The new building – which is to include 37 general classrooms, 20 specialist classrooms, a PE hall and a special education unit – was expected to be built by September 2024
The principal of Greystones Community College (GCC) has expressed his disappointment at news that the school is unlikely to have a permanent building by September 2024.
Despite previous assurances, the Board of Management at GCC have been informed by the Department of Education (DOE) that works on a new school are currently “on hold' due to “capital financial pressures”.
School principal at GCC, Ruairí Farrell, said this development had put paid to plans to have a new facility in time for the start of the academic year in 2024.
“There is no doubt that this is disappointing news for our whole school community to receive,” said Mr Farrell. “Greystones Community College has gained the confidence of the local community as a school that is built on high academic standards and also fosters a culture of care and respect in relationships that exist in the school.
"The students and parents have been promised and assured by our public representatives and the Department of Education that our school will have a permanent school building by September 2024 but that now appears unlikely given this recent news”.
The school was established in 2020 in order to cater for increased demand for school places in the Greystones area and the new build, when completed, is expected to include 37 general classrooms, 20 specialist classrooms, a PE hall, a special education unit, six hard play courts and other staff and student facilities.
Local councillor Lourda Scott is the chairperson of the Board of Management of GCC and said this delay would cause “anxiety and concern” among those hoping to find school places for their children in the next 18 months.
“Our school was established to cater for the increased demand from parents for school places in Greystones,” said Cllr Scott. “Given the ongoing delays, the Board of Management will be left with no other option that to put a cap on numbers and reduce the school’s intake considerably. For admission to the Greystones Community College in 2023, the school received well over 400 applications for 144 places available.
“I know there will be anxiety and concern in the community if the available spaces at the school are further reduced for 2024. The DOE needs to explain the reasons behind this decision and outline clearly how long this project will be on hold.”
Meanwhile, Wicklow TD John Brady said this disappointing news only added to what had become a “crisis in education right across Wicklow”.
“This simply isn’t acceptable; there are major educational pressures in Greystones and across Wicklow and the decision to put this development on hold will have a devastating impact on the provision of education across Wicklow.”
According to Deputy Brady, the DOE’s Planning and Building Unit is currently assessing its work programme and priorities for 2023 and says its their most immediate priorities is to cater for September 2023 requirements. While the DOE is engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure to minimise project delays to the greatest extent possible, Deputy Brady said this simply isn’t good enough.
“The Minister (of Education, Norma Foley) must explain immediately how she believes that this delay won’t have a negative impact on school places in the Greystones area, this is something that we unfortunately see every year and why this new school build is so critical,” said the Sinn Féin TD. “The Department must explain how long it is anticipated that the school building will be on hold for and what this means for Greystones Community College.”
“There is a with schools such as North Wicklow Educate Together, Blessington Community College, Wicklow Educate Together National School and Coláiste Bhríde all waiting on the Department to move forward critical plans for their schools. The Minister must also state if any other school building project in Wicklow is on their list of 58 school building projects that are on hold.”
“Unfortunately, what we see again from this Minister is a complete failure to plan, and this failure is going to again impact on the provision of education in Wicklow. The three government TDs in Wicklow, which include two senior ministers, must immediately intervene and get this critical school project back on track.”
While the delay has been met with dismay by all those associated with the school, its principal has vowed to ensure those currently attending GCC continue to receive the best education possible.
“Notwithstanding this temporary delay, our priority at Greystones Community College remains on ensuring the highest standards of excellence in teaching and learning and in supporting each student in our care to reach their full potential. We will continue to leave no stone unturned in this regard”.