuring the teacher doesn't have to raise his or her voice to be heard anywhere in the large rooms.

There are a breathtaking number and variety of rooms which cater for the needs of all students. A multi sensory room features a Bubble Tube which changes colour when pupils touch it and there are images of sea life projected on the walls. A blackboard where children can write in neon colours, fibre optic lights which slowly change colour and a mirror ball also provide visual stimuli for pupils. Across the hall there is the special needs classroom, where pupils have their own lockers and work stations. There is even a sink which can be lowered to meet the height of the pupil and a special play area.

Outside through double doors there is a soft surface play area and a garden, which will soon have a splash path water feature. Different coloured flowers will be grown so pupils can experience different smells.

The walls entering and exiting the rooms are rounded so pupils can't injure themselves and the doors have protective covers to prevent children from catching their fingers in the jamb. Pupils who use hearing aids will be able to hear their teacher clearly at numerous points throughout the school, where speakers have been inserted in the wall.

There is a Para-Education physiotherapy room, a linen room for washing clothes and school uniforms, a large sports hall, with its own kitchen, toilets and separate entrance.

In one classroom a teacher suggests having a sleepover charity night at the school prompting Edmund Rice Senior School Principal Brian MacMahon to reply: 'I've been doing sleepovers here for the past three weeks!'

There is a breakfast room where around 150 pupils are served cereal and toast every morning, while all pupils get a tray with their freshly made lunch, along with a bottle of water and a piece of fruit, as Edmund Rice senior school and Catherine McAuley junior school are Deis schools.

Hundreds of boxes were moved into the two schools over recent weeks from New Ross CBS, St Joseph's and Michael Street national schools in a Herculean effort by over 80 teachers, staff and management.

There are seven small rooms where pupils can be assisted with learning support over the two floors.

Upstairs the art room offers a fantastic view of Lacken Hill, while the music room, where a fun, interactive drama class was under way, was filled with the sounds of children playing together, sounds which could not be heard on the corridor.

Throughout there are some great practical effects from blinds which protect children from harsh sunlight, while still letting plenty of the light through, to vents which allow fresh air into the classrooms without having to open the windows, to a smart technology heating system which can be accesed via the principals' mobile phones, along with many other safety minded features.

The Multi Purpose room has hoists and exercise mats and equipment for children who are in wheelchairs.

On the literary front both schools have libraries where talks will be held.

Mr MacMahon said the school project began in 1995. Due to several hold ups, including an ill advised initiative to bundle plans for a 'super secondary school' in with plans for the amalgamated primary school, delayed the project in the mid-Noughties for several years.

Mr MacMahon said the wait for the schools was worth it as following the scandal at Priory Hall new regulations ensured builders adhered to the strictest conditions,

He said the €10m school is testament to the excellent work of Sammon Group construction company.

Outside trees and plants will soon shoot from the muddy terrain, which has been wonderfully landscaped, curving around the schools, which are framed by an impressive large stone wall.

The road along by Cluain Fada estate is being widened so the current road will soon be a set down area outside the school with the road running parallel to it being used for vehicles.

Fears of massive tailbacks at the Bawnmore and Irishtown roads proved unfounded when the school opened on Thursday - apart from one glitch when a car ran out of fuel at the Irishtown traffic lights.

The schools sent text messages to parents on Thursday urging them to enter the school through Irishtown and exit through the Bawnmore, creating a de facto one way traffic flow.

'We are open from 8 a.m. every day and classes begin at 9 a.m. St Mary's school opens at 9 a.m. so the times are staggered. We encourage parents to have their children at the school at 8.30 a.m. The problem is in the afternoon when it can take 20 minutes for traffic to clear. A bus service organised by the parents and a teacher is beginning this week costing €10 per week per child and 150 children were signed up by Friday. It will run from Rosbercon and throughout New Ross to the schools,' Mr MacMahon said.

The schools are not joined by steps or a pathway and are completely separate, apart from sharing the same style and board of management, he added.

New Ross Standard

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